Student ambassadors work together on program research and benchmarking, cultivating campus partnerships, developing curriculum, planning events and retreats, reviewing and promoting application materials, and reporting to internal and external stakeholders. We welcome you to read through our profiles and contact any of the ambassadors about their engagement experiences.
Jaylexia Clark is a second year student in the Industrial and Labor Relations School at Cornell University. As a native Floridian she represented the U.S. during the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship in the summer of 2015. During her freshman she was selected to be a Public Service Scholar, a program that allows students to create their own domestic based service project while simultaneously altering the way students think about service. Due to her work in service she was awarded the 2015 Outstanding Young Adult Service Award by Hillsborough County. Besides service, she is heavily interested in public policies that help to build traditionally oppressed communities and hopes to minor in Policy Analysis and Management as well as Law and Society to better understand how to create such policies.
In 2016, she participated in Harvard’s Public Policy Leadership Conference. Additionally, in the summer of 2016 she worked in Buffalo, New York, with the Learning Disabilities Association to push for public policy that empowers and creates a more inclusive environment for individuals who have a disability. Jaylexia currently serves as the Vice President of Member Relations for Minority ILR, a student organization, as well as, on the executive board of Black Students United as the Co-Chair President. Through all of the organizations she works with, especially as an Engaged Student Ambassador, she hopes to empower other individuals to work together with their fellow man to create a more representative democracy based on social, cultural and economic equity.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” — Philippians 4:13 KJV Bible
Shayra is a Biology and Society & Information Science junior in CALS, with a minor in Applied Economics and Management. After working with various nonprofits, such as AIESEC and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, to promote intercultural exchange and appreciation, she wanted to learn more about impact of community-engagement projects on the Cornell community. As an Engaged Student Ambassador, Shayra is currently working with Making More Health and the Clinton Global Initiative University to educate and empower more students to participate in social entrepreneurship on campus.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Imani is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. As an Engaged Student Ambassador, Imani brings her enthusiasm for social impact and community engagement to develop a Community Organizing Guide for students seeking to start their own initiatives and to create project development workshops for the Clinton Global Initiative University Cornell delegates attending the annual meeting. Imani’s passion for community engagement was cultivated in her boarding school experience, where she worked to create an inclusive environment for women, people of color, and politically open-minded individuals. At Cornell, Imani serves her community as Treasurer of Les Femmes de Substance, a pre-professional organization for women of color, as Human Resources Manage of Anabel’s Grocery, a student-run grocery store with the mission of eradicating food insecurity on campus, and as a Brother in the Professional Business Fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. Imani is also passionate about support global communities, as exhibited in her time spent abroad in Spain and Colombia.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” — 2 Corinthians 4:18
Jesse is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and intends to major in Information Science with minors in Spanish and Health Policy. She is originally from New York City, but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. After her first year at Cornell, Jesse is interested in pursuing the intersection of healthcare and technology and would love to apply her studies to help the greater community.
Jesse is currently working on the Community-Engaged Student Travel Grants (CESTG), as well as becoming an e-Portfolio consultant to eventually integrate e-Portfolio technology into the Engaged Student Ambassador curriculum. Jesse hopes that working as an Ambassador will allow her to gain valuable leadership skills and eventually hopes to participate in an engaged-learning initiative.
On campus Jesse is involved in her sorority, which does monthly philanthropy events for its national charity. In addition to being an Ambassador, she is involved in other clubs and organizations, including the Cornell Reserve Tennis team, and will join TEDxCornell this semester. She has enjoyed working with Engaged Leadership, so far and is excited for the rest of the year!
“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” — Mary Oliver
Melania Mora Tomas
Melania is a senior in CALS, double majoring in Applied Economics and Management (AEM) and International Agriculture and Rural Development (IARD). She was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, where she was first introduced to the field of community engagement. A strong sense of discomfort towards injustice and inequality, as well as a conviction that life’s purpose is service, drive her to community-engagement. These motivations stem from various sources, including from growing up in a country such as Costa Rica, from her family background, from her education opportunities, and from being a follower of the Baha’i Faith, which deeply promotes community life and service by defining our reality and existence as a spiritual and unified communal one.
In Costa Rica, she volunteered for the organization Un Techo Para Mi Pais. Before coming to Cornell, she spent three months volunteering at the Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India. After her freshmen year, she interned with the Cornell Farmworker Program over the summer, which developed into participating with the Friends of Farmworker and Farmworker Initiative clubs. She is part of the Ithaca Global Shapers and the Democracy Lab, both out of campus groups related to community engagement in Ithaca and Costa Rica, respectively. She also holds children virtue classes in the greater Ithaca community, and is working on starting a junior youth empowerment group. This past summer, she was working for the United Nation’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) in Equatorial Guinea.
Melania has been an Engaged Student Ambassador since her freshmen year, working in projects such as the development of the student-created program FUEL (Fellowship for Undergraduate Engaged Leadership). This year, she is part of the team organizing the student cohort for Clinton Global Initiative University, and is also working in creating a comprehensive, user-friendly student opportunity handbook and a critical reflection handbook.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Ghandi
“Let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.” — Baha u llah
Rie is majoring in Biology and Society and minoring in Global Health and Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. Although her passions expand every time she takes classes, reads books and meets people, she loves to learn and discuss about health inequalities and social justice. Her interests have led her to conduct research and projects in Guatemala and Zambia. On campus, she is a Residential Advisor as well as involved in GlobeMed, the Global Health Student Advisory Board and research on malnutrition and health policy.
