Brianna Barrett: 'Stay true to your most authentic self'

Brianna Barrett

Government & Africana Studies

Morristown, NJ

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

The Africana studies department has been the key influence of my Cornell education. When I came to Cornell, I intended on being a government and economics major but found myself taking multiple Africana classes by the end of my freshman year. I was fascinated by the material that we studied but also Africana's commitment to fostering and nurturing a community of scholars. In addition to being an Africana studies major, I have worked in the Africana studies administrative office for the past two years and have loved every minute of it.

How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?

The summer following my freshman year, I interned at the Democratic National Committee, and while it was such an amazing experience, I realized that working in politics and policy wasn't for me. I love studying government within the academic space but now know that my true calling is within film and television production. Working on projects that are committed to sharing the voices of underrepresented communities in media is my passion and I am incredibly grateful to have had opportunities that allowed me to pursue this passion.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

A liberal arts education allows students to give into their intellectual curiosity at any given moment. Having two majors and two minors gives me the opportunity to capture my niche academic interests and expand my intellectual opportunity. The structure of the Arts & Sciences curriculum encourages students to go beyond their traditional studies and take classes in other fields completely outside of their major. Through this, I have been able to interact with faculty members who I would have never had the pleasure of meeting and learn about topics that have piqued my interest since I was a child.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Stay true to your most authentic self. During your time as an undergraduate, you will come across many situations that challenge your way of thinking and your beliefs. For me, having a strong set of ideals and a strong support system has guided me throughout these past four years to pursue opportunities that nurture me as an individual and feed into my natural curiosity.

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		 Brianna Barrett