Though raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from the age of eight, Jocelyn Bell’s earliest memories are of her birthplace – Lansing, Michigan. She remembers her mother, Sheila, implanting in her the love of learning. The woman would have Jocelyn check out library books, at least one of which had to be written by a black author or have a black main character. A report had to accompany every book read. Once, during her elementary school years, Sheila signed her up for a summer math and reading homework program. Looking back, Jocelyn is grateful that the pursuit of academic excellence was fostered in her at a tender age.
The young woman is now a National Achievement Finalist and a member of the Woodland Hills High School chapter of the National Honor Society. She is also part of the Gifted and Talented Education program. Jocelyn is Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, president of the school bible study, secretary of the school Spanish Club, Senior Student Representative to the School Board and a leader of Graphiti, the school’s literary magazine. She volunteers her time tutoring algebra and works as a peer tutor to 4th and 5th graders in her district. Jocelyn is also an active member of Covenant Church of Pittsburgh (CCOP), volunteering in the Children’s, Hospitality, Missions, and Choir departments. CCOP is a church that emphasizes the importance of international relationships. Clergy from all over the world visit the church and Jocelyn has traveled to London twice with her choir to sing at sister churches. As a result of these experiences with foreign cultures, she has realized that she is not only a United States citizen but a global citizen as well. She expanded her awareness of the world during the summer of 2007 when she traveled through Argentina for five weeks with nine strangers on a full scholarship from the World Affairs Council.
Jocelyn’s life has not been without its trials, though. In December of 2002 hardship struck her family from an unexpected source – her 19-year-old brother. The college sophomore had a nervous breakdown; her parents brought him home. For about five years Jocelyn watched her brother go through a cycle where he rose from his mental stupor then dove deeper into darkness. During those years, she learned that the world does not stop when your life has. “Rolling with the punches is not an option,” she says. “You have to fight back.” Jocelyn persevered in a despondent home environment, achieving academic excellence and re-building the trust in God which had been shaken by her circumstances. Today, her brother is miraculously restored to his right mind and Jocelyn has marveled at God’s gracious hand reviving her family. It was Elliot, a group member from the Argentina trip, who wrote to her, “Your warm, nurturing nature and your deep faith in God truly make you stand out as an exceptional human being.” Jocelyn uses this nature and faith to guide her in all of the decisions she makes in life. She hopes to one day be among world shakers and shapers.