Student Assembly Candidate Profiles - Spring 2019 Special Election

First Generation Student Representative At-Large Candidates

Emily Lin

Major: Biological Science

College/School: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Net ID: egl53

Candidate Statement:

Greetings! My name is Emily Lin, and I am running for the First-Generation College Student Liaison. As a child of two immigrants, I saw my parent's desire for me to attend college and contribute positively to society through their efforts. My attendance here not only represents myself but also all the tears and sweat my parents shed for me that allows me to be here. I come from a small town in the south where education is not always valued, especially for girls, and I hope I can influence future generations to aim for their goals and that anything is possible if they set their mind to it.

I have been a part of student council at previous institutions before, holding the position of Secretary, thus, I have experience in leadership and representative positions. In this position, I hope to not only influence and persuade prospective Cornellians but to also be in service to first-generation college students at Cornell. I hope to not limit my service and assistance to just first-year college students, but to the entire student body. This would include: additional to students, whether it be academic assistance or mental health related, and ease financial issues when attending Cornell, this may include free printing and lower gym fees.

Grady Owens

Major: History and Asian Studies

College/School: College of Arts and Sciences

Net ID: gwo8

Candidate Statement:

My name is Grady Owens, I am a first generation student hailing from a small rural town in central Florida. I grew up with high aspirations and the ideal that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. I believe that Education is the great leveler in our society; it is the only way to bridge the gap between rich and poor, to make the powerless powerful, and to start the change we wish to see in our society. "Education is Power" says the official seal of the Polk County School Board; it is power that should be in the hands of all.

First Generation students have the world on their shoulders and they shouldn't have to navigate college alone. I had many questions entering college; neither of my parents went and, if I did not have help from a major scholarship, I would have been completely lost. I feel that the SA should take more initiatives to involve and include First Generation students on campus; we must be welcoming and, most importantly, attentive to their needs. I hope to tackle this issue in office and will make great strides to draft and present practical policies that positively effect First Generation students. The easier it is for First Gens to transition into college, the better their University experience will be.


Alexa Slyman

Major: Biological Sciences

College/School: College of Arts and Sciences

Net ID: aps332

Candidate Statement:

My name is Alexa (please do not ask me to “turn on the lights” or “play Despacito”) and I’m a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. Funny story‚ It wasn't until after starting here at Cornell that I found out I was a first-generation college student. I'd never heard that term before! It sounds silly, and maybe it is, but it's just an example of the extra learning a first-gen student has to do when beginning college. Here's some other stuff I'd never heard of: rushing, what RA stands for, and the Canada Goose brand. I’ve only had one semester here, but the things I've learned about the world of college and its students might equate to more than what I learned from my intro science classes (and it’s not as if those were simple). Starting college is overwhelming for most, and being the first in your family to do it can make it even more so, especially at an Ivy League institution. It’s definitely something to be proud of, but the difficulties that accompany it can’t be overlooked. I'd love to have the opportunity to make life easier for other first-generation students who might be struggling.

Jessica Velesaca

Major: American Studies

College/School: College of Arts and Sciences

Net ID: jv364

Candidate Statement:

What do Barack Obama, Viola Davis, and the CEO of Starbucks have in common? They were all first-generation students! First generation students are the future. It is essential that Cornell supports, cultivates, and provides an environment that aids in promoting growth and success to all first-generation students. As a first generation student, I plan on developing the social capital and graduate opportunities accessible for students on campus. If elected, I will create a media platform where both alumni and current first-generation students can connect and share their educational journey at Cornell and beyond. By acknowledging the presence of first-generation students, I hope to organize workshops, talks, and other social events that will encourage students to continue their education beyond undergrad at Cornell. I cannot wait to serve on your behalf! So remember, vote yes for Jess!

Kirubeal Wondimu

Major: ILR w/ minor in Economics

College/School: School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Net ID: ktw36

Candidate Statement:

Hello, Cornellians! My name is Kirubeal Wondimu and I am a first-generation college student. Ever since my family and I immigrated to the U.S. from Kenya, my parents have always emphasized the importance of an education. Being a first-generation student at an Ivy-league school can be quite intimidating without the support from our families; we are the first in our family to go to college, nevertheless, one of the world's most prestigious universities.

