Cornell University

Undergraduate Admissions

Advancing the world of work

Student Spotlight

Nadia Raynes portrait

Nadia Raynes '13


Education, law, government

ILR Experience

  • Study Abroad: Senegal, West Africa
  • Study Abroad: London, U.K.

Nadia was drawn to Cornell and to ILR because of her high school experiences as a community service leader in Atlanta, Georgia, and her family’s connection to Ithaca. Once here, she quickly became involved in organizations and set out to take full advantage of the research, internship, and work opportunities the School offered her on-campus and abroad.


I remember first getting the ILR pamphlet in the mail. It asked if we were the leader and the problem solver and I just kept thinking, yes, this is who I am. When I was applying to colleges, I knew that I wanted to be pre-law, so I was looking at history and government programs. As I went more in-depth in my college search, I decided I wanted a major that would be different, and I liked that I could study these areas at ILR and also develop as a leader. I did a lot of community service and was a part of several clubs in high school, and those experiences start to teach you how to be a leader and a mediator, and how to understand and work with different people. I knew these skills were important, so I liked that I’d be able to study and develop these skills further in ILR.

A world of opportunities

My first summer, I was a part of the Fulbright Undergraduate Summer Scholar program. There were 8 students chosen from across the nation and two of them were from ILR. I spent seven weeks studying at a Social Justice, Citizenship, and Human Rights school in London, and we also had a chance to travel to Belgium and Scotland. Through the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) program, I had a chance to study in Senegal in West Africa for a semester, which allowed me to take courses for credit while practicing French and learning about my family’s background. I also took dance classes, drumming classes, and learned how to cook with my host mother. I spent another summer in Phoenix, Arizona working as an intern at the institute that trained the Teach for America teachers.

Becoming a leader

I didn’t just want to come to Cornell and ILR and focus only on academics. It was important for me to get involved, meet people, and help the campus in any way I could. I joined the ILR Student Government as community service co-chair, a position in which I set up a partnership with a local community center and did service projects. I also served as the freshman representative for the Minority ILR Student Organization (MILRSO) and eventually became the President. We coordinated a lot of programming and social events like community service projects and a business etiquette dinner.

Being a part of organizations, especially being on the executive board, can be as grueling and demanding as a second class. I think I took the strong work ethic that I gained from my classes here into my organizations. A lot of the other topics we study and the skills we develop also apply, like learning how to mediate if two members are having a dispute, knowing how to work with other people’s schedules, and knowing how to keep a team really focused while still having a good time. Those are the types of skills that apply anywhere, so I found that working on an executive board is similar to being on a team in a classroom.