By Harold Crawford, Staff Writer
Rochelle Declue, academic coach in the Office of Multicultural Student Services, is starting a new transition after 36 years of hard-work and dedication to the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her last day at UMSL will be December 7.
Whoever fills Declue’s office will never be able to replace her spirit. When visiting her in her office, she pressed her hands to her face and gave a huge smile.
Declue was a student at UMSL from 1975 until 1979 in the trio program. Travis Ivory guided her in a direction that she felt was “tremendously empowering.” She said, “I started as business major, but I found out during my sophomore year that, because of my values, it was a little incongruent with the Machiavellian principles. My passion is helping people.”
She was going to quit attending school, because she did not want to finish her degree. She said, “I had no idea I could change my major. I thought that you had to finish with whatever major you began with.”
She went to talk to Ivory about leaving school. He replied with the words that changed the trajectory of her life. She remembered, “He looked at me and said, ‘Rochelle, no! You got a 3.6 GPA you’re doing great. All you have to do is change your major. We’re starting a social work program in the fall and that will be perfect for you.’”
She received her masters in social work from Washington University, because UMSL did not have its master’s program then. She also completed her certificate in Business.
She is a great role model of a social worker who is also an educational activist and strong advocate for social justice. She said, “I wanted to use my social work skills in the same capacity that it helped me, in a student support services program, particularly students of color. The social work program at UMSL started when I completed my degree and I have been with the University ever since then.”
Declue has been part of the multicultural student services retention program for the last 10 to 15 years. She said, “That has been my journey, but now I realize that now it is time for a transition into whatever the next will be. I know that it’s time for a transition for this juncture.”
Declue was not too sure where she was going, however she hopes she will still be in the field of social work. She said, “I’m sure that there will be a next, because I am a doer. I’m a social worker. I want to help. I believe it will have something to do with higher education, specifically for students of color. That is my passion.”