It really isn't fair for students' and families' destinies to be predetermined by place of birth. We should be makers of our own destinies.
"I moved to the United States from Jamaica when I was 11 years old. The first two years were the hardest of my life. The thing that got me through the difficult times was knowing that I was in the U.S. for a reason: my education.
"When I came to Bucknell, I wanted to be an education major, but education was already my passion. Changing to a political science major took me completely out of my comfort zone. I want to affect change in education, and change is usually achieved through politics and public policy. My ultimate goal is to become minister of education in Jamaica.
"Last summer, I completed an internship in Washington, D.C., through Bucknell's Capitol Hill Internship Program. I worked on a variety of projects, including the issue of temporary protected status, which is usually granted to people from countries suffering a political or natural disaster. At the invitation of Bahçeşehir University in Turkey, I also traveled to that country, where I witnessed the Syrian refugee crisis firsthand. The generosity of the Turkish government and citizens proved to me that human empathy and being your brother's and sister's keeper transcends religion and socially constructed frameworks.
"Along with being a member of the women's track & field team, I belong to the Black Student Union and serve as a residential adviser. I'm also on the leadership committee of the Bucknell Katrina Recovery Team. When I first traveled to New Orleans, I saw families living on the streets 12 years after the hurricane. That was difficult for me to process.
"Although I see inequality in the U.S., I still want to focus on the students I left behind in Jamaica. I'm very fortunate, and with that good fortune comes an obligation to help those who live extremely different — and difficult — lives.”
Janiel is from Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Posted November 2017