Kevin Cruz Amaya: 'Find a community that genuinely embraces and supports who you are'

Tue, 05/01/2018

Kevin Cruz Amaya

American Studies & Fine Arts

Los Angeles, CA

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

I've had many profound moments at Cornell, but my first American studies course was life changing. As a freshman, I enrolled in Assistant Professor Ella Diaz's "Art! Poetry! Power!" course, which eventually led me to pursue a second major in American studies. This also provided me with an intellectual space that made it easier to manage many of the challenges that I experienced.

How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?

I arrived at Cornell thinking I was only going to be an artist, but that changed. I now firmly believe that I can be both an artist and academic. Attending a predominantly white institution, I have also learned to embrace my identity as a person of color and found empowerment in my lived experiences.

What Cornell memory do you treasure most?

Although the student walk-out after the election happened during a grim time in American history, I treasure that moment because I saw the possibility for change at Cornell. Also, I made over 100 silkscreen posters for the protest and it was memorable to see them be part of student resistance.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

I would advise incoming first year students to ask for help when needed, because Cornell can be a challenging place, but there are people who are willing to help. Also, I would advise them to find a community that genuinely embraces and supports who they are.