Skip to main content
Cornell University mobile logo

2019 Fellows

Rija Tayyab

“I loved living with and spending time with other women who share the same passion for social justice as me. We talked about issues in a class setting on Fridays and Wednesday dinners but would continue the conversation. I learned so much by just talking to them about their work, interests and passions. I read some beautiful poetry and blogs, learned about different communities, their policies and made lifelong friends.” 

Rija Tayyab and co-workers from WNY Women's Foundations
Rija Tayyab

Sofia Petrulla

“I decided to take the High Road because I wanted to gain exposure to research and learn about revitilization as it happens currently in Buffalo. I was able to become more familiar with the process of implementing programs and developing a network of resources for community members.”

Sofia Petrulla
Sofia Petrulla

Eliza Sherman

“Growing up in upstate New York, I have been exposed to the glaring disparities in our community. The High Road Fellowship provided me with the initial skills and knowledge necessary to make an impact in upstate New York and my community. Although I’m not sure what I want to pursue after graduation, I hope to bring what I learned this summer into future positions in the workplace and continue to stay engaged in whatever community I end up.”

Eliza Sherman
Eliza Sherman

Sidney Malia Waite

“I decided to take the ‘High Road’ and participate in this program because of my passion to engage in non profit work specifically. I wanted to get involved in an organization where implementing equality and opportunity were the main goals.”

Sidney Malia Waite
Sidney Malia Waite

Melissa Ruiz Hernandez

“Sustainability and justice are important to me and the High Road is exactly that. In addition, as someone from a community facing great inequality, I now have a greater understanding that nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations play a big role in the empowerment of those who are often left out of the conversation.”

Melissa Ruiz Hernandez
Melissa Ruiz Hernandez

Olivia Smith

"I am passionate about equality in the world, and have a specific interest in helping underserved groups of people. I chose to participate in this fellowship program because I want to make a difference in the world when I graduate, and this program helped show me what I can do in my community to make it a better place.”

Livvie Smith
Olivia Smith

Jack Millar

“I grew up in the Buffalo area and have a lot of pride and affection for the city. I feel strongly that an equitable economic development approach is the best method to stimulate growth as well as benefit the people in the city.”

Jack Millar
Jack Millar

Valerie Weisbeck

“I did High Road because I wanted to learn about and give back to the city that I care so much about because it’s a really unique place, and I’m proud to have grown up here. Through my work I was able to apply skills and knowledge that I have gained during my Cornell career.”

Valerie Weisbeck
Valerie Weisbeck

Will Seip

“After taking a class focused on community-based research, I knew that I wanted an opportunity to experience it. Growing up ‘near’ Buffalo (and being a huge Bills fan!), I am extremely excited to continue to learn what makes Buffalo Buffalo and to be shaped by those experiences in my future career.”

Will Seip
Will Seip

Yana Kalmyka

“My fellowship at the Area Labor Federation informed my future career goals in labor organizing. I hope to make a difference in people’s lives through this work by helping communities build and exercise power over corporate actors that drive policies impacting working people and their many relevant identities, including class, race, gender, immigrant status, incarceration history, and more.”

Yana Kalmyka
Yana Kalmyka

Shayla Combs

“As someone who is interested in starting my own nonprofit to service my community, the High Road Fellowship seemed perfect. I’m participating because I want to understand the true impact that universal public good practices can have on a community and to be inspired on ways that I can implement those practices and standards into my nonprofit organization in the future.”

Shayla Combs
Shayla Combs

Cynder Haines

“This summer I was part of a movement to create affordable housing in the West Side of Buffalo. I am obviously a new and very small part of this movement, and thus I could not be what I ought to be in this movement without the past and present work of everyone else involved. The research I did will better inform PUSH’s efforts, so I’ll be helping everyone else do better work.” 

Cynder Haines
Cynder Haines

Ashley Bivens

“I decided to take the High Road this summer as a way to get involved with community based organizations with engaged partnerships. I was looking to participate in hands on activities as well as learn more about non-profit work in large communities.”

Ashley Bivens photo
Ashley Bivens

Alice Kreher

“Being a High Road Fellow allowed me to work closely with an impactful community organization to translate my Policy Analysis and Management education into positive change for an area that is close to my heart.” 

Alice Kreher
Alice Kreher

Carson Crane

“I think nonprofit work can be some of the most worthwhile and engaging work. You often get the opportunity to see changes you strive for actualized. My motivation for participating was to engage with nonprofits in a professional manner to explore possibilities for future work. I have always enjoyed my work with community development, and I wanted to see what people who work in that do day-to-day.”

Carson Crane
Carson Crane

Laura Holland

“I decided to take the High Road this summer because I wanted to work with marginalized communities and help find solutions to their issues. I have never done research, or this kind of work, before and I wanted to challenge myself because that’s how you grow. This fellowship helped me become a better citizen, person, and professional who can take these skills and help even more communities.” 

Laura Holland
Laura Holland

Yuan Chen

“I decided to participate in the fellowship program this summer because I’ve had experiences in the financial services sector and social advocacy organizations, but wanted to intertwine my interests and make tangible impact through finance for communities like mine that need it most.” 

Yu An Chen
Yuan Chen

Sherell Farmer

“Growing up in Brooklyn, inequity is everywhere. I have long sought ways to end this divide and have learned a lot about economic justice through my education here at Cornell. My participation in the High Road has provide me a new, more sustainable method to work toward economic justice and hopefully given me the tools to apply those principles to my own neighborhood.”

Sherell Farmer
Sherell Farmer