Jennifer Rosko: Building an Environment for Students to Thrive

By Mitzi Baker

Jennifer Rosko talks with two students
Jennifer Rosko (right) has worked to foster interprofessional and interdisciplinary interactions among students at UCSF. Photo by Maurice Ramirez

Jennifer Rosko always knew that she wanted to help people in some way through health care.

As the director of Student Involvement and Programs at UC San Francisco, that help has been in creating the structure and atmosphere for students to foster interprofessional relationships, thrive and be successful.

Rosko, who was born and raised in San Francisco, said one of the ways she initially thought she would help people might be through nursing, as she came from a family of health care providers.

She applied to nursing school at UCSF but wasn’t accepted. “Everything happens for a reason,” says Rosko. “I didn’t get into grad school here. But I re-fell in love with the student affairs profession.”

Rosko originally left the Bay Area to attend college in Los Angeles, then she worked in student affairs at UC Irvine. She moved back to San Francisco and joined Student Life – part of Student Academic Affairs – at UCSF in 2010, earned a master’s degree in higher education from the University of San Francisco in 2013, and became the director of Student Involvement and Programs.

Improving Structure of the Student Government

One of the first tasks Rosko tackled in her new role was to improve the functional structure of the student government at UCSF. The campuswide student government was split in two: one that oversaw graduate programs, nursing and physical therapy and another in charge of dentistry, medicine and pharmacy. Some, but not all, of the schools also had school-specific governments resulting in inconsistent representation, Rosko says. “There really was no avenue to have students come together to discuss issues that affect all of them.”

In her role as director of Student Involvement and Programs, Jennifer Rosko organizes the yearly Chancellor's Reception and New Student Orientation, which brings together students from across UCSF to mingle and learn more about the University. Photo by Susan Merrell

Rosko worked with a student intern and a committee of student leaders for one year to provide the administrative force that was needed to accomplish a merger to unite all the schools’ governments – a process that included a cumbersome referendum process, a vote by the student body, and adherence to numerous policies established by the UC Office of the President.

“Our students are here to study to become future clinicians, researchers and health care providers,” she says. “Knowing what a referendum is and what the administrative process is not something they should have to spend hours figuring out. That is where I step in so they can devote their time advancing health worldwide.”

Fostering Interactions Among All Students

One of the offshoots of a single government is that it fosters interprofessional and interdisciplinary interactions in a very natural way, says Rosko. “Students at UCSF really want to be part of interprofessional teams, and I don’t know if they would have so many interactions or opportunities to think about outreach with each other, such as planning health fairs and recruitment events in the Bay Area community, if they weren’t a part of a unified student government.”

In the end, she says, she is thrilled to play a role in helping UCSF students become the health care workers, researchers and health sciences leaders of the future.

“Even though I may not be helping patients first hand as I once envisioned, I like to think that by creating a supportive, co-curricular environment for our students, I am helping our students become the best they can be,” she says. “I can only imagine what our students will do, what disease they are going to cure, and all the lives they are going to touch.”

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