“Life is about experiences, the ones you make for yourself and the ones you make for others which are why I am extremely passionate about community service.”
As a college student, it is often difficult to find time to dedicate to community service, leadership, and civic education efforts. It is even tougher to do so while maintaining high standards of academics. Rosie Justilien, a recent graduate of the Emotional Disturbance/Learning Disabilities Program, has done just that.
Justilien decided to come to FSU “because of the superb quality of the program for my major [and] because of the C.A.R.E. program and the Education Learning Community in Cawthon Hall.” The Emotional Disturbance/Learning Disabilities Program is a three year program designed to award students with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree upon completion of all course requirements. While a student, she applied the knowledge gained through her coursework to volunteer extensively in Leon County Schools, working with students with disabilities in the classroom.
Justilien’s commitment to volunteerism also expanded beyond Leon County Schools. She was a member of the Haitian Cultural Club (HCC) and, through her involvement, has volunteered with organizations such as the Bethel’s Boys and Girls Club, Walker-Ford Community Center, and the Dick Howser Center for Childhood Services, Inc. She also served as the HCC’s community service chair where she coordinated numerous service opportunities such as the Bainbridge Translation Project, an annual project where members spend a week translating Creole to doctors who assist Haitian migrant workers in need of medical attention. This project inspired Justilien not only to serve the people of her cultural heritage, but to any individual in need. Additionally, this past summer Justilien volunteered over 700 hours as an intern for TASH in Washington, D.C. TASH is an international advocacy association of people with disabilities, their family members, other advocates and people who work in the disability field. During her internship, she coordinated the first student section within the association to provide student members opportunities to be agents of change in their communities through advocacy, research, and education. As a result, she was elected to serve a two year term on the national board of TASH as the Student Section President.
While spending countless hours volunteering as a student, Justilien was able to maintain and graduate with a 4.0 grade point average. Her astounding academic achievement earned her many honors including Golden Key National Honor Society, Jean Garvin Howenstine Scholar, Harry Truman Nominee, Garnet and Gold Leadership Honorary, Martin Luther King Jr. Book Stipend Award, and Phi Sigma Theta National Honor Society. She attributes her campus involvement to her memberships in honorary societies. “My involvement in organizations such as Golden Key National Honor Society, Garnet and Gold Key, and the Haitian Cultural Club have allowed me to volunteer in many areas on campus. In addition, working as a C.A.R.E. counselor for two consecutive summers has allowed me to work with incoming freshmen students to allow them to easily adjust to the FSU campus.”
Currently, Justilien is utilizing her knowledge and extensive volunteer experience as a member of Teach for America Corps in Miami, FL teaching at Horace Mann Middle School. After completing her two years of teaching, she intends to enroll either in graduate school to study public policy or in law school to study education law. She aims to be a driving force in the disability rights movement to advocate on the behalf of people with disabilities and to eliminate disparities in the areas of education and employment. “Life is about experiences, the ones you make for yourself and the ones you make for others which are why I am extremely passionate about community service.”