When the Summer Ending is Just the Beginning: “Coming Home” to Cornell

The last member of our Arts & Sciences Ambassadors E-board is Kasey Han ’18. After spending most of her summer conducting molecular and cellular neuroscience research at Stanford University, Kasey returned to campus early for training to be a Student Assistant on West Campus. It’s fitting that Kasey’s post closes out our September collection just after Homecoming Weekend here in Ithaca – her post strongly emphasizes how it feels to leave summer behind and “return home” to Cornell!

By: Kasey Han ’18, Recruitment Co-Coordinator

Niagara Falls

Here I am (second from left) with three other members of the Cook House staff on our annual trip to Niagara Falls!

Returning to campus this year, I felt like a kindergartener excited for their first day of school all over again. This August, I started a new position as a Student Assistant in West Campus’s Alice H. Cook House. Amid all of the prelims and problem sets looming just weeks away, I was thrilled to step foot back onto transiently sunny Ithacan soil.

Three weeks before classes began, I moved into my new dorm room. I strung up my twinkly lights and laid down my fuzzy rug. I plastered feel-good posters and important event flyers around the building. As an SA (another name for Resident Advisor) my goal this year is to make my residents feel as welcome and at home as possible.

Cook Community Engagement Course

House Professor Shorna Allred leads a discussion with Cook residents as a part of the Cook Community Engagement Course.

West Campus is a truly unique place to live, in that each of the five residence halls is a hub for both living and learning. Like the four Harry Potter houses, each student has a home base that emphasizes both intellectual and social engagement. Through a variety of programs, we connect our residents with professors and community leaders that work in fields of their interest, as well as with their neighbors to build community and a sense of “home.”

After an early August move-in, our training schedule was a whirlwind of fun. The first half consisted of staff bonding and Cook House missions. We rented out a massive house off campus and spent time discussing our vision for Cook House, strategizing how to engage residents in a living-learning community, and all around becoming better leaders. Once the sun set, we broke out the card games, challenging each other in Mafia and Taboo. By the end of our retreat, it was clear that we Cook House staff had formed our own family and that the rest of the year would only get better.

welcome back cake

When the West Campus Dining Halls opened back up, we got to enjoy this delicious “Welcome Back” cake!

The second half of training explored handling common and uncommon situations that may arise when you work in the same place that you live. We discussed everything from roommate conflicts and academic stress to bias, sexual assault, and mental health. While each day was necessarily emotionally and mentally heavy, I felt much better equipped by the end to look after my residents and assume a leadership position.

Regardless of what we study and how we spend our free time, every Cornellian is excited for the start of a new year. We may have reservations about leaving behind our easy summer routines, but the underlying emotion is always eager anticipation for what the next year at Cornell holds in store. I think this universality is because, no matter where we come from, coming back to Cornell means returning home.

West Campus

A view of West Campus from Libe Slope.

From One Hill to Another: How I Spent my Summer in Washington, D.C.

This week, junior Sam Cohen ’18 discusses how her sociology major at Cornell (on East Hill) inspired her to apply for a summer internship in Washington, D.C., (on Capitol Hill), and how that experience helped her discover a new appreciation for politics and government.

By Samantha Cohen ’18, Social Chair

Behind me, you can see the White House!

Behind me, you can see the White House!

Before this past summer, if you had asked my opinion on the latest Democratic vs. Republican squabble, I would try to change the subject of conversation as quickly as possible… or fake an excuse and run away. I had never paid much attention to politics – yes, I had registered to vote the week I turned 18, but that was about the extent of my relationship with the workings of our federal government.

Here I am (in the middle) with my George Washington University roommates in front of the Capitol Building!

Here I am (in the middle) with my George Washington University roommates in front of the Capitol Building!

This is why it initially seems a bit strange that I spent eight weeks this summer in Washington D.C. Whereas many of the other college students I met there were all government, political science, or international relations majors, there I was, a sociology major, the odd one out. It was actually my major, however, that drove me to the nation’s capital in the first place. Throughout my sociology classes, one underlying theme has arisen again and again: inequality. Hoping to explore issues of inequality outside of the classroom, I applied and was accepted to a six-week social justice program that places college students in non-profits throughout the D.C.-Metro area. On the first Monday of June, I woke up in a GW dorm and walked to the office of the National Council on Independent Living, a cross-disability advocacy organization, to start my first day as the policy intern.

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in National Council on Independent Living's annual March & Rally!

