Alexa Rozell is unshakable.
On a Friday afternoon, the economics junior attempted to follow a homemade bread recipe. She removed one hand from kneading a gooey mass of bread dough and skeptically added more flour to the blob.
“No one teaches you how to do this,” she said, her head full of dark curls shaking as she laughed.
Rozell’s approach to making bread for a friend’s dinner party is similar to her approach to leadership: diving into it wholeheartedly and getting her hands dirty.
A new leader
Rozell is the first woman president of the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs, a club for the courageous innovators of Cal Poly. The role is not one for the faint of heart. Club meetings regularly see 50 members and aim to get attendees out of their comfort zone.
Her influence is reflected in the club. Rozell delegates tasks so each meeting runs smoothly with multiple members of the executive team tackling different jobs.
Rozell also interns at the Hatchery, an on-campus incubator for student startups. For the past year and a half, her boss, Lori Jordan, has watched Rozell help students tackle the challenges of starting a new business.
“She trusts people to do what they say they are going to do,” Director of Student Innovation Programs Jordan said. “They do things because she expects a lot of them.”
Though she leads with poise and confidence, Rozell’s humorous spunk also shines through. A recent Cal Poly Entrepreneurs workshop featured a series of high-energy improvisational games to teach students how to think on their feet and adapt to situations. Cotchett Education (building 2), room 210 nearly erupted with shouts and giggles as students acted out imaginary scenes and practiced mirroring each other’s dance moves. Rozell laughed along with the rest.
Odd one out
Despite being the current face of entrepreneurship at the university through leading Cal Poly Entrepreneurs, Rozell had no prior experience with the field before college.
“I didn’t know what entrepreneurship was when I got here,” Rozell said.
Rozell first got involved with the club when members conducted a workshop in her residence hall her freshman year. She soon found herself regularly going to club meetings where she developed friendships with some of the officers. At that time, there were only two other women members who regularly showed up to club meetings. Sometimes Rozell brought her roommates to even out the balance.
A few months after she joined, Rozell’s officer friends in Cal Poly Entrepreneurs convinced her to join the board. She was elected to a brand new position, member experience and recruitment, where she examined who attended meetings and why. Pretty soon, she noticed an interesting disparity among the officer group.
“It hit a point where I was the only female on the board, so that was weird because I wasn’t used to getting comments about it,” Rozell said.
The disparity seemed to bother other people more than it bothered her. As a woman studying economics, Rozell was used to being outnumbered by men.
Rozell did experience some challenges on the board relating to her gender. She often had a different point of view than the rest of the group.
“I was often on my own during whatever decision was being made,” she said.
Still, Rozell was comfortable in her leadership role and soon found another. During fall quarter of her sophomore year, she served as the back of house chair at TEDx San
According to Ashley White, executive producer of the TEDx, Rozell took the reigns backstage. She built and managed teams, planned the stage design and wrote scripts, among other responsibilities.
“She will do great things. I imagine she will do what she loves,” White said. “She will definitely be in a leadership role.”
And lead she would. Later that year, Rozell was elected the entrepreneurship club’s president. She soon brought on her own executive board. It was half women.
The result was not on purpose, she said; people were selected based on merit. Nevertheless, she may have pioneered the future of the club. Recent presidential elections for next year’s officers revealed a second
Jordan said Rozell will go “anywhere she wants” in life.
“One day I’m going to open up the New York Times and there will be an article about how she got where she is today,” Jordan said.
… and beyond
Twenty-year-old Rozell will graduate this spring after only three years at Cal Poly. Like everything else, she tackled school with fierce determination.
“She always seems to blow me away with how talented she is,” her father, Brett Rozell, said.
Though she does not know exactly where she will end up, Alexa has dreams of running a “Dirty Jobs”-type show for artists and creators.
“I like working with my hands, so I’d love doing that instead of sitting at a desk,” Alexa said.
One thing is certain: spunky and poised, Alexa Rozell is nothing but determined. The aroma of fresh-baked bread that floated out of her apartment later may well waft out of her C-Suite one day.