arrow grid linear view icon
The College of Arts Sciences

Student Spotlight: Kimberly Cárdenas '17

February 18, 2016

Spending my winters in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and the remainder of the year in Los Angeles County, I grew up as a member of the Mexican diaspora on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. My childhood years were those of Selena songs, tamales, and dancing. My life changed drastically when I made the decision to move across the country to pursue an Ivy League education at Cornell. The first one to attend a university in my life, I faced initial challenges adjusting to the individualistic culture of universities, but rapidly I received the support and the resources I needed from the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives. Through the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives, and more specifically through the McNair Scholars Program, I became equipped with the tools to pursue my academic passions such as scholarly research on Latino Studies issues.

Moreover, through student organizations such as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan which promotes solidarity amongst Chican@ students at Cornell, I have found my cultural community, a piece of home away from home, with which I have complemented my academic learnings with student activism for migrant, undocumented and Latino student rights and support across the Ivy League. At Cornell, I have been able to collaboratively address the social and political obstacles within the Latino community through various mediums.

One paramount experience that intensified my interest in studying the Latino experience was spending the summer of 2015 in Chiapas, Mexico, working with a grassroots non-governmental organization devoted to advocating for the rights of Indigenous women in the Highlands of Chiapas. As a result of this remarkable experience, I saw how Latin American history and present societal conditions inextricably defines the U.S. Latino experience. Currently, I am studying abroad for the 2016 spring semester in Paris, France, at the Institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po). This participation has awakened me to the social and political issues facing ethnic minorities in Europe. Upon graduating, I am determined to pursue a PhD on ethnic studies concerning Chican@ political participation so as to continue giving back to a community that has already given me so much.


Ronald E. McNair Scholar

Gates Millennium Scholar

Latinx Ivy League Conference Delegate

Cornell Life on the Hill blogger (

Inter-Ivy First-Generation College Student Network

Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan

Picture of Kimberly Cárdenas