Ms. Kiara Drake Researching the Law and Enjoying Natural Beauty of Cornell University

I remember my first day in Ithaca well. It was cold and rainy and I figured the phrase “on a hilltop high” had been taken a little too literally. I struggled to scale the steep hills of Cornell’s campus in my sandals, slipping and sliding with every step. I figured my tumultuous first impression was an indication of how the rest of the summer would unfold. Fortunately, I was wrong.

I met my mentor, Dr. Aziz Rana of the Cornell Law School, for coffee.  We began planning the course of my summer research. Engaging my passion for Constitutional law once again, I decided to concentrate on two philosophies of Constitutional interpretation —originalism and living Constitutionalism— and gauge how well each of them are practiced and render judicial objectivity in the U.S. Supreme Court.

With the support of my mentor, the Cornell University Leadership Alliance (CULA) administrators and the other thirteen women of the program (no men this summer), I was able to hash out my research and enjoy my Ithaca summer at the same time. Exploring hiking trails, swimming in waterfalls and wading in a natural —as opposed to manmade— lake, I got a New York experience that is quite unlike what nonresidents usually bear witness. Like most people, I had never imagined the world of New York outside of NYC, though I did visit the City for a second time.

All in all, I am thankful that I was given a second opportunity to participate in the Leadership Alliance. I conducted research at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut last summer. Appreciative of the unique relationships and experiences I gained at both institutions, I now look forward to this year’s symposium in New Brunswick, NJ where I am sure my experience will be equally rewarding.


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