Reprinted from Ezra Magazine, September 2016 Issue
Camille Sims '15 says fate brought her to Cornell. And now it has propelled her to reign as Miss New York and to finish second runner-up in September's Miss America competition.
"After that, I said, 'Mom, this is it, this is my school! I have to be there!'" Sims recalls.
As a freshman and a Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar, Sims sought out Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development, whose research on youth purpose and identity she had been tracking since high school. She took "every class that he offered" and conducted research and an independent study through his Purpose and Identity Processes Laboratory. Her project explored how mass incarceration impairs adolescent transitions into adulthood and sparked her to work with Ultimate Re-entry Opportunity of Tompkins County, which supports former inmates.
Today, she continues her work on reintegration and other social justice issues as a coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Multicultural Resource Center.
"I wouldn't be doing the work that I am doing now had it not been for the conversations and experiences in Professor Burrow's classes and lab," Sims says.
"Because of her innovative scholarship and passion to contribute to the health of the communities in which she lives, Camille makes a formidable ally to those enduring imprisonment and who will eventually re-enter the community," Burrow says. "Her particular talents are noticeable and effective -- she's the kind of student who demands there always be greater meaning to the assignments in which she engages."
Crowned Miss New York in May, Sims is using her title to raise awareness for her platform, Ensuring Wellness and Fostering Food Justice. Sims was drawn to the cause from her early experiences fighting hunger, as well as her work as a Cornell undergraduate at Ithaca's Southside Community Center, where she has helped low-income families with eating healthfully on a budget. Sims credits Cornell's Public Service Center for matching her with local groups as a freshman and her Human Ecology education with making her more effective as an advocate.
"I took classes in nutrition and health, human development and nearly enough for a minor in policy analysis and management," Sims says. "I've been able to develop an understanding of the food system from all these perspectives and tie that into my Miss America platform."
A jazz singer and songwriter who plans to release her second album this fall, Sims hopes to use her winnings from the Miss New York and Miss America competitions to pay for graduate school, where she plans to continue her research in human development. Ultimately, she hopes to inspire others to engage with their communities and fight for social justice.
"Caring is crucial to moving anything forward," says Sims. "For us to move forward as a society, we must ask questions about the food system and start conversations about inequity. There can't be apathy about inequality and social justice if you want to thrive as a community."
-- Ted Boscia is director of communications and media for the College of Human Ecology.
|Online course brings self-injury to the surface Janis Whitlock, Ph.D. ’03, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR) and a research scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, hopes to spotlight the issue by launching a set of web-based education and training courses.|
|Early puberty in girls raises the risk of depression Perri Klass interviewed Jane Mendle in her NY Times' column, The Checkup, about Mendle's research with girls who begin puberty earlier than their peers. Read here about her findings and the risks these girls face in adolescence.|
|Learning to reduce risky behaviors leads to STEM careers The Laboratory for Rational Decision Making, led by Dr. Valerie Reyna in Human Development, welcomed 24 high school students from 18 different counties in New York State as part of the 4-H Career Explorations Conference.|
|Gerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows Professors Corinna Loeckenhoff and Elaine Wethington of human development, were two of 94 professionals named on May 31 to the society, which is the largest of its kind seeking to understand aging in the United States.|
Students in the News
|HD graduate student in the news: Sarah R. Moore Sarah R. Moore, Ph.D. student of Dr. Richard A. Depue, was awarded the Early Career Outstanding Paper Award in Developmental Psychology. Read her summary of research on how people differ in their interaction with their environment.|
|Marcos Moreno '17 is named a 2016 Udall scholar The Udall Scholarship supports undergraduates with excellent academic records and who show potential for careers in environmental public policy, health care and tribal public policy. Moreno is a human development major concentrating in neuroscience in the College of Human Ecology.|
|Summer Scholar Spotlight: Deborah Seok ‘17 In faculty research labs, in communities across the state, and at jobs and internships around the globe, Human Ecology undergrads are making a powerful impact this summer as they apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.|
Articles on the Web
|How can current research inform the development of new methods to assess intelligence? Read the fifth post from the six-part series, "Researching Human Intelligence" on fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, with Robert Sternberg, professor of human development.|