Jeanne Kessira

Class of 2016

Hometown: Paris and New York

What was your College Scholar project?
The focus of my College Scholar project is socio-cultural food studies; I am interested in the meaning behind the food processes of a community and how these affect social dynamics, themes of identity, and community education. More specifically, I am interested in looking at food movements and trends of today and how food is used as an educational platform to transmit and uphold values relating to both tradition and modernity. My thesis explores contemporary cuisine in Catalonia and deals with these streams. Over my years in the program, I have taken a number of courses spanning several disciplines and colleges! From anthropology, philosophy, developmental sociology, nutrition, food science, to plant sciences, Cornell has offered a range of options.

I am the recipient of a couple of Lynne Abel Research Writing Awards.  This academic year, I presented my research at the National Undergraduate Research Conference in Asheville North Carolina and at the RAW EXPO: Creative Process Across Disciplines. I am proud to have been featured in Cornell’s Undergraduate Research Journal, The Research Paper.  Finally, I am the co-winner of the 2016 George Harmon Coxe Award in American Literature.  

What were your most important extra-curricular activities?
I was involved in a cultural organization on campus that brings together international students and Francophiles for evening events, debates, and movie viewings. I was also part of an educational association that introduces higher education to middle- and high-schoolers in the Ithaca community. Both of these activities let me keep up with my passions – culture, event planning, languages, and education!

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?
The summer after my sophomore year I interned at a youth food education organization in New York City. I helped teach kids in the program how to hone their cooking skills to be able to prepare their own healthy, affordable meals. I also worked on developing a curriculum for a food access program in which the kids became involved in their own communities, applying what they learned. The summer before my senior year, I received research funding from the College Scholar program to research food culture in Barcelona, Catalonia. This was to be the starting point for my thesis!

What are you doing now? What are your longer-term plans?
After graduation, I am planning to continue the work I started as an undergraduate and pursue a Master’s degree in the anthropology of food in London.  In the future, I dream of joining the food education world to continue sharing and learning about WHY food is so important in our society -- beyond just nutrition -- and how we can better engage with and connect to what we put on our plates.