When I got here, one of the first things I noticed was that Cornell has a plethora of resources. However, for first-generation students, it can be difficult to find the resources we need, and furthermore, without support from home, it can be challenging to navigate everyday college life and ask for advice. In fact, at times, we may even feel alone. That is why I am running for first-generation liaison. I want to help foster a stronger community among us first-generation students, make it easier for us to find the resources we need, and ensure incoming first-generation students are better oriented to life at Cornell. Together, I believe that we can help one another thrive. So, please #VoteKirubeal for First-Generation representative, and join me in creating a Cornell for everyone!


LGBTQ+ Liaison At-Large Candidates

Danny Alvarado-Gomez

Major: Communication

College/School: College of Arts and Sciences

Net ID: da386

Candidate Statement:

Hello! My name is Danny Alvarado-Gómez and I am a freshman communication major running for the position of LGBTQ+ Liaison At-Large. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia but grew up in Orlando, Florida. Over the course of my brief time at Cornell, I have started a club for boba tea enthusiasts, become an on-air DJ at WVBR-FM as well as our training and recruitment director, worked two concerts as part of the Cornell Concert Commission, become PorColombia’s vice president of external affairs, obtained a part-time job as the Townhouse Community’s event coordinator, and become a lector through Cornell Catholic.

As someone who is passionate about being involved in different pockets of campus, I would love and be honored to serve the community as the LGBTQ+ liaison. I cherish getting to meet new people of different backgrounds. I believe that working with a diverse team of peers as well as offering my insight as a bisexual-identifying individual could lead to many successful programs. With this motivation, I became a resident advisor this coming semester, likely for our brand new LGBTQ+ program residence, Loving House. I am very used to coordination and communication, in which I would assist through both positions in the queer community.

Uche Chukwukere

Major: Chemistry/Psychology

College/School: College of Arts and Sciences

Net ID: ukc3

Candidate Statement:

As a queer person of color, it's not too often that I get to see people who look like me and understand the struggles that I and so many others like me experience living in our country and culture. The position of LGBTQ+ Liasion At Large encompasses responsibilities that ensure that LGBTQ+ students at Cornell are being heard and their struggles are being addressed and promptly handled. However, what has that looked like for the LGBTQ+ persons of color on campus? My promise is simple in that I am ready make truly make sure that all voices within our  respective community are heard and that we are no longer swept under the rug. I am ready to fight for changes that ensure people within the LGBTQ+ community feel safe in spaces that aren't traditionally meant for us, ensuring that transgender students are especially heard because of the high level of systemic erasure they are threatened with, ensuring that the special set of discrimination faced by persons of color in the LGBTQ+ community are aggressively and promptly attacked. We deserve opportunities and experiences that will allow us to experience the equity we need. Our existence is just as valid as the next Cornell student and I am ready to make that narrative a reality.


Minority Students Liaison At-Large Candidates

Moriah Adeghe

Major: Policy Analysis and Management

College/School: College of Human Ecology

Net ID: ma838

Candidate Statement:

As a low-income, first generation, women of color here at Cornell, I feel as though I can relate to many experiences of minority students on this campus. I have been involved with the first gen student union and OADI program and have resources and ideas to help minority students, regardless of what their minority status might be. I am also currently the chair of the Academic Policy Committee to the Student Assembly and a voting member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Appropriations Committee. My experience with the Student Assembly has helped me to see what we as students can do to get our needs met by administrators on this campus. My work specifically with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee has opened my eyes to how much we can do as students to help others students who are of minority groups, but it has also showed me how much more I want to do for minority students on our campus. In my role as the Minority Students Rep, I would work to bring more awareness to the programs that Cornell currently offers for various minority groups while at the same time helping to expand and start new programs that students feel a need for. I hope that you can join me in my pursuit of equality and representation for all.


Colin Benedict

Major: Industrial and Labor Relations with a Minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies

College/School: School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Net ID: crb272

Candidate Statement:

She:kon sewakwekon,

Ariwisaks ionkia’ts Wakathahionni, Ahkwesahsne nikiteron.

