Editor’s Note: “She Persisted” is a special weekly column for Women’s History Month featuring women who are making history on Manhattan College’s campus.
For Anna Rosario, a sophomore commuter student with a major in international studies and a double minor in peace studies and Spanish, Women’s History Month is about women who make a difference.
“We [women] are so important. People take advantage of us all the time. And I think we should be celebrated all the time, but it’s awesome that we have this month to look into our accomplishments and reflect,” she said.
Rosario has made quite a difference herself. The oldest of a family of eight, she’s been a natural leader her whole life.
Rosario is actively involved with Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA). Last year, as a freshman, Rosario participated in a L.O.V.E. trip to the Blackfeet Native American Reservation in Browning, Mont. It was here that her knowledge of poverty and injustice deepened, as life on reservations is plagued by sickness, addiction, and hardship.
In June, Rosario will lead a L.O.V.E. trip to the Dominican Republic, a destination which is close to her heart—Rosario is Dominican herself.
“One would think, why are you going to the Dominican, it’s like going home, but I never go to that side of the island. It’s very much underdeveloped, only recently have the roads been paved, and the residents now have 24 hour electricity. That’s not something I had to worry about growing up in the DR. So I want to know how the rest of my country is living,” Rosario said.
Rosario is also a Fair Trade assistant on campus, something she’s familiar with since her hometown, Teaneck, N.J., is a Fair Trade town. Rosario helps with planning and running Fair Trade events on campus that spread Fair Trade awareness.
“It’s giving people the pay they deserve. They get fair wages. I’m planning an event right now about women in fair trade, and how it’s given women a purpose in developing countries,” Rosario said.
Rosario will be attending the National Fair Trade Conference in Washington D.C. in March. This won’t be her first trip to the capitol with the school, however. She also recently attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, which focused on immigration and prison reform. In D.C., Rosario connected with a variety of non-profits and participated in lobbying on Capitol Hill in support of legislation like the DREAM Act.
Rosario also uses her passion for social justice on campus through her involvement with the Multicultural Center and especially Fuerza Latina, a club that immerses the community in Hispanic culture, and a club which she saved from being dropped from Student Engagement last year. She now serves as the president, a feat that she calls one of her biggest accomplishments.
“It [the club] was completely dead. There were two students trying to run it but they just didn’t have enough time, but I got a hold of it and my VP and I completely rewrote the constitution, and just started from the ground up. Coming into Manhattan, I didn’t know about the Latino community here, I didn’t see many Latino people, and I didn’t want that to be a deciding factor for other students. I want them to know that Hispanics are a force on campus,” she said.
On top of all of this, Rosario is also manager of the women’s basketball team, a job which she acquired last year as a freshman, and which she credits as a stepping stone for her involvement on campus.
“Before, I was very much of a shy person, I didn’t do anything. The moment I got involved in basketball, I started talking to more people, and then I met people from student government,” Rosario said.
Rosario now serves on student government as a commuter representative for the Commuter Student Association, and she also runs the Food Service Committee, which serves as a liaison between students and Gourmet Dining to address issues and feedback that students have for the dining halls.
Off campus, Rosario is a representative for International Movement of Catholic Students, a non-governmental organization (NGO), and often works at the United Nations. Her most recent accomplishment was attending a high level political forum at the UN, where she was one of the youngest representatives present, and it was there that Rosario was able to learn more about a movement she’s passionate about: implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.
“My role was to explain how I can bring back certain information that goes into my NGO’s Catholic teaching, and what we can do in order to get youth around the world to know what the SDGs are. I was still very new to the organization, and I knew I wanted to expand what I was doing, so I needed a team for that,” she said.
Rosario needed a team, and she did just that: she founded an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Committee here on campus to promote awareness about the SDGs. The members attended a UN forum in January.
“It [the event] was nice because it was directly lead by youth, we actually had a voice, and we could speak freely. It was good for our organization to be involved,” Rosario said.
Her passion for the SDGs for 2030 are what drives her work both on and off campus.
“The SDGs are a really big deal, and I feel like not enough young people know about them, so my committee and I are planning an event in the Spring here on campus to teach people about the goals and ways that we can implement them on campus and in our community. It’s something that people should know about,” she said.
Rosario’s dream job is to be a delegate at the UN.
“I want to be a foreign service officer. I want to get to travel for my job, but being in this field of social justice has made me more aware of poverty, and I’ve been asking myself what can we, as privileged youth, do about it? How can I use my Catholic faith in order to promote social justice? In doing what I’m doing now, it gives me a voice on certain policies that could end up being made to help youth in the future,” she said.