Spotlight on the Summer: Opportunities to Work around Ithaca

Being a student here definitely has its perks – one of the reasons that students choose to attend Cornell is the wealth of opportunities available to us during the school year, during school breaks, and even after we graduate! In our last April post here at the blog, junior Julia Montejo discusses the variety of ways in which she was able to give back to Cornell and the surrounding community through her multiple jobs last summer.

By: Julia Montejo ’17

When I first arrived on campus, I constantly heard about how amazing the summer in Ithaca was. I decided to give it a try last summer, but it came with a huge change of pace: working instead of studying! As a dedicated student with many extracurricular commitments, I love to keep busy. To fill my summer days, I worked at two summer camps, one part time job, and a volunteer position. They were staggered throughout the summer, and made for one of the best summers I’ve ever had.

11856527_1214113771947906_7066314112626275157_oIn June, after visiting in Florida for a month, I came back to Ithaca to begin my job at the Cornell Undergraduate Admissions Office. As a student employee, I spent my mornings setting up, speaking at, and breaking down information sessions for prospective students. I loved meeting the admissions officers and other staff while interacting with students from around the world. Because Cornell visits are really popular during the summer, we had sessions with more than 750 visitors. It was so exciting to be able to share my Cornell experience with so many people. I also became an expert restaurant and campus eatery recommender! I loved being able to suggest places to eat both on and off campus to visiting families.

During June, I also continued my volunteering commitment at Finger Lakes Juvenile Residential Center, a detention center for young men in Ithaca’s next-door town, Lansing. I worked as a volunteer debate coach and helped young men develop their advocacy and public speaking skills.

Some friends and I pose in front of Cascadilla Falls.

Some friends and I pose in front of Cascadilla Falls.

During early July, I worked at the Ithaca Shakespeare Company’s Kids’ Shakespeare Summer Camp. As an actor and passionate student of literature, I had a great time great time working with children for a week, developing their acting skills while teaching about Shakespeare. We prepared all the kids to perform at the Ithaca Shakespeare Festival, where they did a short compilation of texts incorporating many Shakespearean works. It was an amazing experience to meet families throughout Ithaca and to share my passion for acting with younger children.

11793374_10207437398919006_279559027_nAt the conclusion of the summer, during the first week of August, I worked as a camp counselor for the Cornell International Summer Debate Camp. To say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had during my time as a Cornell student would be an understatement. I was both a residence hall mentor and a teaching assistant for the camp, where I worked with debating experts to develop teaching modules and created fun activities to do in the evenings with the students. Students from all over the world, including China, Canada, the UAE, and Mexico, came to camp, in addition to students from across the United States.

I learned so much from my students and I was able to help them grow as well. I loved being able to share the most important activity from my upbringing as a high school student, debate, with students from around the world.

Jobs and internships are a huge part of the college experience, and mine have been made possible by living in the wonderful City of Ithaca and by being a Cornell student. Once summer came to a close, I was able to continue volunteering at Finger Lakes Residential Center, and I’m still a student employee at the admissions office. I’m so fortunate to be able to continue engaging in what I love during my time as a student and during the summers.

Arts and Sciences Advising Deans: A “Ray” of Sunshine

It’s finally spring here in Ithaca and that means that admitted students are coming from far and wide to visit Cornell’s campus for Cornell Days! Some of the most popular events during Cornell Days are the info sessions, which are hosted by Advising Deans and Ambassadors for the College of Arts & Sciences. Sophomore Sydney Mann explains how her experience sitting in on Advising Dean Ray Kim’s info session in the spring of her senior year of high school kicked off a surprising series of events. Enjoy (and, if you happen to read this and then sit in on an info session, don’t be afraid to come say hi!).

By: Sydney Mann ’18

Far above Cayuga’s waters lives Cornell: a university with a student population of 21,850 students, about 55 times the size of my high school. The small setting of my high school allowed me to create strong bonds with both my administration and faculty; such ties cultivated a strong community.

Advising Dean Ray Kim and I take a selfie in Klarman Hall.

Advising Dean Ray Kim and I take a selfie in Klarman Hall.

My biggest fear before applying to Cornell was that I wouldn’t find those relationships I was able to generate in high school. I was afraid that I would be a tiny fish lost in the large sea of Cayuga’s waters.

