As educators, we are proud to feature stories that celebrate the success of our students and alumni, especially when their efforts contribute to the betterment of schools and their systems. Today we highlight Rochelle L. Franco as she tells her story becoming a leader, president and catalyst for positive change in her community.
I graduated in 2005 from Brandman University, formerly Chapman University College, in Roseville, California, with my Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership. While I was involved with the Folsom Lake College community where I worked, I didn't consider myself a "leader." But in June 2012, when I was within a week of ending my term as a union representative, a leadership opportunity presented itself. I had the chance to become the Classified State President.
While evaluating the situation I recognized that stepping up would involve a lot more work and more meetings, but I would have the chance to collaborate with a new college president to help shape the new direction and culture of our college. When this leadership opportunity came up, the Classified Senate was fading away and no one wanted to fill the president position. In addition, because of the fiscal state of California and looming pay cuts, morale was low among my classified colleagues. Stepping up to Classified State President wasn't going to be an easy job. I kicked around the idea for nearly a week and had talked myself out of it.
I have a color copy of my diploma on my desk. I see it every day. Then one day, glancing its way I asked myself,"Is that just a piece of paper behind glass, or does it actually mean something?" Ouch! I knew exactly what I had to do - step up to become Classified Senate President.
I wasn't new to the position as I held the office over a decade ago. I knew what was expected of me, but I knew that this experience wasn't going to be the same. The Senate I helped build over ten years ago was no longer and then there were the morale issues. I had to be more realistic with my expectations and realize that change wasn't going to happen overnight.
The 2012-2013 academic year was about building a strong foundation and letting my classified colleagues know they were appreciated. I knew that this was the time to "kick it up a notch." We held our first board retreat and with the feedback gathered from the group, we planned the course of the year. We learned that many staff didn't know what the Classified Senate was so we planned activities, and even published a newsletter to not only get the word out, but also provide staff members the opportunity to meet their Classified Senate Board members and others from across our three campuses. I pushed my officers and senators more than I did the previous year and boy did they respond and do some excellent work!
We capped off the 2013-2014 year by being 1 of 3 Classified Senates selected by 4CS (California Community Colleges Classified Senate) as a Model Senate. On June 20, 2014 I was proud to accept the Model Senate award at the Classified Leadership Institute in Ventura, California. The accolade is living proof that with hard work and dedication, a senate CAN rise from the ashes and THRIVE.
I'm grateful for the knowledge I gained in my organizational leadership program and I'm glad I can put into practice what I've learned. Thank you Chapman University/Brandman University! I am proud to report that I will be Classified Senate President for two more years. There is still so much more to be done and I hope to leave the next president in good hands with a strong Classified Senate.