Deacon Spotlight: Nehemiah Rolle

Nehemiah Rolle (2015 BA in Politics and International Affairs)

Senior Associate at The Roosevelt Institute in New York, NY

Nehemiah Rolle Headshot

Nehemiah Rolle (’15)

Tell us about your current role and what you’re currently working on.

The Roosevelt Network is the largest youth-driven policy organizations in the country. Organized on over 140 college campuses and in 40 states, we work with young people to write and enact policy change at the state and local levels. I specifically work lead all of our equity and inclusion work. Essentially, I work with our staff and student leadership to ensure that our trainings, chapter models, and leadership opportunities are designed to ensure that our members can fully participate in our mission and that this structural design is shaped by the awareness of their particular needs and lived experiences.

What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?

As a student, I led the Roosevelt chapter as President and served on the National Leadership as the 2013 Southern Regional Coordinator and 2014 Emerging Fellow in Foreign Policy. Those experiences shaped how I view the importance of policy change. Additionally, my involvement with the Pro Humanitate Institute was formative in my commitment to employing a justice lens to the public policy process. I further honed these commitments as 2016 Wake Forest Fellow in the Office of the Provost, working on various projects related to institutional equity and civic engagement.

What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?

You’re not going to love everything you do 1%00 of the time. From senior management to entry level, young professionals, we all have things we’d rather not do. But that’s why we must do them. It teaches you commitment and discipline, but most importantly – it teaches you interconnectivity. The menial tasks are often what undergird those big projects that you dream of working on. Mastering those opens up the opportunities to work on those big projects, do things differently, and ultimately figure out and own your value add to any organization.

What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college?

With your nose to the grindstone, don’t forget to look up and around every once awhile. Take those opportune moments for reflection. Make those invaluable moments for connection. You’re entering another formative chapter in your life, and the real gems often lie in those moments of reflection and connection. You know how to work hard. Now is the time to learn how to make meaning.

How have you made personal and professional relationships in your city, company, or community?

I’ve mostly built relationships one-on-one. As an introvert that expends way too much energy in a crowded city like New York, one-on-ones allow me to really focus on the other person, how our stories and experience intersect and diverge, and what we can build together. I’ve applied this approach to building relationships in the workplace and the community I’m trying to be more intentional in cultivating.

Have you been mentored by anyone at Wake Forest or in your professional life? If so, what impact has that relationship had on you?

I’ve had several mentors at Wake Forest! Brilliant faculty that entertained my half-formed ideas, compassionate administrators that walked with me along my journey, and students that really taught me how to think differently. All of these relationships taught me the value of authenticity, empathy, and that half the battle is showing up.

What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional job?

I know what you’re going through, friend. Shift that laser focus from figuring out where you’re going to end up to the possibilities of where you can start.

What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?

I’ll be at Roosevelt for the next three-four years, so I’m going to focus on being present in this moment. That said, my future likely lies at the intersection of politics and storytelling. As what forms those opportunities take began to unfold, I’m using my current role at Roosevelt to do more blogging, elevating the stories of our students, and always bringing us back to the story that makes us show up every day – when we invest in youth leadership, transformative change can happen.

Story published in May 2017. For current updates about Nehemiah, visit his LinkedIn page.