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in National Council on Independent Living’s annual March & Rally!

By the end of my first week, I had been to two coalition meetings, three meetings on the Hill, and had called the offices of all 435 representatives (who knew there were so many!?). What struck me most was how well I was beginning to understand what all this policy “stuff” was about. Sure, some of the legal jargon went right over my head, but every bill discussed in these hearings emerges from real people with real every-day problems. Nearly 20% of the American population has a disability of some kind, so most of us probably have a cousin, friend, aunt, or grandfather with some kind of disability; disability rights affect everyone. Politics was no longer this untouchable, scary concept I wasn’t experienced enough to understand or engage with. It was now about listening to the concerns of different groups of people and working to find a direct, comprehensive, and attainable response.

A view of the beautiful sunrise behind the Supreme Court Building.

A view of the beautiful sunrise behind the Supreme Court Building.

Fortunately, I was also able to spend lots of time outside of the office and explore many other cool parts of the city. DC’s streets are lined with endless treasures: the Smithsonian Museum, national monuments, food trucks, art galleries, Georgetown Cupcakes, etc. Almost all of the museums and national buildings offer free admission (music to any college student’s ears)! One of the coolest things I did was pull an all-nighter on the sidewalk outside of the Supreme Court to go inside at 7am and hear the Justices announce their final decisions on the last day of the session. I always knew I’d put my Cornell late-night studying skills to use!

6 weeks flew by and my program had come to an end. It was then that I decided I was not yet ready to leave this amazing city and decided to extend my internship for an extra two weeks. I felt that I still had so much more to learn, and I woke up every morning eager to see what was next. All in all, after 8 weeks, I was definitely excited to return to Cornell with a new awareness and appreciation for how our political organizations discuss local or national issues that affect so many of us. It’s safe to say I will no longer be running away the next time someone initiates a conversation topic I know little to nothing about; maybe this time, I will be the one asking the questions!

Interning in NYC: How I Spent my Summer Working for Carat

This week, our secretary, Information Science major Meg Shigeta ’17 , gives us a window into her summer experience as an intern in New York City. Enjoy!

By: Meg Shigeta ’17, Events Coordinator/Records Keeper

I met a lot of great people this summer, including my fellow intern Kelly (right).

I met a lot of great people this summer, including my fellow intern Kelly (right).

This summer I had the opportunity to work in the media industry as an intern for the Dentsu Aegis Network, specifically for the Carat New York office. One of my favorite aspects of the job was working with the other interns at the office to create a media plan that analyzed specific consumer groups. In order to do this, we researched the various daily schedules, habits, cultural beliefs and values held by certain demographics to get a better sense of who they truly were, especially in comparison to the general population. After doing this, we were then able to create strategic suggestions on ways to better target these groups. One of my favorite aspects of the job was learning how to use the company’s various research tools in order to complete this project. While these tools provided us with rich data, it was up to us to determine how to view and organize this data so that our presentation told a cohesive story. As a result of this, I learned about the importance of perspective. Depending on how you view a statistic — whether it be the scale you use or the amount of surrounding context you allow — quite different interpretations can arise as a result. Consequently, it is crucial to continually keep in mind your purpose, and to always consider the fact that different people often lend different sets of eyes to a singular set of data. This project was especially fun because I got to experience daily life in the industry, and also because it was for a real-time client. I really felt like I was a valuable member of the company!

Here I am with the other interns (L to R): Carolyn, me, Jillian, Lauren, Rachel, Brett, and Rachel.

Here I am with the other interns (L to R): Carolyn, me, Jillian, Lauren, Rachel, Brett, and Rachel.

Not only did I get to work with data this summer, but I also got to work alongside two dedicated mentors. Both taught me many valuable lessons that I aim to uphold during my last year as an undergraduate here at Cornell, the most powerful being the importance of clear communication. Although it sounds cliché, my mentors constantly stressed the importance of communication in working and collaborating with others, and this is indeed critical to making sure tasks get completed and operations are optimized. This combination of takeaways not only helped me to become a more efficient worker, but also a more nuanced thinker, and as a result I can certainly characterize this summer as being a success!carat

Checking Off #31 on the List of 161 Things to Do at Cornell: How I Spent my Summer in Ithaca

Welcome back! Here at the Arts & Sciences Ambassadors, we’re easing back into the swing of the fall semester. What with the warm weather and the long weekend, though, we can’t quite shake off the feel of the summer, and so we’ve chosen to devote our first blog posts to that very topic: what did we do this summer? Throughout September, we will be posting blogs written by the four members of our executive board. I start us off this month with a nostalgic look back at my summer spent here in Ithaca.

