Kalamazoo College students are not only known for their high academic accomplishments, but also their pro-active engagement in the local communities outside campus. One of those students is Rojina Timsina ’24, who has been civically engaged in her local communities since high school. Rojina’s earliest civic engagement experience included volunteering with the Refugee Educational Center in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Once she arrived in Kalamazoo, her sophomore year of college, she was drawn to the work that the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) did in the Kalamazoo community. Through the CCE, she worked as a classroom aide at El Sol Elementary School, where she assisted the teacher in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Additionally, she worked as a monitor and tutor with the Homework Champions Tutoring program (HCT). Students who work with HTC join a partnership through the CCE that includes Kalamazoo Public Schools, the Refugee Outreach Collective and Western Michigan University to provide educational, emotional and holistic support to recently settled refugee students and their families in the Kalamazoo area.
This year, Rojina is one of the three Civic Engagement Scholars (CES) for the HCT program. As a CES, Rojina’s roles include recruiting K students for the program, facilitating orientations and reflection sessions, working toward expanding the program, and serving as a liaison between the K students and the community partners. “I was very drawn to the mission of HCT, and the group of very dedicated, aware and intentional people that were making this program happen,” Rojina said.
Rojina has also been involved in the public policy and non-profit sector during the past two summers. Through the CCE’s Community Building Internship program, she interned at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) (2022). As a public policy intern, she was working with coalitions around Michigan that were attempting to gain momentum on policies that would serve the communities they represented. Rojina’s favorite policy was the Drive Michigan Forward act that allowed Michigan residents to obtain a driver’s license regardless of their immigration status. Also through the CBI program, in 2023 Rojina interned at the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network, where she explored how the values of identity, belonging and agency are incorporated within the BIPOC youth programs. While studying abroad in Jordan, Rojina worked with a global organization called Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB). TBB connects refugees to international job opportunities, opening labor mobility as a complementary solution to traditional refugee resettlement. As an intern, she helped with the process of finding professional jobs overseas for refugees in Jordan and assisting them with the preparation process after they received the job.
Rojina is a senior working on her psychology major with an English minor. She enjoys the diversity of classes, viewpoints and ideas in both the psychology and English departments. “I have absolutely loved every class I have been in,” she said. “I have taken unique memories, knowledge, perspective, and ah-ha moments from every class. My First-Year Seminar, Culture of Slang, with Candace Combs challenged me to appreciate the uniqueness of my identity and find a community that I can fall back on to this day. One of my most beloved assignments has been a five-hour life history with a K student for my Narrative Analysis class with Dr. Gary Gregg. Some of my most significant memories this past year can be traced back to my beginning Arabic classes with Professor Anna Swank. The Arabic program at K really challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and paved a path for me to go abroad and live life in another language.”
Editor’s note: This story was written by Blagoja Naskovski, a senior at K, majoring economics with a minor in art history. Currently he serves as a social media ambassador for the College Marketing and Communications team.