February's LeadHer of the Month: Rozalyn Wingate

As you’ve noticed throughout this series, LeadHers come in all forms.  They are student leaders, advocates, innovators, and survivors. It is with great pleasure that I introduce the first LeadHer of 2019, Rozalyn Wingate.  A Junior, Philosophy Major, Legal Communications and Administration of Justice Minor from Lexington, Kentucky…Rozalyn is an outstanding Howard woman that constantly displays numerous rays of positivity and strength.  She serves as a mentor to students, as well as an assistant to the renowned Criminology professor, Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad, working in the DC jails to execute her program “Breaking the Chains: Women in Incarcerated Spaces.”  Despite being a survivor of sexual assault, Rozalyn attacks any weapons formed against her through her phenomenal work ethic and her academic achievements, remaining focused to one day become a Criminal Lawyer. Here is her story…

 

*Trigger Warning: This article contains dialogue about sexual assault. *

 

Asha: Who are you? Describe yourself in one sentence.

Rozalyn: I am resiliency in life form.

 

 

A: What are some other organizations or events you have been involved with?

R: I am currently a mentor for the COAS Bison Guru Group and a M.Y.T.H mentor, the first is dedicated to first-year Howard students, the second is for students ages 12-18 within D.C. schools.  I am also the Community Service Coordinator for SafeSpacesHU, as well as a content creator for Her Campus Howard. I graduated High School in 2017 with a 3.7 GPA and 51 college credits prior to arriving at Howard University. Recently, I was a keynote speaker for the Children’s Advocacy Center, which fundraised for survivors of abuse, and raised over $60,000 in August for free continued therapy and treatment for children under the age of 18 who have been sexually abused. I am also a survivor of rape.

 

A: There is a quote by Audre Lorde that says, "revolution is not a onetime event." What does that statement mean to you?

R: It is often the case that we have this belief that revolution is an end goal. Yet, change, growth, and development are not immediate, they are infinite. It is the same with revolution. Because the revolution is inside you, it will never end.

 

 

A: Throughout much of this series, there has been an emphasis on Black women's ability to fight adversity. What is something you have had to overcome, and how did you fight such a battle?

R: When I was sexually assaulted, it felt like my life was torn apart. I began to struggle with unhealthy sexual behaviors which became manic, as well as with depression and suicidal thoughts and attempts. I became extremely anti-social, reserved, and unresponsive to the life around me. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to get help…for me, that was therapy and medication, that allowed me to begin to heal. In the Black community, I believe that we have been conditioned to think seeking help means being weak. I’m here to tell you that if I didn’t ask for help, I wouldn’t be alive to do this interview with you today. Take care of yourself and always put your healing first, every time.

 

A: Who inspires you?

R: Bridgette Alyse Wingate. If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, she’s my Meredith. My person.

 

 

A: There are many different types of leaders out there. But, what does it mean to you to be a leader?

R: I think “leadership” is a fallacy. We all are in positions to lead and to follow. The importance is the way in which you decide to lead. Are you going to be influential or detrimental? In what ways will you impact the community around you? How will you use your voice? Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Hitler were technically leaders. Jesus and Satan…both perceived as leaders. The difference is the kind of influence, the impact they left, and/or leave on the world. That’s the difference.

 

 

A: Life is a process that requires our own personal evolution. What is some advice you would give to any other women struggling to move forward?

R: If you feel like you can’t make it today, think of every time it seemed like the world was falling apart in front of your face and remember that you’re still here to recall that moment. That means that you have survived before and that means that you will survive again. You don’t have to recover immediately. You don’t have to deal with things as soon as they happen. You’re allowed to have a bad day. What I encourage you not to do is underestimate yourself. You have the power to succeed, even in failure. Cling to your process and believe in your journey.

 

 

A: What is something we can do to strengthen the bonds between Howard women?

R: Acknowledging the presence of someone else goes a long way. I don’t think we understand or realize a lot of the time how just smiling at someone or waving at someone can make a difference in their day. I remember when I was younger a lot of the times when I was contemplating suicide all I wanted was for someone to say that they saw me or acknowledge my existence. That’s what broke the ice many times for me. We don’t have to be friends or be extremely involved with each other, just a simple interaction can help!

 

A: Name one quote you live by.

R: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”

 

A: Finish this sentence… “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for _________.”

R: I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for unconditional and unrequited love.

 

Howard’s campus is full of survivors of all types.  Many times we forget that everyone is going through some type of obstacle, fighting with some type of demon, or overcoming a struggle. Rozalyn’s story reminds us that we are only as great as we believe ourselves to be.  When we believe in ourselves and keep the faith, anything is possible. Let’s all take an oath to love ourselves and remind ourselves that we are indestructible women…remember that “the revolution is inside you.” You cannot be destroyed. #hcxo

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