Racquel Knight ’18, Global Citizenship
“After learning about what goes on in other parts of the world, I realized I have to do something,” the 25-year-old Jamaica native said. “Global citizenship is about being a better human citizen of the world. Nothing beats that.”
Knight earned an associate of science degree in general agriculture and a diploma to teach secondary education in agricultural science, biology, and integrated science in Jamaica before moving to the U.S. in 2011 to be closer to her mother and siblings. She enrolled at Becker in business administration with the goal of owning a business and overcoming the relative poverty and hardships she faced in Jamaica, but an internship at Becker’s Center for Global Citizenship changed her perspective. “The global citizenship program and I just connected,” Knight said. “I found out the program here does a lot of work in Jamaica, and the participants are dedicated to helping people, volunteering, and traveling. I realized being a part of global change that allows people to be treated fairly and gives them the chance to just live their lives peacefully is one of the best things I could be a part of.” When Becker recently began offering a degree in global citizenship Knight changed her major, but not necessarily her goal of owning a business—just what she hopes to accomplish with it.
“In the beginning, a farm and a restaurant were all I wanted, but then I went on a trip back to Jamaica during spring break on one of the Becker service trips and the plan changed a little bit,” Knight said. She got a second look at young people in Jamaica and the commonality of dropping out of school, turning to drugs, and becoming parents at a young age without a good education to fall back on. “Students there are in need of serious help, and teachers bear a lot of the burden,” she said. “I have started working on a plan to give Jamaican students a second chance through getting a better education,” she said. “I want to build a center in my native community where young adults will get the chance to sit for the Caribbean Council exams, making math, English, and agricultural science mandatory. During this process, I want to work to change young mindsets about being their own bosses instead of depending on others. The farm and restaurant will come in handy as way to provide employment and tutoring facilities.”
While Knight pursues her goal of a four-year degree and eventually making her mark in a big way, she remains a champion for global citizenship locally, on the Becker campus. She founded the Global Student Club, where weekly meetings center around discussions of different cultures and students are able to prepare for trips to other countries. She is passionate about student travel. “Trips are important, because students get to live for a short time in another person’s shoes and experience their culture and what it’s like. They can change their mindsets when they get home, and it gives them a chance to wonder how they can help with any problems they encountered.”
Knight knows from personal experience that preconceived notions about a country or culture are often incorrect, and is she is able to teach others about what the country of Haiti is really like after a service trip there this past May to volunteer at an orphanage and build a house for a Haitian family. “I fell in love with Haiti,” she said. “I was hesitant at first, because of things I had heard about Haiti while growing up in Jamaica. The second I entered the orphanage, though, everything changed. Those wonderful kids captured my heart. And building the house was another life-changing experience. The family was very grateful and they showed us so much love. I can’t wait to go back!”
And she can’t wait to embrace her future and make as much as a difference as one person can make. “I want to offer a hand to others whenever I can, treat others the way I wish to be treated, and just be a part of something that has the power to ripple out and positively affect every single human being on the planet,” she said.