Category Archives: Clubs and Activities

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.

Apprehension-Turned-Blessing

This week, sophomore Renée reflects on how being assigned to a single dorm room in freshman year – something she was worried about at first – motivated her to go beyond her comfort zone and shaped who she is today.

By Renée Girard ’20, Government major, Law & Society and Public Policy double minor

My first year room in Balch Hall.

I am confident that Cornell has fostered my growth as an individual and will continue to contribute to my development as a lifelong learner in the years to come. Coming from San Francisco without any of my fellow high school graduates, I was apprehensive when I was assigned to a single dorm room. Looking back, it was this very room assignment that gave me invaluable skills that have shaped who I am today. When I moved in, I was motivated to go beyond my comfort zone and maximize my experience as a student.

I quickly learned that Cornell attracts students who are dedicated to their studies, and this commonality allowed me to connect with my dorm-mates regardless of our majors. Although I am studying government, I became very close with a girl in my hall, a fashion management major from Vietnam. We bonded over passions for our future endeavors, and enjoyed working together and comparing our fields of study. My assignment to a single dorm gave me the opportunity to go beyond my comfort zone, pushing me to reach out to peers in my classes, my dorm, and extracurricular activities. I joined Cornell’s Pre-Government Fraternity and the Society for Women in Politics, and subsequently befriended students from around the world that I could learn from and relate to. I even found friends in my dorm who were as passionate about skiing as I am, and we broke out our skis during Cornell’s snow day to ski behind our favorite dining hall.

Skiing with my friends during Cornell’s first snow day in over 20 years!

During my first year as a Cornellian, I developed the skills to be proactive in connecting with those who share my passions, which gave me the confidence to pursue an internship in a field I was curious about. This past summer, I had the opportunity to work at a law firm that specializes in gender discrimination, an issue I had developed an interest for after interacting with other students and their experiences in my career-oriented clubs. I am grateful for the skills that Cornell has given me thus far, and I am confident that I will continue to develop over the next three years!

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!)

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.

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.

WVBR: One of Cornell's 1,000+ Clubs (and Arguably its Best)!

Welcome back! Today marked the beginning of the first full week of classes for the spring semester (we started classes last Wednesday!. Here in Ithaca, we’re battling some brutally cold weather, but sophomore Charles stays warm working as a DJ on WVBR, “Ithaca’s Real Rock Radio.” Check out what he has to say about finding your niche outside of the classroom!

By: Charles Cotton ’19

When I arrived in Ithaca as a freshman, I immediately knew that I wanted to get involved with as many student organizations as I could. One of the greatest things about Cornell (up there with the beautiful campus and the delicious food) is just how many opportunities there are for students to pursue, no matter their interests and hobbies. Cornell has over 1,000 student clubs and organizations, and there truly is one for everyone – whether it’s the Bowling Club, the Rubik’s Cube Club or the Rock and Roll Club, just to name a few.

At the beginning of each semester, the university hosts an event called Clubfest – an all-day fair for organization leaders to promote their clubs and for students to find the ones that best align with their interests. These fairs are admittedly a bit hectic, and it’s not unusual for students to sign up for upwards of fifteen different dance groups, club sports teams, service organizations, and on and on. While most students won’t stay involved with every group they sign up for, they are usually involved with at least one or two that they really enjoy.

For me, the decision to join the Cornell Media Guild has been one of the best I’ve made since I arrived on campus. The Guild is composed of three separate groups: WVBR, an FM radio station; CornellRadio.com, a more freeform online radio station; and Electric Buffalo Records, Cornell’s first-ever student-run record label. While the Guild is independent from the university, each of its three groups are run exclusively by Cornell students.

Of the three, I am most involved with WVBR, serving as a late-night DJ on the station. Being a part of WVBR is truly one of the coolest things I think you can do at Cornell. The station is a rock station – its tagline is “Ithaca’s real rock radio” – and it is broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 93.5 FM and can be heard across much of central New York. We broadcast out of a brand new studio right in the heart of Collegetown, and it’s just a ten-or-so-minute walk from campus.

