Tayyiebur finds comfort in Rise Up Program

Hameeda Tayyiebur ’21 is a first-year student at Cornell with a double major in economics and business and international relations and a minor in philosophy. If you asked her friends how to describe Hameeda, they use the words “uplifting” and “caring.”

Photo of Hameeda Tayyiebur ’21
Hameeda Tayyiebur ’21

This first-year is a Malawian based in South Africa and appreciates traveling and discovering new places. She’s one of many first-generation students to take part in the Rise Up Program on the Hilltop, which is a program that helps first-gen students through programming, advice, and relationship building It was created in 2014 by Professor Suzette Astley.

“Rise Up is that educated mother I never had, that well-informed brother I only dreamt of, and that sister I can always run to with all my inquisition,” she said. “Being a Rise Up student comforts me in assuring me that I am not alone.”


  • What are your suggestions for other new, first-gen students as they come to campus? What are some of the things you think they should take advantage of while they are here?

It is okay to be the first one! Don’t feel less of anything because of it. Do not hesitate to ask for any sort of help. Cornellians are warm-hearted and extremely helpful. As a community, Cornell wants us to succeed in all we do. Amongst many other resources, make sure you also visit the various studios in Cole Library and request a tutor if you need one. Also, I suggest visiting the Intercultural Life Office, your academic advisor, your present block professor, and the Counseling Center. You won’t regret it!

  • What did you do during your time here at Cornell, as a first-gen student, that you never realized you could do prior to coming to college?

I was able to successfully immerse in the college culture and the American culture without washing away my true identity. Also, I was able to moderate the Sustained Dialogue discussions while opening up to who I am, personally, and not shrinking.

  • As you get closer to graduation and reflect on your time at Cornell, what memories and thoughts will you take with you after you leave?

Lots of memories that I treasure! Cornell is not only nurturing me academically but also in other aspects of my life. I’ve become a better friend and a citizen in a short period of time. I had terrible issues with procrastinating till the block plan came into my life. I’ve learned and valued the act of doing what has to be done, right now. Also, getting prepared for the next move way before that day comes. I’m also very grateful for learning how to utilize my time. I totally agree with the saying, “make the most of each day!” Apart from that, I will always hold onto the memories and the extracurricular activities that have become part of my life. My life is so full of joyful, refreshing, and sweet moments. I’ve learned some dance moves that I never saw myself doing. Life: if it is not adventurous, then I don’t know what it is!