"Cornell has helped me to think big, but start small."

Anthony Halmon '17

Major: Africana Studies
Hometown: Chicago 

How did you decide on your major? Have your plans changed since you started Cornell?
It was an interesting journey deciding on my major. Coming into Cornell, I just knew I had to be an engineer because I heard that they made a lot of money, and that it would provide me with the resources to take care of my mother and family. However, I soon realized that becoming an engineer was not my passion, but rather a blind hope that was constructed by my vision of economic gain. Up until junior year, I had been running from my calling, which was to major in Africana Studies, gain a better understanding of the Black Diaspora and apply such knowledge to my life and to those surrounding me. Since I started Cornell, my plans have not changed, but they have developed. Like many people, my ultimate goal was to change the world. However, since being at Cornell, it has helped me pave an enriching path to achieving my dream of bettering the world. Cornell has helped me to think big, but start small.

Can you tell us a little about your career plans or goals?
Though I am not entirely sure, my career plan is to become a teacher and start my own non-profit organization that will focus on bettering the lifestyles of young African American children and teens in the city of Chicago (though it will not be limited to Chicago, this city would be the starting point). Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, in the third worst neighborhood, I have been exposed to the very things that hinder and continue to hinder the young African American population in Chicago, and I believe that there is work that needs to be done.

In the meantime, I plan to pursue the dual degree (JD/PhD) program after I graduate college.

Are you involved in any research on campus? Or special academic projects with a professor or other students?
As a McNair scholar, I conduct research as an undergraduate. One requirement for this program is to find a faculty mentor to conduct research with. My faculty mentor is Dr. Gary Evans, from the department of Design and Environmental Analysis. We are currently collecting data for research on Temporal Discounting in Fourth and Fifth graders.

While working with Dr. Evans, I am also working on developing my own research that I can potentially carry out through graduate school.

What activities/organizations are you involved in at Cornell?
I am a part of SWAG (Scholars Working Ambitiously to Graduate). This year, I serve as a mentor to three other members of SWAG. I am the Co-chair of FBG (Festival of Black Gospel), and the Social chair for Chosen Generation Gospel Choir. I am also a Posse scholar.

What has been the most life-changing lesson or experience you've had at Cornell so far?
The most life-changing lesson I have learned at Cornell is that my biggest competition is myself. It is no surprise that Cornell is very competitive; additionally, it is no surprise that people tend to compete against one another at Cornell. Coming in to Cornell, I was blinded by the notion that I needed to be as good as everyone else, or I was not worthy of being here. After not doing so well my first semester, I was ready to give up at Cornell. However, I had to realize that my biggest competition was myself. Even if I achieved what I wanted, if I was not doing it because I wanted to, I would not be happy. As a result, I got back up on my feet, remained resilient, and attacked the next semesters with a new attitude. I set my own expectations. Because of this lesson, I am still here at Cornell.

Where is your favorite place to study on campus?
My favorite place to study on Campus is my room. Snacks are easily accessible, and my bed is as well. What greater place could one ask for?

What was the last book you read?
The Rise to Respectability, by Calvin White Jr. 

Anthony Halmon

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