Alumni Reflections on 2020: Rose O’Brien (’18)

Rose is the Program Manager at the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation in Chicago, IL.

Rose O'Brien head shot photo

Rose O’Brien (’18)

What has been most difficult for you throughout this past year?

Like many people, the hardest part of 2020 has been stress about the wellness of my family. It was discouraging to think of the lost time making new friends in a new city, but the upside has been the increased time with my delightful grandmother.

What has been the most positive aspect of this past year for you, personally and/or professionally?

Working in a virtual environment has allowed me to advance my professional skills and be a part of conversations I might not have been a part of in an in-person environment. In addition to working full-time, I’ve also been taking a microeconomics course and been involved in election volunteering, which has been very gratifying. This year, I also connected with many great Wake Forest alumni through the APCDC.

How have you grown, changed, and developed throughout 2020?

This year, everyone in America shouldered a lot of personal and civic responsibility. Although this caused a lot of stress, I believe these challenges also strengthened my priority management and leadership skills. With each unexpected hurdle cleared, I felt more prepared for the next challenge and more confident in my ability to make tough decisions.

What lessons from 2020 will you take with you into the year(s) ahead?

I had a lot of time in 2020 to appreciate the lessons my grandmother lives by. She takes walks outside every day, appreciates natural beauty, keeps busy, and expresses gratitude at every opportunity. Professionally, I’ve learned that big challenges come with big opportunities. I’ve loved the variety of projects I’ve been able to rethink or even create from scratch, and been lucky to have colleagues who encourage and inspire creative thinking.