Earlier this semester, the Colgate community celebrated the induction of twenty-six new students as members of Konosioni Senior Honor Society. This historic association of students which has been around since 1934 recognizes “outstanding leadership, dedicated service to the community, and the preservation of tradition.”
Last year, Konosioni welcomed six Office of Undergraduate Scholars (OUS): Lücién Reubens, Valeria Felix, Shemuel Malave, Tasnim Ali, and Bobbie Howie. This year, they are joined by fellow OUS peers Renée Roundy, Jimmy Anim and Maximillian Michael, as well as members of the First Generation Initiative (FIRST), Chelsea Santiago, Enrique Nuñez, D’Jonitta Cottrell, and Keyra Jimenez.
I asked FIRST scholar, D’Jonita Cottrell to tell me about the honor of being selected. D’Jonita, class of 2019, is an Educational Studies and Psychology double major who calls Boston, MA home. She has been diligently dedicated to her participation in the hip-hop dance group DDT, as a member of Link Staff, and as a student employee for Career Services. In fall of 2017, D’Jonita also traveled with Professor Mark Stern as a member of the Ed Studies Philadelphia Study Group. She is proud of being an independent and outgoing person who is not afraid to be herself.
What does being a first generation college student mean to you?
Being a first generation college student means a lot to me. Not only does it demand being extremely independent and not necessarily having family you can go to for help, guidance, or understanding, but it also means I’ve become a stronger student and overall person on this campus. Being a first gen student has pushed and prepared me academically, socially, and financially in ways I don’t believe other college students get to experience.
What inspired you to apply to be a member of Konosioni?
I guess the biggest things that inspired me to join Konosioni were the people I knew (currently or previously) in the organization, and the commitment to community that the organization has. Given that Colgate as a whole is a community that isn’t always welcoming or representative of all its students, I see Konosioni as a space for expanding and transforming who and what counts as community at this university.
How did it feel to be recognized by your peers at induction?
Induction was a little uncomfortable, not gonna lie, but that’s only because I don’t really like being “highlighted”- whatever that word means. I understand why we’re recognized but I also just think work happens on this campus in everyday life, by everyday students, not just those being “recognized.” I’d love to shine more light on those peoples, organizations, and efforts that go unrecognized rather than put myself in the spotlight. I hope that I can do that as a member of Kono.
What do you think is Konosioni’s biggest challenge/s moving forward?
One of the biggest challenges for Konosioni lies within the group itself. We need to understand and embrace that we were chosen as one group that represents the student body; and because of this, we’re all coming in with different backgrounds, experiences, and opinions. It’s important to acknowledge that we’re not always going to be on the same page about things in the same way and that the entire student body won’t agree with a decision or opinion Kono has. This is the second biggest challenge I think Kono faces moving forward: a lot of students don’t feel like they’re represented in Kono at all. I’m not entirely sure how to fully address this issue (or even if it can be addressed) but, to me, remaining in conversation with our community, both in a Konosioni run/sponsored space and outside of that space, will be essential.