With a passion to make an impact on food security, food waste and water issues, Anastashia Alfred ‘20 raced into research on structural inequalities. A Development Sociology major from Texas, Anastashia shares her experience in research, athletics and volunteerism at Cornell.
I’m a sprinter, but my Cornell journey is one best described by distance. Departing from my Texas hometown, I traveled over 1,700 miles away and found a new home on campus in Upstate New York. From freshman fall to senior spring, my studies at Cornell allotted me the ability to explore the water issues in Flint, Michigan, and learn how to combat food waste in countries around the world. Ultimately, what I got out of Cornell, both in academics and athletics, far exceeded my expectations.
CALS helped further my understanding of systemic and structural inequality at each level of the social hierarchy. Early on I was selected to join Professor Tom Hirschl’s research team to study the socio-political impacts of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Through our work we identified key leaders, explored the handling of the situation, acknowledged the accomplishments of grassroots organizations, and observed the broader implications. Given the sheer magnitude of health factors that vary from public to private sectors, it created a diffusion of responsibility and as a result, no one actor or agency has been held accountable for the crisis. Our proposal was submitted for publication, and the experience broadened my understanding of local politics.
Inspired by my own journey of food insecurity, I am constantly looking for ways to create a more food-secure world and build resilient, inclusive communities.
Throughout my time here, I have analyzed societal development and discussed mechanics to resolve social problems in the local and global arenas under the guidance of professors in their fields of expertise.
Working with Professor Lori Leonard, I wrote a capstone op-ed on the impacts of food waste on the global community. I specifically targeted Austin, Texas, the largest city outside of my hometown. Austin has fully implemented an ordinance preventing restaurants from disposing of food waste in landfills. Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance requires all food-permitted businesses and restaurants to donate extra food to shelters, send food scraps to animal farms, or compost organic waste. Additionally, under the guidance of Professor Sarah Giroux, my research team was recognized and awarded for our research on the relationship between mental health and confidence in Congress through the extraction of SPSS data.
With the closing of senior year and completion of my Development Sociology capstone, my capstone group created a scorecard to engage with the topic of food waste in relation to the new Food Recovery act and EPA hierarchy, and evaluate how corporation/business efforts might be used to migrate food waste production. Each organization we selected was graded on five principal metrics: sustainability, transparency, source reduction, donation, and on-site composting.
In the fall of 2019, I was honored to make the Dean’s List.
Athletics and volunteerism have been huge parts of my experience at Cornell.
As a sophomore, I joined the Cornell Social Media Ambassador program to help incoming students, transfers, and peers alike in their transition to the academic rigor of Cornell and its social environment. As an athlete, I was nominated and inducted into the inaugural class of the Cornell Athletics Leadership Academy. The main purpose of the Leadership Academy was to be the spokesperson of that specific sport and communicate with the athletic department on how they could better serve the broader community through community service, leadership training, mental health programs, and more.
As part of Cornell Track and Field Team community service efforts, a large group of my track and field teammates came together and helped the Ithaca Mobile Pack in their partnership with Feeding My Starving Children. Feed My Starving Children organization distributes food to schools, orphanages, medical clinics, and feeds programs in 70 countries around the world to break the cycle of poverty. In less than two hours as a group, we had packed 109 boxes or 23,544 meals for children around the world.
Now that I am graduating, I have accepted a full-time position as a cloud computing analyst with Oracle in their Human Capital Management department. Ultimately, I want to redesign how HR functions from the bottom-up while being a voice and role model for the incoming diverse workforce.
As a whole, Global Development fueled my passion to aid and be a light to those disenfranchised by the system. As I grow within my career and personally, I will never be able to truly repay the department for impacting my life in such a positive, transformative way.
Thank you, Cornell University and CALS department.
GO BIG RED!
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