Intelligent? Yes. Driven? Yes. Compassionate? Yes. Rose Sheela embodies all the remarkable qualities that a Duke woman stands for and more. As the current Director of the annual All of the Above production and outgoing President of Pi Beta Phi, she is a natural born leader who never fails to lead by example. Now halfway through her senior spring and with graduation just around the corner, Rose allowed me to join her on a trip down memory lane as she reflects on her past four years at Duke.
Born and bred in San Diego, California, Rose attended a modest-sized Jewish high school with a graduating class of merely 52 people. This did deter her though from making a large impact on those around her. More than just a stylish fashionista with her trademark specs, Rose participated in cross-country, softball, and soccer. When not breaking a sweat out on the sports field, Rose’s fervent interest in political affairs prompted her to play an active role in Student Government. As excitement built around Obama’s 2008 campaign for presidency, coupled with her growing concern that her peers were not stimulated enough on such important matters, she even successfully co-founded a branch of the Young Politicians of America Society at her high school.
While the majority of her classmates remained in California for college, Rose chose to spread her wings a little wider. It was one of those ominous tree-wasting Fiske Books, crammed full with gut-wrenching statistics that highlight your slim chances of gaining admission to the school of your dreams, that first put Duke on Rose’s radar. Today, she easily recalls her first visit to Duke, which prompted her to apply Early Decision: “Duke was perfect for me as it had challenging academics, great athletics, campus spirit and also a thriving social community.” The pleasant North Carolina climate that is not so dissimilar from that found on her native West Coast also served as a plus.
Fast-forwarding several busy and very important years, Rose can now be found walking across the main quad as a mature and self-assured 21-year-old Political Science major and History of Art minor, who studied abroad in Rome her junior year. As a sophomore, she enjoyed her time as a Tour Guide, but it was her positive experiences with her sorority and All of the Above where Rose truly found her niche at Duke. As a fellow Pi Phi sister, I couldn’t help but smile as she began to talk about how truly life changing her involvement with our chapter has been. As a freshman, Rose’s natural ability to lead was already in full sight; she was appointed the President of her new pledge class, and ever since has held varying positions on the Executive Committee. When not in the classroom, Rose has consistently devoted a large portion of her time to sustaining and representing the meaningful qualities that Pi Phi, as a sorority, stands for. It was hardly a surprise for me then when Rose revealed that even as a freshman, she knew she wanted to run for Chapter President one day: “I wanted to give back to Pi Phi what it had given me.”
Serving as the President of an organization of more than 120 spirited women is no easy feat. When asked what she considered the most challenging aspect of the role to have been, Rose directed our conversation towards the new Housing Model. She quickly explains though how this ongoing process also transpired to be one of the most rewarding facets: “It allowed me to meet people in the Panhel community outside of Pi Phi.”This included her important meetings with other Panhellenic Chapter Presidents: “I left the presidency with a view that Greek life at Duke is far greater than just my own chapter.” Above all,Rose believes that the most valuable reward gained from fulfilling this important position was her constant exposure to such a “unique, inspiring and empowering group of women…it has been the most defining aspect of my Duke experience.”
Rose’s Duke career has also been significantly shaped by her involvement with All of the Above, an annual production of monologues, written and performed by female students about what it means to be a Duke woman on campus. Started in 2003 by a Pi Beta Phi, it is instantly clear that the concept of All of the Above is one that Rose cares deeply about. Performing in the show for two consecutive years allowed Rose to retrace her theatre roots that she had otherwise neglected as a college student. Now a senior, she is busy directing the 11 talented members of the cast to produce a great show. Despite no prior directing experience, Rose eloquently explains that she knew it was a position that appealed to her: “I care about the show so much that I knew I would be able to put in the time and energy to make it a success”.
Although All of the Above is a show that certainly focuses on women, Rose strongly encourages all students to attend, men and women alike, because “while some of the monologues are very specific to challenges that certain Duke women face, they resonate with every type of audience member.” Expanding further on this, Rose is adamant that “it is so important for men to be in the audience because they can relate to the monologues as much as women can. Everyone comes away with a better understanding of what it means to be a woman at Duke. I look forward to it each year as it defines my spring semester.” So, male readers, listen up - instead of sitting around in the common room complaining about how to get inside the head of that cute girl from your Bio class, grab a couple friends and head over to All of the Above (dates below) next week. You won’t regret it.
A definite sense of nostalgia fills the air as Rose begins to reflect on her time at college as a whole. After much thoughtful deliberation, she decides that her sophomore year has been her favorite: “I was really coming to terms with what I wanted to do with my time at Duke. It was the year that shaped the rest of my college experience.” After she walks in Wallace Wade Stadium in May, rather than accepting her offer from Teach for America, Rose has decided to work for a non-profit organization, closer to home, in Los Angeles. Outside of working on this project, she hopes to travel the world and start studying for her LSATs, with the intention of starting Law School in Fall 2013.
When asked what she will miss the most about Duke life, aside from her friends, Rose is painfully aware that her precious time left in our beautiful Gothic Wonderland is limited: “I have a really strong connection with the campus… the aesthetics of Duke will stay with me forever,” Lastly, before we both retreated to the deepest depths of Bostock to study for our midterms, I couldn’t help but take advantage of the opportunity to ask Rose if she had any valuable advice for younger classmen reading this article.
“It is really easy if you are a member of an intense social community to lose yourself and the values you had before you came to Duke. Be yourself and get involved in something alone. Don’t be afraid to be different.”
Food for thought.
All of the Above:
March 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th
Shaeffer Theater, Bryan Center