Ariel Harris, Houston, Tex.

Ariel Harris

My Roots/About Me
I have lived all around Texas on different army bases and on a few in Louisiana, but I consider Houston my home since I lived there for about 10 years of my childhood. I have three brothers; one older and twin brothers who are seven years younger than me. I attended three different high schools and graduated from Klein Oak High School from the Certificate International Baccalaureate Program.

Areas of Study
History and Center for Law and Society Program

Campus Activities
Track & Field, Mock Trial, Organization for Latino Awareness (OLA), Black Awareness Cultural Organization (BACO).

Long Term Goals
I plan on attending law school after graduating a year early and hope to be accepted into one of the AmeriCorps programs. My ultimate goal in life is to one day become a juvenile judge in the district of Houston in which I was raised. I hope to one day have my own scholarship fund for black students in lower income neighborhoods of Houston, and of course I pray for a family of my own someday (preferably two girls and two boys)!

Did you have any concerns about fitting in at Cornell?
Although I was not and have never been concerned about how I would fit in, I have had trouble “fitting in”. Some people were friendly others were not, and being from the South this was a big wake up call. People are just different out here.

What were some of your initial impressions of the campus community?
People are really private and keep to themselves a lot out here. Many of my very close friends came from my peer advisor group during New Student Orientation. The campus is what drew me in. I came to visit the first semester of my senior year during the winter time. Ironically I still loved the campus. The only surprise for me was the lack of color, but I thought I could deal with it. I wasn’t spot on with that assumption. I do remember Kiara Meeks screaming my name from across the parking lot on my way to lunch. She was asking me if I wanted to be a part of PALS and so I joined. That’s how I met a lot of the African American upperclassmen. From then on we were all pretty close and ended up going to Homecoming together. Most Friday nights we would play Phase 10 until it got really late. I will never forget those moments with them.

How have you grown at Cornell?
I am definitely not the same person I was when I first got here. First off my physical appearance has changed, secondly my mental capabilities have broadened, and my spiritual self is a lot stronger and anchored in God. I used to be pretty wild and outgoing. I’ve learned that life is a little more serious than all the fun stuff. I’ve also learned to be a bit more patient and wait on what God has for me and never to rush anything. I’ve learned a lot of professional etiquette thanks to RJ Holmes in the Center for Law and Society. I’ve learned to be a leader and to not give up when the going gets tough thanks to Mr. Ken in the Intercultural Life Office. And thanks to many professors I have learned a lot about my history and others’ histories. It has really opened my eyes to the everyday life around me. I am no longer trapped in my own little world—I tend to consider my actions and how they will affect the person that comes in any position after me.

How would you describe the campus culture to other students of color?
The campus culture here is not what it could be, but it is progressing—I cannot deny that. To every future student I will say that in due time you will find your place here on campus. You will find your group of friends, and even when it seems like there’s no hope, there really is. I would advise every student of color and/or international student to get involved in Intercultural Life organizations, because when I felt like I had absolutely nothing here on campus I had BACO, and I had OLA and Sisters for Sisters. When I felt like no one else cared I knew my ICL family cared. So get involved wherever you feel most comfortable—it will keep you sane!