During Cornell Days, as a pre-frosh, I sat in on Advising Dean Ray Kim’s information session. Easily one of the most engaging info sessions I had attended thus far in my grueling college process, Kim described not only his role in reviewing students’ applications, but also his experiences as an Academic Advisor. It was refreshing to see a man of such importance so involved in students’ lives. He exuded passion, as it was clear he cared about his students’ wellbeing at Cornell both socially and academically. From what I understood, he developed friendships with his advisees.

I began working as a Cornell Arts and Sciences Ambassador during the second semester of my freshman year. I was determined to engage with Cornell in a more personal way; I wanted to demonstrate to prospective students just how much of a community Cornell is. I remember my first ambassador’s experience vividly: I worked during Cornell Days as an ambassador with none other than Ray Kim. I was star-struck; I had the luxury of accompanying a figure that was so influential in my decision to attend Cornell. Before the session had started, he introduced himself to me as “Ray.” Before I said my name, he said, “Sydney, right?” I nodded my head, assuming he had just read my bio beforehand. Staring me in the face for a brief moment, he asked, “You’re from New Jersey, yes? You attended Newark Academy.” My jaw fell slack. I was speechless. He reached out his hand and said, “Hi Sydney. I admitted you into Cornell.”

Klarman Hall atrium: the Admissions and Academic Advising Center where Dean Ray Kim's office is located is just off to the left.

Klarman Hall atrium: the Admissions and Academic Advising Center where Dean Ray Kim’s office is located is just off to the left.

Throughout the entire information session, I finally understood what the previous ambassadors had talked about: a bonded community. Honestly, I felt as though a celebrity knew who I was. I had always thought that I was just a nameless face amongst so many talented, well-rounded students. In that moment, Mr. Kim proved to me that Cornell’s administration knows about every student they accept. The encounter still reminds me every day that I am in a setting that wants me to thrive.

Far above Cayuga’s waters lives more than just the institution of Cornell. Far above Cayuga’s waters lives a community where students are taught to excel and challenge themselves, where I can confidently say that I’ve found a home. Cornell has given me so much more than a liberal arts education. It has given me a network of wonderful individuals, bonds that I will have for the rest of my life. Thank you, Ray Kim – thank you for being living proof that Cornell truly cares about every student in every study.

Spotlight on Peanut Butter: Why I Chose Cornell

By: Emma Bryan ’19


Allison Wild ’19 and I pose in Bear Necessities, the convenience store on North Campus that conveniently sells Cornell peanut butter!

As I near the end of my first year at Cornell, I can’t help but reflect on why it was that I decided to come here in the first place. Why, as a senior in high school, did I decide to spend the next four years of my life in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere? Why would I subject myself to an atmosphere where I was not guaranteed success? Why was I leaving my parents and my beloved dogs in northeastern Ohio and traipsing to an area with which I was completely unfamiliar? Honestly, the answer to all of these questions is simple: Cornell peanut butter.

During the fall of my senior year, I came to visit campus with minimal expectations of what I would find. I had obviously done research, but little did I know that Cornell has the best peanut butter ever. When I arrived on campus, my host for the evening greeted me with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that had been stolen from the dining hall, and from the moment that sandwich entered my mouth, I knew that Cornell was the place for me.

Peanut butter

My reaction when the dining hall momentarily runs out of peanut butter

The texture of the peanut butter was literal perfection, and in that instant, I knew that this could not be a one-time thing. Yes, Ithaca in the fall is beautiful: I went on a field trip to Taughannock Falls and spent half of the time with my mouth agape in shock at how striking this place is. Yes, Cornell has amazing academics and a seemingly unlimited number of fascinating courses taught by world-class professors as well as endless support networks for students, but I can honestly say that I chose this place for the peanut butter.

Cornell University: A Home Away From Home

We’ve made it to April! While it’s currently snowing here in Ithaca, we’re sure spring is just around the corner, as is National College Decision Day (on May 1st). For those students who are struggling to decide between Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences and other institutions (or those high school students wishing that they will be in this position a year or two from now), we here at the Ambassadors blog have decided to showcase the reasons why our Ambassadors decided to join the Big Red. Sophomore Dylan Van Duyne starts us off with a post about how he was excited by Cornell’s location and its stellar academics. Check out other relevant blog posts and outside sources by clicking on the blue hyperlinks!