Hello everyone, my name is Ariwisaks. My name means He Who Seeks Knowledge. I am Wolf clan.

My English name is Colin Benedict. I am Kanienkehaha Mohawk from the Akwesasne Mohawk territory. I am also one of two co-chairs of Native American and Indigenous Students At Cornell.

You do not need to hear that I am looking to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, increase equity, etc - that is given with this position. The main reason I am running is to advocate for Indigenous students who have been historically underrepresented at Cornell. Despite our presence on Indigenous lands, there is no official land acknowledgment. In this position, I plan to campaign for the institution of an official land acknowledgment and the flying of the Haudenosaunee flag on Indigenous Peoples Day to reinforce this.

While one person cannot possibly represent all minorities, I will draw my knowledge and from my community and my experiences as an Indigenous person, and use this perspective to strive for the betterment of all Cornellians.

Alex Davis

Major: Government

College/School: College of Arts and Sciences

Net ID: ad633

Candidate Statement:

Greetings! My name is Alex Davis. Currently a sophomore Government major in the College of Arts and Sciences, I am excited to amplify the voices of underrepresented students on campus. My platform consists of three focus points, though I hope to add more as I get input from you, the constituents. These three points are: Accountability, Intersectionality, and Progress. First and foremost, I want you to hold me accountable for everything that I say and do. I take very seriously the opportunity to represent you in Cornell’s student legislative body, and I would never want to represent you in a way that is inaccurate and/or makes you uncomfortable. Secondly, in a world such as this, it is important not only to raise awareness about the existence of intersectionality, but also to celebrate it. Intersectionality will always be at the forefront of my mind when constructing and/or voting on policy!  Lastly, I care about progress. Remember, there is no reason for anyone ever representing you to not be making progress on your behalf. While I understand that progress comes slower at times and faster at others, I want my tenure as your representative to overall be result-oriented, one of many things you can hold me accountable for!

Masa Haddad

Major: Policy Analysis and Management

College/School: College of Human Ecology

Net ID: mh2432

Candidate Statement:

Hello everyone! My name is Masa Haddad & I’m a sophomore from the country Jordan. I am running for the Minority Students Liaison At-Large Position because of the responsibility I feel to the Cornell community. I transferred to Cornell last fall & ever since Cornell has been my home. I am passionate about making all minority-group members feel included as we are the “any person” part of Cornell! Because we grew up in different circumstances, each one of us has a unique experience. Sometimes, our unique experiences create a barrier; we feel unprepared or unqualified. So, I will do the following:

-Create a school-wide undergraduate-peer-mentoring program to connect younger students of color to students who went through similar experiences.

-Ensure that college-specific career centers are strongly equipped to prepare our students to join competitive clubs, train for internships & apply to jobs.

-Work with OADI & LSC to create a specialized program for students of color & international students to ease their transition to Cornell.

-I will work on bridging all the diversity-specific student clubs to create opportunities for us to come together & embrace our differences.

Let's all celebrate our multiculturalism and vote for Masa!


Emily Prest

Major: Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

College/School: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Net ID: enp34

Candidate Statement:

“Any person‚ any study.” From the first moment we step on campus, these words influence us as Cornellians. Cornell’s student population is rich in diversity and culture. It’s an institution, where regardless of race, ethnicity or background, students are encouraged to achieve excellence. Being of a mixed ethnic background myself, I understand the challenges minorities can face. As the Minority Students Liaison At-Large, I will give our minorities on campus a voice. I will strive to speak up for our minority students where we may fall short of being represented and I will stand up to ensure our campus continues to maintain the integrity of its motto: to welcome “any person” with open arms, no matter what background.

My experience working at Lehigh University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs allowed me to work with and promote students of all cultural backgrounds, launch diversity and inclusion initiatives and build a stronger sense of community among minority students on campus. I would like to put that experience to work here at Cornell and the Student Assembly. With your vote, I will take pride in representing our minority students and work diligently to make sure all Cornell students are celebrated, included and heard.