• YEAR: Senior
  • MAJOR: Nursing
  • HOMETOWN: Avon, Indiana

Rolyn Clarke

Inspired by her family to pursue a nursing education, Rolyn Clarke is a passionate student leader who loves a fast-paced work environment and has earned a reputation of helping those in need. She is always finding new ways to leave a legacy that empowers future students to follow in her footsteps.

A helping hand

After her first year at Purdue, Rolyn says she realized she wanted to inspire others from her high school to go to college and chase their dreams, especially at Purdue. "The question I had was, 'Why do high school students fear applying to schools for which they are well qualified?'"

She developed the College Symposium at Ben Davis High School to help students hear about the college experience from recent alumni. The program has continued to encourage students to consider Purdue and other Indiana colleges as excellent steppingstones to a career after high school.

Leading awareness

ACCLAIM is an organization that brings together students in the College of Health and Human Sciences, particularly those from international and multicultural backgrounds, to provide support for academic success, social networking and professional development.

As president, Rolyn helped the organization overcome many challenges, including advisor changes, restructuring and introducing new events. One such event was a student wellness fair that applied classroom knowledge in a fun, interactive way while educating peers about health risks specific to their age group. "As future medical professionals, we believe community outreach, collaboration and dedication will provide opportunities to develop leadership skills," she says.

Empowering communities

As the cultural liaison for the African Student Association at Purdue, Rolyn organized the African College Symposium with four other universities in Indiana. "Second-generation African youth face cultural barriers and miss valuable opportunities because of the lack of understanding," she says.

Modeled after the program she created at her high school, the event addresses the needs that African immigrant families have in learning the college application process and overcoming language, cultural and economic barriers. It also provides information on selecting majors, scholarships, professional programs and becoming a student-athlete.

International tastes

Beyond the classroom, student organizations and community organizing, Rolyn finds harmony as a member of the Jahari Dance Troupe and in challenging herself in the kitchen. And avid cook, she develops new recipes and finds ways to include international perspectives in her kitchen inspirations.

"When I went on a study abroad trip in Italy, I discovered how they made fettuccine Alfredo," she says. "Now I make it all the time, calling my version a 'secret recipe.' If I had to spend one hour doing one activity, regardless of cost, it would be at a tropical location trying different foods. I love eating."