Rie is involved in three projects this year: Making More Health, Be the Change and Clinton Global Initiative University. She hopes to bring a multicultural perspective to our discussions and projects, which has developed through her international background and service-learning experiences. I also hope to share my passion for global health equity and social justice and radiate positive energy!
Rie’s involvement in community-engagement started at a young age, ever since her parents emphasized the importance of the common good and giving back to the local community. As a result, she has dedicated part of her time to volunteering at her school, beach cleaning and the home of the physically disabled and impaired, back home. Her passion for learning more about the world started after my visit to Cambodia in middle school. Ever since then, she has aspired to collaborate with local communities, at a global level. By working on global health projects in Guatemala and Zambia, she has learned to appreciate the knowledge and skills she has gained through these service-learning experiences. Rie hopes to transform her ideas into action in the near future, through further education and opportunities as a physician and global health practitioner.
On campus, she is very involved in GlobeMed, an organization that works towards global health equity and social justice around the globe. This has allowed to become engaged in local projects, such as McCormick Security Center and the Friends of Farmworkers, both local facilities/organizations in Ithaca.
Rie is majoring in Biology and Society and minoring in Global Health and Spanish in the College of Arts and Science. Although her passions expand every time she takes classes, reads books and meets people, she loves to learn and discuss about health inequalities and social justice. Her interests have led her to conduct research and projects in Guatemala and Zambia. On campus, she is a Residential Advisor as well as involved in GlobeMed, the Global Health Student Advisory Board and research on malnutrition and health policy. Rie loves to travel, meet new people, play music, play sports, read, eat and spend time with friends.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Ghandi
Lucy is a senior at Cornell University studying in the department of Development Sociology. Her interests range most subjects of social and environmental justice, but they focus on the creation of just and sustainable food systems. She’s invested her efforts in FUEL as a way to empower other students with the skills they need to be effective changemakers in society. Her actions are guided by the principles of critical reflection, respect for others and a deeply rooted belief in the power of people to effect change in their lives. When she’s not in the library, she’s probably rock climbing, hiking, biking, cooking, farming, or spending time with friends and she’s most definitely appreciating life.
“There is more in you than you know.” — Kurt Hahn
Kelly is a current junior at the Hotel School minoring in Design & Environmental Analysis. She joined Engaged Leadership in the summer of 2015 to assist in communications and marketing projects. Currently, she is collaborating with fellow Engaged Student Ambassadors to organize CGIU, develop the travel grant program, and actively spread the presence of Engaged Leadership and its initiatives all around campus. With a strong interest in social entrepreneurship and sustainable business, Kelly was initially drawn the field of community-engagement to find other like-minded individuals working to create positive impact. She has previously worked for Firelight Camps, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Grassroots Environmental Education, and the Ford Foundation. On campus, she is also involved with Cornell University Sustainable Design and other hospitality organizations.
“There is great freedom in living your life in alignment with your own truth.” — Rachel Brathan
David Torres in Urban and Regional Studies and is from Raleigh, North Carolina. His interests include collecting metro cards from various cities and land use law. On campus he is an active participant in the Organization for Urban and Regional Studies, where he serves as vice-president. David also participates in the Cornell Undergraduate Law and Society Review, where he serves as the opinions editor.
David’s role in the Engaged Leadership has been working on both the travel grant student reflections, e-portfolios, and the development of a critical reflection handbook.
David first discovered the office of Engagement Initiatives (formerly Engaged Learning and Research) and its mission via the Cornell Urban Scholars Program (CUSP). As a result, after the summer of the program, he sought to further his engagement with the program through direct work in the office. Other engagement projects he hase worked on have been through his major, Urban and Regional Studies, which hase given him a community scaled lens to look at problems. He believes that his major has been key to understanding how individual’s problems can often be traced to societal structural problems.
The Student Assistants of the Office of Engagement Initiatives are vital to the day to day functions of Engaged Cornell.
Alex Hutchins is a sophomore majoring in Asian studies and minoring in Climate Change. He is passionate about Japanese culture, in particular social “othering,” sustainability, and demographics within the country. Alex is also interested in the intersection of religion and environmentalism. Currently, Alex is taking Japanese and plans to attend graduate school in Japan in the field of Sustainability Studies. He aspires to live a minimalist life and become a professor in Japan. In summer 2016, Alex went to Japan to study Zen Buddhism and engaged in independent research on rural sustainability. He is very involved in the Japan-United States Association as well as the Environmental Policy and Planning Committee. Joining the Office of Engagement Initiatives in Spring 2016 as an Administrative Assistant, he hopes to further Cornell students’ engagement with communities throughout the world.
“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” — Eckhart Tolle
Allison is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She is originally from Northeast Ohio. Allison spent her first year of college at the University of Utah while pursuing a career in ballet. She transferred to Cornell in the fall of 2014 to refocus on academics and pursue her interests in law. Allison is interested in pursuing a career in the foreign services. Outside of her academics, Allison is involved in Pandora Dance Troupe, Cornell Organization for Labor Action, the Cornell Federal Reserve Challenge Club, and Kappa Kappa Gamma. Allison began working for the office of Engagement Initiatives in Fall 2015 and is very excited to return after a semester away from campus.
“Uncertainty doesn’t make life worth living, quite, but it does make striving and gambling worth attempting.” — Walter Kim
Brenna is a sophomore from Jacksonville, Florida studying general biology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She has invested her time in providing volunteer emergency medical services with the University’s EMS. This past summer, Brenna attended SUNY Upstate Medical University to become a New York State certified emergency medical technician. Brenna is guided by an intense compassion for all human beings and is planning to attend medical school upon graduation from Cornell.
“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain