The legacy of a leader

By Elisabeth Schnebele 

“By the Spirits of the just made perfect in their suffering, teach us in our turn, O Lord, to serve Thee as we ought; to give and not to count the cost; to fight; and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour; and not to seek any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy Will. Amen.” 

Rosen with her civic leadership award

Rosen with her civic leadership award

Isabeau Rosen lives by this Australian Rover Scout prayer. Both of her parents are scouts, and they instilled these values in her starting at an early age. “A big part of the scouting culture is the sentiment that the only thing that is yours is your honor,” Rosen said. “And that means putting service above all else.” 

Rosen has certainly done that during her time at UW Bothell, serving her fellow students as well as the greater community. As the service and civic engagement coordinator of SJOxACT (Social Justice Organizers and Achieving Community Transformation), she has brought a number of projects to the campus and expanded community interest in various legislative initiatives. 

In recognition of all that Rosen has done during her time at the University, she has been named one of the 2022 Chancellor’s Student Civic Leadership Award recipients. Each year, the University recognizes two student civic leaders. Sponsored by the Washington Campus Compact, the awards acknowledge students who address critical issues on campus and in their communities through service and social entrepreneurship. 

Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg supporting Rosen at the recognition ceremony

Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg with Rosen at the recognition ceremony

“Isabeau’s values are ever-present in her contributions to our campus and to the community,” said Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg, UW Bothell chancellor. “She has turned her commitment for civic engagement and service into opportunities to lead meaningful causes, and she has done an extraordinary job motivating others to do the same.” 

Standing up, speaking out 

Devin Phinazee, program manager of Student Engagement & Activities, nominated Rosen for the award and said, “Isabeau has worked with local community leaders to promote service projects around the community and to connect UW Bothell with their local legislators. She has proposed several ideas to administration to further increase the campus community’s civic engagement. She is extremely passionate and cares deeply about the work she is doing.” 

A dual citizen of the United States and Australia, Rosen became interested during middle school in how the two governments work, and by the time she was in high school, she was using that knowledge to advocate for others. In her sophomore year, for example, her school’s drama department was at risk of losing funding that would mean cutting the number of shows they could produce in half. 

“The drama department had given me so much. I've always had a deep love for the arts but as a student obsessed with AP scores and GPA boosts having a safe haven for me to be my true self was so rare. The drama department gave me that.”  

Responding to no 

The program was in place to support students — and consequently, she knew that their input mattered. She did extensive research on laws and government funding and wrote a speech that she delivered to the school board and more than 100 attendees. “Sadly, it didn’t work but looking back, that’s not what matters,” she said. “What matters is that hundreds of people heard what I had to say and that I owned my truth and stood up for myself and my classmates. It was also a good lesson to learn because in the world of activism, ‘no’ is a common response to your efforts.” 

Luckily, however, Rosen is not one who is deterred easily. She is now a sophomore at UW Bothell majoring in Media & Communication Studies and uses her position on the SJOxACT team to create events that educate students about pressing issues and empowers them to take action. 

In fall 2021, for example, she used the University’s connections to partner with the Washington Bus — a statewide movement-building organization that increases political access and participation for young people — to host a phone banking event on campus. “We made at least 60 calls that night, reaching out families, students, whoever we could to let people know they should vote,” she said. “It was incredibly successful. 

“There wasn’t a midterm or general election, so people weren’t that invested in the outcomes,” Rosen said. “I wanted to help them realize that there were still a lot of important decisions being made, so I got our SJOxACT team to partner with Washington Bus to give students opportunities to learn more about what initiatives were on the ballot.” 

Together we will 

Rosen (r) volunteering at the Threads and Treads on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Rosen (r) volunteering at the Threads and Treads on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Getting people involved is perhaps what drives Rosen most. For the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, she led an initiative to volunteer at Threads and Treads, a clothing bank providing Northshore School District families with quality donated clothing for school-age youth, teens, young adults and parents at no cost. 

“We sorted clothes and had conversations about socioeconomic status and asked if anyone among us had used a service like Threads and Treads before, and some volunteers were surprised to learn that many students do,” she said. “Having an event that incorporated conversation and action got to the heart of our mission as SJOs. Our mantra is that ‘uninformed action is harmful and information without action doesn’t accomplish much,’ so being able to combine information and action was just great.” 

Rosen employed the same strategy during Alternative Spring Break, which she helped to organize. This year, it took place at 21 Acres, a center for sustainable agriculture education in Woodinville, Washington. “The volunteers did about three hours of farm work while learning about personal sustainability and how they could contribute to the sustainability movement,” she said. “Most of our volunteers were STEM majors, who said the event gave them a look into a world they’d never paid attention to before. 

“Providing a wide range of service opportunities is really important to the work I do.” 

When hard work pays off 

Rosen’s biggest event yet is the creation and implementation of the Legislative Fair that took place on May 16. “It was a celebration of all things democratic and legislative,” Rosen said. “We had guests from the local community who work to directly create legislation as well as nonprofits that support democratic engagement.” 

Rosen setting up a table at the legislative fair

Rosen setting up a table at the Legislative Fair earlier this month

With help from Mila Sherman, director of government relations for the Associated Students of UW Bothell, Rosen was able to get Rami Al-Kabra, the City of Bothell deputy mayor, and Jenne Alderks, Bothell councilmember, to participate in the event. Also participating were local nonprofit organizations including the Washington Student Association, League of Education Voters and League of Women’s Voters. 

“One of the topics the nonprofits covered was voter suppression,” Rosen said. “Preventing specific groups of people from voting is a major issue, and the goal was to make people aware of it, understand its history as well as what it’s rooted in and what we can do to stop it. The other goal is to get people registered to vote so that come October it’s not as hectic.” 

Rosen said she is proud of all that she invested into the event and that “if just one person who wasn’t planning on voting decides to vote or if one person realizes they have more power than they thought they did, then I will have done my job.” 

A life of service 

Rosen was honored with the civic leadership award on April 15 at the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, Washington. Right before the ceremony, she and her father reflected on the scout prayer. “It really resonated,” she said. “It’s been my north star. I serve because it’s what I do, because people deserve respect — and I want to live a life with my arms wide open, always extending a hand to those who need it. 

“That is the heart of the prayer, and it is the heart of who I am.” 

And while Rosen always serves, she doesn’t always receive recognition. She said taking a moment to celebrate all that she has accomplished was a rare and fulfilling moment. “In this line of work, you are so focused on pushing forward that you don’t stop to look back,” she said. “It feels like I am rock climbing and getting this award was a ledge. 

“I was able to stop climbing for just a little bit, look down and say ‘wow, that is a lot of stuff down there,’ and then continue climbing.” 


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