Challenges as opportunities to achieve

Jessica Meis ʼ19, Latin American studies and art history majorJessica Meis ʼ19, a Latin American studies and art history double major, refined her ability to think critically thanks to her courses on and off campus, her fellowship experience, and her research in Latin American art. Jessica is self-aware and thoughtful about her own personal journey. She considers her greatest challenge during her four years at Cornell College to be finding the right balance in her social life, academics, and work study positions.

“I have made so many great friendships throughout my four years, and I value everyone who I’ve met along my path,” Jessica said. “Now, in my senior year, I’ve learned how to put myself first, manage my busy schedule, and find success doing it. It might seem like I had a lot on my plate, but I wouldn’t take back any of the opportunities I had.”

Jessica participated in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) Graduate School Exploration Fellowship program. The program brings together like-minded students interested in graduate school and humanities research with mentors. As a result of this program, Jessica conducted research on Latin American art at Rutgers University, analyzing current exhibitions and creating a website highlighting women Latin American artists throughout history.

“This research gave me a glimpse of life as a graduate student,” Jessica said.

“As a first-generation college student, this program gave me the opportunity to think critically about my future and what I can achieve. I was challenged and learned a lot about myself.”

Jessica met people from across the country and contributed important research to her discipline.

She continued her research while writing her senior thesis which is focused on the performance art of the Guatemalan artist Jessica Lagunas, whom she met through her fellowship at Rutgers.

“I’ve been amazed each year to see the seniors working on their theses and now I’m here,” Jessica said. “To be honest, it’s a bit daunting, but I have a lot of support. I’m learning to work independently and to be confident that my other courses and papers have prepared me for this one. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve and this thesis represents my abilities and growth in my four years at Cornell.”

Jessica was elected to Cornell’s Board of Trustees as their 2019 Young Trustee.

Jessica plans to work in a museum in Chicago for a year after graduation. She hopes to gain even more experience during that year and narrow down her area of focus even further before grad school.

“I’m optimistic about my future and excited for my next path,” she said. (As is everyone who knows her.)

Jessica’s Hilltop Favorites

Campus spot:

Maybe it’s lazy, but my favorite spot is my room. I’m able to make it my own. Other answer: The darkroom in McWethy Hall. I work as the darkroom manager for the art department and regularly help students with their projects. I also get to be creative through my photography. Developing and printing my own photos is magical. You put in a lot of work for one print, but it’s a fun process and very rewarding.”

Club or organization:

Performing Arts and Activities Council (PAAC)—I learned how to be more of a leader. I became executive chair the summer before my junior year. It was a bit of a surprise. We still put on an event each weekend. I’m proud of where the organization is today, and I hope they keep bringing fun to the Hilltop for everyone!”