By: Emma Korolik ’17, Recruitment Co-Coordinator and Media Manager

When my friend Bridget (on the right) visited from home, I knew I had to take her birdwatching at Cornell's Lab of Ornithology.

When my friend Bridget (on the right) visited from home, I knew I had to take her birdwatching at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology.

This past summer, I went hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, and running, explored an herb garden and went bird watching, attended free outdoor concerts, watched a meteor shower in the middle of the night, sang karaoke for the first time, finally figured out how to throw a Frisbee, took a summer class, started my honors thesis, and made new friends from across the country and around the world – all while (and mainly because of my position) serving as a resident advisor (RA) for college students staying at Cornell for the summer months like me. Anyone who has stayed a summer at Cornell is quick to tell their friends to do the same (it’s even on the official list of 161 Things to Do at Cornell), and now I’m doing my part by telling all of you!

Sarah Gaylord '18 and I pose in our kayak before paddling out to Cayuga Lake.

Sarah Gaylord (right, CALS ’18) and I pose in our kayak before paddling out to Cayuga Lake. Photo credits: Kim Anderson.

Ithaca is on full display in the summer –flowers are blooming, the local wildlife bravely explore campus, and this summer, a whole new species of college student – the Pokemon trainer – has stayed out all day (and sometimes all night!). For those of us less interested in catching a Pikachu on the Arts Quad, there are over 150 waterfalls within 10 square miles around Ithaca, and countless state parks that are open to the public for hiking and swimming during the warm summer months. For our retreat at the end of RA training in May, for example, the other RAs and I took advantage of the multitude of outdoor activities on offer around Ithaca and went kayaking on Cayuga Lake.

Serving as a resident advisor was both challenging and rewarding – and not just because I got to go kayaking for free! As Summer Sessions RAs, my coworkers and I served as peer advisors, mediators, rules enforcers, friends, and community builders in Flora Rose House and Hans Bethe House on West Campus from June through mid-August. While for most students, the residence halls served as a place to relax, Rose and Bethe Houses were our places of work; our bedrooms could double as an office at any time of day or night. Yet, being an RA was also a blast – I was able to meet so many new people, especially through our scheduled series of programs, which were specifically designed to foster that sense of community.

(L to R) Sarah Gaylord '18, Alyssa Elezye '17, and I pose with homemade props during our "Harry Potter" party on July 31st.

(L to R) Sarah Gaylord (CALS ’18), Alyssa Elezye (CALS ’17), and I pose with homemade props during our “Harry Potter” party on July 31st. Photo credits: Catherine Wei (CALS ’18).

Some of the programs we created this summer were more passive, like watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony and celebrating J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter’s birthday with a Harry Potter party and movie screening, but some were more active – like running a 5K through the Cornell Plantations, hiking and swimming in Buttermilk Falls State Park, and whitewater rafting in Watertown, NY, on the Black River.

Arguably the best boat to float down the Black River - I'm at the top, second from the left!

Arguably the best boat to float down the Black River – I’m at the top, second from the left!

Not only did these programs foster community just among the residents, however; by supporting the other RAs and attending their programs, I gained a new set of friends myself. Because RAs are asked to do and be so much for their residents, it makes sense that the people I worked with were all incredibly caring, intelligent, and interesting individuals. Yet, I didn’t expect to find a group so willing to binge watch Netflix’s Stranger Things during a thunderstorm, try power lifting at the gym, introduce me to salsa dancing at Agava, sing “Alexander Hamilton” at karaoke, play ridiculous games of Quelf (look it up!), or eat endless amounts of Indian food at Mehak. I’m lucky to have had the time to explore Ithaca this summer, but I feel even luckier to have found such a phenomenal group of people with which to share those experiences. It may sound cheesy, but even though my job as an RA is now over, I know the friendships I’ve made will remain strong long after the weather inevitably turns cold.

The whole Summer Sessions team after an intense night of karaoke!

The whole Summer Sessions team after an intense night of karaoke! Photo credits: Emily Schnier.

Looking to the Fall: Studying Abroad in Paris

Here on campus, we’ve just started our finals period! Even in the midst of exams and papers, though, our ambassadors are looking ahead. Sophomore Shanna Smith discusses her plans to study abroad next semester, all while juggling the requirements of being a biology major on a pre-med track!

