Jaquelin Rosas is a member of Mary Baldwin’s cross country and track & field teams as well as The Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership. As a member of the class of 2020, Rosas plans to major in social work while minoring in leadership, political science and peacemaking & conflict resolution.
As an AROTC cadet, she was selected this summer to spend three weeks in the country of Senegal, which is located on Africa’s west coast, through the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program (CULP).
She engaged in three sets of missions: military to military, community outreach and cultural/language exchange.
She became immersed in the Senegalese military structure at the Ecole Nationale des Officiers d’Active (ENOA) barracks. ENOA, the equivalent of the United States West Point, pushes cadets beyond their limitations to become officers protecting internal security measures. She ate meals with the cadets and learned they are given the opportunity to serve in a unit within or close to their home of origin. Clearly, the cadets shared a strong brotherhood.
In reaching out to the community, Rosas participated in building a fence to prohibit animals from destroying crops while also helping with the construction of a school house at a small village. She also visited a local orphanage to deliver much needed diapers and played with the orphans.
As part of the cultural exchange, she visited the city of St. Louis, the basket market and Tapestry Museum and Decorative Arts Factory in Thies as well as the Kaolack region, Iles de la Madeleine, Toubacouta, Accrobaobab and Bandia Reserve.
“Every day I learned to have a greater appreciation of what I do have rather than what I do not,” said Rosas. “In Senegal, they appreciate the smallest things in life from a simple smile to sharing a laugh with their neighbors. Their definition of family transpires bloodlines. They treat complete strangers to home cooked meals and a place to sleep. They invited me into their homes and made me feel as if I was a part of their family. They actively shared the limited resources they had with me and my team.”
Her favorite memory was visiting Berum’s village. Here they became part of his family gathering water, participating in a wedding, helping build concrete flooring around their schoolhouse, playing with children and learning the daily life of Senegalese women in his village.
Reflecting on the experience as a student-athlete, Rosas said, “Senegalese culture reinforces the importance of teamwork, trust and family. They entrust one another to do what is expected and go beyond it. They rely on one another during the most crucial times and treat each other as family even though they are not related by blood.”