By: Dylan Van Duyne ’18

April: a month defined by April Fool’s Day, Tax Day, Earth Day, lots of rain showers, and, of course, the college decision process. For some of you, this will be the month that you choose Cornell University as your home for your next four years. As May 1st nears and you approach decision day, know that choosing Cornell was the greatest decision of my life. Personally, I chose Cornell because of the location, the academics, and the welcoming community.

Clocktower view

The view of Cayuga Lake and the Arts Quad from the top of McGraw Clocktower.

One of the largest appeals of Cornell is undoubtedly the location: Ithaca has been ranked the #2 college town in the United States by the American Institute of Economic Research, and there’s a rumor that we’ve got more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the United States. I grew up outside Philadelphia, so I wanted to go to a school that wasn’t too close to home but wasn’t too far away either. Cornell is just a three-and-a-half-hour drive away from home (and a four-hour bus ride from New York City!), which was perfect for me.

Watkins Glen

One of the many waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park

In addition to being a Cornell student, though, I’m also lucky to be a resident of Ithaca, one of most exciting places to live with an unlimited amount of things to do. There are so many amazing places to eat, and there are numerous events held throughout the year, such as Apple Fest and Chili Fest, that bring huge crowds to the downtown Ithaca Commons. Ithaca is also home to countless gorges and several state parks, providing endless possibilities for outdoor adventures (check out my blog post from October about how “Ithaca is Gorges!”). Buttermilk Falls State Park, Robert Treman State Park, and Taughannock Falls State Park are just a few of the local favorites. I recently traveled to Watkins Glen, a park with a 2.4-mile gorge trail that winds over and under the spray of waterfalls


A Cornell sunset over Libe Slope

Climbing 161 steps up the iconic 173 foot McGraw Clocktower will give any student a breathtaking view overlooking all of Ithaca, spanning out across the 37.9 mile Cayuga Lake. Right off of Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s many Finger lakes, is the Ithaca Farmers’ Market, a quaint little getaway on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, just one of the may outdoor wonders that Ithaca has to offer. Ithaca also has some of the most astounding sunsets you will ever see, and a walk back from the library at night will leave you awestruck at cotton candy skies

Farmers Market

Nicholas Karavolias ’18, Rana Suleiman ’17, and I enjoy the Ithaca Farmers Market.

In addition to the amazing location, Cornell University is truly an institution for “any person, any study.” I came into Cornell as a prospective Biology and Spanish double major, but my only true certainty from an academic standpoint was that I wanted to be a doctor. However, halfway through my freshman year I decided I didn’t want to be a Biology major anymore, and in the beginning of my sophomore year I declared my Spanish major. In addition to my Spanish major, I am now pursuing minors in Global Health and Psychology. One of the greatest assets of the College of Arts and Sciences is that you don’t have to declare your major right away – you have two years to decide what you would like to major in. My message to prospective students is this: don’t panic if you don’t know exactly what you want to do or who you want to be. Within the College of Arts and Sciences, you will enjoy a holistic undergraduate education, enjoying distribution requirements that allow you to become a more well-rounded intellectual. With this comes the opportunity to explore and find your academic passion. I’m certain that within the College of Arts and Sciences you will take a class, whether it be through your Freshman Writing Seminar or through a language requirement or through a historical breadth requirement, that will end up teaching you a lot about yourself as a student and a growing intellectual.

Fencing tournament support

Toti Lee-Shapiro ’18, Jack Jones ’18, and I support Julia Telischi ’18 and her teammates at her fencing tournament.

Thinking back on my senior year of high school, I know I made the right decision in picking Cornell; here, the motto “any person, any study” is in fact a reality, and within the College of Arts and Sciences in specific, I found a welcoming home.

And as a final side note – if you’re worried about “fitting in” at Cornell, please use my freshman experience as an example. The friends I made when I first arrived at Cornell’s campus are still some of my closest friends today (and are pictured in the final picture). Choose Big Red, and I’m sure it will be one of the best decisions of your life!

