When Malcolm X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” he could as well have been speaking about Jacqueline Rose, a devoted student who is committed to giving back through youth mentorship. Rose loves this quote, in part because it connects her with her mother, a great fan of Malcolm X. It is a quote that fits her well: the theme of education as a passport to the future runs through her life.
Rose has been preparing for a bright future since she was a child growing up in Pomona, California. Her father was a physician and her mother was an investigative reporter, so Rose’s childhood was spent immersed in knowledge and surrounded by people who believed that education is a key cornerstone to success. Rose has carried that same philosophy throughout her own life, and today she is nearing completion of her undergraduate studies: a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies at Antioch Los Angeles. Through the past, present, and well into the future, it’s clear that Rose’s passion for sharing the power of education with others guides her—mainly because of the positive impact that education has had in her journey.
Seeker of Knowledge
“I grew up in a close-knit community that valued and stressed the importance of knowledge as a lifelong journey where education was the avenue for improving,” Rose explains. “It was also considered a pathway to acquiring a good life.” Rose’s father was a conservative man who admired Martin Luther King Jr. He also shared W.E.B. Dubois’ philosophy that education was vital and would be the key to access and opportunity.
Rose’s mother, on the other hand, leaned more on the side of Malcolm X. She was an adamant believer that a foundation rooted in critical thinking and having a strong sense of African American culture and history of the diaspora was pivotal. As an investigative reporter, Rose’s mother deeply valued accuracy. It wasn’t enough to just have knowledge—one had to have a firm grasp on information that was precise. She challenged her daughter to be informed not only on what was happening locally but also about events worldwide.
This intellectual upbringing made Rose wise beyond her years. “Every conversation in our home was a chance to learn something new and determine practical applications for the concepts introduced,” Rose says. “[My mother] never cut to the chase, never tried to play down information that was shared. Being a young adult and a young child, I was privy to conversations surrounding the Iran Contra [scandal] and other elements taking place on a global scale. I had a thorough understanding of the world.”
Social Justice Awakening
Though Rose had awareness of world events, she was also conscious of what she saw daily through community involvement: a city, like so many others, that mixed affluent members of society, hard-working families, and marginalized citizens.
Rose had a kind heart full of love and a desire to protect people. She hated to see anyone bullied or facing any kind of injustice. When Rose was four or five, her Grandmother told her that she would become a teacher because of the compassion and empathy she had, even at such a young age. Rose’s hope then—as now—was to see people treated equally, with universal access to education, freedom, justice, and human rights.
From her youth, she knew that she desired to nurture and empower others. She realized she wanted to have a career in education because it would be a way that she could uplift and inspire others. If she could provide them with key skills and a sense of awareness similar to that which had been bestowed upon her, then they could unlock their own possibilities to enhance their future and do the same for others.
In 1992, she moved to Naples, Italy and taught English as a Second Language. She returned to the United States in 1997, relocating to Wisconsin. While learning more about her new town, she worked as a customer service representative at a local bank before being recruited to be the Cultural Diversity Outreach Specialist and Administrator for the Noel Compass Scholarship.
Rose adored working with the Noel Compass Scholars, AIG executive board members, managers, and University of Wisconsin Stevens Point staff. Within that position, she was able to recruit students, provide exposure to corporate etiquette and structure, and help students all the way through matriculation and internship. It was a powerful position in which to explore her desire to mentor. And this mentorship has proved to be something she continues both inside and outside of her work.
In the past decades, Rose has also volunteered extensively, providing assistance to parents, students, and institutions such as local school districts, community student organizations, and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Following a long gap in her own education, she eventually completed an associate’s degree in Communications from the University of Phoenix in 2012. She finished that degree at the same time she was preparing her own daughters for college.
Mentorship in Action through Antioch
In recent years, Rose found herself wanting to explore a deepening passion for photography and poetry. Remembering the way that study and formal education had enriched and empowered her throughout her life, Rose began looking for the right program in which to complete a bachelor’s degree. Her search ended up leading her to the BA in Liberal Studies program at Antioch Los Angeles. This program gave her the freedom to pursue her creative passions while also providing her with structure and rigor.
As a student at Antioch, Rose has found herself taking pride in the distinguished list of Antioch Alumni and Faculty. She is excited to be affiliated with the same institution where Terrence Robert—who led the Little Rock Nine—long served as core faculty and co-chair of the Master of Arts in Psychology. She also is proud to share an alma mater with Coretta Scott King, who attended Antioch College.
