Jemil K.
Major: International Affairs and Political Science
Spring 2021

What's been the best opportunity for you at CU? The best opportunity I have had at CU has been my involvement within the Cultural Events Board (CEB). CEB provides funding to allow for a platform for under-represented student groups on campus. CEB also hosts speakers to discuss relevant issues in today’s political climate. As a member of the board, I have discussed with student groups the most effective ways to reach out to students on campus to provide them with their perspectives. I also provide answers to logistical, fiscal, and marketing questions for these student groups. In addition to these responsibilities, I have been able to help determine relevant speakers to invite to our campus. Throughout this process, issues that students on campus deem to be important, are the basis in which we make these decisions. This semester, we decided to focus on the issue of racial biases and discrimination within the Criminal Justice reform. As a result, we decided to invite two of the Exonerated 5, a group of Black and Latino men who as teenagers, were wrongly convicted for an assault and rape in New York's Central Park. I interviewed Yusuf Salaam and Raymond Santana on stage, and the dialogue that ensued brought many of the audience to tears. In addition, as a member of the University of Colorado Police Department, I was able to help facilitate members of law enforcement and the District Attorney's office to attend. This resulted in the creation of significant efforts to bridge minority communities on campus with both legal entities and inspired these organizations to want to further engage with the community-at-large moving forward. 

My involvement in this organization has also shaped my character and provided me with critical perspectives, and the opportunity to interact with different groups in the larger CU community. My involvement in this group has also helped to shape my longer academic and career goals which entail pursuing a law degree to eventually serve in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

How has COVID-19 changed school for you? COVID-19 has largely changed my life as a student and has created so many challenges that have impacted my overall academic engagement. When the larger shift to quarantining and remote interactions began in March, I was in severe shock with the severity of the situation. Although I had witnessed the general fear people had during the Swine Flu back in 2012 and had been reading about the impacts of COVID-19 back in December, I had not imagined that it would shape things largely in the United States. This shock led to a larger set of anxiety, which eventually was affirmed with harsh realities I would come to face. These realities entailed losing my two jobs on campus, fearing for my family's safety since my father falls within the vulnerable population due to his health condition, and fearing for the overall loss of human loss that we would face in our country. These things made school almost a second priority for me and would set forth many obstacles in my pursuit of academic success in my last year here at CU Boulder.

As a student I had begun to tune out virtual lectures, neglect assigned readings, and lost the will to address larger concerns with my academic instructors. Although my professors had been very accommodating during the past Spring semester, this level of accommodation had not been the same in the Fall semester. Although I had expected this to occur, I had also believed that I would be able to adjust more so coming into the Fall semester, but this had not been the case. I found that the virtual environment still had impacted my attention-span, I was still impacted by some financial anxiety, became a bit overwhelmed with my other obligations and racial justice advocacy work, remained anxious about post-graduate plans especially in the wake of this pandemic, and struggled with my general anxiety about the state of our country.

However, as this semester comes to an end, I have found a semblance of hope and comfort for all of the challenges I have faced. I have worked to find different means to keep myself accountable as a student by engaging directly during classes, interacting with students and professors, and extracting larger interests from the courses I am taking. I have also been slowly better managing all of my obligations, staying positive, and excited about my future. I can confidently say that I am in a place in which I am optimistic about my performance during my last year here at CU. I can also say that I am very hopeful for my future.  

How has the scholarship helped you? The Buffalo Bicycle Classic scholarship has supported the profound experience I have been able to have here at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The scholarship has helped to ensure that I can attain my living expenses while not having to sacrifice my academic performance to do so. Consequently, I have been able to maintain a high level of academic performance, maintain a very high GPA, and remain on the dean’s list for every semester I have been here at CU. My academic performance will also largely support my desire to pursue law school and my future career goals.

The scholarship has also allowed me to be able to volunteer my time to several campus activities, most importantly CU Student Government (CUSG). As a member of CUSG, I have been able to advocate for underrepresented students on campus, initiate important conversations on campus, help manage students’ on-campus services, and largely shape our campus community. I believe that without this scholarship and the support of others I have been awarded, I would not have been able to remain in these roles, and more importantly, serve these causes. These engagements have shaped my character, allowed for many profound experiences, allowed me to gain many different perspectives, have provided me with meaningful leadership experience, and have inspired my future academic and career aspiration. Consequently, the support provided by this scholarship has meant the world to me, since it has provided me with opportunities and experiences, I would not have been able to pursue otherwise. For that, I will forever be grateful for the support the scholarship has provided to me, as well as to those who continue to contribute to it every year.