Working at Libe Cafe: A Video Blog

As we close out March, check out this video blog from Jendayi Brooks-Flemister ’18, a student worker at Amit Bhatia Libe Cafe in Olin Library. If you get the chance to visit our Ithaca campus as the weather turns warm, definitely check out Libe Cafe and its many great drink and snack offerings!

My Job at the Office of Campus Life

By: Solveig van der Vegt ’18

I got my job at the Office of Campus Life through an email that was sent out to Balch Hall residents last year. There are many places to get jobs around campus, but this one particularly interested me because it was in the building that I already lived in. I applied and luckily got the job and it has been fantastic ever since! I work not only with fellow students but also with people from outside the university. It is refreshing now and then to talk to people who look at Cornell in a different way and who have a broader perspective on the local community.

office photo

Check out the office!

The job I have is very relaxed and fun. We have a small office in South Balch Hall where we greet visitors and direct people who come to the building for meetings. Besides that, I pick up the phone and either answer people’s questions or if I cannot, I transfer them to a department that can. I also assist other offices in Balch with administrative tasks like filing if necessary. When the office isn’t busy, I’m allowed to do my homework while I am on my shift, which is really nice. I like this job a lot because it allows me to interact with a broad range of people – students, parents, and Cornell staff. The people I work with genuinely care about me and I about them, so it is a wonderful community to be a part of. One of my colleagues sometimes buys me or the other student workers a cookie if we have the final shift of the day, which is always a great surprise and a good note to end the day on!

Overall, my job on campus has given me a different positive perspective on the Cornell community. I enjoy going to work and the money I earn is a good source of income to use to go out to dinner with friends or go to events on campus or even just to treat myself now and then.

Taking a Break from Work…By Working!

By: Eric Reinhard ’18

Does the title confuse you? I don’t blame you if it does. Why would someone take a break from work only to work more? Well, I’m here to tell you that I do just that (I promise I’m not crazy).


The lobby of the Residential and New Student Programs Office.

I work at the Residential and New Student Programs office, located in one of the freshman dormitories, Clara Dickson Hall. My official title is Student Administrative Assistant, which might make my work seem a little fancier than it actually is. My job consists of copying, filing, typing, answering phones…you get the idea. Sound boring to you? Maybe. But I can sincerely say I love each and every second of it. There’s something very calming and peaceful about my job. Does the office want me to count out over 4000 quarter cards? No problem. Look through several hundred dormitory keys for a specific key that may not even exist? Sure. While the tasks are relatively simple, I actually really like doing them!

Copy room

The copy room!

Cornell is challenging – few people will argue against that. As a Biological Sciences major on a pre-med track, I am very familiar with the concept of difficult schoolwork. What helps me manage that schoolwork is the four hours per week that I work, where I don’t have to fight my way through challenging concepts or study for hours for an upcoming test. Instead, I do a different type of work, giving my brain a much-needed break. The best part about this “break” of mine? I get paid to do it.

Working on West Campus: A Student Assistant’s Perspective

As the semester heats up (figuratively and literally – it’s 65 degrees here in Ithaca!), we’ve asked Ambassadors to take a break from classwork and share their experiences with “Work and Community Service” on campus during the month of March. Senior Sarah Marie Bruno starts us off with a post about her experience as a Student Assistant in Hans Bethe House. Enjoy!

By: Sarah Marie Bruno ’16

McFaddin Hall

I live in the Gothic building that is part of Bethe House, McFaddin Hall. So basically, I live in a gorgeous castle.

For the past two years, I have worked as a Student Assistant (SA) in Hans Bethe House on West Campus (Bethe is the best dorm at Cornell, not that I’m at all biased). West Campus is a community of five dorms for sophomores, juniors and seniors at the bottom of Libe Slope that integrates learning and living in a friendly and engaging environment. Each house is overseen by a House Professor who leads the educational components of the house’s activities. In Bethe, residents gather every week on the cozy couches in our house professor’s apartment for an informal talk or discussion. These talks are led by a Cornell faculty member or a visiting professor and vary tremendously in subject, providing students with the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics regardless of one’s major.

House Dinner

House dinner festivities in Hans Bethe House.

The talks always follow our weekly house dinner, a particularly delicious meal in the house’s dining hall. Residents eat together as a house and have the opportunity to chat with faculty fellows and graduate students.

