As a middle school student in Chicago, Marylyn Rogel '17 was looking forward to attending Hubbard High School on the southwest side of the city. Not so fast, said one of her 8th grade teachers, who saw a spark in Rogel that she feared might be snuffed out in an urban public school setting.
“She insisted I go to a charter school and so my mom enrolled me in Gary Comer College Prep,” Rogel said. “I was disappointed at the time because my sister and all my friends were going to Hubbard. But I know it was the right decision.”
Rogel thrived at GCCP—she graduated sixth in her class of 123 students and took advantage of opportunities to take pre-college courses at Brown University and Northwestern.
She applied to 23 colleges and eventually settled on UVM. A first-generation college student, Rogel will graduate in May with a BA in sociology and a minor in critical race and ethnic studies.
Her first stop post-UVM is Miami, where she’ll begin a two-year stint as an elementary school teacher through the Teach for America Program, which accepts only 15% of applicants nationally.
“I see it as a way of giving back,” Rogel says. “I was fortunate to have some really committed teachers who set high standards. It made me realize what a positive impact a good teacher can have on students.”
Rogel’s parents grew up in Mexico, and her father had to forgo an education to work as a farm laborer. Her mother went to high school but didn’t have the opportunity to go to college—she worked in a tortilla factory to help support the family.
At UVM, Rogel developed the confidence to be a campus leader in social justice, encouraging conversations and actions around racism. In response to a series of unaddressed racial incidents at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2015, Rogel and classmate Bri Ball organized a rally and march in solidarity with Missouri students that drew several hundred UVM community members.
Building strong community is a big part of her UVM experience. Rogel served as director of La Casa, a Global Village House in UVM’s Living and Learning Center. She also volunteered as a navigator for the Multicultural Youth Program at Spectrum Youth and Family Services, a Burlington non-profit that counsels youth and their families from other cultures.
Going to graduate school and teaching at the college level is part of the long-range plan—she’s already getting a taste for that as a teaching assistant in professor Mary Burke’s “Sociology of Sexuality” course this semester.
For now, she’s focused on her Teaching for America opportunity and providing the same opportunities for students in underserved communities that she received.