By: Shanna Smith ’18

I was once told that for me, studying abroad would be difficult, if not impossible. Touring colleges, I was always afraid I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dreams and go abroad due to my rigorous major, Biological Sciences on a pre-medical track. During my first month here at Cornell, I hesitantly approached my pre-medical advisor, Ana Adinolfi, and asked how difficult it would be to study abroad. Her response: incredibly easy.

210Having studied French since middle school, I continued my francophone education at Cornell during my first semester. I initially began French here to fulfill my Arts & Sciences language requirement, but I immediately fell in love with Cornell’s French program. Taking French has allowed me to think in a much different way than in my biology courses. During French class I step away from biological processes and organic molecules towards an incredibly difficult yet rewarding way of thinking – in words that a couple years ago had absolutely no meaning to me. Cornell not only offers French grammar courses but also courses in French literature, films, culture, and the most unique one I have seen: pronunciation. The latter I am currently enrolled in and I cannot express how much more fluent I feel and sound in the language. As a result, I have taken French all four of my semesters here at Cornell, far beyond what’s necessary to fulfill the language requirement. By my freshman spring, I knew I had to study abroad in France.

In just three months, I will study in Paris with one of Cornell’s amazing French-speaking programs, EDUCO. I will take classes at universities in Paris and be completely immersed in the French language and Parisian culture. A major focus of the EDUCO program is to integrate students into French culture in all aspects. Thus, I will be a true Parisian student, not a tourist traveling to France for a semester. My courses will mainly fulfill distribution requirements outside of biology. However, I am not completely taking a break from my major. The EDUCO program can set me up with biology research in Paris, and it will count as one of the four courses EDUCO students must take!

219I utilized the Arts & Sciences study abroad advisors’ open office hours as a resource multiple times when going through the application process, and both Dean Patricia Wasyliw and Dean Clare McMillan were incredibly helpful. They made the application process as easy and as non-stressful as possible; they truly want every student to have the opportunity to go abroad. Ms. Adinolfi also helped me lay out a 4-year college schedule that allows me to spend a semester abroad.

I cannot wait for this opportunity to see and appreciate Paris, because it holds so much beauty, history, and culture. I will not be limited to Paris, however. There will be various trips scheduled specifically for my program to let students explore other parts of France, and I’ll also be able to spend weekends traveling around Europe if I want. My ultimate goal is to become fluent in French, and after taking many courses at Cornell and learning more and more about the EDUCO program, that goal seems very probable.

I will always be grateful that Cornell has given me the gift of studying abroad, despite past fears that it was a terrible idea for someone in my major. I went from being uncertain that I would have time in my busy course schedule to go abroad to committing to a wonderful Parisian abroad program and picking up a French minor.

“Boring” Summer Plans

By: Christopher-James Llego ’17

Last night, as I was eating my salad bowl of spinach and baby carrots (and loathing my friends who were on their cheat days), a thought went through my mind: my summer plans stink. I hadn’t really thought much about my summer plans—and if I did, it usually wasn’t in such a negative way—but after hearing about Friend A’s internship in New York City, Friend B’s plans to backpack through Europe, and Friend C’s plane tickets to XYZ LOCATION (I kind of zoned out at this point), I really got to thinking about how utterly boring my summer would end up being.

To be fair, I might just be exaggerating, though Cornell students seem to have a peculiar habit of “doing the most.” So here’s my attempt at trying to look on the bright side: this summer, I’ll be conducting research for my honors thesis on Global Horror Cinema and Transnational Feminism, studying for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and contemplating graduate programs in Comparative Literature or Asian Studies or English (so many options!) and fulfilling an Arts & Sciences distribution requirement.

Christopher-James and thesis research materials

Here’s me, a book pile from phase 1 of my thesis research, and my fifth cup of coffee that night.

Within Arts & Sciences, seniors on the honors track (i.e. those with a high enough in-major and overall GPA) have the opportunity to write a ~50 page thesis on any topic that interests them. I have a weird obsession with cult classic horror films, foreign languages, film and media theory, and feminism, so I decided to combine my eccentricities and start a project examining the “Final Girl” Teen Slasher trope and its various permutations, as well as its variations across foreign film movements like the New French Extremity, Giallo all’italiana, and Tagalog Aswang films. Nifty, huh? I like it. In fact, I like it enough to have spent my past year watching and re-watching over 300 horror films—and will spend this summer and all of next year watching hundreds more.

