'This education is a privilege and can be used for good'

Abena Gyasi

Biology & Society and Psychology
Wheatley Heights, N.Y.

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

I think one of the most valuable skills that I gained from my time in Arts & Sciences is being comfortable with not knowing everything. Life in itself is a learning process and I'm still coming to terms with the fact that the future is uncertain and even though I might not know what's happening right at that moment, no matter what, I will always have a support system around me to guide me through this learning process. 

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

One of my primary involvements at Cornell has been being a part of the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity. Coming into the program, I wanted to undertake projects that would make technology and science more inclusive and diverse for people like me, for people of color, and I wanted to study how inequalities and homogeneity in these fields have impacted the technology we use today. The work I've done for the Milstein Program has always been very important to me and shaped what I want my future to look like, from helping the Open Doors English organization located in downtown Ithaca create a website in order to increase their outreach to the community, to helping create a program for incoming cohorts to be mentored during their time in Milstein.

woman standing outside

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? What have you discovered about yourself?

I have mainly learned my role in life is to act as an advocate for others. Growing up low income and being the first in my family to go to college, I had often thought that I didn't hold much power in impacting my community. My time at Cornell has showed me that this education is a privilege and can be used for good, to help and uplift those whose voices are often ignored and unheard.

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

I'd say that my community, the whole community (if you know you know), most influenced my Cornell education. My fellow first gens, women in STEM, Black Cornellians, and overall just those who have advocated for Cornell to be a more diverse and inclusive space have impacted my time at Cornell the most. Thank you to the space that is OADI for providing me with amazing advisors, advice and free food when I needed it the most, to 109 Triphammer for cultivating some of the best friendships that I will always cherish and hold close to my heart, and to my freshman year dorm for helping me meet the most amazing people who have shaped my Cornell experience for the better. 


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