Embracing the Spirit of Cornell

Happy November! This month, we’re focusing on the “spirit of Cornell” and what that means to our Ambassadors. Sophomore Meredith Chagares starts us off with a post describing the supportive and diverse nature of Cornell and the greater Ithaca community! 

By: Meredith Chagares ’19

Here I am posing with my younger sister by the statue of Ezra Cornell on the edge of the Arts Quad!

Here I am posing with my younger sister by the statue of Ezra Cornell on the edge of the Arts Quad!

I hail from a fairly small town in northern New Jersey. Despite its proximity to New York City, my town is very homogenous. Though it was a safe and nurturing community in which to be raised, by my senior year of high school I was more than ready to move on to live in a different type of community.

Coming to Cornell as a freshman last fall, I knew that I was going to have a transformative, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The most surprising and exciting thing for me since arriving here has been the palpable spirit that engulfs both Cornell and Ithaca. Because the school and the city work so hard to create a unique, inviting community, there is a large emphasis on collaboration and support. This spirit has definitely had an effect on me!

As a member of the varsity fencing team, I cheer on my teammates and avidly attend other sports’ athletic events as well. On the strip when I am fencing, I can feel the support of my friends and the school behind me, which is exhilarating. One of my favorite examples of the spirit of the Big Red is when the hockey team plays Harvard and Cornell students (called the “Lynah Faithful”) bring fish to throw on the ice. It is this excitement and pride that helps to define Cornell for me.

One of my biggest sources of support on campus is my fencing team  - I'm on the left in the bottom row!

One of my biggest sources of support on campus is my fencing team  – I’m on the left in the bottom row!

There are other examples of this school spirit as well. For example, during finals, the libraries offer coloring books to students to help them de-stress. Various a cappella groups sing for the freshmen on North Campus as they arrive home from their prelims. Even when I simply walk across the Arts Quad, the spirit of Cornell as a supportive institution is unmistakable.

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A view of Olin Library, Uris Library, and McGraw Clocktower lit up at night.

The spirit of Cornell extends beyond the edge of campus. The local Ithacans display a similar spirit during their annual Apple Festival and Chili Fest, and through various other fun opportunities to experience the local food, arts and crafts, music, and parks, among others. Just as the students enjoy frequenting local Ithaca businesses and getting to know the area, Ithacans are often seen at our hockey games, community lectures, and events on campus as well.

But perhaps the people best define the spirit of Cornell. When I arrived as a freshman, I had the pleasure of meeting so many new people in my orientation group, my residence hall, and my sports team. That brings me to give a big shout-out to the Cornellians – like the orientation leaders and resident advisors on North Campus – who put together the events designed to allow newcomers to both meet each other and become integrated into the Cornell community. I have enjoyed meeting people different from me in just about every way – people with different talents and interests who come from different cities, states, countries, and continents. Learning from other people here has helped me broaden my horizons, see things from a different perspective, and appreciate my neighbors.

The spirit of Cornell is palpable. This spirit is something that connects everyone to the school, and what keeps the alumni coming back every year. The spirit of Cornell is something completely unique and something all Cornellians will experience, enjoy, and cherish.

A view of Goldwin Smith Hall from the other side of the Arts Quad

A view of Goldwin Smith Hall from the other side of the Arts Quad.

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