'I did not close myself off from my potential'

Jonathan Mercedes

Comparative Literature
Bronx, N.Y.

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

My analytical skills are probably my most valuable skills. I learned how to question everything and try to be critical of even my own perspectives.

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

My main activity was Cornell in Color, a recruitment page co-created with other seniors to accurately depict BIPOC life on campus. I was the head of video production. I used to lead the "Pride Friday" campaigns where we highlighted a queer POC on campus. This was so important to me because I feel like the official Cornell admissions page did not depict the authentic experience of an underrepresented student on campus. It was important to me to show the highs and lows of being a Black student at a predominantly white institution so students can make a well informed decision.

man on a street

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

I treasure the Ujamaa unity hours the most. I loved the tradition the most because I remember becoming friends and building a community with so many of the Black students on campus. It was so intimate and we would eat together, wind down after a long day of work and classes and listen to a presentation about a great topic.

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

Most of my beliefs and perspectives have changed since I arrived. There are too many to mention but a couple are that my course of study does not ultimately dictate my career path. I used to think that if I majored in English, I'd have to become a writer, or in science I would have to work within the science field. As a graduate now, I realize that the skills I learned are so interdisciplinary and I can apply them to any subject or field about which I am passionate. Similarly, I learned to be more open to new experiences and whether or not I fail, I did not close myself off from my potential.


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