Rosemary Colen ’22 in teal attire outside on campus

April 29, 2020

For Rosemary Colen ’22, becoming a surgeon has been part of her plan since fifth grade. It was not until she attended and spoke at a “March for Our Lives” rally in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, during her senior year of high school that she realized there might be even more to her career goals. The student-led rally focused on preventing gun violence in the United States.

“That was when I knew that I was not just going to minor in political science; I wanted to pursue it as an actual career,” Colen said. “That was definitely a big turning point for me. All the interviews, all the talking and all the public speaking were when I knew that I didn’t just want to be a doctor.”

Colen has decided to major in political science, not to attend law school after her time at UNCW, but because she dreams of being elected to the U.S. Senate one day. She said people at the rally told her that she inspired them and that sparked her passion for wanting to be a representative of the public.

While some UNCW students’ hobbies might include surfing at Wrightsville Beach or volunteering in the community, Colen said her favorite hobby is being able to simply sit down with people and have meaningful conversations with them.

“As a child I was very outgoing and my personality has practically been the same my whole life,” Colen said. “I’ve been a little chatter box my whole life; I’ve just gotten more mature and now I know when to be quiet a little bit better.”

Colen was an orientation leader this past year, and leading the group of new UNCW students she named “Rose’s Raindrops” across campus was one of her favorite experiences at UNCW so far. Colen is also involved in the Campus Climate Committee, the Student Government Association, the Black Student Union and the NAACP. She said she would not be able to do all she does without the constant support of her peers, specifically those in SGA. Her involvement on campus has helped her appreciate the welcoming environment UNCW provides.

UNCW students have transitioned to remote learning for the remainder of the spring semester due to the current coronavirus pandemic. Colen said the most difficult part for her in switching to online learning has been managing her time and keeping up with her classwork, although she has learned that she is good at adapting to new situations.

“My new classroom is my three best friends in our apartment,” Colen said. “The internet connections are kind of bad, the groceries keep disappearing, TikToks never stop playing and I wouldn’t change it for the world—unless I could be back in a classroom, of course.”  

-- Alex Churchill ’21

Note: Photos of Rosemary Colen '22 were taken on campus in 2019.