Senior Kori Strother, an African American studies concentrator from St. Louis, Miss., has certainly impacted the entire Colgate community. As a member of the track team and an activist for social justice on campus, Strother is heavily involved in working towards positive change at Colgate.
Strother said she started to question her own identity, which was compounded by taking Discourses of Whiteness, African–American Studies classes and studying abroad in Jamaica. After looking critically at Colgate’s Office of Undergraduate Study (OUS) Summer Institute program and her peers, Strother wanted to look into experiences of students of color at Colgate.
“I noticed I wasn’t having a positive experience at Colgate as a student of color, but I noticed there was a difference,” Strother said. “Other students in the Harlem Renaissance Ceneter (HRC) who were also OUS students didn’t have the same type of struggles that I did. They had this different level of community to fall back on.”
Strother used the Lampert Institute Fellowship to travel, finding that problems underrepresented students face at Colgate are present at other colleges.
“The research helped me realize how deep the problem ran,” Strother said. “It’s about me wanting to change the structures of what institutions of higher education look like. I’m passionate that I feel like I can actually change on another level.”
Strother was one of the organizers of the sit-in this past fall. She believes it is important to remember that these issues are not solved.
“I don’t think people realized that we’re all responsible in our everyday lives,” Strother said. “Reassess why you’re here, why you can go to a liberal arts school.”
Strother was featured this year as the keynote speaker during MLK week.
“What an honor it was to be able to speak about such a great man, and to be able to speak at a critical time within our campus,” Strother said. “I think that after coming back I needed to remind people. I think people wanted to forget about everything that happened.”
After graduation, Strother plans on moving to San Diego and taking a few years off before pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology. She hopes to work in the administrative levels of education and dreams of one day opening a school “founded in love.”
“I think we are not in an educational setting where it means to love, and how that is incorporated into everything we do,” Strother said. “How we interact with one another, how we learn, what we learn, how we learn to change the world – it’s all about love.”