Meet Luminary Leader Rosie Cohen
Luminary Leaders is a network that connects youth leaders to opportunities throughout the Association. A number of opportunities are available this year, including a drawing to win up to $500 in scholarship assistance for a UU event. You can learn more at www.uua.org/luminary. Below you’ll find the latest in our Luminary Leader Profiles, honoring recently recognized youth for their outstanding service to our faith.
Luminary Leader Profile: Rosie Cohen
Name: Rosie Cohen Congregation:River Road Unitarian Universalist District:Joseph Priestley District Leadership Highlights: – National Youth Justice Summit 2012 – Social Justice Council Youth Representative
A senior in high school, Rosie Cohen is committed to social justice work and activism in her community, nationally and abroad. From organizing a cardboard city fundraiser and demonstration to raise awareness about area homelessness – including a food drive, teach-in and discussion of misconceptions and stereotype – to traveling to El Salvador with a youth delegation from her congregation to support a community’s work in constructing an elementary school, Rosie has put her passion into action.We asked Rosie to tell us more about why she does the work she does and what her advice is for youth looking to get involved in justice work.
BB: You mentioned a lot of social justice work in your submission to us. Why is that work important to you as a Unitarian Universalist? RC: As a radical social activist, I really don't like following rules. However, the first UU principle is like a mantra guiding me in my actions. Being raised in a congregational community that has always encouraged me to define right and wrong for myself, and then in turn use those values in my everyday actions has helped me figure out what I want to do with my life. For me, putting these values of right, wrong, and inherent worth and dignity into action takes the form of social activism in my community.
BB: Do you have a particularly memorable experience you’d like to share with our readers? RC: A key moment for me was sometime during the National Youth Justice Summit I attended in 2012. I knew I was passionate about specific issues, but I didn't fully realize that I could actually make a living out of these passions. Seeing amazing community organizations in action during the Boston week was incredibly inspiring for me. Learning techniques of community organizing, leadership, and connection-building, I knew during those moments that I could actually affect some form of change in the real world.Ed note: Read Rosie’s reflection on her National Youth Justice Summit experience, "The Motivation to Take On Anything", on the UU College of Social Justice website.
BB: What advice would you give to youth who want to get involved with these types of issues in their own communities? RC: Ask yourself what really makes you mad. What about your community do you wish was just a little bit different? For me it was anything from homelessness to the degradation of women on the streets. Learn as much as you can about your issue, and go crazy. Take chances. Make mistakes. Be idealistic. March in the streets.
BB: What’s next for you? RC: Right now I'm applying to colleges, and I will certainly be continuing some kind of social activism wherever I go. My senior year will hopefully include more community projects I have yet to organize, as well as lots of protesting.
Luminary Leaders accepts registrations on a rolling basis. Join now to be entered into a drawing for up to $500 in scholarship assistance to attend the UU event of your choice. Learn more at www.uua.org/luminary.