New York, NY
Summer College 2015
Hello! My name is Fatoumata. I live in Harlem, but I am from Mali, a beautiful country in West Africa. I am a rising senior at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers. My career goal is to become an entrepreneur. I want to create a business that will help underprivileged children in Harlem and in my home country. Aside from entrepreneurship, my passion lies in dance. Since there wasn't an active dance team at my school, my friends and I started a one, and we perform during school assemblies and talent shows. In my spare time, I attend an after school program called Harlem's Children Zone, debate with friends regarding current societal issues and listen to poetry. I am thrilled about taking a college course at Cornell, being exposed to college life, and having the opportunity to study something that fascinates me and broadens my knowledge of social entrepreneurship.
I can't believe it's my first week at Cornell. It feels like I have been here forever. At first I was very nervous because it was my first time traveling away from home, and I would be meeting new people. On the bus ride to Ithaca a group of girls going to Summer College asked me to sit with them, which helped me to feel less nervous. When I got off the bus I met my RA Katherine, who was very helpful. The RA's helped us bring our belongings to Balch. Once I laid eyes on the campus, I was in love. Balch is so beautiful. I was excited to see if I had a roommate, but I didn't. I did meet plenty of friends who are often in my room. Summer College students are so diverse and welcoming. People walk up to me introducing themselves and share their culture. I met people from China, Georgia, India, San Francisco, The Dominican Republic, Russia, and other places.
There are so many places to relax and study on campus, whether it's a picnic or study lounge. Going to Cornell University is one of the best choices I have made. Not only is the staff so helpful but so are the students. I love the diverse environment where anyone can feel comfortable regardless of where he or she comes from and what they believe in. One of the coolest things in the dining hall is the waffle maker. It allows you to make your own waffle then top it with ice cream, sprinkles, and hot fudge. There are a variety of different foods made by professional chefs.
My class is so interesting, and I love how my professor grabs our attention. By doing less lecturing and having more discussions, she allows us to communicate and share our opinions. The work seemed overwhelming at first, but Cornell provides tutoring from 7-10 p.m., a time that is flexible for students. My favorite place to eat after class is Trillium. It was my first time tasting a quesadilla the other day and it was so good I literally have one every day after class.
It's sad to say my time at Cornell University is almost over—I will be leaving Saturday. This week has been very stressful trying to get all of my work in on time while enjoying my last few days with my friends. My experience at Cornell has shifted my perspective on life and people from different cultures. Most people say college is so stressful but from my perspective, college is what you make it. Leaving home from college can be a big change but it's all about managing your time and coming out of your shell. My class is from 9:00 am. until 12:00 p.m. It may sound sweet, but it depends on how I manage my time. I notice when I don't do my work first and instead hang out with my friends, I feel pressure and my work isn't as good as it could be. I advise you to get the work done first and then hang out with your friends, because professors don't accept late work and you want you work to be its best.
They are always fun activities on campus and the RA's are always looking for new suggestions on how they can spice up our time here. This week I went canoeing, and I had so much fun. At first, I was scared, but once I got in the canoe, my peers and the staff made me feel comfortable. While canoeing, I felt so relaxed and calm. Cornell has a way of making you appreciate the beauty of nature. On July 4th, we had a BBQ, and it was so much fun. Everybody got a chance to show off their skills through the games, and we received gifts depending on how many tickets we won. On the weekend, a couple of friends and I got together and watched Divergent for the first time—it was so good. Now I want to see Insurgent.
In class we have been watching tons of videos on social entrepreneurship and the leadership skills needed for that career. Also, we learned about different types of leadership skills such as dominance, influential, and nurturing, and shifting the mindset from scarcity to abundance. We have been reading The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz. The chapters are long but the protagonist's journey and vision for change is very motivating and makes me question the world we live in and how I can make it better.
It feels nice being back in the city but I honestly miss Cornell University so much. I miss the new friends I made, the dining hall, and being independent. Taking the Social Entrepreneur class has helped lead me to the career path I would like to pursue in the future. The class also helped me to differentiate social entrepreneurship from traditional entrepreneurship and ways social entrepreneurship can affect society and also the environment. In class, we read The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz and One Day, All Children by Wendy Copp. Both books gave me insight into the life of a social entrepreneur and skills I will need to be successful. I have incorporated the skills I learned into my own life. After reading the book I have been able to celebrate short-term goals while aiming for a sustainable long-term goal. I have also begun looking for the assets in a situation before offering my help. Reading these books in class allowed me to gain new perspectives not only from the book, but from my classmates as well. One of the coolest things about my class was the way it was run. The class felt less like a lecture classroom and more like a discussions classroom. A classroom filled with diverse students, allowed me to learn from my peers and share our backgrounds with one another which made me feel comfortable and more open minded.
I miss the independence because it allowed me to experience what it's like to be a college student even though at times the responsibilities can get overwhelming. During the last week, I attended a talent show and it was so entertaining. I enjoyed watching people dance and do magic tricks. I really fell in love with Cornell. I also did a four-minute business pitch for my last class assignment. I was very nervous about speaking in front of the class. I learned that a business pitch involves a lot of research and must be unique. The experience has definitely helped prepare me not only for business pitches but for life in general.
Today, I am able to get out of my comfort zone and not be scared of change because change can sometimes be good. Living in the city my whole life and moving upstate was a big change for me. I was nervous about a few things such as being able to adapt to the new environment, making friends, and the college-level work but things worked out just fine. During the last week a group of my friends and I met with a few students from Cornell that were there on full scholarships and they motivated us to apply to Ivy League schools. I was very pleased to meet them because they gave me courage. Now I know I shouldn't let money determine which school I apply to, especially if I am willing to work hard because there will always be financial opportunities. I learned something new about myself during my stay at Cornell and that is that I love being outdoors, I would literally ask my friends almost every day if they would take a walk with me or study with me by the gorge, which is one of the most beautiful places on campus.
I now feel more comfortable going away to school and finding a college that's a perfect match for me. I highly recommend the Social Entrepreneurship program for anyone interested in not only changing the world through entrepreneurship, but being the change they want to see by being in a classroom that will challenge them to grow and question their surroundings.