Category Archives: Academics

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.

From an Awkward Pre-Frosh to a Confident Adult

In the last post of November, senior Sydney looks back at the many ways Cornell has surprised and changed her for the better. 

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

Me at my high school graduation in 2014.

Cornell has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From my grandfather to my mom, and then my sister, Cornell was just always there. For that reason, I thought that I already knew everything that one needed to know about Cornell even before setting foot on campus; where to eat, what classes to take, what month the weather switches from 70 degrees to 40.

And just like any good story goes, I was wrong. I had no idea what effect Cornell would have on me because I was yet to discover myself.

My first semester freshmen year was pretty standard. I had chosen a major (English), found friends, and joined an a cappella group. It wasn’t until the second semester that things began to shift. From classes becoming harder, to friend groups changing, I started to feel lost. Sophomore year was a lot of the same; I wound up changing my major essentially ten times. I even considered switching out of Arts and Sciences.

My a cappella group, Nothing But Treble, at our Spring Concert 2017.

But then I realized, college isn’t supposed to be easy. If it were, people would never change – they would walk out of college exactly as who they entered as. In fact, the intensive courses were what made me realize that I was passionate about history, sociology, and English, to name a few. Arts and Science’s American Studies Program has provided me with an unparalleled holistic education that I am extremely grateful for.

As for friends, I never thought that the people I sing with in my a cappella group would become my people. Little did I know, they have shown me – time and time again – that people can truly change others for the better.

Some friends and I at the Intergroup Dialogue Retreat in Spring 2017.

One of my most formative experiences at Cornell has been participating in the Intergroup Dialogue Project. Never in a million years did I think that anyone (and I mean anyone) would let me co-lead a class of sixteen students. In addition to introducing me to arguably some of the best people of Cornell whom I would not have met otherwise, the project showed me that I had grown into a confident and mature woman.

So, upon reflection, I can confidently say that Cornell has changed me because it has challenged me. It has transformed me from an awkward pre-frosh into a confident adult. It has made me realize that it’s okay to not know exactly what I want to do. It has cultivated me into an independent actor and thinker who is always up for what life has to offer.

Embracing My Heritage at Cornell

This week, sophomore Dean discusses how Arts and Sciences’ language requirement and Asian Studies department helped him explore his heritage and culture as a Korean American. 

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

My KOREA 1102 (Elementary Korean II) section from Spring 2017 semester, posing for a group photo after discussion. We had just learned about ordering food at restaurants!

Looking back to just over a year ago when I arrived at Cornell, it is hard to imagine that I am the same person now as I was then. To think that the very same person, who, one year ago, went to Uris Library instead of Uris Hall for a Korean class and shyly asked the librarian where to go, is now an extroverted sophomore declaring a major and a minor is astounding. Cornell has positively changed me in too many ways to count, from making me more independent and responsible, to helping me discover new interests and hobbies.


Before coming to Cornell, I did not know a lick of Korean and needed to enroll in the non-heritage Korean course because I had no speaking or listening ability whatsoever. Regardless, I decided to take Korean to fulfill my language requirement and also to impress my parents by speaking to them in Korean the next time I went home.

From left to right: Isaac, Kim seonsaengnim (teacher), and me after the end-of-semester Korean Language Program Showcase.

This was one of the best choices I have made since coming to Cornell. 송 선생님 (Teacher Song) and 김 선생님 (Teacher Kim) were both so engaging that I never felt bored in class. In fact, I could not get enough of Korean and frequently attended both of their office hours, reviewing materials from class and simply attempting crude conversations in Korean. From these two semesters, I gained so much more than the ability to speak Korean, 12 credits, and a fulfilled language requirement. I made friends and memories, learned about my culture and heritage, and set the foundation for pursuing an East Asian Studies minor.

My KASA gajok (family) from last year dressing up as farmers and farm animals for Halloween. (Robin the Gorilla didn’t get the memo.)

In addition to taking Korean classes, I joined the Korean American Student Association (KASA) last year as a little and was matched with a gajok (family). My gajok supported me through thick and thin, and we had a great time hanging out over the year. I made great memories, learned about Korean pop culture, and grew less shy. Even now, we still hang out to catch up on what we are doing in our lives. This year, I am a big with my fellow co-littles from last year. I hope that I can provide my littles this year the same wonderful experience I had as a freshman, and help them learn about their culture in as many ways as I can – from gajok dinners at Korean restaurants in CollegeTown to 노래방 (Korean Karaoke) events! In just a year, Cornell has changed me a lot and has allowed me to learn about my Korean heritage and embrace my culture. 한국어를 사랑해! (I love Korean!)

