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Meet the Peer Mentors

Kessler Presidential Scholars Peer Mentor Program

The Kessler Presidential Scholars peer mentors help our first-year Kessler Scholars navigate the system of higher education by sharing institutional knowledge, critical feedback and providing encouragement to successfully navigate campus and community resources. The peer mentors serve as positive role models and contribute to the strong community of support provided to Kessler Scholars over their educational journey at Cornell University.

Through mentorship with upper-level students, scholars will directly connect with resources and experiences that will increase their cultural and social capital, assist in their transition to Cornell University, and enhance their opportunities to thrive at Cornell University. By building strong and trustworthy peer-mentoring relationships, scholars will develop a stronger sense of belonging and community within the University that will serve as a foundation for their collegiate careers.

Our Vision

Kessler Mentors strive to foster an inclusive community through guidance, trust, and empowerment. Achieving this vision requires: 

  • Recognizing structural inequalities that impedes personal growth,
  • Challenging deep rooted, systemic injustices, and
  • Overcoming adversity through solidarity.

Overall, we hope to inspire, empower, and install change in the lives of students through this vision. Get to know this year's Peer Mentors below.

2021-2022 Peer Mentors

Anaisa Cespedes inside of Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room

Anaisa Cespedes ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“I am so excited to be a Kessler Presidential Scholar Mentor because I hope to build meaningful relationships with my mentees and impart any of my knowledge whether it be academic or personal to foster growth in them.”  

Abdoul Diallo headshot

Abdoul Diallo ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“What makes me most excited about serving as a mentor is having the opportunity to share the knowledge and connections that I gotten from Cornell to new first-generation students. I am grateful of everything that I have learned and the connections I made, and I think a way to show gratitude for the blessings I have is to share it with others who might not have it yet.”

Angely Morel Espinal in Cornell sweatshirt

Angely Morel Espinal ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“I am very excited to be a Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor because I love to give back. I want to facilitate the new journey my fellow peers are going to embark on. I am excited to be a friend/ mentor and help in any way that I can just like many incoming students need.”

Alejandra Gonzalez headshot with trees in background

Alejandra Gonzalez ‘23
Senior Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor

“I'm most excited to meet my mentees and get to know their passions, interests, and goals. I'm really excited for that personal connection in being able to learn from my mentee as well as helping them navigate their first year. I also feel the first year is really magical and I love to hear about how it is going for students.”

Olivia Gurfinkiel stands in front of Willard Straight Hall

Olivia Gurfinkiel ‘23
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“What excited me the most about serving as a Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor is being able to help first-generation students not only in their academic career but as someone they can turn to for any personal trouble. I want to be a peer who can give them advice based on personal experiences and knowledge.”

Katy Jensen

Katy Jensen ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“As a mentor, I'm most excited about the opportunity to foster a first-year experience that inspires and emboldens my mentees' pursuit of their greatest goals and ambitions. As a friend, confidante, and advisor, I hope to help lay a confident and exciting foundation for an even more incredible undergraduate experience.”

Sophia Johnson stands in front of Cayuga Lake

Sophia Johnson ‘24
Senior Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“I'm really excited to share the knowledge I've gained from these past two years at Cornell with an incoming student who might not know anything about Cornell or college in general, because personally I really benefited from having that my first year as a first-gen student.”

Erik Sande in a white and red Cornell hat

Erik Sande ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“What excites me most about being a Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor is getting the chance to help the incoming scholars navigate their first year at Cornell as my mentor did with me.”

Wilson Shi wearing a red and white Cornell sweatshirt

Wilson Shi ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“What excites me the most about serving as a Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor is being able to help others. Being able to help people who are going to be going through similar experiences that I have would be extremely fulfilling.”

Destiny Smith wears a red and white Cornell sweatshirt

Destiny Smith ‘24
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentor 

“The most exciting thing about anticipating being a mentor is being able to use my experience and the advice I've received from my own mentors and advisors to guide students in a similar situation as me through their transition to college. I would like to be seen as not only another resource on campus but also an ally that can give them specialized insight that will be useful to them based on a recent and similar experience.”

Libby Willkomm wears a red and white Cornell sweatshirt

Libby Willkomm ‘23
Kessler Presidential Scholars Mentoring Program Specialist and Program Coordinator

“The thing that excites me the most about being a mentor is making deep-level connections with my mentees. I think finding your community at Cornell is so important, so I love being a mentor because I get to help my mentees develop that sense of belonging.”