Jacquelyn Chyrell Richards on Why She Chose CIPA

Jacquelyn Chyrell Richards is a first-year CIPA student who is concentrating her studies on Government, Politics and Policy.

Hello Everybody! My name is Jacquelyn Chyrell Richards, and I am a first-year CIPA student concentrating in Government, Politics, and Policy. I am a Native New Yorker, growing up on Long Island, in a single parent household and I am the 2nd oldest of five girls.

I got involved with advocacy at the age of thirteen when I noticed that my peers in eighth grade were increasingly becoming pregnant. In response, I worked as a member of the Teen Advocate Project (TAP), a prevention-through-the-arts peer education program of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, becoming an expert Sexuality Health Peer Educator. I was trained to educate my community on topics surrounding sexuality including but not limited to Contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Self- Esteem, Body Image, Healthy Relationships, and Communication. However, it wasn’t until tenth grade, when I was attacked by a local gang in high school when my interest in public policies solidified. This experience made me realize how important education, after-school programs, and economic development in a community were.

I went on to receive as a first-generation graduate, my Bachelors of Arts degree with a double major in history and political science and a double minor in English and music (I secretly love theatre, and I am also a violinist). My time in college shifted my interests from advocacy to public service. This was also when I became involved with my local Young Democrats chapter. Two months after joining the organization, I became the Women’s Caucus Chair. Within a year, I was elected Director of Membership. I was eventually elected, at the National Young Democrats of America conference, to be the Outreach Director for the Black Caucus Young Democrats of America.

Following college, I went on to become the youngest Mayor-appointed, sitting member of the Commission on Human Rights for the City of Albany, and an elected democratic committee member for the 10th Ward in the City of Albany. I simultaneously worked full-time for the NYS Assembly Intern Committee, overseeing more than 150 interns, who were all there to explore their interests in public service.

Why CIPA? I chose to pursue my MPA at Cornell because I was looking for a program that was going to challenge me. I have fourteen years of experience advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. I carefully looked at the curriculum for other programs and compared them to my career aspirations. I asked myself, would this program prepare me for what I wanted to do after I graduated? The great thing about CIPA’s program was that I would be in control of that very answer. It’s solely up to me, with guidance from my advisor, to create a program of study and choose a concentration that will take me where I want to go.

In my short time here at Cornell, I have already been elected Vice President of the Black Graduate Professional Student Association, was a Team Leader for Into the Streets Cornell Community Service Day, and served as a volunteer teacher, giving lessons on How to get Involved Politically to high school and middle school students, through the “Splash! Cornell” program.  I guess you can say that I am taking advantage of the many resources CIPA has to offer!

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