"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, September 8, 2014

38. Njemile Davis and Surayya Diggs

To celebrate the beginning of the school year, this week we're running a special profile of a member of the class of 1995 and her daughter, a member of the class of 2017! 

New York City and Ithaca, New York · Human Ecology and Agriculture and Life Sciences 

Twitter:   www.twitter.com/cutiepahtootie
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/njemile.davis

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I'm currently working at a national social justice organization, supporting fair and affordable housing programs in 32 cities across the country. Now that Surayya's at Cornell, I'm finding a little more time to both indulge my interests and explore some new ones including sewing

Tell us about your experience at Cornell

Cornell was definitely tough at first, but now I love it. And actually miss it after only being away for 3 weeks [in June]. Cornell is an amazing place and I am so excited to be attending my mother's alma mater.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?
I have so many fond memories of my time at Cornell! My favorite is walking through the arts quad for the first time. It was night so hardly anyone was out except my host and I. The trees were beautifully canopied, the lights twinkling and a divine hush had surrounded us. I never considered another school after that! I was head over heels in love.

What has been your favorite class so far?

Definitely my first year writing seminar in the Africana department. The class is titled Terror in Black Memoir and we were able to read and discuss the titles 12 Years a Slave, The Black Notebooks by Toi Derricott, The Fire Next Time, and excerpts from Audre Lorde's work. This class was the first class I had ever had taught by a black female teacher. In my whole life. And it definitely shaped the direction of our discussions. It is probably also one of the most diverse groups of students on campus in terms of race.

Which Cornell classmates do you keep in touch with?
I've been able to keep in touch and reconnect with soo many 95'rs thanks to Facebook. I've also been able to spend quality time with Danetria Craig, Hugh LaRoche, Avery Seawright, Kevin Minter, Davenel Denis, Janelle Green, Kentayahnee Murray, Lauren Davidson, Tamara Webb, Thais Jimenez, Denise Anderson, Vicki Meyers, Donna Holder, Roy Clovis, Frantz Cayo, Jabari and Anika Osaze, Jonel Daphnis, Rich Medina and Baye Adolfo Wilson... and more... all of whom I can wholeheartedly say are doing it well! Our network gets bigger and stronger every year, so I'm hoping everyone will come to reunion!

Do you participate in any extracurricular activities or clubs on campus?
Yes. I am the logistics chair of the Women of Color Coalition, where my responsibility is providing direction for the organization and keeping everyone on task. I am also the political chair for Black Students United. For the upcoming year I plan on producing a video PSA on the Africana library and how it is so decentralized from campus. This will be a small step in my bigger goal (or rather dream) of having a new Africana library built in a more central part of campus. I also work for the Public Service Center - last fall I tutored high school students.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

It was a privilege to be a founding member of Pamajoa Ni gospel ensemble and I'm thrilled that it continues to this day.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this fall?
Definitely have patience and reflect a lot. And don't hesitate to ask for help (academically or emotionally) when you need it. Also take any and every opportunity that comes your way! You never know where it may lead or what doors it might open. Also apply and starting looking for internships in the beginning of spring semester, don't wait to the last minute. I found my internship in China in March and I am having an amazing experience.

What are you most looking forward to during your sophomore year?
I am most interested in growing more as a student and a community member. I am excited to do great work for the women of color coalition and BSU.