photo of rachel mitchellRachel recently graduated Cum Laude with Distinction from Syracuse University with a triple major in Sociology, Policy Studies, and Citizenship and Civic Engagement. Rachel’s capstone focused on the holes that exist within the social safety net, and how to properly distribute information and resources to those in need whilst creating a network between third sector and government agencies to provide maximum care. While at Syracuse, she was also an intern grant writer for ACR Health in Syracuse, a non-profit that focuses on helping those with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses in addition to issues of poverty while maintaining a safe space without discrimination of race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, etc.

Post graduation, Rachel moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she works for the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center as the Community Engagement Coordinator doing Housing Rights community outreach specifically in terms of housing discrimination. She also volunteers for the Unanimous Jury Coalition and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. And in her spare time, she enjoys creating art and supporting community events in what she refers to as “this lively and artsy city.”

Rachel says, “I remember discovering the activist within myself at New Roots. Many institutions attempt to silence their students in an effort to keep the peace, whereas New Roots encouraged individuality. My resistance was not disbanded but encouraged when I saw the need to stand up or for something, which encouraged me to carry on with that determination.”

At Syracuse University, Rachel pursued this passion for making a difference through leadership positions in various organizations, including Graphic Design Chair for SASSE (Students Advocating for Sexual Safety and Empowerment), organizer of Coalition for Justice, and organizer of Nothing About Us Without Us.  She was also President of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. and a general body member of Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society and Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society.  

Rachel says, “Looking back at my time at New Roots, I see myself jumping over the most difficult barrier that I’ve ever had to overcome: myself. Coming to terms with who you truly are is a very difficult task, but without the quirky, open, educational, and truly REAL experience that New Roots provided for me, I would never have become the professional and academic activist that I am today.”

She continues, “New Roots created a space where competition, popularity, and the mainstream high school experience was replaced with acceptance, diversity, and refusal to give up on the part of both faculty and staff, where different wasn’t a bad thing, where we didn’t just study textbooks in theory but theories in practice, and where strangers would make sure that you were feeling okay. I believe wholeheartedly that New Roots and the mission behind it are MANY steps in the right direction for education and the youth of today’s generation.”