Student Highlights: Jessica Hippolyte

Photo of Jessica Hippolyte

Jessica Hippolyte inside Martha Van Rensselaer Hall.

Major: Human biology, health and society
College: Human Ecology
Hometown: Jefferson Valley, N.Y.

Why did you choose Cornell?
For the College of Human Ecology's interdisciplinary education and focus on developing the analytical skills to deal with current issues that humans face everyday.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Being a resident adviser for incoming freshmen, guiding a wide range of students through their transition to Cornell and mentoring them since.

Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Participating in the Katrina on the Ground relief during spring break 2006. We gutted a home in the Lower 9th Ward and gave one man back the foundation of his home. At the time, I felt as if we had accomplished so much. However seeing the hundreds of other homes that needed repair and the emotional and mental support needed by New Orleans survivors made the work done in that one week seem miniscule. I came to truly understand the importance of giving back and helping those who are in need.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?
Urban Semester in New York City interning at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Women Infant Children Public Health Program and teaching at a chartered public school. From this experience I understand that education is not complete without experiencing what it is that we are learning.

What Cornell-related scholarships did you receive?
The Meinig Family Cornell National Scholarship, which gave me the opportunity to be among individuals who were similar to me in leadership interests and provided me access to resources and a distinguished network.

Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
Because of Human Ecology's interdisciplinary approach, I developed interests in fields that I had never even considered. After taking a multitude of classes, interning in Haiti (researching factors associated with anemia in pregnant women, counseling HIV/AIDS patients and shadowing physicians), working in New Orleans and participating in Urban Semester, I now understand the necessity of preventive medicine and the public health approach where you develop initiatives that can help and treat whole communities at a time.

While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
The Les Femmes de Substance group, which fosters a network for black women on campus.
Also the Haitian Students Association to share my Haitian culture with the Cornell community. From Haitian cuisine sales and service projects to educational speakers and our annual banquet, this organization reminded me of my roots and has been a safety net filled with friendships and support.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Work on my Master's of Public Health in global health/epidemiology and then obtain my medical degree. My ultimate goal is to be a physician that focuses on health disparities and international work, to participate in such programs as Doctors Without Borders and develop global clinics that provide services and care to those in greatest need.