How to Complete Distribution Requirements While Watching Music Videos

Writing on the theme of “Easing Back into Classes,” junior Sheyla tells us about an exciting class on Beyoncé, intersectional identity, and feminism. 

By Sheyla Finkner ’19, Biology and Society major

We had a professional photographer take our class photo to send as a birthday card to Beyoncé!

It is a typical Tuesday morning. I walk from my ethics class to a lecture hall on the arts quad, sit down, and pull out my laptop. A few minutes later, my professor walks in and begins playing several Beyoncé music videos over the projector onto the big screen. Our class begins dancing and singing along. After a few videos, the professor begins lecturing and leads a class discussion. As the end of the hour approaches, we hand in our essays, pack up, and head out. This is just an average day in class.

Cross-listed in American Studies, Africana Studies and Research Center, English, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Departments, my class is better known on campus as “Beyoncé Nation.” Taught by Professor Riché Richardson, “Beyoncé Nation” addresses highly important and relevant topics, such as intersectional identity and intersectional feminism, and creates a space for open dialogue. However, rather than lecturing about such topics, Professor Richardson takes a different approach –  teaching through the example of Beyoncé. By watching Beyoncé music videos and reading biographies and other literature written on Queen Bey, we are able to discuss such important issues and see how she has influenced the conversations around these topics. Let’s face it – we are all a little more excited to attend lecture and learn when it is centered on one of the most iconic celebrities of – dare I say – the century.

Professor Richardson created a syllabus that does double duty as a research guide!

Not only is this class fun, informative, and important, but it also completes a distribution requirement! This course fulfills the Literature and the Arts category for Arts and Sciences distribution requirements. While the thought of completing distribution requirements may seem daunting, classes such as “Beyoncé Nation” make it fun and manageable. In addition, there are no core or required classes in Arts and Sciences, so you get to choose what class you want to fill each category with! If “Beyoncé Nation” is not your cup of tea, you can choose from hundreds of other classes that do interest you instead. Distribution requirements are a nice way of taking a step back from your normal coursework and learning about a new topic. Personally, many of my favorite classes at Cornell were those I took because of distribution requirements.

As I go through my days filled with biochemistry and ethics, I can always look forward to going to “Beyoncé Nation” to watch some great music videos, learn about the impact of a pop star, and complete a distribution requirement for graduation while I am at it!

Easing into Junior Year: New Year, New Me with a Clearer Path

This week, junior Emma Bryan talks about how the flexibility of the Arts and Sciences curriculum helped her discover her passion for French and reconfirm her interest in Economics, setting her up for an exciting junior year.

By: Emma Bryan ’19, French and Economics double major

Here I am ready to start my junior year while picking apples that are fortuitously ready today with friends at Indian Creek Farm!

After spending the summer in Ithaca, August finally rolled around, and I couldn’t wait for people to come back to campus so that I could start my junior year with my peers by my side. Ithaca in the summer is amazing, but there aren’t as many people as there are during the year, and I was ready for campus to become livelier. There were many aspects of life at Cornell that I was eager to resume—eating Cornell Dairy ice cream, enjoying bubble tea with my friends in Collegetown, marveling at how the song on the clock tower always seems to fit my exact mood—but above all else, I was ready to dive back into a year of academic challenges and the pursuit of further knowledge in my second-to-last year at this esteemed university.

For my first two years in the College of Arts and Sciences, I had no set plan of what I wanted to accomplish academically. Freshman year, I came to campus saying that I was going to double major in Computer Science and Economics; however, I took CS1110 (Introduction to Python) and quickly realized that my home at this large university was not going to be in the Department of Computer Science. At the same time, I took a French class to satisfy the language requirement, and I was so intrigued by FREN2320 (Introduction to Francophone Culture and Film) that I decided to veer off of my more computational path and dabble in the Romance Studies Department. I continued taking French courses, and two years later, here I am with a declared French major. First semester freshman me wasn’t completely wrong though! The interest in Economics stuck, and after passing all of the required major core classes and realizing that I truly am passionate about Economics, I refuse to let go of that half of my initial plan.

Though my first two years of academic exploration were a blast, it is so comforting to now come back to campus and have a clearer path and individual major advisors who are able to give me guidance as I navigate my final years at this university. I remember picking courses as a freshman the summer before I came to campus, and I’d be lying if I said the process wasn’t a bit overwhelming. I felt as though I were blindly choosing classes, knowing that there were over two thousand courses offered every semester and I was going to be taking only four or five of them. What if I chose the wrong courses? What if I didn’t know what I wanted to study? What if I wasted my time taking classes that had nothing to do with my ultimate path? To put it bluntly, in the kindest way possible, the answer to each of those questions is a simple, “it doesn’t matter.”

