About Dr. Rochelle Newton
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I am like everyone else. I am mesh of the complexities of life. I grew up extremely poor in South Carolina. Many nights, I went without food. I was not raised by my biological parents. I was not the smartest kid in the building. No one expected much of me. I was supposed to be a poor black single mother in a poor neighborhood. Fate smiled at me and led me to a career in information technology (IT).
I started working in 1977. I lucked into a career in IT. Often times I was told there was no room for a black woman in IT leadership. They said, "We do not hire black women into senior roles. Black women are not smart. Black women are overly emotional. Black women are angry". Although I would receive small promotions and pay increases I could never achieve my full potential. I followed my IT career as far as it would take me.
Throughout my IT career, I saw problems that needed an advocate. I became that advocate. This work has led to NASITC. I believe in humanity and equality. It is my passion. I started Newton Advocacy & Strategic Inclusion and Tolerance consulting last year as a result of my feeling of invisibility throughout my entire work career. I decided to step away from my career and IT. My first action with NASITC was Dr. Rochelle Newton's Diversity Chats. I began to ask my colleagues and friends to share their career and life experiences. To date, I have chatted with over 200 people for all types of backgrounds. These chats assured me more was needed. During my 40+ years of IT, I saw many of my colleagues suffering many of the same workplace injustices. What was happening to me was happening all around me and not just Black and brown people and IT. It was also happening to white women and white men. It was not easy to dissect the logic of why some people advanced and others did not. This was the final impetus for NASITC. Newton Advocacy & Strategic Inclusion & Tolerance Consulting (NASITC)'s mission is to assist everyone move from good to great and get the much deserved recognition. We are an international organization.
You are already great! Although some of those around us may not see our greatness, it has always been there. With NASITC, our goals are to assist individuals and organizations bring voices to functionality and productivity. For individuals, we create the good to great brand. For organizations, we identify opportunities for augmenting staff's ideas, thoughts, processes that increase functionality and productivity. Consider NASITC your next flight to greatness as we create your brand, cement your voice, and ratify how you see the world around you and promote (brand) yourself. Why us? We have more than 40 years of human resources and IT experience. We are passionate about yourself. We will be here with you every step of the way as long as you wish to be our client.
Growing up financially insecure meant I was also food insecure. I was hungry most days. Some days I had one meal. The meal may simply be rice and butter or bread and butter. If we were lucky, we had seafood. We lived close enough to the ocean that my mother would catch whatever she could and cook it. Those were glory days. Food and financial insecurity are devastating just because. When you add people to the mix, the embarrassment of others knowing your situation shades you away from others. Once I had a career and IT, I was no longer hungry. The trauma of my youth shaped my views and my interactions. I stayed away from people as much as I could and work in IT allowed me to be isolated from the world around me. My soul and my spirit were broken - another kind of hungry. I could not see the plights of others. I was soul blind. But, life is always a teacher. Whether we learn the lessons depend on where we are on our journey If we are ready, the lessons becomes blessings. Over time, I began to learn the lessons of humanity. As my eyes cleared and I saw that I was not the only one, hungry, hurt, or feeling alone. I now wanted to save the world.
I began to feed anyone who wanted a home cooked meal. Through the years, I have feed hundreds if not thousands. During my daughter's formative years, I took in two sets of sisters and raised them as my own for several years. My house was always an open door. In 2008, I started at Duke University as a senior manager IT. During my rounds, I began to talk with students. I learned many could not go home during holidays or days when the school was closed. or wanted a home cook meal. I invited many students to join my family for Sunday dinners. To date, I have fed more than 500 Duke, UNC-CH, and NCCU students. If not for Covid, I would still be feeding large groups. One student wrote a letter (included here) about my meals.
In addition to feeding and helping students navigate their future, I also started the first food insecurity campus assessment group at Duke. Through an IRB, we surveyed more than 6500 students. Our findings were startling.
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing on behalf of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and several of the L.L.M.’s of color in the law school community to express that Rochelle Newton has been a driving force behind our success here at Duke Law. Although Rochelle serves as an I.T. Manager for the law school she has consistently gone above and beyond her role to ensure that the Black J.D. students and L.L.M. students are supported in the unique ways they require. Rochelle ensures students do not go hungry, connects students to the North Carolina legal community, and provides much needed comfort and support for the difficult burden of learning to be a lawyer while also being a Black student and professional. For these reasons, Rochelle should be recognized for her outstanding service to the Duke Law community.
Rochelle first introduced herself to the Class of 2019 when she invited us into her home to enjoy a homecooked meal. She has invited students into her home weekly for fellowship for the past nine of her eleven years at Duke Law. This was especially supportive for students who were far from home and family such as the L.L.M. students. Rochelle has continued to invite BLSA into her home every Sunday, both on open invitation and on particular occasions, for the entirety of my time at Duke Law. Knowing I had somewhere to go for a sense of family that I could not always find amongst my own peers made me feel much more welcome in the Duke Law community overall, and thus profoundly shaped my experience at Duke. Rochelle’s generosity enabled me and many other students to navigate the difficulties of law school from a “home base” which empowered students to feel comfortable taking productive academic risks in the law school. Her Sunday dinners and willingness to make herself available to any student in need have truly helped to sustain us throughout law school.
Further, Rochelle has purposefully connected many Black students to Black professionals of the North Carolina legal community. This includes lawyers ranging from Ken Lewis, corporate attorney at Nexsen Pruet, to Allyson Duncan, a recently retired judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, to Cheri Beasley, the recently appointed Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. In fact, several students have managed to earn clerkship and externship opportunities in North Carolina through the personal connections Rochelle has facilitated. Thus, Rochelle has reached out to help any student who needed her help and to advance their professional development within her capabilities. Indeed, her unwavering support has supplemented the efforts of the Duke Law career center in preparing students for the legal profession.
Finally, Rochelle is a fierce advocate for integrating the use and understanding of technology into the law school curriculum. I distinctly remember being told in “Smart Contract Drafting” by Professor Erika Buell that fluency with blockchain, cryptocurrency, and similarly new financial technologies would be in-demand skills for the legal profession in the coming years. Rochelle has created efforts to bring this curriculum to the law school through initiatives such as the Law Tech Hub. She meets regularly with student organization leaders to offer sessions on using technology, and to inquire about ways she can support entire organizations through the Tech Hub. Additionally, Rochelle pushes us to expand our understanding of the interconnectedness of technology and race, and the role this intersection will play in our lives as lawyers and students of color.
One of the biggest challenges of law school for all who enter are the feelings of isolation that attend to a demanding workload and class schedule. For black students, who often find themselves in a totally foreign academic environment (to a larger extent than even undergrad was for some), these feelings of isolation are enhanced despite general efforts by the law school to build community. Issues around race and inclusion permeate our entire society and unfortunately Duke Law school is no exception. Thus, Rochelle’s efforts help demonstrate that at Duke Law there is a viable community that Black students can truly feel a part of because the community reflects their unique challenges and aspirations as emerging Black lawyers.
Overall, Rochelle Newton has been and continues to be a stellar mentor and vital asset to the law school. She is an important bridge between what resources the law school offers to specifically support Black students and what those students actually need to be successful in law school. For these reasons, we strongly urge that Rochelle Newton be recognized for her invaluable service to the students of Duke Law. We hope that she is able to continue this role in the future, and that the law school will invest in her efforts to create a more inclusive environment at Duke Law.
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