Arts & Sciences & Healthcare & Business

In our last post of the year, junior Zoee shares her excitement for a summer internship in healthcare consulting, not necessarily a position of her utmost expertise but one Arts and Sciences’ holistic education helped her attain. 

By Zoee D’Costa ’19, Biology & Society major, Psychology minor

Student taking photo of interview outfit

This is a picture from just before my first interview with the company. I was super excited to be wearing business formal clothes instead of my usual medical garb!

This summer I will be working in Chicago interning for a consulting company focusing on healthcare. While at first glance, business and finance might seem like dirty words to an idealistic pre-medical student with goals to serve communities across the world, they are concepts that are intertwined and dependent.

As a student versed in both the humanities and sciences, I have seen the value in the connection of fields. Studying Biology & Society in the College of Arts & Sciences has helped prepare me for an internship in business in invaluable ways. I have developed skills in critical thinking and problem solving across disciplines, and I’ve been given the opportunity to see how understanding trends in healthcare and biological science affect patients and communities. These skills have clearly helped me gain employment in a field that is different than my training because the skills are transferable and make me a holistic candidate.

Here is a photo from my final round of interviews with my company–they flew me out to Chicago to do a full day of problem solving, interviews and cases.

Furthermore, being exposed to so many contrasting ideas and fields in my undergraduate experience gave me the confidence to seek employment outside of my comfort area and be sure that I will find success in this field as well. Finally, combining business and health may seem strange but I think it is very important to try a wide variety of positions within the field before committing to a path so that you not only solidify your choices and lessen your regrets of opportunity costs, but also gain experience and knowledge that is applicable to a career in medicine. I am excited to learn about the business of healthcare and find out how to optimize practices so that I can bring that to my patients when I am a physician. Here’s to a great summer!

It Is Okay to Not Know What You Want to Do

Sydney, one of our graduating seniors, discusses how Arts and Sciences has instilled in her a true passion for learning, a quality she hopes to take with her to whatever field she ultimately decides to pursue.

By Sydney Mann ’18, American Studies major, English minor

To be quite honest, I’ve been faced with the question “what are you doing after graduation?” more than—at this point—I would have wanted. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an easy, very warranted question. It’s just that, after four years, it has taken me a long time to get comfortable with the notion that I don’t know what I am doing….just yet.

Being a student in the College of Arts and Sciences has taught me many things. On a very practical level, work in Government, English, and History have endowed me with sharp writing and analytical skills. Yet, beyond utility, the College of Arts and Sciences, with its passionate professors and intellectually curious students, have imbued in me a passion for learning; a passion that has led me to try classes I would have never imagined myself taking, a passion that I can take to any field I choose to go into after graduation.

This past year, I sat down with Careers Services in the College of Arts and Sciences. My biggest regret, I can say, was not taking advantage of their services sooner. I say that because their empathy, understanding, and resources enabled me to pinpoint what track I should be on. I was told early on that I most likely would not have a job within my area of study until after graduation. I was okay with that, and my supportive career counselor helped me be okay with it. Instead, she connected me with Alumni with whom I could discuss what I was passionate about and discover where I could go in the future.

It has taken me four years to fully learn, but the College of Arts and Sciences has taught me that it is okay to not know what you want to do; it is okay to not have a job upon graduation. In fact, most students don’t graduate with a job–not because of merit but simply because they are waiting for that opening that satisfies what they are passionate about. Timing is everything, and I am happy to see where my path leads in the future.

Kidney Research Internship: Branching Out from the Comfort of Cornell

This week, sophomore Dean talks about exciting new opportunities that await him this summer and how Arts and Sciences has helped him step out of his comfort zone and challenge himself. 

By Dean Kim ’20, Chemistry major, East Asian Studies minor

This summer, I will be participating, along with 12 other undergraduates from across the country, in the UAB Kidney Undergraduate Research Experience Program.

As the semester comes to an end and the weather gets warmer, I’m looking forward to packing my bags and traveling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School campus where I’ll be participating in their Kidney Undergraduate Research Program (KURE) for the summer! The College of Arts & Sciences has helped me prepare for what lies ahead by teaching me how to explore and think independently.

