"I decided to pursue a minor in Africana studies, envisioning it as a means to establish a solid historical and educational foundation on Africa"

Where are you from?

I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but I have lived most of my life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Why did you choose the Africana Studies minor?

Initially, I embarked on a journey in International Relations with the specific goal of specializing in African international relations and global politics. However, I soon discovered that the program lacked the emphasis on African issues that I craved. Consequently, I decided to pursue a minor in Africana studies, envisioning it as a means to establish a solid historical and educational foundation on Africa, fulfilling my longing for a deeper level of expertise on the continent.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was Black Radical Tradition, taught by Professor Russel Rickford. I loved his
class because it truly challenged my way of thinking and reinvigorated my passion for activism. It was more than a history lesson; I felt that I was learning to understand the significance of my own story and where we are today in relation to the larger Black struggle.

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

Wanawake Wa Wari, or Wari House, is the Black women’s cooperative house that I lived in all
throughout my time on Cornell’s campus. This space serves as a safe space for Black women to live, and it has a rich historical background and a diverse alumni network. Living at Wari influenced my understanding of my identity, it influenced my determination to advocate for Black women, and it helped me learn about so many different aspects of the Black experience, all while providing me with a comforting and nurturing housing experience. I’m thankful to the women who lived with me and dedicated themselves to taking care of Wari and the incredible Wari legacy.

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

I learned how to make connections between the knowledge that I was receiving in each of my classes and combine them to create my own unique individual thoughts, develop research questions, and emerge from each semester feeling more confident in what I’ve learned.

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

I take great pride in the connections I have forged and the extent of my involvement within the Cornell community. Despite initially anticipating that the pandemic would present a considerable challenge for me as a transfer student, hindering my ability to establish meaningful connections, I have discovered that my time on campus has been remarkably dedicated to actively engaging with and contributing to the community in numerous ways. Through my extensive community involvement, I have not only gained valuable insights about myself but have also developed a profound understanding of leadership and its role in personal growth.

What are your plans for next year?

Starting this September, I will be attending the University of Chicago Law School.

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Harmelah Anteneh