This is a picture of me enjoying Ithaca in the summer! I took a hike with some pals at Buttermilk Falls State Park.

First, there’s an add-drop period built into the beginning of the school year, so if you decide that the classes that you signed up for are absolutely not what you’re interested in taking, you’re able to drop those classes and add others. Additionally, if you’re interested in a class but do not foresee it being something that you’re going to major in, you have the option to take it S/U (satisfactory/unsatisfactory) so that so long as you pass the class, the credits count, and the overall grade will not factor into your GPA. After realizing that Python was not for me, I switched it to S/U, which took a lot of pressure off, and I was able to enjoy learning for the sake of learning rather than worrying about my GPA.

What I love about Arts is the fact that cross-field curiosity is encouraged, and earlier in my college career, I took advantage of this by taking classes that have nothing to do with my majors, which assured me that I am confident in the direction I have since chosen. You are not required to declare your major until second semester of your sophomore year, and after that, it is very possible to change majors. I’ve taken a wide range of classes in other departments, such as Government, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Cognitive Science, yet I’ve made enough progress on both of my majors to potentially graduate early. Now that I have a set path, I find myself increasingly excited to choose my classes, and as I have grown and spent more time on this campus, I feel that I have really gotten the hang of things.

Finding My Niche in the Sciences: The Information Science Major

This week, senior Meg Shigeta talks about how the breadth of the Arts & Sciences course roster allowed her to explore different fields as an underclassmen until she found her home in the Information Science department. Enjoy!

By: Meg Shigeta ’17, Information Science major, Business minor

ice skating

Ice skating at Lynah Rink freshman year with friends (I’m on the right)!

When I first entered Cornell as a freshman in the fall of 2013, I had very little idea what it was I wanted to study. I was the epitome of an undecided undergraduate, and I was nervous that this lack of direction would set me back somehow, make me less of a real student compared to my friends who had planned the next twenty years of their lives out seemingly overnight. However, I now realize that where I was lost, the College of Arts & Sciences was able to step in and point me in the right direction. The curriculum of Arts & Sciences allowed me to take a wide range of courses, each of which slowly led me to my area of study today. Just what subject is that? Well, let me take you on a little trip.


Getting brunch at Taverna Banfi sophomore year!

As a freshman, one of the first classes I took was called SOC 3010: Evaluating Statistical Evidence. It was a class I found unexpectedly, and ended up being one of my favorites of the semester. After taking this class I decided to explore more sociology courses, and took SOC 1101: Introduction to Sociology. Because I also felt more aligned with the “Sciences” part of the College, I was able to take MATH 2130: Calculus III during this time as well. Even though I was still undecided, my diverse course load helped me fulfill my Arts & Sciences graduation requirements, and slowly led me towards figuring out just what it was I wanted to major in.

For February Break during my junior year, my friends and I visited Niagara Falls.

After taking these courses, I realized that what I wanted to study was this middle ground between human systems and information systems. After speaking to friends and advisors about my new interests, I decided to try taking some classes in Information Science. As a result, when I returned to Cornell as a sophomore in the fall of 2014, I decided to take INFO 1300: Introductory Design and Programming for the Web, and after that there was no looking back.

Celebrating homecoming during my senior year!


Today, I will be graduating as an Information Science major, and plan to further pursue additional education in Information Science after I finish my undergraduate career. I am so grateful to have found this major, and I don’t think that I would have discovered it had it not been for the myriad of classes I took in a variety of departments my freshman year, each of which slowly helped me to discover just what it was I was truly passionate about. So yes, I may be that cliché student who started out as an undecided freshman four years ago, but do I regret it? Not one bit.

Finding Science in the Arts

This week, junior Kasey Han discusses how the depth and breadth of Arts & Sciences have allowed her to pursue unique opportunities as a College Scholar studying Developmental Circus Arts.

By: Kasey Han ’18, Biology and College Scholar double major

Life’s way better upside down!

Here’s a real piece of advice I’ve received: “Do a handstand before your exam.” Even if seeing me doing a handstand outside my prelim (Cornell’s version of midterms) warrants a few incredulous stares, the suggestion holds merit. While I’m upside down, blood flows with gravity down towards my head, bringing with it the oxygen, glucose, and nutrients my brain needs to function optimally during an exam.

