Mollie Rockafellow

A Spotlight Celebrating Women’s History Month

Mollie Rockafellow found her way to USF after growing up in Mount Carroll, a very small town in northwest Illinois. (“There is one stoplight in the county,” she explained.)  Rockafellow, newly-named Dean of Students at USF, got her undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, then went on to Western Illinois University to earn her master’s degree in College Student Personnel. She then earned another master’s in Business Administration from USF and is currently enrolled in USF’s Educational Leadership doctoral program.

Q. What led you to USF and what do you appreciate about being a Saint?
I love higher education and working with students who are taking some time in their life to dedicate to bettering themselves through education. I found USF through looking for institutions that really live their values and put student first. That is what I appreciate about being a Saint– from our president all the way through the organizational chart, there are so many people here at USF that care deeply about students and supporting them in their success.

Q. Talk about your new position here at USF— what will be exciting and what will be challenging?
A. In my new role as Dean of Students, I am very excited to work closely with students and school spirit. I will also be doing much of what I was doing before as the Director of Residence Education and Student Life, but as dean, my team and I are working on some fun initiatives like “Coffee with the Dean” and building relationships with students I haven’t connected with in the past. We are also working on a system to better connect with and support at-risk students. Lastly, I now oversee the Counseling and Health and Wellness department which has been a great and exciting new partnership!

Q. What’s your role with the Women’s History Month committee, what’s important about celebrating, and what are some of the March events you’re really looking forward to?
A. Joanna Kourtidis is the mastermind behind WHM committee. She has graciously allowed me to support the group by hosting book clubs and leading events. This committee as a whole is a passion project for so many on campus and I truly love that there are many events that bring women together and celebrate the overcoming of obstacles. This month there is a women in leadership breakfast on March 20 that is going to be awesome and several other amazing events to celebrate women!

Q. What makes a strong woman?
A. I don’t believe there is one single formula for strength. I believe every woman has strength, no one knows another person’s challenges and we should not judge each other. But, in raising my daughters I try to instill in them values surrounding loving through adversity, kindness to all (even those who are not in a place to show you kindness), and valuing their own strengths.

Q. Name one of your female role models (or more if you’ve got a few) and why?
A. My number one role model is my grandmother. She raised six kids and also my sister and I. She is a devout Catholic who spreads love and kindness wherever she can. She is an amazing woman I learned so much from. Also, there are many role models I have here on campus. Arlene Finkle is the hardest working woman I know. Also, the team of women I work with in Student and Alumni Affairs are amazing!

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve got for female (or any) students who might be reading?
A. The best advice I have is to believe in yourself. College is a very challenging time. Even though it is a privilege to be able to be a college student, that doesn’t mean this opportunity comes without challenges. Through those challenges it is so important to know that you can do this, you are supposed to be here and there are people who care deeply about you! (I’d love to tell you about it– stop by Motherhouse 138!)