Rosanna Myers, Class of 2009 Baldwin Scholar, has always been fiercely independent.  Born to an American father and British mother, Rosanna was raised in England.  After high school, she decided to take a gap year; in her words, she was “suffocated by the prospect of taking the prescribed course in life.”  She lived alone in a remote indigenous reserve in Costa Rica, teaching school.

Rosanna asserts that the most fundamental choice she has made in her life and what really defines the person she is today was the decision to listen to her spirit and not her ego. 

“Our spirits are fearless and loving, they encourage us to live joyful, abundant lives and to connect deeply with others. Our egos are cautious and afraid; they discourage us from taking risks, venturing beyond our comfort zone or showing people who we truly are. They both play important roles, but we have a choice about which part of us gets to run the show.

I don’t know if the doubts ever completely disappear, but you can decide to feel the fear and do it anyway. It is always worth it in the end and seems easier the next time around. I fundamentally believe that if you can habituate following your highest guidance, you can create the life you’ve always wanted.  Joseph Campbell once said something that resonates deeply with me, ‘Follow your bliss and the world will open doors for you where there were only walls.' "

At Duke, Rosanna majored in Political Science, participated in Focus, studied abroad at Oxford, and sang with the Rhythm and Blue a capella group.

Her professional life as an entrepreneur began to take shape when she and Daniel Corkum won the high-tech track of the Duke Start-Up Challenge, a competition designed to help students develop entrepreneurial ventures and foster new businesses.

Their idea was to develop an environmentally-friendly “green” technology to chill water and other liquids roughly 120 times more efficiently than current solutions. Modern water coolers and drinking fountains can use up more energy per year than a large refrigerator.  Their prototype costs roughly five dollars per year to run, has only three moving parts, costs one third as much as a regular water cooler to manufacture, and can fit in a shoe box.

Rosanna and Daniel now run The Green Cooling Group, a business created from this idea.  She reflects, “I’d never imagined myself as an ‘entrepreneur’ or even someone remotely interested in business until sophomore year when my friend (and now business partner) suggested that I’d be great at it.  Growing up in England, I was less exposed to the culture of innovation that energizes America and so really unaware of my options.  Winning the Start-Up Challenge was an exhilarating experience and, from that moment, I was hooked.  I’d finally found a path that was right for me - something that allowed me to, in the truest sense, manifest my own destiny.”

When asked about a role model, Rosanna responds, “I never had ‘heroes’ growing up, nor did I look to particular people as role models. There were certainly people I respected and aspects I admired, but my ideal has always been more of a composite - a collage of cherry-picked parts from various people.

In the business world today, I most admire Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. Steve Jobs innovates on every plane and has uncompromising vision. Richard Branson brings boundless energy and creativity to his projects; he is never limited by what has come before. When it comes to helping others reach a higher ground, Oprah is formidable. My father was my first insight into the power and practice of transformational leadership. Although, Commander Adama from Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined series) would be a great model too!

There isn’t one individual who I want to emulate. In a lot of ways, I think it’s best to be your own role model.”

Rosanna encourages first-year women at Duke to explore.  “There are a mind-blowing amount of activities available to you at Duke and pursuing those opportunities can be incredibly enriching. Just don’t neglect to fit ‘you’ into the schedule. There is a tendency to become so wrapped up in ‘activities’ that we don’t take the time to reflect and grow inwardly. When that happens, you are more likely to make decisions that you perhaps feel pressured into or think you ‘should’ want, rather than pursuing a path that is totally in alignment with who you are.

The more that you understand and appreciate yourself, the happier and stronger you will be. Your deep self-awareness and inner strength will be what centers you during the maelstrom of commitments, what helps you find meaning and fulfillment in whatever you do and what gives you all the courage you could ever need.

Only 18 women will join the [Baldwin Scholars] program, but there will be significantly more phenomenal female leaders walking around campus. Regardless of whether you join the program or not, the best advice I can give to you is to really get to know and love who you are. From there, you can do anything.”