Talia Bailes, 2020 HEAA Outstanding Senior Awardee

Tailia Bailes


Talia graduated from the College of Human Ecology with a major in Global and Public Health Sciences. This academic pursuit led to her deep interest in connecting communities and improving cross-cultural collaborations toward improving the well-being of youth both locally and internationally.

Talia grew up dancing ballet competitively. Her dedication to dance and children’s lives has been apparent in her creation and direction of the community based organization, Ballet and Books, now a trade-marked entity. She has led the organization’s growth in Ithaca, New York and has driven its national expansion. Ballet and Books has made national and international connections, appearing in Pointe Magazine and the Ballet to Business Podcast, as well as garnering support from nonprofits and renowned ballerinas.  Continued growth of her organization has been strengthened by her on-going program evaluation and research.

Her passion for connecting dance and health of vulnerable children took her to Colombia, through generous Cornell support, where she collaborated with professors and community dance programs to investigate the connection between dance and children’s well-being. 

Her commitment to well-being, health disparities and bridging Latin American communities began during a gap year in the rural Amazon region of Tena, Ecuador where she lived with an indigenous host family. She returned to the Napo province of Ecuador, leading a team of medical students, nurses, and community health workers to investigate women’s health needs throughout rural parts of the province with support from Cornell grants. Talia is committed to using research and collaborations to implement community health programs, strengthening the development of vulnerable women and children across the Americas. 

On campus, Talia’s commitment to cross-cultural relationships, health, and dance is apparent from her extracurricular involvements. Serving on the Global Health Student Advisory Board for three years, and working closely with the Global Health Program as a Program Assistant, Talia led various events including the annual Global Health Case Competition. She also danced and choreographed through the Pandora Dance Troupe. Finally, she led teams of new students annually to serve the Tompkins County community as a Pre-Orientation Service Trips leader.

Talia has been recognized for her service and leadership as a Cornell Traditions Fellow, Robinson Appel Humanitarian Awardee, Clinton Global Initiative fellow, and a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. She is grateful to the Human Ecology Alumni Association for providing grant money for her community work and to the College for providing a place of immense growth and motivation through inspirational peers, interdisciplinary courses, and incredible mentors - all of which have instilled in Talia a love of learning, leadership, and being of service.

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