Meet Jansen Rouillard, master’s student in educational leadership

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Media contact: Katie Lacey | Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 | kate.l.lacey@okstate.edu

Jansen Rouillard, an Oklahoma State University instructional leadership master’s student, is passionate about college students. Rouillard’s goal is to have a positive impact on first-year students by valuing student voice and empowering individuals. By emphasizing effective leadership and promoting diversity and inclusion, Rouillard hopes to impact students in the same way that professionals impacted him as a student.

Why did you choose to study at Oklahoma State University?

Choosing to study at Oklahoma State University was about coming home. My father is an alumnus of OSU. Growing up, it was like we always came to campus for football games, reunions, or to eat at Hideaway Pizza. When it came time to make a choice for graduate school, it was an easy decision because of how important OSU’s legacy is to me and my family. I have always felt a tangible community spirit at OSU, and wanted the opportunity to give back and participate in my community.

What are the highlights of your internship?

Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to the University of Georgia in Athens to work on the new student orientation program. This experience was unprecedented in every way. I had the opportunity to guide and facilitate the transition experience of over 7,000 freshmen, extend the reach of our efforts through social media, and engage some of the best and most brilliant leaders in student guidance that UGA had to offer. This experience was one of the highlights of my time in student affairs.

What is your favorite thing about working with freshmen?

I really enjoyed challenging myself personally and professionally by promoting a positive and sustainable transition experience for freshmen. In my current role as a graduate assistant at OSU, I have had the opportunity to develop and shape the transition and freshman experiences of students from diverse backgrounds and locations. I supplemented these students with lessons learned from my internship with new student orientation at UGA. I have observed how an effective transition experience can provide first-year students with valuable opportunities to create a sense of community, cultivate collaboration despite differences, refine their identity and values, and exercise their passions.

Why did you choose educational leadership?

I have always felt at home on college campuses, so the opportunity to pursue an education that can “turn college into a career” has been truly fruitful and exciting for me. When I think back to my most formative learning experiences, they all took place at university and were all guided by empowering and insightful professionals who helped me make sense of my experiences. I want to be that kind of professional for all students. However, I also want to be part of the movement that drives our profession forward and ask the kinds of questions that have never been asked before. While there is definitely a learning curve in this job, I have enjoyed what I have learned so far and look forward to continuing to expand my knowledge and experiences.

What advice would you give to a student considering pursuing a career in educational leadership?

I would advise students to look at their experiences outside of the formal academic space. Although I learned a lot from engaging conversations within the courses I took, the most valuable learning experiences occurred during my assistantship or internships. I have realized that these experiences are really what is valuable to potential employers and that I can make connections between your experiences and what an employer needs.

Can you share how you plan to impact instructional leadership after graduation?

By coming to better understand the profession and practices of educational leadership, I have come to recognize the responsibility I have as an aspiring professional to make the voice of students heard. As I learn to ask questions and eventually offer feedback, I need to focus my energy on listening to the answers students give me. When student voices are properly valued, students develop a sense of agency and are better able to articulate what they expect from their college experience. This, in turn, allows them to think more transformatively about their college experience, where they can have a magnified view of their development and make connections between experiences, relationships, and/or values.

I have also learned that effective educational leadership centered on the student experience can enable students to recognize that there is room for diverse experiences, to approach their own experience through the prism of inclusion and equity and to see themselves as individuals in the community. As an aspiring student affairs professional, I believe it is essential that we engage with students as partners and cultivate the ability to make student voices heard in their college experiences.

Story by: Sierra Walter | sierra.walter@okstate.edu

Janice G. Ball