One of my favorite aspects of the West Campus House system is that it encourages and enables undergraduates to develop meaningful relationships with graduate students and professors. In place of Resident Advisors (RAs), graduate students live in the dorms as Graduate Resident Fellows (GRFs). The GRFs and undergraduate SAs act as resources for residents and help to build a sense of community and belonging to one’s house. As an SA, I have become close to people from all different majors and class years who I otherwise would never have had the opportunity to meet.

Pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving for Halloween…


…and the finished products!

I regularly plan and host fun events for my residents and connect students to faculty and other students with similar interests. As a physics major, I have hosted a physics study group in Bethe House in which I help residents with their physics homework. I have also led the Bethe House Council, which is a forum for residents to voice their ideas for new events they would like to see in Bethe.

Salsa dancing

Salsa dance lesson in Bethe

Working as an SA has been an incredible experience for me and is perhaps one of the best aspects of my undergraduate career. I have learned so much from my residents and have grown tremendously in my three years living in Bethe House. Cornell is a huge community, and the dormitory environment really helps residents to navigate that community, network with others, and become active on campus.

Finding a Home Within Cornell

As we dig into the semester, enjoy sophomore Ben Picket’s description of two organizations that have made him feel at home here at Cornell!

By: Ben Picket ’18

Tessa, a guide dog

Tessa, a guide dog in training

I remember going through the college admissions process and weighing the factors that would make my college decision easier. For me, and possibly for many of you, my biggest concern about Cornell was figuring out how to make such a big school feel homey and comfortable. Just as with any college, moving away from home and acclimating oneself to a new environment will initially be a challenge. But, what I found over the course of the past few years, is that involving yourself in a variety of different clubs or groups is an incredible way to meet new people and find yourself a home that you are eager to return to time and time again.

One of my favorite organizations that I am involved with on campus is Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a non-profit organization that provides seeing-eye dogs to the visually impaired. Not only do you get to surround yourself with puppies on a weekly basis, but you also get the chance to meet new people whose interests align with your own.

Alpha Kappa Psi

A group photo of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity on campus – I’m in the middle towards the back!

I am also part of a business fraternity on campus that has allowed me to both hone my professional skills and meet some of my best friends. Upon joining a business fraternity, one goes through a 10 week long pledging process that is meant to emulate a summer internship. Through the process, you bond with your pledge class and gain a far greater understanding of what to expect of the job recruitment process.

These are just two of the hundreds of different groups that one can get involved with at our university. With all of the resources at your fingertips, it is far easier than you would expect to find your community on Cornell’s campus.

Winter Break in Peru: The Chance of a Lifetime

By: Matthew Donnelly ’18

IMG_1496One of the greatest aspects of Cornell as an institution, in my opinion, is the number of doors an education like mine can open. Having recently decided to declare Spanish as my second major in addition to Biology, I was eager to find opportunities to practice the language with native speakers. After talking with some friends, one of whom is Peruvian, we decided that over winter break we would embark on a journey to Peru to experience the culture that I had come to love through my courses here at Cornell. Weeks passed, the trip was planned, and before I knew it I was on the plane traveling to a country I had been waiting to visit for years.

Upon arrival, I was immediately thankful to Cornell, not only for introducing me to some of my best friends who made the trip possible, but also for endowing me with the skills necessary to communicate with a new group of people. After completing three Spanish courses here, I felt more than prepared to converse with people in the country. Whether it was the tour guide on our trip to Ollantaytambo, an Incan archeological site near Cuzco; the store owner who I was forced to haggle with to purchase a souvenir; or the waiter who was more than happy to explain the local cuisine to us; I was able to meet people who had lived in Perú all their life and really experience the culture and pride that fill the country.

The trip was eye opening, not only due to the amazing places I got to see firsthand (Machu Picchu, Lima, Las islas ballestas), but because it really made me appreciate the value of my education here at Cornell. I realized that I was gaining lifelong skills, which allowed me to spend over an hour talking with an older couple from Arequipa about everything from how they met to the infamous taste of cuy (guinea pig!). Cornell gave me the opportunity to travel, the opportunity to communicate, and the opportunity to experience something I never thought I would.


Machu Picchu!