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Jean Damascene Nsabumurem of Providence, R.I. (born in Rwanda, emigrated at age 24), studied development sociology
Why did you choose Cornell?
After living for many years as a refugee (since age 12, when I ran for my life during the Rwandan genocides and lost my father and a sister) in the Congo and Zambia, I had little hope of attending college. I was supporting my mother and five younger siblings and needed to work in a grocery store. In 2005 my family was chosen by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees as one of the few refugees families granted a refugee resettlement; in 2006, we were selected by U.S. immigration to emigrate and resettled in Providence, R.I. The first thing I did in Providence (in addition to learning English) was to ask how I could enroll in college. That fall, I enrolled at the Community College of Rhode Island and worked in a restaurant and as a math tutor on campus and at an adult learning center for low-income adults. My second year, I won the election as the student government president with overwhelming votes. In 2009 when I was about to graduate, I looked for a four-year college that had a major that would help me achieve my dream - development studies, with an ultimate goal of pursuing a degree in international development. I had little knowledge about colleges besides those in Providence. But while applying to Brown University, I learned about the Common Application, and started browsing college state by state for schools that offered the major I wanted. That is how I stumbled on development sociology of Cornell.
Main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
Being a team leader for the Development Sociology (DSoc) undergraduate club, because it connected me with development sociology students outside of class, gave me the opportunity to talk about development sociology around campus and work with others to plan social activities. Although being 27 years old when I came to Cornell, which made me feel different from most undergraduates, DSoc helped me connect with others.
While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Making dean's list my second semester here. It brought me great joy despite the fact that I was on the dean's list all semesters before I transferred to Cornell.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Next year, I will begin a master's degree program at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (making me the first in my family of seven to not only finish high school, earn an associate and a bachelor's degree, but now also, the first to pursue a master's degree). In 10 years I see myself leading a successful career in education policy where I will be able to develop communities around the world through education.
What Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
The Andrew Paul '78 and Margaret Batchelor Paul scholarship was critical. I want thank them and other people who made education possible to students like me who could not afford Cornell otherwise.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
The memory I treasure most were those days I had to walk back to my room from the library at 2 a.m. when the temperature was freezing.