Me presenting research at the Boyce Thompson Institute Plant Genomics Summer Research Symposium last summer!

Coming to Cornell, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And while I’m still a Chemistry pre-med undergraduate as planned, I have also discovered new interests and changed my outlook on learning through taking distribution requirements. Arts and Sciences has taught me the importance of meeting new people. In my core Chemistry courses, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people with similar interests as myself. Having classes together each semester has allowed us to bond and form close friendships. However, when I took a course in film history this semester, I met a whole new group of people with different interests, hobbies, and perspectives. Branching out in my classes exposed me to a diverse group of people that had new ideas and experiences I could learn about.  While staying in my comfort zone felt safer, the most beneficial experiences I’ve had at Cornell have been when I had left my comfort zone and explored. For instance, I discovered a new hobby by taking a juggling class, and took interest in the East Asian Studies minor after taking a Religious Studies course last fall.

Touring Song Lin’s Lab in April 2018. On the left is Juno, a graduate student in Professor Lin’s Lab. I’ll be conducting organic chemistry research in the Lin Lab next Fall!

Arts and Sciences has also taught me the importance of problem-solving. Hard work can never be overstated, but smart work is often overlooked. In my studies, I’ve learned that there is never a singular way to do anything or one perfect solution. For example, the way I study for organic chemistry does not work for studying sociology or film studies. I have learned how to adapt when I face challenges. This has been an essential skill that has helped me in my research lab at Cornell and will continue to help me as I conduct kidney research this summer. Thanks of these lessons learned through Arts and Sciences, I was inspired to leave my comfort zone of Cornell and my hometown of Wilton, CT to branch out. I’m extremely excited to make new friends and new experiences at UAB this summer.

Off to Oxford!

Can you believe it’s already May? In the final month of this academic year, ambassadors will tell us what adventures await them this summer or, for some, after graduation. Senior Solveig starts us off by sharing how Cornell and Arts and Sciences helped prepare her for what lies ahead at Oxford. 

By Solveig van der Vegt ’18, Biological Sciences major, Mathematics minor

A view of Christchurch College at Oxford, taken when I visited Oxford with my cousin last summer.

31 months down, less than 1 to go. Graduation is getting really close and I am both super excited and a little scared. The past 4 years at Cornell have been amazing, but I also feel like it is time to move on. So at the end of May, I will be packing up my suitcases to go home for a few months. I will be doing a lot of traveling and relaxing over the summer and in October I will be starting my graduate studies at the University of Oxford! I have committed to the Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences CDT, which is a combined masters and PhD program, and I couldn’t be more excited.


To be fair, I didn’t get here on my own. Graduate school applications aren’t easy, especially when you decided to that you want to go abroad. Luckily, I had some amazing people supporting me along the way, from the people at career services who reviewed all my application materials, to the wonderful faculty who agreed to write letters of recommendation and helped me decide which programs would be the best fit for me. All the opportunities that Cornell offered over the past four years – rigorous classes, research, volunteering – were also helpful in building a solid resume and having something interesting to talk about during interview.

The Radcliffe Camera at Oxford.

Applications are stressful, but meeting with faculty and staff and discovering that they are truly excited about the opportunities you are pursuing and want to help makes the whole process 10 times better. It takes a village, as they say, and I truly feel that at Cornell and in the College of Arts and Sciences, the village is there.

Validating and Examining My LGBTQ Experience Through Academics and Social Life at Cornell

For April, we focus on the theme of diversity. Ambassadors will share times at which they felt that diversity is important in Arts and Sciences, and what life at Cornell is like as a minority, whether that be in terms of race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or perspective. This week, Sophomore Julian discusses how his academic and social experiences at Cornell have helped him process, validate, and examine his identity as an openly gay student. 

By Julian Kroll ’20, Government and Philosophy double major

My first day on Cornell’s campus, 2016

Coming to Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences as an openly gay student, I wasn’t sure what to expect about my academic and social experiences on campus. I wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable about being publicly gay; having outed myself to my neighborhood in Ohio when I was 15 years old, I was very familiar with the implications of publicly identifying as a member of the LGBTQ community. However, navigating the complex social and academic spaces of a University seemed a much more daunting task than doing so in the comfort of my hometown. While it has been uncomfortable at moments, I’ve found that the time I’ve spent at Cornell has helped me to process my experience as an LGBTQ person in new and exciting ways. 

