On Thursday, May 11, Kingswood Oxford student, Rose Esselsytn ‘17 of Higganum was honored at the YWCA New Britain 2017 Women in Leadership Luncheon, held at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. This is the 17th Annual biennial, honoring extraordinary women in leadership. Its purpose is to bring attention to women’s issues, focusing on empowering women and eliminating wage disparity.
Esselsytn was nominated for her outstanding achievements, service, and contributions at school and in the community.
When Director of College Advising, Zaira Santiago learned of the qualifications the organization sought: “students who had accomplishments as a pioneer, an innovator, a leader and/or role model ", Santiago immediately thought of Rose. Santiago said, “Rose accomplishes all of those things.”
Esselstyn has been busy since she arrived at KO as a freshman. In addition to her work with the social justice club and the women’s advocacy group, Orange is the New Gray, she has pioneered the KOw Community Garden. Under her inspired eye, the garden, located behind the campus dining hall, has blossomed with 24 raised beds flourishing with kale, tomatoes, peppers, beets, squash, and herbs.
Recently, she took the project one step further in a wonderful full circle initiative and partnered with the KO dining hall, that uses the fresh produce from the garden in the school kitchen to make delicious meals for students, faculty, and campus visitors. Esselsytn explained, “While I started the garden with the focus to push local food, it was also done in an effort to help people live in the present. In today’s fast-paced world, I love to provide the opportunity for the community to disconnect from social media and reconnect with nature.”
Esselsytn continuously steps outside the box and takes on new adventures. Last year, her junior year, she attended the Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki. This program encourages students to take charge of their own education, cultivating individual and collaborative approaches to learning. During the semester, students engage with the world around them through their studies, meaningful work, and outdoor experiences. For Esselsytn, this experience was unparalleled, and a springboard for taking on new initiatives with vigor, vision and perseverance.
Santiago weighed in on Esselstyn’s semester, “What was truly remarkable was that Rose was so fearless about it. We had a lot of fun through the college process, and traded some great insights into how this experience has shaped her as a person.”
With a tenacity well beyond her years, Esselstyn explained the process of the garden’s creation wasn’t easy or pretty. She said, “It can be difficult to initiate change or progress. You do so much talking and planning and you can have so much passion in your words. But, that doesn’t always equate to having access to the necessary resources to follow through whether it be the professors, the money, the support, or the self confidence to make those words turn into actions.” She continued, “You have to be ready to experience some isolation, and be the only one that makes it happen. You have to feel disappointment, ask for help. Find help. Soak it up and take everything you can from the lessons you learn along the way.”
Keep your eyes open folks. This is a girl who is inspiring change. She does it all in stride, always looking to improve and take things to the next level. Said a humble Esselsytn, “I am not the loudest person in the room, but I know I can still make a difference.”