Beyond the Borders: Hawthorne brings Jamaican warmth to campus

Originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, energetic and cheery junior Kerisha Hawthorne fills Geneseo's frigid climate with a little warmth from home everyday.

For this English and psychology double major, the stars were not always aligned for Hawthorne to attend Geneseo. After completing her last two years of high school in a boarding school on Long Island, a college counselor encouraged her to apply to Geneseo with a warning that the weather may be less than ideal.

Hawthorne said she will never get used to the cold and snow here. When the weather is especially poor, she said she questions why she is here and she can never understand her friends who are excited to look out the window and see snow.

Hawthorne has made her footprint known on Geneseo soil. This is her second year as a resident assistant, and she is also the vice president of Rotaract Club and a member of The Ghana Project.

"The people in ResLife are really nice and amazing people," Hawthorne said. "The only downfall to being an RA is the amount in the workload, but it comes with the job."

Without a doubt, Hawthorne said she revels in the generosity of the professors in both the English and psychology departments as her absolute favorite aspect of Geneseo. "I feel like I have that one-on-one connection with them where it's not like 'oh it's my professor and I don't have any other contact with them,'" she said.

Hawthorne cited a few of her favorites in the English department: Beth McCoy, Richard Finklestein and Kenneth Asher as her absolute most-liked professor. "I love that man so much. He's so chill, no pressure, I just love him," Hawthorne said.

After graduation, Hawthorne said she plans to attend law school or graduate school for social work. "Ultimately, my long term goal is to practice law involving social justice," she said. Ideally, Hawthorne would like to reside in the Northeastern part of the United States until she's about 40, when she plans to return home to Jamaica and revamp the government.

"In our governmental system we don't have a good social agency system to help people in poverty, so I want to go back to implement a system. And then I'll retire there, somewhere on the beachside."

As far as cultural differences between Jamaica and the U.S. go, Hawthorne noted that the main differences involve the music and cuisine. The U.S., however, has a large influence on the younger generation's pop culture in Jamaica. Dancehall, a type of music that originated in Jamaica, usually presides on most radio stations there.

"The food [in Jamaica] is a totally different world - it's delicious and amazing," she said. Hawthorne noted that when she visits home, the moment she steps into her house, she must eat her mother's delicious curried chicken with rice. For the next morning, her menu consists of ackee (a Jamaican fruit) and sawfish. After she's had those two crucial dishes, she is free to eat anything else. Hawthorne does not have a favorite American dish. In fact, she described her method of eating in the U.S. as "eating to survive. There's nothing that I go out of my way to get."

Hawthorne said she misses her mom and grandma back home and most notably the warmth. She also heavily advocated that if anyone wants a perfect vacation, Jamaica is the place to be. "The beaches there are amazing, the sand is so fine and white, and the water is green and blue and it's beautiful," she mused with a forlorn look. Perhaps Hawthorne will be residing in Jamaica sooner than expected.