This is merely one example of the many connections I form as part of my College Scholar project. Housed in the College of Arts & Sciences, the College Scholar program allows students to create an interdisciplinary major in an area of interest, design their own curriculum, and occasionally feed on chocolate-covered strawberries. As a College Scholar, I study how Circus Arts may be used as a form of therapy for children with neuropsychiatric disorders. Circus Arts is viewed through a range of academic lenses, but I am primarily interested in the physiological and psychological underpinnings of engaging in circus. The science of the art, if you will.

In circus, we lift each other up!

As part of my independent major, I choose classes that relate to my field from amongst Arts and Sciences’ 2,400 courses on offer each year. This past fall, I took Brain Control of Movement, taught by my favorite professor: Jesse Goldberg. In his class, we took an in-depth look at the neural circuits underlying movement and motor learning, and how dysfunctions of the circuit can lead to diseases like Parkinson’s, cerebellar ataxia, and basal ganglia disorders. Applying my newfound knowledge on the brain’s motor circuits, I can better understand how Circus Arts play a role in reinforcement and supervised learning and may ameliorate symptoms of physical disabilities.

This spring, I am currently enrolled in Adult Psychopathology, taught by the amazing professor and clinical psychologist Harry Segal. After blowing my mind with his unique take on Freud’s psychodynamic theory, he lectures on the etiology and treatment of everything from depression to schizophrenia. With his course, I have a greater grasp of various disabilities and how Circus Arts may be integrated into current treatments. These and many more courses give me the information, as well as the critical thinking skills, to direct how I train in and teach circus at Ithaca’s local circus school, Circus Culture.

Probably the greatest thing about Arts & Sciences is that my mashing of science with art isn’t that uncommon. It’s not the exception to the rule—it is the rule. It’s in the name! Without preaching too much, this is the beauty of the liberal arts degree. The arts and the sciences do not go simply hand-in-hand: there is art in science just as I study the science behind the arts.

What Do I Want to Do with my Majors?

This week, meet junior Suzy Park, an economics and psychology double major who was recently inspired by her experiences in Arts & Sciences to pursue a career in law. Suzy will be taking over the Ambassadors blog next year – see what she has to say below!

By: Suzy Ji Soo Park ’18, Economics and Psychology double major, Communications minor

When I introduce myself as an economics and psychology double major, 99 percent of people say, “Oh, that’s cool! So what do you want to do with it?” Until recently, my response was, “I’m not sure. Econ and psych are just fields that interest me!” But starting a couple months ago, I can confidently say, “I want to go to law school.”

A view of the beautiful Cornell Law School building on a March afternoon.

All throughout my life, the word “lawyer” was constantly thrown around in conversations with my dad. He had always emphasized the advantages that come with a licensed profession – accountant, doctor, actuary – and lawyer was on the top of his list. But honestly, the idea of becoming a lawyer was as scary as it was interesting, and I never truly considered it as a potential career until I took PSYCH 2650: Psychology and Law the fall of my sophomore year.

Taught by two distinguished law scholars – Professors Jeffrey Rachlinski and Valerie Hans – the course explores how psychology research helps us understand and improve the legal system. Delving into areas of constitutional law, criminal law, false convictions, jury decision-making, and more, the course not only confirmed my passion for psychology, but also instilled in me a newfound curiosity for the law. During one part of the course on children’s testimonies and their reliability, we read an article titled “Expert testimony in a child abuse case: Translating memory development research” coauthored by Maggie Bruck and Stephen Ceci, who is the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology here at Cornell. Incredibly excited by his body of research on children’s memory and its implications in the courtroom, I approached him to discuss working as a research assistant in his Child Witness and Cognition Lab. I am so grateful that he offered me the position, and over the last three semesters, I have worked on two exciting projects about intergroup relations in children and about linguistic analyses of juror deliberations. Although his lab is housed in the College of Human Ecology, I have been able to use the research credit hours towards my psychology major thanks to the flexibility of the Arts & Sciences curriculum.

I pose (second from the right) with my fellow research assistants at a poster forum hosted by the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board.

The best part of being an Arts & Sciences student is that the College allows the entire campus to become your field of exploration – your intellectual journey is not restricted to Arts & Sciences courses and professors (which are undoubtedly amazing) but rather, you are free to take advantage of the law school, the business school, other colleges, and more. Following Psychology and Law, I have continued exploring the discipline of law through courses such as LAW 4021: Competition Law and Policy, as well as through conversations with PhD and law students I have met along the way. By making available all of Cornell’s valuable resources, Arts & Sciences invites its students to build upon their strong liberal arts foundation through coursework and extracurricular experiences that span over all seven colleges and four graduate and professional schools.

