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College of Arts and Sciences

Jose Armando Fernandez Guerrero: 'A liberal arts education is about developing critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills'

April 25, 2018

Jose Armando Fernandez Guerrero

Linguistics & Anthropology & College Scholar

Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

There's a whole list of memorable interactions I have had with people at Cornell, but one of the most recent ones was giving a talk at Soup & Hope. This is a yearly speaker series in the spring where Cornell community members share personal stories about their life experiences and, well, hope. I had the wonderful opportunity to open up about my background with the support of attending friends who are students, faculty and staff.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

I owe my optimism and work ethic to my family. My parents crossed the border with me every morning from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego, California for my schooling and still managed to work incessantly with a positive mindset. They have taught me to work for what I want by putting my passions into what I do, but most importantly to express my appreciation of the people who have helped me along the way. I have surrounded myself with kind, hard-working people and they all contributed to who I am today.

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
I first and foremost proud to have been part of the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship; I urge first-generation or minority students with an interest in pursuing a PhD in the social sciences to check it out. With MMUF, I've been able to participate in diverse conferences and to do research for my two senior theses. I am part of the College Scholar Program, which I also encourage students to check out. I am proud to have help organize the CULC12 conference for linguistics, the Ch'ol dictionary project, and having produced a successful enough background in my discipline to start a PhD program in Linguistics next fall.
What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell? 
I have two research projects for my theses and one dictionary project through Engaged Cornell. My first thesis is for the College Scholar's major and touches upon issues of linguistic purism in language revitalization. The second thesis is a descriptive and theoretical project of "second-position clitics" in Ch'ol, which is a Mayan language spoken in Chiapas Mexico. The dictionary project, in conjunction with Carol-Rose Little, Mia Wiegand and Miloje Despic is for Ch' ol. We plan to have a multi-dialectical, illustrated dictionary of Ch'ol by November 2018.