One of the texts recommended by my FWS professor.

My studies actually made the process of adjusting to the social space of Cornell much easier for me. I’m currently double majoring in Government and Philosophy, and I often find the content of my courses to be incredibly relevant to my own life. Thanks to the freedom with which I am able to choose my classes, I often knowingly or unknowingly choose courses that help me think about the many dimensions of identity in new and exciting ways. For example, my second Freshman Writing Seminar, which focused on representations of marginalized groups in literature, was extremely impactful in this sense. After becoming intrigued by an essay on queer theory by Adrienne Rich, I asked my professor if she could recommend similar texts to me. She referred me to two collections of essays, one by Audre Lorde and one by Adrienne Rich. Especially in the midst of a hefty Cornell semester, it was valuable to read and discuss texts which not only validated my experience but also helped to examine it.

Socially, I found the college of Arts and Sciences in particular to be a really valuable space. While every college at Cornell is intellectually diverse, it’s my belief that the abstract nature of many Arts and Sciences courses attracts a certain type of thinker. Further, the highly collaborative nature of many Arts and Sciences courses creates opportunities to discuss course material and individual viewpoints with impressive groups of creative and driven people. While this interactive model of learning spans many subjects, I have a particular affinity for those which pertain to everyday existence within structures of power. Usually, during such discussions, the LGBTQ community and other marginalized peoples are mentioned fairly quickly. To discuss my experiences in a setting which is simultaneously academic, personal, and respectful has been incredibly valuable.

The experience of being queer anywhere is complicated. For better or worse, you will be perceived differently in different spaces. To manage that, it’s important to keep a fully stocked arsenal of ways to validate and examine your experience. Personally, I’ve found that my classes and my work do this job handily; the College of Arts and Sciences provides incredible academic and personal resources. However, even if you don’t have the chance to incorporate these resources into your daily life, the sheer size of Cornell ensures that there’ll never be a shortage of creative and open-minded people to connect with. While being out at Cornell may seem daunting at first, I found my adjustment to the Cornell Community to be very rewarding.

Biochemistry Research and Honors Thesis

This week, senior Solveig writes about her excitement over being able to produce a physical proof of her two years worth of biochemistry research – an honors thesis.

By Solveig van der Vegt ’18, Biological Sciences major, Mathematics minor

One of the greatest opportunities available to students at Cornell is to do research under a faculty supervisor. For the past two years, I have worked in the Fromme Lab in the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, learning how to do research and getting a glimpse into what it’s like to be in graduate school. The culmination of all my work will come this semester when I write my honors thesis.

A view of the Weill Hall, where the Fromme Lab is housed, on a warm February afternoon!

An honors thesis in the Biological Sciences gives you a lot of freedom. You apply during your Junior Spring semester and are admitted during the summer. Your Junior Spring semester is also the time when you would start your research at the latest, but many students will have started in their second year or before. There are no classes you are required to take, although you do meet with your research and honors group supervisors to discuss your progress and the expectations of completing the thesis. At the end of the semester, there is a symposium where all honors thesis candidates in Biological Sciences will present their research in poster presentations.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my research over the past few years and being able to write and submit an honors thesis is the icing on the cake. Although I might not be able to publish my research before I graduate, my honors thesis will be a proper replacement for that. I look forward to having something physical to hold that represents all the work I have put in over the past two years. Research can often feel like you’re throwing your results into a void, especially if you are part of a project that will continue after you graduate. Writing and presenting an honors thesis is a great way to show that you have contributed to the general pool of knowledge in your field.

Psychology Honors Thesis: Proactively Contributing to Issues that Matter

Happy March! This month, ambassadors will be writing about academic research they conduct on campus. For the first post of the month, I am sharing a little bit about my experience completing a psychology honors thesis!

By Suzy Park ’18, Economics and Psychology double major, Law & Society minor

One of the biggest decisions I made as a senior was to participate in the psychology honors program. As an underclassman, I had heard a number of upperclassmen talk about how writing a thesis is very stressful and can, at times, take over one’s life. However, the same people had also mentioned that being able to start and finish a research project in a year is an incredibly unique opportunity. As a student whose honors project is well underway, I can attest to both statements.