GRE prep

A remnant of my first day studying GRE vocabulary. Notice the similarity to SAT prep. Unseen in this photo—me sobbing as I have a flashback to my days studying for the SAT.

And why am I doing all of that, you ask? To fulfill a deep-seated desire to validate my obsessions, to find the feminism in a misunderstood cinematic genre, and to practice for what will most likely be several more years of research. Yes, graduate school! This summer, I’ll be self-studying for the GRE. Locked away in a small apartment sublet with blank walls and piles of GRE prep books and card sets, I’ll be cramming for an exam that will decide my FUTURE (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Such a scary thought. Will I get into graduate school? Which field will I pursue? What will I do with my life?

Well, the answer sort of depends on whether or not I can graduate first. And so, we come to the last part of my summer: an online course on Human Evolution. Arts & Sciences has a few distribution requirements, which allow students to choose courses in fields that they normally wouldn’t pursue. I discovered my Gender Studies major through the Cultural Analysis requirement and Comparative Literature through both the Foreign Language and Literature & the Arts requirements. Unfortunately for me, I have a knack for procrastinating and have avoided any math or science courses these past three years. So now, I’m finding ways to fulfill these requirements during my breaks.

Online class

Online courses—taking classes from the comfort of your bedroom desk.

Cornell is awesome in that it offers Physical & Biological Sciences courses that aren’t as intensive as, say, Organic Chemistry. In other words: non-science-minded students need not be afraid of the distribution requirements! Also, pro tip: don’t wait until the last minute (senior year) to start taking these courses!

So yes, I may not be backpacking through Europe, but at least I’ll get to do something that I love: conduct research. And hey, thanks to Cornell’s dedication to providing students with online courses, I’ll get to spend my summer blasting my A.C. and avoiding the blistering heat that I’m so unaccustomed to as a Cornellian.

Approaching Alumna-Hood

We’ve made it to May! As seniors approach graduation and underclassmen look forward to summer break, we at the Ambassadors blog have decided to focus on “Looking Forward.” Senior Samantha Briggs starts off the month with a post about her experience deciding on her next step: Columbia Law School.

By: Samantha Briggs ’16

Me on my first day at Cornell!

Me on my first day at Cornell!

I think I speak for the majority (if not the entirety) of the Class of 2016 when I say: you will not believe how quickly four years fly by. On the one hand, it feels like many millennia ago that I was moving into Clara Dickson Hall on North Campus as an incoming freshman, and on the other hand, it feels like I hardly blinked and am suddenly preparing to graduate. Although I am sad to leave this wonderful and beautiful place, I am incredibly excited for all that is coming next. For me, that is being a part of Columbia Law School’s Class of 2019.

I snapped this shot of Manhattan from Columbia's campus, which will be my new home for the next three years.

I snapped this shot of Manhattan from Columbia’s campus, which will be my new home for the next three years.

The process of deciding to apply to law school, applying to law school, and enrolling in a law school can be challenging, and at times, downright confusing. I could not be more thankful for the endless help and support I received throughout the process from Cornell’s academic advisors and my professors. The College of Arts & Science has several academic advising deans for undergraduates, including those who specialize in pre-graduate program advising. For example, Dean Heather Struck specializes in pre-law advising. My first appointment with Dean Struck was in the spring semester of my junior year, when I had decided that I was going to apply to law school, but I wasn’t sure if I would take a gap year. Then, over the summer between my junior and senior year, when I was studying to take my LSAT (the law school admissions test) and beginning to prepare my application, I corresponded with Dean Struck over email. This year, I have been a frequent flyer in Dean Struck’s office. She has provided me with invaluable advice on a bevy of different topics, from writing my personal statement to making sense of my admissions offers, to applying for financial aid. There is no manual for applying to law school (no matter what might be on the shelves at Barnes and Noble), but I never found a question to which Dean Struck did not have an answer.

My dream workplace: the Supreme Court building.

My dream workplace: the Supreme Court building.

Throughout this entire process, I knew my professors were rooting for me. Whether it was writing a letter of recommendation for my application, allowing me to miss class or providing assignment extensions to accommodate interviews, or just providing reassurance, my professors have been a constant source of support.

Just thinking about my upcoming graduation fills me with nostalgia, but I know I’ll keep coming back up to Ithaca long after I leave. Law school is the next step toward achieving my dreams of working for the federal government and ultimately, hopefully, for the Supreme Court, and I have Cornell to thank for helping me start on that path.


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.