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Leanne Roncolato ’07

Active in the campus and Geneva communities, Leanne Roncolato ’07 from Meadville, Penn., has served as co-chair of the Women's Collective, community service coordinator for the Latin American Organization, house manager for the multicultural house and in various other activist and community service roles. One of the cross country team's top runners, she studied in South Africa during the spring 2005 semester, where she interviewed Bishop Desmond Tutu.

On meeting and interviewing Desmond Tutu, her longtime hero, she said: “It was such an experience to see someone you’ve held as beyond human in their complete humanness.”

Roncolato was a recipient of the prestigious 2006 Salisbury International Internship stipend, which covered her expenses related to an international internship opportunity in Switzerland.

Learn details of Roncolato’s study abroad experience in South Africa.

Read Roncolato’s Switzerland online journal.

Why South Africa?
My interest in South Africa itself stemmed from an initial fascination with Desmond Tutu. This fascination expanded, as I learned South Africa's story of liberation and triumph over a seemingly unstoppable system of injustice, giving me hope for social movements and collective action. Two other reasons for my decision to go to South Africa were Dunbar Moodie and Thelma Pinto. I had them as professors my first year and discovered that they were amazing people.

Why Switzerland?
I ended up in Geneva, Switzerland because it’s the main base for the International Labor Organization. I found Geneva to be an intriguing place where people from all over the world merge together in the midst of international politics, humanitarian efforts and financial business. I worked in the integration department of the ILO. Our department lays a lot of the foundational research that contributes to policy recommendations and international reports. I had two projects during my 10 week internship. One was editing a book on child labor in India, looking at how the implementation of certain technologies might decrease the demand for working children. The second was doing initial research for my supervisor’s book on trade union rights in the Philippines. I had a great experience at the ILO and a wonderful supervisor who I look forward to working with again in the future.

After graduation?
I want to go to graduate school in the UK for Development Studies. I am looking at programs at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Oxford, and Cambridge. I am also considering taking a year off before graduate school to get more field experience, and possibly teach in Nicaragua.

Why William Smith?
I trust my intuition and when I stepped on campus it just felt right. Aside from intuition, there were also concrete reasons. I loved the coordinate system. I liked the feminist influence of an all women’s school, but appreciated that I would be in a co-ed environment. Also the fact that Geneva had a large Spanish speaking migrant population interested me, as I foresaw it as being a community with which I would want to be involved. And of course right off the bat I liked the cross country coach, Jack Warner, and knew it would be a great team for me.

Has the coordinate system had an impact on your education?
It has been incredibly important to me to have three women Deans. They are supportive of me individually but more so of the efforts of women's collective and NARAL. I am not sure I would have been able to find such strong support without the coordinate system and have so greatly appreciated all three of them over the years. 

Has William Smith College shaped your idea of leadership?
Absolutely. By being surrounded by strong women leaders, I have learned about the diversity of leadership styles. I think the greatest thing I have learned is that some of the best leadership comes not through one strong individual, but when several different forces come together, combining talents and strengths.

What are you currently reading?
The Mask of Zorro by Isabell Allende

 
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