During sophomore and junior years, I had worked as a research assistant in Dr. Stephen Ceci’s Child Witness and Cognition Lab, contributing to projects examining intergroup relations in children and linguistic analyses of juror deliberations. Three semesters spent as a research assistant were undoubtedly exciting and meaningful, but I found myself wanting to gain experience in all parts of research – not just running experiments and coding data, but also helping shape the research question and interpreting results.

The Krosch Lab space in Uris Hall, where research assistants can hang out and do work!

In the spring semester of my junior year, I took PSYCH 3820: Prejudice and Stereotyping, taught by Professor Amy Krosch. The psychology of race and ethnic relations was a topic I had become very interested in after moving from Korea – a relatively more ethnically homogenous country in which I was the racial majority – to the United States for college. Having found the class’ discussions of stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination as a function of group membership tremendously intriguing, I formally asked Professor Krosch if she would be able to advise my thesis project. She was very kind to say yes and together with her and other researchers in her lab, I finalized my research question: How does the perception of minority advancement influence White Americans’ perception of and behaviors toward Black Americans?

Currently, I am actively collecting data (participants come into the lab to take a computer-based survey) and a draft of the thesis will be written by early April. In May, I will defend and officially submit my thesis, as well as presenting the project and its outcomes to the public at a poster session. And during graduation weekend, I will find out whether I have earned latin honors.

The dark-colored building in the back is Uris Hall, where the Krosch Lab is located.

Having been an honors thesis student for a few months, I can definitely agree with the upperclassmen who said that completing a thesis is very stressful. As exciting as designing, conducting, and analyzing one’s own study sounds, there are many – big and small – hurdles to overcome. Sometimes, research can be a daily grind, and things may not always work out the way you would like them to. However, I am more than glad that I have chosen to partake in the honors program because I get to work face-to-face with Professor Krosch, PhD students, and other researchers, each of whom bring a unique perspective on a topic of common interest. In psychology classes over the years, I had read and learned about dozens of studies, but often felt that these experiments were not immediately personally relevant. Being able to choose and work on a research question that I am incredibly passionate about, however, provided me the opportunity to build on what has already been studied in the field and make a tangible impact on issues that matter.

There is still a long way to go until I can print and submit my thesis to the psychology department, but I am extremely excited for all the adventures that await – interpreting the study results, making sense of it in the context of existing literature, and presenting it to people who care about the issue. I am also deeply grateful to the College of Arts and Sciences and to Cornell for providing me – a humble undergrad – this valuable opportunity to work alongside world-class researchers.

My Zumba Instructor Journey: Dancing my way from California to Cornell!

In our last post of the month, senior Hadassa writes about her journey of becoming a veteran Zumba instructor at Cornell. 

By Hadassa Jakher ’18, Government and Spanish double major, International Relations and Law & Society double minor

Smiling after an intense (and sweaty!) class with my Zumba mentors at my hometown studio.

One of my all-time favorite things to do is dance! Growing up Latina, I would always be jamming out to salsa and merengue tunes with my family. So when I found out that there was a Zumba studio in my hometown in California, I was ecstatic. I fell in love with the “fitness party” atmosphere of the classes and decided to become a certified Zumba instructor. When I got to Cornell, I was excited to see that Cornell Fitness Centers hired students as group fitness instructors. I took extra PE classes at Cornell in Latin Dance and Salsa to ensure that my skills were up to par for my upcoming audition with CFC. Thanks to all of the preparation by taking classes in my hometown and refining my techniques, I aced my audition and I was hired! I began teaching my own Zumba classes the spring semester of my freshman year.


Participants rocking out at one of our Zumba classes in Noyes gym hosted by Cornell Fitness Centers.

I love my job as a Zumba instructor. Since my freshman year until now (my final year!), I have taught a diverse range of classes. The participants in my classes included both students and faculty, and I taught across different gyms – from Helen Newman to Bartels Hall to Noyes. I started teaching with some of my favorite songs that I had learned from the awesome instructors from my hometown studio. As I became more experienced, I even began to choreograph my own moves to new songs. Participating in Zumba in my hometown in California and being able to teach here at Cornell has been such a wonderful experience. In both places, there has been a great sense of community that allowed me to grow as an instructor and as a dancer. I am so grateful that I have a job where my participants come to have fun and work out, all while doing what I love – dancing!

