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Student Spotlight: Samantha DaRocha

Meet Samantha DaRocha, a senior here at Roger Williams studying Legal Studies and history. She is involved with community engagement as a Hassenfeld Fellow and that means she has been given the opportunity to propose a program or project of their own based on their interest to benefit a local or global community. This leadership program gives the students real-life experiences that will further deepen their academic, civic, and human interactions. With that being said, when asked what “Community Engagement” meant to her, Samantha responded, “Community engagement means working with organizations in the greater area to help them improve based on their needs. It means working with these partners, rather than for these partners.”

In the past, Samantha has worked with community partners in projects that involve the Bristol Historical Society, Indigenous Peoples Tribal Land Court Case, and Animal Studies Project with Winslow farms. However, she is currently working with the Antioch School through their public speaking program. They are a small, non-profit school in Fall River, Ma. Their mission is to educate students, Particularly with a rigorous middle school curriculum, to prepare them for high school. The goal of her project is to develop their public speaking, rhetoric, research, and writing skills to help them in high school and beyond.

It being Samantha’s first year as a Hassenfeld she has had the opportunity to work on some other projects, but working at the Antioch school was her favorite project. When asked what her favorite memory was while working on her project she describes her final mock trials with the kids at the end of the school year. She described, “The kids get the opportunity to argue as attorneys in a mock trial. Although they are only in middle school, they argue the same case that all Massachusetts high schools argue. It's always fun to see how far they've come, especially with their confidence. Every year, I'm always surprised and impressed at the cases they put together and their presentation of that case.” Samantha takes much pride in the work she has done for her community and the progress of the kids she is so lucky to teach.

When asked how has working on these projects affected her experience as a student she says, “ It’s helped me create connections to the outside community as well as gave me hands-on experience to add to a resume.” Through her Hassenfeld Fellowship, she has been given the opportunity to do something she is passionate about while making a difference.

This spring, Samantha will be graduating to continue with her studies at law school in the hope of becoming an attorney one day!

Author: Tiara Osgood

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