“The creative fortitude between those two people alone,” Rose says. “I started to notice how the school was involved in social justice and the actions of the campus. The profile of the campus. It was something I really wanted to do. It’s always been a part of my educational journey.”
Rose is close to graduating from Antioch but is taking her time to enjoy the remainder of her liberal arts classes. She says, “Creative writing is the place I want to be. Photography is the place I want to be. I want to have a degree and share this [expertise] because I’m hoping to work with young adults in a poetry setting where they can express themselves.”
Deep Involvement With the University
Antioch has played a major role in Rose’s career in more ways than one. In early 2021 she was hired by Antioch Los Angeles into a role as an Administrative Support Specialist—making her alma mater also her employer. And at Antioch Rose has continued to follow her calling as a mentor who teaches the value of education and imparts the knowledge of how to use it as a passport for access and opportunity.
Rose has become an enthusiastic participant in Antioch’s Messy Conversations series, which provides a venue for members of the Antioch community to gather and talk about important social justice issues. “I haven’t missed one,” says Rose. “You end up learning so much about yourself, which is the point. And the lesson is to figure out how to apply what you’ve learned to your own life.”
Messy Conversations has been especially relevant over the last year, due to the social justice movement ignited after the murder of George Floyd. Antioch has provided a safe space for students, faculty, and the community to get in dialogue with one another, having the messy conversations that will tear down racism and promote healing.
Another way that Rose is continuing to engage with the much-needed dialogue of issues pertaining to race and inequity is by working to revive the Black Student Union (BSU) on AULA’s campus. Rose explains, “Every campus should have affinity groups, because there are things that are very particular to Black and brown people that need to be addressed and that need to be discussed. I don’t think that campuses without affinity groups can fully serve their student bodies, their faculties, and their staff without them. It affects retention, enrollment. It affects matriculation. It affects the curriculum. If you don’t have that diversity in education, you are sending students out there unprepared.”
A Program To Mentor Young Professionals
Rose’s mentoring has been anchored in preparing students for excellence. She has been continuing her work by participating in the Urban League Young Professionals Mentorship Program in partnership with AULA. (Read more about it in our Common Thread article about the partnership.)
In this program, students from Antioch are empowered to be successful in the areas of career development, leadership, personal growth, and community contributions. The program offers seminars, resume workshops, career exploration, networking opportunities, and prepares students to be young professionals. “It’s a great program to be involved in,” Rose says. “You can ask questions, and you’re shown how to tackle hurdles.”
Rose’s work with the Urban League has continued a lifelong commitment that started when she was a child. “When I was a kid,” explains Rose, “my mom used to write a lot of stories on the Los Angeles County Urban League.” This allowed Rose to spend a lot of time at the Urban League’s space. “I always thought it was cool,” Rose says, “because they had all these classes and these rooms full of computers where I would just go in, jump on a computer. But I saw these high school kids excited about learning. I said this would be cool when I get to an age where I could go in and join them.”
Now Rose has returned as an adult—a true full-circle moment for her. She is giving back some of the time, resources, and expertise that previously were given to her by earlier generations of mentors.
A Ride on the Wild Side
Rose is a businesswoman, renaissance artist, intellectual, and scholar—an activist who is passionate about serving and inspiring others. She is not only continuing her work with the Urban League by mentoring young people, but she is also offering access and opportunity by recruiting students to go to college.
She’s not stopping there. Rose desires to one day create an outlet for expression where she will teach poetry to young people. Until then, she is acquiring stamps on her own passport by continuing to pursue her dreams as a creative free spirit. “One day I want to return to Italy to possibly study abroad,” she says. “I’m a poet. I’m a novice photographer, and I enjoy shooting landscapes. I hope to expand on that. I’m one of those girls that liked to jump on my motorcycle and go for a ride through the Menominee reservation [near Wausau, Wisconsin] and enjoy the beauty while inspiring myself to do the hard work that is necessary for social equality. I thrive in understanding culture and how I can be a part of change.”
Antoinette is an MFA candidate in fiction at Antioch University Los Angeles. This movie buff and foodie based in Cleveland, Ohio, also performs as a singer, editor, writing coach, and occasional movie extra.