Jenelle Rouse – from the hidden shadows into the light

Jenelle Rouse has just this month received her doctorate in applied linguistics and has shifted her trajectory in new and exciting ways.  Her Sync Think piece focuses on the courage it has taken for her to move from the shadows into the light in a new tack, she’ll be developing her arts concept Multi-Lens in the months ahead with the learning from Sync.


A manipulated photo of a black woman slightly out of focus. 3 handshapes partially cover her face illustrating different lenses through which her eyes shine through her splayed fingers. A Multi-Lens logo is present.
In-n_Out of Focus (c) alice-lo.com

I have always been fascinated by the word ‘transformation’ and what it takes to transform. I have never been shy of carpe diem, or seizing the day. Yet, still the idea of leaving a known place to embark on a new unknown path up until now has felt frightening. While thinking about the Johari window model, shared with us as part of Sync, my reluctance to tread into unknown territory has meant that I have remained hidden in some aspects of my life. What if I didn’t have the skill or resources to move forward effectively?

With encouragement from a colleague, I applied and secured one of eight places in the new Sync Leadership Canada Programme. I took part in in a week-long, online, intensive session with in-depth coaching one-to-ones. The programme gave me the opportunity to connect with other leaders and facilitators who were like me, who had embraced individuality, and all of us with different ways of working through the siege of medical and societal barriers.

Although there was no in-person interaction amongst us, I felt positivity and a high level of energy. An authentic connection, engagement, openness and encouragement at every single online session. I took a pause and listened to words they used during our discussions through a real-time captioner and American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. While internalising words, I captured their meaning linking ideas, strategies, models, and metaphors, and that led me to think about my past, present and future.

My experience in the session led me to seriously reflect and delve deep into my desire and dreams. I was figuring out my purpose as a Black Deaf person with many roles, as an artist, educator and scholar. I learned more and more about who I am, the choices I make, and why, and I started to formulate goal-oriented actions to put myself in the best position possible to lead. Whilst listening to each leaders’ story, I looked at other role models in my life as examples of a type of leadership role I want to be – and what mission I have for my arts project, Multi-Lens.

Sync made me feel at ease to share my thoughts naturally in ASL and skill-fully supported me to reveal the hidden areas that I had not allowed myself to tap into – until now. The experience of collaboration, planning, creating and sharing whilst being rewarded with a lot of effective tools inspired me to have courage.

With courage as my friend, I shared a short stop-frame animation I made in response to one of the Sync challenges we were set. The film was an alternative version of a model showing my next steps showing a germinating plant, morphing and moving into something new. My very own transformation leadership journey.

After the intensive week of leadership learning, I realised I will not go on to unknown areas alone. I have a group of incredible, like-minded, and motivated leaders within Sync and outside of Sync too, who will back me up as I go on to grow and make innovatory changes.

My next step is to be comfortable with the idea of publicising Multi-Lens on a regular basis. In doing so, I will regularly post videos and images of ‘sneak peeks’ to guide the public as they become more familiar with the purpose behind the implementation of Multi-Lens.


You can follow Jenelle’s next moves on social media

Instagram: dancer.multi.lens.existence

Facebook: Jenelle Rouse

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