University: Columbia University
Major: Political Science with a concentration in Ethnicity and Race Studies
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Biography: My name is Travis Nelson and I am rising sophomore at Columbia University and God willing the future president of the United States.
First and foremost, to the most high I am forever indebted. I am exceedingly blessed because there is nothing in my story that suggested I’d get to where I am or even achieve any measure of my success. I grew up in Hempstead, NY better known as “Afghanistead”: a name promulgated by the turf wars, gang violence, and death prevalent in my community. Nevertheless, I am not the product of my circumstances but rather a single mother’s prayers, travail and earnest in making sure her children were successful. I vehemently denounce the colloquialism that “the sky is the limit” because the sky should not be our limit but only our direction and with my religious and domestic foundation propelling me I have no other option but to fly. Thus, my acceptance to Columbia University in 2016 as the first Questbridge scholar from my hometown was much more of an expectation than an achievement.
Still, “to whom much is given, much is required” and so I have chosen to study political science at Columbia University. I find it deplorable that the structural inferiority of my community has been normalized. Children shouldn’t be desensitized to the death of their peers, have to celebrate reaching 18 years of age like it’s the least expected age to turn, witness rampant political corruption, not expect to graduate high school with more than half of their class, not consider college a feasible option or be complacent with the knowledge that no measure of success is expected from their life. It is all of the aforementioned that prompted my aspiration to be a public servant. I earnestly believe that through my life, work, and example I can shine some light in the darkness and prove to be the rule NOT the exception. I have worked with organizations such as the Long Island Civic Engagement Table and the New York Civil Liberties Union to increase electoral power in communities of color and bolster a sense of civic duty in those apathetic towards our justice and political system as well as 2 Young 2 Die “2Y2D”, a community based non-profit organization I started with my mentor and my peers 4 years ago on my birthday, that aims to enhance the lives of young people of color by providing them with the life skills and services necessary to become responsible, aware, and engaged citizens.
I pursue my passions in a nonacademic setting as a the youngest initiate and member of Eta “The Jewel” Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. seated at Columbia, a general board member on the Political Science Student Association, the former Class of 2021 Representative and now the Community Outreach Representative for the Questbridge Chapter at Columbia, and the Pre-Professional Advisor for the Activities Board at Columbia. After Columbia, I look forward to a graduate education in law and public administration as well as beginning my political career. Through my various involvements, I hope to foster a culture of global synergy because a house divided cannot stand. Through our collective efforts, we can keep moving forward.