Student Success Navigator, Office of Student Services
jess ramtahal is the first Student Success Navigator, working to connect with, advocate for, and support prospective and admitted CALS students and their families, particularly those from historically excluded and vulnerable populations. A first-generation student born and raised in the Bronx, jess heavily resonates with the obstacles and struggles of navigating higher education, such as layers of imposter syndrome and not knowing when/who to ask for help. When looking at their role as a Navigator, jess’ motivation for change lies in their awareness that several aspects of their own identity are adjectives commonly used to describe ‘unsuccessful’ students. Having earned a B.A. in Africana Studies and english from William Smith College ’20, jess aims to diversify the narratives of what it means to belong at Cornell and beyond.
Rooted in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, jess assists students in exploring and defining their pathway to belonging at Cornell, by asking what resources are needed, rather than implying; in turn, supporting all facets of student success and wellness (academic, professional, and personal). With this, they emphasize the importance of seeing students as humans, with their experiences at Cornell just a piece of their story. With that acknowledgment, jess works to expand how we support students and the communities they identify with. By investing in the communities we hope to recruit students from, we begin shifting the view of diversity as just quantitative, to a model of holistic advising.
Additionally, jess serves as the CALS Tutoring Program Coordinator. This tutoring service is available to all CALS undergraduate students and currently serves 17 courses across several disciplines. jess hopes to further expand the program, so that CALS students are continually exposed to new ways of learning, teaching, and investing in community.
Outside the office, jess is likely watching NPR Tiny Desk Concert’s, caring for their (countless) plants, and cuddling with their blind cat, Morty.
140 Roberts Hall
215 Garden Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14853
jir36 [at] cornell.edu