Jacklyn Xavier is the new engagement coordinator for Leadership Rhode Island. A marketing major, Xavier says, “Everything I learned at RIC can be applied to my engagement strategies.”
Jacklyn Xavier knew that her ability for leadership was always there inside her, but at Rhode Island College she really took the lead – both literally and figuratively. She became an award-winning track-and-field athlete, attaining the All-American title in the 4x100m relay, and has been on the Dean’s List every semester since her sophomore year.
“Rhode Island College gave me the opportunity to live my dreams, to run my heart out, to run with such a passion that my teammates and I were able to make it to the nationals,” says Xavier. “One of my best memories was winning the All-American. I feel very grateful to have participated in the athletic program when I did.”
In her senior year Xavier shelved her track shoes and joined the College Leadership Rhode Island (CLRI) program. It was 2019 and she was a marketing major, with minors in communication and data analytics. Upon completion of the CLRI program, she was singled out and asked to become co-chair of the 2021 incoming class. And in 2022 she was hired by CLRI’s parent organization – Leadership Rhode Island – as their full-time engagement coordinator.
Leadership Rhode Island recognizes leaders and invests in their personal and professional growth. CLRI is one of several programs under the auspices of Leadership Rhode Island. It is an academic, year-long program that prepares college students for professional life.
“When I joined CLRI in 2019 I was yearning to find professional connections in Rhode Island and to hone my leadership skills,” Xavier says.
As one of 49 CLRI students (seven from Rhode Island College), she spent the academic year (2019-2020) developing her leadership skills, learning how to develop professional networks and exploring careers in the nonprofit, private, public and philanthropic sectors. Her cohort met one Friday a month. Upon completion of the program, they joined the over-2,500 Leadership Rhode Island alumni (the current total is 2,900).
“Joining CLRI helped me become more engaged in Rhode Island, it exposed me to different organizations and businesses, I learned about different job sectors and I learned more about myself and what I wanted to achieve in the future,” she says. “The program also surrounded me with individuals who were on the same path and who inspired me to be the best version of myself. Many of my classmates are still lifelong friends, so I’m grateful to CLRI for introducing me to so many inspiring young adults and for helping me develop new skills.”
As Leadership Rhode Island’s new engagement coordinator, Xavier’s role is to keep alumni and the broader community engaged. Her tasks include creating content for Leadership Rhode Island’s social media sites and writing the bi-weekly e-newsletter.
“Through the e-newsletter, I keep alumni informed about what other alumni are doing and what professional opportunities may be available,” she explains. “Alumni will send me job openings or job postings or contact me if they’re looking for board members.”
She notes that her marketing major and minors prepared her for this position:
“My job at Leadership Rhode Island directly relates to what I studied at Rhode Island College,” she says. “That includes, digital marketing, market research, public speaking, creativity, data visualization, principles of advertising and a working knowledge of Spanish. Everything I learned at RIC can be applied to my engagement strategies.”
Xavier’s long-term goal is to become marketing manager of a firm or a nonprofit organization. However, she’s not waiting until she’s established to give back to her community. In 2020 she joined the Young Adult Community Advisory Board of the Rhode Island Black Business Association.
As a member of the board, Xavier helped create a pilot program called the Leadership Equity Accelerated Pathway (LEAP) Mentoring Program. This is a free, five-month mentoring program for BIPOC youth and young adults. Mentors are matched with mentees based on the mentees’ career interests. The mentor supports them with their academic and career goals, and mentees attend sessions on financial literacy, résumé building, networking opportunities, mental health support and more.
“I went through the LEAP Mentoring Program in 2020 and was blessed with a mentor who truly helped me navigate life,” Xavier says. “We’re still in contact. She’s been an amazing support system.”
Xavier remarks that joining the board is important to her because she knows firsthand how hard it is when you don’t have that support system.
“I didn’t have much guidance in high school as far as applying to colleges or applying for financial aid,” she says. “It’s very easy for BIPOC individuals to fall through the cracks and not receive the attention they deserve when it comes to navigating college and career paths.”
As a member of the Young Adult Community Advisory Board, Xavier can provide pathways to success for BIPOC students by eliminating barriers. “Giving people of color access to knowledge, skills and opportunities is something I take very seriously and take a lot of pride in,” she says.
As Xavier prepares for graduation in May, she looks back at her academic life in the School of Business, which she says gave her a “solid foundation.”
“I think the school’s number one strength is the commitment of the professors. Each professor I’ve had has shown real support in my educational journey and made going to school enjoyable. The classes also allowed me to be creative. I learned to think in new ways as far as problem solving, which really set me up for success. I think RIC has one of the only business schools that offers business classes in creativity. You hear about creativity in art classes but you don’t hear people talking about creativity in business.”
Her advice to prospective students – “Sit in the front of class. Not only is it the best view of the board, it shows your professors that you care about learning and that you are eager to learn. It helped me tremendously.”
Applications for the College Leadership Rhode Island Class of 2024 can be found on the CLRI website. RIC students are encouraged to apply.