The Mother of Women in Learning and Leadership

Even at the age of six, when most kids were just learning how to read she knew what she wanted. Back then, Rosie Driscoll, now a sophomore women and gender studies and history double major at The College of New Jersey, was trying to cajole her mother into not letting her go to school. While the rest of the class was learning the alphabet, she already knew how to read. She felt hindered by the teachers. It was at that same time she told her piano teacher that if she didn’t want to play a song she wouldn’t, and maybe it was shock or admiration of her spunk that the teacher complied. Driscoll’s ability to think for herself started at a young age, and has carried on with her ever since.

Now the proud feminist and college student has taken on the next big step in her already busy life: being the executive chair of Women in Learning and Leadership here at The College of New Jersey. WILL is a student organization at TCNJ that, according to its site, “provides active learning opportunities that empower women as leaders, fosters a deeper understanding of women’s roles and contributions to society, and offers opportunities for women to investigate career and life choices.” Starting off her freshman year as the fundraising chair, Driscoll was promoted to the executive chair position this year just in time for the organization’s 15th anniversary.

96 years. It has been 96 years since the 19th Amendment was enacted, allowing American women the right to vote, and yet women in the United States and all around the world are still experiencing gender inequality. According to the International Business Times, internationally women are still being paid less than men, in most countries earning on average 60-75 percent of men’s wages. Throughout this month of March feminists and allies alike are celebrating the accomplishments, trials, and tribulations of women everywhere in honor of it being Women’s History month. Under Driscoll, WILL has celebrated the month by bringing speakers like the well-known journalist and activist Gloria Steinem and the creator of Quist (an application that provides LGBTQ and HIV history) Sarah Prager, to campus as well as hosting other speakers and events aimed to inform and enlighten the college population.

Joining WILL has allowed Driscoll to put her authoritative and independent nature to use, especially on issues she feels strongly about. “I’m not one to use profanity often…” says Driscoll when discussing her “Fuck Trump” t-shirt design she recently sold as a fundraiser for the Women’s Center on campus. She was able to raise 167 dollars to buy books for the center “that will directly negate some of his values,” she says with a smile. The campaign started off as a simple t-shirt design for her friends, but escalated when the president of the Women’s Center, senior english and women and gender studies double major Jennie Sekanics, suggested she do it as a fundraiser. “Part of me hoped it would go viral and we would accidently sell 1,000”, Driscoll says with a laugh.

Her self-confidence and enthusiasm for what she is passionate about is infectious to those around her. Freshman special education and women and gender studies double major Abbey Moora believes that Rosie is a natural leader who does what she does because she truly cares. As the co-chair for community service for WILL, Moora says “I believe her passion is what drives her. I see her doing such a great job, that I too want to one day be able to do the same. Rosie certainly encourages me to do what I love.”

Junior deaf education and women and gender studies double major Kayla Termyna, who is also involved with WILL, plans on riding out the WILL program with Driscoll until graduation. The junior recalls how even though she and Driscoll were on separate committees during their first year of WILL, Driscoll was always willing to drop whatever she was doing in order to help her. Termyna says that Driscoll is one of those people who care so much, that sometimes the junior has to take a step back and wonder “How did I ever deserve a friend like her?”

Coming up this spring, Driscoll will be personally involved with multiple events like Lunafest, March to End Rape Culture, and Take Back the Night, which are annually done by WILL. During Lunafest, which is sponsored by the Luna Bars Corporation, short films created by women featuring women as their central characters will be played on campus. Driscoll believes this is important due to the lack female producers, directors, and strong female roles in the film industry, and that through this event “There’s a variety of women’s voices that are being listened to, heard, and acknowledged.”

“I firmly believe that everything big is made of something smaller,” says Driscoll. This is why she believes The March to End Rape Culture and Take Back the Night are especially important, because they are smaller events meant for anyone who has experienced sexual violence in any way. With a serious look in her eyes, Driscoll says “I think it makes a big difference to know that there are other people out there who care.” 

In regards to the future, the self- assured Driscoll paints an idealistic portrait of what she sees herself doing, when she’s not flagging down Modern Baseball concerts or baking brownies.

With a twinkle in her eye, she says “10 years down the road I’ll be 29, living in a semi-urban area, with an adopted dog I’m not allergic to, teaching or researching, working with a local community organization, and close enough to my friends and parents that I can see them on a regular basis.”