2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Genesis Santana, Cornell University (Dyson)

Genesis Santana

Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Proud AfroLatina, Brooklynite, natural hair enthusiast, boba lover, and bookworm!”

Fun fact about yourself: I took a gap year and studied aviation maintenance!

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

High School: Aviation High School

Major: Finance

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course:  AEM 3600/AEM 3601

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:


  • President of La Asociación Latina (formerly Vice President of Programming, Executive Vice President)
  • Programming Assistant for Dyson’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (2 years)
  • Vice President of Public Relations for Cornell Consulting Club
  • New York State Higher Education Opportunity Program (NYSOP) Ambassador
  • Teaching Assistant for AEM 2200: Introduction to Business Management and Organization
  • Teaching Assistant for AEM 2225: Financial Accounting For Dyson Majors (1 year)
  • Business Students of Color Coalition
  • Forté
  • Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA)


  • 2021 Google BOLD Immersion
  • 2021 Nationwide Future Scholar (Executive Leadership Council)
  • 2021 SC Johnson Scholar
  • 2021 PIMCO Scholar
  • Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) Career Prep Fellow
  • First Place in Dyson’s 2020 Map the Challenge Competition
  • Dean’s List 2020-2021

Where have you interned during your college career? CBRE: New York City, Capital Markets Intern (Summer 2020 and Summer 2021)

Work after graduation: Goldman Sachs Real Estate Investing Team

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I gained from studying business is that business truly has the power to create impact. Dyson’s motto is “Our business for a better world.” When applying to schools, it was initially what attracted me to Dyson — and I was able to experience that in my coursework and during my time at Cornell. Dyson’s Grand Challenges curriculum is unique in that it allowed me to do pro-bono consulting projects with community partners for class credit. I had the privilege to work alongside Professor Ndunge Kiiti in our class: Immigrants and Refugees–Changing the Entrepreneurial Landscape in America. In this class, I was able to work with a small business owner in Buffalo, NY, to help increase her digital footprint and rebrand her jewelry store. Now, I am enrolled in another Grand Challenges class with Professor Cindy Van Es, working with a community partner from South Africa. So often, we think that a business curriculum is just finance and accounting—but it is more than that—it’s also an opportunity to help the communities around us, locally and globally.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?   If I could sum it up to three things, they would be: don’t be afraid to ask for help, get involved, and challenge yourself to take on new opportunities. Even though they seem pretty basic things superficially, they really can change your college experience. Asking for help manifests in many ways—it could mean going to office hours, speaking to an academic advisor, or taking care of your mental health. Academics are equally important as your mental and personal health, so make sure you take care of it while you’re in school. Find time to do the things you love with friends and be intentional about how you spend your time. Sometimes, a nature walk does wonders for your productivity (from experience)! And, of course, get involved. Whether through working, volunteering, or extracurricular activities, what you will remember most will be these events rather than a specific lecture or theory from class. Lastly, don’t be afraid to try something new. There are endless possibilities and opportunities in college, so take advantage of them even if it is something you never thought of doing before. For me, this has manifested itself in getting involved in e-boards, having a work-study job, trying out non-business classes, and more. Although indirect, these things will help you be a better, more fulfilled business student.

Which academic, extracurricular, or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of joining and leading one of Cornell’s multicultural umbrella organizations, La Asociacion Latina (LAL). When I first got to campus, it was my goal to find a community and a place that reminded me of home — the food, the music, and the culture I was accustomed to. Since I have always been passionate about my Afro-Latinx roots, I loved joining LAL. However, I slowly realized how my Black and Latinx intersectionality was not highlighted on campus — whether in LAL or elsewhere. So, as I took on the role of Vice President of Programming as a freshman. I sought to include dialogue centered on intersectionality—the idea that everyone’s lived experiences are different due our overlapping social and political identities. As president now, we’ve expanded from single one-off events to Cornell’s first-ever week-long series dedicated to Celebrating AfroLatinidad. We hosted our event in February in commemoration of Black History Month, and our mantra was to “celebrate, amplify, and uplift Afro-Latinx culture, music, art, and literature.” Specifically, we hosted a table talk discussion about the African diaspora, natural hair culture, and a keynote event with Afro-Latinx actress Julissa Calderon. In essence, it was an event series I wish I would have had my first year. This event meant representation and visibility for me and many others. Intersectionality is complex, and I am so happy to have started something (I hope) that will be an annual tradition on Cornell’s campus.

Which classmate do you most admire? I admire Karina Popovich ’23, a fellow first-generation student, for her diligence and passion. Since we met freshman year, I knew she was passionate about tech, women in tech, and 3-D printing. But I saw her flourish when she used her passion to help front-line workers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic by creating 3-D printed PPE. When there wasn’t enough supply and folks were quarantined, she stepped up to the challenge and was able to help so many lives because of it. Besides being a “steminist” she is also a kind friend and a fellow January birthday girl. She’s been featured in Forbes and various other news outlets, so check her out!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my mom for my success. Although my mom was never able to formally receive a college education, she has taught my siblings and me more than anyone else could ever. She has taught me the importance of hard work, kindness, and motivation. She left everything she knew in the Dominican Republic to pursue a better lifestyle for us, and for that I am forever indebted to her. I know that my siblings and I are the American Dream for her, and I hope to make her proud!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Do a Ted Talk in my field of expertise
  2. Work abroad in a Spanish-speaking country and practice my native language.

What are your hobbies? I love to spend time with family and friends and explore the city when I have free time! Whether I am trying a new restaurant or visiting a new museum, I enjoy getting to know where I live. I also really enjoy traveling, reading novels and self-help books, and spending time with my dog.

What made Genesis such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Genesis continually demonstrates excellence both in and out of the classroom. I have had the pleasure of working with her through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Here, she is a program assistant and a member of a high performing team of student leaders who oversee co-curricular programmatic efforts that help strengthen a diverse culture of inclusion and belonging in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. She is a successful liaison amongst faculty, alumni, and corporate partners, and regularly provides meaningful contributions to the success of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Genesis has a transformational leadership style and possesses the unique ability to build effective relationships across diverse and disparate constituents. She is also an active member of student organizations I advise including the Dyson Diversity Council, Business Students of Color Coalition, and Dyson Diversity Scholars. Her commitment to her peers and her many significant contributions to the Dyson student experience has positively impacted our community in long-lasting ways. Genesis is a stellar leader who embodies the ethos of the Dyson School, Our Business is a Better World, and she is so deserving of the Poets & Quants Best & Brightest undergraduate student award!”

Jennifer Majka, Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Visiting Lecturer
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
Cornell University



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