Arce ’19 Has a Heart for Public Service
by catherine elvy, staff writer
A Cornell University senior is establishing the groundwork for a legal career centered around his passion for aiding refugees and immigrants.
“As a Christian, I’m called to love my neighbor and the marginalized,” said Chris Arce ’19.
Arce, who is actively involved with Christian Union at Cornell, plans to use his leadership talents and drive to pursue a career in the public sector. Arce serves as co-president of Cornell Interfaith Council, and has served as co-president of the Puerto Rican Students Association at Cornell and as vice president of Cornell Welcomes Refugees.
After arriving at Cornell, the native of upstate New York was pleased to discover a vibrant faith community via Christian Union. The government major currently leads a Bible course for sophomore men.
Cornell University senior Chris Arce is preparing for a legal career focused upon service to refugees and immigrants.
Through his involvement with Christian Union, Arce has embraced a “heightened consciousness of how calling myself a follower of Jesus has implications” for all of life’s arenas.
The organization’s ministry fellows “have a breadth of knowledge that I’m grateful for,” said Arce. During Bible courses, the prelaw student has appreciated opportunities to probe difficult subjects such as racism, justice, and mental health, from a biblical perspective.
Such topics dovetail with Arce’s vocational goal to support the dignity of marginalized individuals via legal strategies. The son of two attorneys is eyeing options to center his career around public-interest matters such as immigration, justice reform, housing issues, or healthcare. During summer 2016, Arce interned for U.S. District Court Judge Nelson Roman of the Southern District of New York.
“Because of his faith in Christ, Chris cares about people and particularly about people who are disadvantaged because of some form of injustice or calamity in their lives or in their communities,” said Sackett.
Arce has even carved out a reputation and platform on campus, given his remarkable efforts to recruit assistance for Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and his leadership in a fraternity and other venues. “His peers listen to him, not only because he is passionate and thoughtful, but also because he is witty and winsome,” said Sackett.
Such abilities helped Arce land a spot as one of three student speakers on behalf of the Cornell chapter of Q Union. At the ministry’s annual large event in October, 25,000-plus Christians gathered on college campuses and cities for a shared experience that included three nationally broadcast talks, plus student-led discussions for local audiences.
As one of the speakers for the Cornell event, Arce delivered a talk entitled Persisting through Pain. Arce shared about the need for modern believers to care for their neighbors.
Adding to his character and background, Arce is proud of his Puerto Rican heritage. While serving as co-president of the Puerto Rican Students’ Association during 2017-18, Arce became fluent in the issues impacting the Caribbean island.
During his stint at the helm of the Puerto Rican campus organization, Arce helped raise over $4,000 and gather supplies for Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
Furthermore, Arce served as a peer mentor when Cornell hosted 60 students from the University of Puerto Rico during spring 2018. The undergrad has worked to foster awareness of the issues impacting Puerto Rico. During visits in December 2017 and July 2018, Arce was struck by the ongoing hardships impacting daily life, including the lack of refrigeration.
“You definitely see the income inequality that’s there,” said Arce. “There are still just a lot of people trying to pick up.” The student’s relief efforts led to recognition from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in spring 2018.
After completing law school, Arce would like to bolster Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, either through short- or long-term stints. “I would like to work with community leaders,” he said.
Arce wants to set an example by serving as a co-laborer with Christ. “How are we serving God? Are we approaching life with humility and as a servant to all people?” he asked rhetorically.
Sackett commended Arce for his far-reaching vision, especially on behalf of the disadvantaged. “I am excited to see how the Lord will use Chris to advance justice in public spaces, both here and abroad,” he said.