"I chose Africana studies because I wanted to expand my knowledge of the African diaspora."

Aliyah Kilpatrick



Major – Industrial and Labor Relations, Minors – Africana Studies, Inequality Studies, American Studies


Where are you from?

Syracuse, New York


Why did you choose the Africana Studies minor?

 I chose Africana studies because I wanted to expand my knowledge of the African diaspora. Throughout my educational experience, I was in a predominantly white school, most of the time being the only Black person in my classes. As a Black woman, I thought it was extremely important to take classes in the Africana studies department. I was able to learn more about my history, and the history of the people that inspire me and have come before me. I found myself having the most fun in my educational pursuits while taking classes in the Africana Studies department.


What was your favorite class and why?

Taking classes in the Africana studies department with such influential professors makes it hard to choose just one favorite class. One of my favorite classes was African American Inequalities in Education K-16 with professor Noliwe Rooks. This class allowed us to look at our educational experiences, who inspired us and pushed us in our educational pursuits and look at ways to limit inequality for future generations. My next favorite class was Black Women in the 20th Century with Professor Tamika Nunley and TA Arielle Rochelin. It was truly eye-opening, learning about clubwomen and Black women’s history of organizing throughout the early 20th century was motivating and inspiring. Moreover, the freedom Professor Nunley gave us to explore a topic of interest pertaining to Black women for the final research project truly cultivated creativity and skills in gathering primary source documents independently.


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

My family greatly inspired my education the most. My parents instilled the importance of education, and learning about Black history, from a young age to me and my siblings. Watching them be lifelong learners pushed me to always do my best. Following in their example and being a college graduate was a no brainer. Moreover, seeing my older siblings also graduate college made me realize that I also could. Seeing my sister, Amina Kilpatrick, graduate from Cornell University as an Africana Studies major really influenced me to take an active part in the Africana Studies department.


What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

The most valuable skills I gained are an interdisciplinary learning experience, that will equip me for the challenged I face ahead.


What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

At Cornell, I have accomplished the privilege of being a student leader. Two of my proudest achievements are serving as the President of the Black Ivy Pre-Law society and being a student manager for the Cornell University Office of Visitor Relations (tour guide). These two experiences allowed me to meet dedicated students, and it allowed me to learn lessons on how to lead, face challenges, and problem solve creatively.


What are your plans for next year?

I will be working as a project assistant at Proskauer Rose LLP.

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Aliyah Kilpatrick