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Humans of Statler: Jordan Abdur Ra’oof

Jordan Abdur Ra’oof is a Cornell Varsity Basketball player in the Hotel School. Earlier this year, he started a blog known as Ivy Untold, one that aims to allow African Americans, LGBTQ, Hispanics, and other minorities to share their experiences on Ivy League campuses. This interview seeks to explain Jordan’s inspiration behind the blog and his experiences since arriving at Cornell.

Where are you from?

“I’m from Rockville, Maryland, which is a suburb of Washington DC.”

Why did you decide to come to Cornell?

“I grew up playing basketball. I attended Gonzaga College High School and throughout the entire recruiting process, I was also being recruited by other Ivy League Schools. After visiting Cornell and going on an official visit where I saw the Hotel School, I decided it was the right place for me.”

Did you know you always wanted to be a Hotelie?

“My high school and college coach introduced the Hotel School to me. My high school has a lot to do with service and giving back to the community, so the service aspect of the hotel school was a perfect fit for me.”

How has basketball impacted your life?

“Basketball has impacted my life in almost every way. From learning about how to be on team, and dealing with different personalities, it has always been a constant force in my life. It is something that holds you to a higher standard, knowing that you represent something bigger than yourself. And at Cornell specifically, the level you must hold yourself to is even higher.”

How was adjusting to Cornell like?

“It was pretty tough. Just going into the Ivy League is an adjustment. I remember not doing well in my first Financial Accounting prelim with Dittman, and I remember calling my mom telling her I don’t think I can make it. But as time has gone on, I have been doing much better.”

What was the inspiration behind your blog, Ivy Untold?

“I had been thinking about this idea since this past summer when Affirmative Action for higher education had gone all the way up to the Supreme Court. I thought the case was interesting, because I thought how people’s backgrounds are so unique and can add so much value to the university.

Also, I was taking a course in an Intergroup Dialogue Project course, EDUC 2610. When I was in a class about sexuality, for most of my life I had just classified myself as a minority because I am black, but then the course made me realize that I’m also a straight male. I learned how other minorities dealt with issues, and I saw how privileged I am. It was interesting for me to get into a different mindset. I felt that many other students may have a similar expansive experience that if they could learn about other people.”

How has being a Hotelie affected your perspective?

“The hotel school has affected my perspectives in many ways. First and foremost, realizing that everything in life is in the details. From how you carry and represent yourself, to how I view the possibilities that my future can hold.

It wasn’t a specific tie to the hotel school that inspired me, but being in the service industry you are always surrounded by people of different walks of life all the time. That is the beauty of service, everyone has a different background, but service to others is a language that is understood universally.

What are your long-term objectives with the blog?

“Hopefully this summer I can meet other Ivy League students that would like to part take in that and expand it to other Ivy League schools. I would also love to see some athletes post some material as well.”

How does being a minority in an Ivy League school gives you a different perspective?

“I do not think that there is a single narrative for any minority Student at Cornell, or any other Ivy League institution. But being a minority at an Ivy League school affirms that you are some sort of walking contradiction, where you face many micro aggressions. People try to make sense of why you are an Ivy League student. Whether people say, “Wow that’s amazing, you must play a sport,” which happens to be true for me. But, for many others that don’t play a sport, they instantly assume your acceptance was based on your minority status. For me, this just adds motivation to continue to defy the societal norms that I, and many other, are confronted with.”

What do you plan to do after you graduate from Cornell?

“I would love to start my own social entrepreneurship enterprise, but as of now I am looking forward to interning with Morgan Stanley, and I hope I can continue to work there after graduation!”

What is your favorite song?

“Slide by Calvin Harris.”

If you could have dinner with three other people, who would they be?

“Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and my mom.”

What is the last book you read?

“It was the Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.”

Where is your favorite place to travel?

“We went to Spain this year for the basketball trip, it was one of the best of my life.”

Who is your favorite athlete?

“Lebron James”

What has been your favorite memory at Cornell?

“This is a hard one to answer because there have been so many great memories throughout my journey at Cornell. Most notably I think my favorite memories have been walking down Cascadilla Gorge escaping the stresses of school and enjoying the beautiful scenery, slope day, or celebrating a win with the basketball team. It is hard to pinpoint a single time and say it’s my favorite, because I have so many amazing memories here.”

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