How have your experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology. How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?” (Please limit your response to 650 words.)
The fight for social justice has been a foundational mission of my faith and family. In elementary and middle school, I enjoyed serving the community through Isaiah’s Room, my church’s ministry to the needy, even if it meant I’d have to simply slice bread. Today, I continue to serve in that ministry, but in a greater capacity. Working to provide more opportunities for the underserved has allowed my passion for service to bloom.
This year, I was able to organize laundry services for our less fortunate friends. Through personal interactions, they expressed a need for clean clothing, a privilege we often take for granted. Our community homeless shelter is unable to provide enough laundry services to supply the great demand of our homeless population. I’ve recognized how direct engagement with communities, along with research, is essential to meeting their needs. Although Isaiah’s Room provides some necessities, I’ve come to realize that these are really Band-Aid fixes. Meals, clothing, and laundry services will certainly help our friends in need, but they won’t transform their lives entirely. I want to put an end to societal issues, straight from their roots, beginning with public policy. Fostering change through service, as my church does, is truly impactful. However, pairing service with eradicating issues, such as systemic poverty through policy reform, is even more powerful.
As organizations, like religious institutions, continue to play a vital role in helping the indigent with practical services, I need the analytical wherewithal to address the effectiveness of public policy and help make a collaborative difference in the lives of those in need. This is precisely what the Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) major in the College of Human Ecology aims to achieve. The interdisciplinary strategy of Cornell’s PAM major, inclusive of economics, sociology, demography, political science and public health, is exactly the type of education I need and desire at this juncture.
Throughout my college search, I believed majoring in business was the route I should take for the next four years. I was laser focused on applying to business schools because of my desire to work in nonprofit management until I looked deeply at Cornell. When I discovered Cornell’s PAM major and Inequality Studies minor, I knew I had found a very personal fit. I’m excited about the opportunity to take courses such as Race and Public Policy, Economic Analysis of the Welfare State, Families and Social Inequality, as well as attend symposiums and experience the variety of speakers through the Center for the Study of Inequality.
I can see the negative impact public policy has historically had on my segregated city of New Rochelle. It’s reflected in AP and Honors classes at our single high school, where African American students are underrepresented more drastically than any other minority. As well, the layout of neighborhoods in my city fosters segregation. The wealthy, white, and Jewish families live on the north side of the city while mostly middle and lower class African American, Latino, and Asian families live on the south end. In both instances, I’m an exception. I want to stand on my privilege and effect change in communities like my own.
I currently serve on the youth council of Robin Hood, which is the largest nonprofit organization in New York City. They’re deeply invested in analyzing programs and methods of delivering services that work best. I’m intrigued by their relentless pursuit of the qualitative and quantitative research necessary to make informed funding decisions. I’ve already been offered an internship this coming summer to learn beside their Chief Operating Officer that I, wholeheartedly, plan to accept. As a future nonprofit head, it’s my plan to develop the capacity to evaluate both the public policy and community organizations that can make the greatest difference in the lives of people who are stuck at the margins of society.