This week, Ambassador Eric writes about his favorite class at Cornell.
By Eric Shen ’20 Physics, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Music majors
The class that stood out to me the most was definitely honors organic chemistry. In the moment, it felt like one of the greatest mistakes I could have made; but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I made here. It was an intense but great mix of curiosity and enthusiasm from both the professor and students. That class was a mix of people from all sorts of backgrounds with goals in as many different fields. I always felt this sense of interaction and broadening perspective in my time there and it’s been more than useful going forward.
Organic chemistry is one of the subjects that nearly everyone comes in with little to no experience, so it’s a collective experience working together to gain a new perspective on the macroscopic and microscopic worlds. I would argue that organic chemistry is the first time that we’re shown the connections between physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and bread. It’s unexpected, but this subject is involved at every step of life, and we gained an appreciation for the decades or centuries of work put into creating the things that support us everyday.
I can remember going into the following semesters taking physics, biochemistry, and various lab courses thinking about how organic chemistry suddenly became my basis for understanding numerous other subjects. Going into my last year at Cornell, I can only vaguely recall the most complicated of reactions we learned a week before the organic chemistry final, but the creativity and perspective we were taught in that class has stayed with me since.