Keith Cornelius Jr., B.A. 2008

Co-Founder & CFO, Maison 276 – New York, NY

2008 Major: African & African American Studies and Psychology

How has being an African & African American Studies graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"AAAS was a major that my parents were less than enthusiastic about me pursuing. That said, I went to all Black (at times militant lol) private schools until high school so I'm not sure why they were surprised. I actually didn't even intend to obtain a AAAS major. I just enjoyed the classes, content, and professors (shoutout to Mark Anthony Neal) so much that I basically majored by accident. In my opinion, AAAS courses offer students an uncut perspective of American history. Duke prides itself on nurturing the next generation of leaders and AAAS offers potential leaders the necessary context to effectively operate in their respective worlds. People often joke that every aspect of American history starts with slavery. And in some respects, this notion is more accurate than most Americans are willing or properly equipped to understand. I would equate AAAS to various forms of martial arts. It's extremely difficult to quantify the specific value of martial arts training. However, many who train in martial arts self-report higher levels of confidence, discipline, and resolve. I strongly believe that Black leaders in today's society need more than a quick Ta-Nehisi Coates read to be properly equipped to combat the future obstacles they will face. AAAS is a "martial art" that I highly recommend to any students interested in taking a proactive approach towards impacting and reshaping their world. PS - It's certainly more practical than Economics (regardless of whether you want to work in finance or not)."

Keith Cornelius Jr.