Swimming with Skittles and Dancing through San Fran!

This week, sophomore Shoshana shows us how she spent her winter break training (and delivering candies) in Arizona as well as dancing in San Francisco!

By Shoshana Swell ’20, Performance & Media Arts and Information Science double major

This winter break, I travelled to Arizona for winter training with my Varsity Swim Team. I created this video to highlight the team’s training, adventures, and candy deliveries during practice. Let’s be real, we all know the feeling of panic when you get hungry in the middle of a workout. You might be craving Oreo cheesecake, chicken nuggets, or a full pie of pizza. When two swimmers on the team craved Skittles, our divers delivered them right to their lane. If that is not teamwork, I don’t know what is.

If you are looking for a sequel to my video abroad, Why Walk When You Can Dancehere it is! Aside from Arizona, I travelled to San Francisco, California to reunite with the friend I studied (and danced) with in Prague. We toured San Fransisco the only way we know how… dancing!


A post shared by Shoshana Swell (@shoshanaswell) on

Work, Work, Work (By Zoee D’Costa, Not Rihanna)

This week, junior Zoee shares with us what she loves about being a student tutor and a resident advisor on campus.

By Zoee D’Costa ’19, Biology & Society Major, Psychology Minor

When I came to Cornell I knew I was going to be working hard. But I didn’t know I was going to be working hard at something other than school. During my first two years at Cornell, I was a varsity athlete and was able to receive free tutoring through the athletic department in all my classes. I learned so much from these passionate student-tutors, and in my second semester, I became one. The following semester I also got hired as a Resident Advisor (RA). So my Cornell work became work, work, work.

A large poster depicting all of my 42 residents from last year was made to welcome all the students to the floor and hung in our floor lounge throughout the year. It says “High Rise 5 Floor 3’s Big Happy Family!”

Me with a sunflower I picked during our RA team-building retreat at Indian Creek Farm in August.

I love working both of my jobs on campus because much like being an Ambassador, they allow me to work directly with younger students and help them navigate all the opportunities and challenges the Cornell campus has to offer. As a tutor, I am able to help student-athletes with difficult courses of study and help them along the same path I took (as a pre-med student-athlete). This job also has allowed me to stay fresh on the subjects that I have taken at Cornell, which is very helpful for MCAT studying.

Me and some of my RA coworkers at CU Downtown, a large-scale program to introduce Ithaca to incoming freshmen during their first few weeks at Cornell.

This year, I am working as a Senior Resident Advisor (SRA) in the Mary Donlon community and through my job, I am able to work with other RAs and students, as well as serve as a supervisor in our community library. While it is a lot to juggle, I have found so many opportunities to grow from working on campus. Being an RA and having the opportunity to impact people every day has been a wonderful leadership experience for me, and allowed me to understand what it means to be responsible for people other than myself. I have gained confidence in my public speaking abilities as well as my ability to go up to new people and start a conversation (it is a lot harder than it looks, and it is something that you have to do A LOT at Cornell). The job has educated me in practical areas as well, teaching me how to remain calm in a stressful situation, how to handle medical emergencies, and how to be a good listener and friend. Being an RA has also helped me find some of my strongest interests and passions: discussing sexual misconduct and inequality in RA training propelled me to seek out organizations where I could help educate others, including Consent Ed, an organization in which I serve on the Executive Board. More than anything, it has given me the invaluable opportunity to grow into a better version of myself, learning to face challenges and be persistent.

All of the door decorations I made for the Donlon RAs this year to welcome them back to the building.

Canoeing on Beebe Lake with my residents!

I am grateful to have been given the opportunities I have during my time at Cornell, and I know that through them I’ve been able to develop into a stronger person. While balancing all of this has been somewhat stressful, I know that I am prepared to handle any of the work that the real world throws at me after college. No wonder Rihanna was complaining about all of her work, work, work – she never went to Cornell!