Finding my Home in the "&" of "Arts & Sciences"

Happy March! You may have noticed that we at the Ambassadors blog took a quick break in February – we’ve been working hard to recruit new ambassadors, as well as find replacements for those executive board members who will be graduating in May (including me!). But rest assured, we’re back and as excited as ever!

For the next two months, we’ll be talking about “The ‘Who’ and the ‘What’ of Arts & Sciences.” Who studies the “Arts” and what do they study? Who studies the “Sciences” and what do they study? And what’s in between? I’ll be starting us off with a post about my experiences in the “in between.” I’ve tried to include links to as many relevant people, blog posts, and news articles as possible for those who would like to follow up on any of the things I talk about!

By: Emma Korolik ’17, Sociology and English double major, Education minor

When I meet new people at Cornell, they’re always surprised to learn that I attended a pre-engineering high school in central New Jersey. Why? Here at Cornell, I’m an English and sociology double major with an education minor, which is a far cry from my STEM-heavy high school experience – and a whole quad away from the College of Engineering:).

Joanna Weymouth (left, CAS ’17), Amanda Hellwig (second from right, HumEc ’16), Joy Hubbard-Wakayama (CAS ’17) and I pose at the Ithaca Farmers Market in fall 2016. We all lived together in Rome in the summer of 2015, and we’ve stayed close ever since!

Though I deeply appreciate my time in high school, I feel like I’ve truly found my home within the “&” of the College of Arts & Sciences. Throughout my four years here on the hill, I’ve been able to explore my passions for the humanities and social sciences through classwork; work and extracurriculars; an honors thesis (which is still a work in progress); fieldwork in Ithaca and in Taos, NM; and a study abroad experience in Rome, Italy. My Arts & Sciences professors, advisors, and peers have always been the first to encourage me to pursue these opportunities.

One of my favorite classes I’ve taken at Cornell is SOC 2710: America’s Promise: Social and Political Context of American Education, which I enrolled in for the fall of my sophomore year. While the class is technically housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), I was able to take advantage of the fact that the course is crosslisted in the sociology department in order to gain credit towards my sociology major in Arts & Sciences. At the time I took the class, I had never taken a sociology course; I barely even knew what sociology was!

Slater Goodman (CAS ’19), Deborah Glick (CALS ’19), Ebony Cadet (CALS ’17), and I pose after the annual SOC 2710 TA dinner hosted by our professor, John Sipple.

SOC 2710 explores the history of U.S. education and examines how schooling both reproduces and attempts to alleviate social inequalities, and it singlehandedly convinced me that I wanted to be a sociology major. For the past two years, I have had the privilege of being a teaching assistant for the course – I loved the class so much, I just couldn’t stay away! I even found my thesis advisor, Kendra Bischoff, through the class; we read a piece she had co-written on residential segregation by income about halfway through the semester, and I was so struck by her findings that I approached her a year and a half after first taking SOC 2710 to ask if she would oversee my research (thankfully, she said yes!).

President Rawlings (L), Professor Emeritus Ken McClane (R), and I pose for a photo at a reception in spring 2017.

While I discovered a new passion for the social sciences during my time here, I’ve also been able to further develop my love for the humanities. I copy edit for Ezra’s Archives, Cornell’s historical journal that publishes original undergraduate research, but what I enjoy most about the humanities at Cornell is creative writing, which is my concentration within the English major.

While I’ve been interested in creative writing since I was little, I took my first college creative writing class with Professor Ken McClane, an incredibly talented and prolific poet and essayist who I have been lucky enough to keep in touch with over the past few years. Because the class was seminar-based, we all had the opportunity to share our thoughts and opinions about assigned readings, and to critique each other’s work. I was so empowered by my experience that I decided to take a narrative writing class the following summer in Rome, Italy, and I’ve since taken several other creative writing classes in the English department. Each of these classes has allowed me to interact with and receive feedback from my peers and well-known writers like Robert Morgan and Helena Viramontes.

Perhaps what I appreciate most about the College of Arts & Sciences, though, is its openness and flexibility. I have been able to combine my studies in sociology of education with my work in English to craft my own unique Cornell experience that will serve me long after I graduate and start my job as an English teacher in New York City. I’ve been able to take classes in other colleges and count them for Arts credit, and sit in Arts classes with students from across the other six colleges. I’ve developed relationships with professors and maintained and deepened those connections throughout my time here. As a second semester senior looking back, I can safely say I made the right decision choosing the College of Arts & Sciences, and I know I’ve made the most of my experiences here.