Thaddeus Talbot '15ILR Experience: Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar Teaching Assistant, Labor and Employment Law Co-chair, Scholars Working Ambitiously to Graduate (S.W.A.G.) ILR Global Service Learning Project, Zambia
I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY and was looking for a change in environment for college. I wanted a place that wasn’t too far from home, a place where people went on hikes, rock-climbed, and canoed. I chose ILR because it allowed me to pursue my interest in law and policy through interdisciplinary coursework. Cornell also has a stellar mock trial team, which is an activity I hoped to continue beyond high school.
Research in Zambia
Through the ILR Global Service Learning Program, I spent a summer in Lusaka, Zambia at the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR). As part of the program, I lived with a host family that was incredibly hospitable and taught my partner and me how to live, eat and act properly within the culture. We regularly held comparative discussions about African and American values and challenged each other's perspective
I worked with a fellow researcher on a project to analyze the factors that influenced the bargaining power of public sector employees. We interviewed public officials, academics, labor leaders and workers, and our paper was later published on the SAIPAR website and in the Zambia Social Sciences Journal. This was my first experience with field research and it taught me a lot about how to gather information from interviews, synthesize evidence, create and test a hypothesis and write a paper for publication.
As the co-chair for S.W.A.G., a 75-member mentorship program of African American men, I helped manage the executive board and organized 5 major events per semester of students of color. The organization was formed with the intent of creating a more inclusive environment and increasing retention and graduation rates.
S.W.A.G.’s mentorship model matched students with juniors and seniors based on major, interests and personalities. We helped create a series of support networks and held events focused on academic success, building teams, professional development and social enrichment. Through our programming and advocacy, Cornell made the achievement of African American men their top diversity initiative, launched a Research Task Force, and provided funding for our programs. Our work also earned S.W.A.G. an invitation to attend the Clinton Global Initiative.