'I did research on human rights violations in Syria and Nigeria'

Youssef Aziz

Sociology and Psychology
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Why did you choose Cornell?

I chose Cornell because of its diversity. Stepping onto campus, I immediately saw many people who looked like me and had similar backgrounds. It felt great to be seen in an institution like Cornell by other fellow students. I knew that there was going to be a support network for me here on campus. Additionally, as someone from California, I wanted a change of scenery to explore Upstate New York. 

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

My main extracurricular activity is my leadership with the First Generation Student Union (FGSU). As a first-generation, low-income student, FGSU was my safe space. Most of my friends that I've met at Cornell were through FGSU because of our shared backgrounds, world views and advocacy interests. From organizing 1vyG (the biggest first-gen student conference in the country) in 2019-2020 to presenting at Stanford's FLI  (First-Gen and/or Low-income) Conference, my first-generation identity was most salient to my experiences and leadership at Cornell.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

I would say that I am most proud of my research accomplishments. Until sophomore year, I had no idea what research even meant. During COVID-19, my summer internship plans fell through and I decided to join a psychology research lab to keep myself busy. Since then, I did research at Duke with the support of the American Political Science Association and was chosen as a Princeton P3 Scholar. I also did research on Syria and Nigeria to investigate human rights violations. All these experiences empowered me and my voice. At first, I thought I was not smart enough or good enough to do research. Now, I realize how important and underrepresented my communities are in academia.

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

I dream to be working with the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court. I would love to also work for the United Nations and help with research briefs and legal memos. However, I am open to see where life takes me!


Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2022.

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