Irene Li

Class of 2015

Hometown: Boston, Mass.

What was your College Scholar project?
My College Scholar Project was an essay focusing on the questions and tensions surrounding the world of good food. Based on my three years of experience operating and sourcing ingredients for my food truck and small restaurant, I explored our stories about pinning down the various meanings of both good food and good business. Ultimately, the piece was about the questions that arise when we try to put principles or ideals about "local," "organic," "humane," or other high quality foods into practice in the world of business. Though food didn't become the focus of my project until later in my undergraduate career, Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies, as well as a variety of social science disciplines, did much to shape my approach to research and writing. Furthermore, Scott Peters' Narrative Inquiry course, which covers narrative research methodologies and the role of stories in public life and discourse, was key to my work.

What were your most important extra-curricular activities?
Though it was five years ago, my experience at Auburn Correctional Facility through the Cornell Prison Education Program transformed the way I thought about power in American society. Working with inmates while learning about the history and contours of the prison system paved the way for my work with feminist and third-world studies.

What are you doing now?
After graduation, I returned to Mei Mei, my food business in Boston and spend my time managing our team. I continue my work as a chef, leader, and activist seeking to connect people through food, and to transform our own business and our industry into one that brings about positive social change. I also dream of spending lots of time swimming in the ocean, and of adopting a dog.