For Roxana Padilla ‘19, finding a community was vital for her success and personal growth at Cornell. “Coming from a first-generation, low-income, Mexican-American background,” she writes, “finding students like me helped me grow as a person and become a leader.” Roxana grew up in Los Angeles, California before her family relocated to San Antonio, Texas at the onset of her freshman year of high school. Four years later, Roxana moved to Ithaca, New York to attend Cornell University.
Roxana Padilla is a recent graduate from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, majoring in Plant Science. She joined MEChA de Cornell during her junior year and served as cultural chair for the organization during her senior year. She also worked as a research assistant in the department of Plant Science where she explored the importance of weed science in a changing climate. As a sophomore, after informing her weed science professor that she enjoyed the class, she was invited to work in his lab where she spent the summer of 2018 and her senior year learning the methods and discipline that research entails.
Now an alumnus, Roxana reflects on her years at Cornell: “My time at Cornell was really special. Looking back, I cannot stress how transformative it was to find a sense of community with MEChA and my research team. When I first arrived in Ithaca, I didn’t know anyone, and I was anxious to make friends. Joining MEChA helped me grow as a person because I learned a lot about my cultural identity and history, and this allowed me to step into leadership positions and grow my communication and problem-solving skills. I feel that these experiences helped me prepare for life after graduation.”
Upon graduating, Roxana returned to San Antonio to prepare for her professional career. An aspiring psychologist, her involvement with the Latinx community at Cornell inspired her to give back and tend to the mental health needs of Latinx youth. “Youth mental health in Latinx communities is something that I’m passionate about. I’ve seen how underserved my communities are when it comes to providing mental health to young people, so I want to help by becoming a psychologist and being someone they can speak and relate to.”
As she prepares to garner work experience with Latinx youth and eventually enroll in graduate school, Roxana gathers her feelings about how Cornell shaped her career trajectory: “When I entered Cornell, I had a strong desire to make the world a better place. I found my unique passion here by reflecting on the power of community and how a group that loves you can help you grow and become a better person. Community is everything to me, and I want to dedicate my life to uplifting my own people.”