I host a show with a friend of mine from freshman year, and we are on every other Friday night at 11PM. We play some classic rock, some blues, and some soul, and we take requests from real life callers in and around Ithaca! Every time I’m on, my Cornell friends always make a point of tuning in, and friends and family back home often listen in via the station’s website as well. Having the opportunity to play the music that I love for two hours and talk to a live audience about it is really unique and something I didn’t want to pass up during my college years.

Getting involved is really easy as well. Once you sign up, you go through some quick training to familiarize yourself with the DJ software, the station’s equipment, and some FCC regulations, and you can be on the air within two or three weeks. Being a part of WVBR has also introduced me to some of my closest friends in my first year and half here.

Although Cornell has so many great clubs out there, joining the Cornell Media Guild – specifically WVBR – is something I can’t imagine anyone regretting.

The Spirit of Camaraderie

This week, junior Chelsea Sincox writes about the spirit of the Big Red and her experience as a member of the varsity women’s volleyball team. Let’s Go Red!

By: Chelsea Sincox ’18

The month of November is a month of transition. The beautiful leaves that have covered Ithaca for the past couple months are falling, littering the ground that might soon be covered in snow. With fall coming to a close, so too does the season of fall sports. Field hockey, soccer, football, and others are all closing their seasons out, and those players transition into their off time.

As a member of the women’s volleyball team, a fall sport, I too will transition to being out-of-season in a few short weeks. Sidelined for now, I and other fall athletes join the rest of the student body in cheering on the winter and spring sports: we become Big Red fans. We move from the court or field into the stands to cheer on the rest of the Big Red family, united under one name and one common goal.

Here I am with some of my teammates - I'm the one in the middle!

Here I am posing with some of my teammates – I’m the one in the middle!

Here at Cornell, the school demands that athletes truly embody fulfilling their title as STUDENT-athletes, and I think that’s what is most exciting about supporting Big Red Athletics. Going to a rambunctious hockey game, a thrilling swim meet, or a fast-paced basketball game, you might get to cheer on a fellow member of a group project, a lab partner, or a friend. For athletes, we share the gym and the weight room, in addition to the classroom.

Though my sport is only in season for a few short months in the year, the training never really stops. I love supporting other members of the Big Red family in the spirit of reciprocity, contribution, and community – but also because it’s just plain fun! #LGR

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.

Finding a Home Within Cornell

As we dig into the semester, enjoy sophomore Ben Picket’s description of two organizations that have made him feel at home here at Cornell!

By: Ben Picket ’18

Tessa, a guide dog

Tessa, a guide dog in training

I remember going through the college admissions process and weighing the factors that would make my college decision easier. For me, and possibly for many of you, my biggest concern about Cornell was figuring out how to make such a big school feel homey and comfortable. Just as with any college, moving away from home and acclimating oneself to a new environment will initially be a challenge. But, what I found over the course of the past few years, is that involving yourself in a variety of different clubs or groups is an incredible way to meet new people and find yourself a home that you are eager to return to time and time again.

One of my favorite organizations that I am involved with on campus is Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a non-profit organization that provides seeing-eye dogs to the visually impaired. Not only do you get to surround yourself with puppies on a weekly basis, but you also get the chance to meet new people whose interests align with your own.

Alpha Kappa Psi

A group photo of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity on campus – I’m in the middle towards the back!

I am also part of a business fraternity on campus that has allowed me to both hone my professional skills and meet some of my best friends. Upon joining a business fraternity, one goes through a 10 week long pledging process that is meant to emulate a summer internship. Through the process, you bond with your pledge class and gain a far greater understanding of what to expect of the job recruitment process.

These are just two of the hundreds of different groups that one can get involved with at our university. With all of the resources at your fingertips, it is far easier than you would expect to find your community on Cornell’s campus.

The Physics Family

By: Sarah Marie Bruno ’16

Cornell is a big school. When I arrived on campus as a freshman, I had no idea how I would possibly decide where to eat dinner, let alone what to study. Over time, though, I’ve found my niche here, and this big school has started to feel like a much smaller community.

holiday party

Celebrating the holidays with the physics family!

There are many places to find this small community. You can find it in your dorm hall, your freshman writing seminar, an a cappella group or a sports team, just to name a few. What I didn’t expect as a freshman was the incredible sense of warmth I would soon find at Cornell. (Cue the weather jokes—really, the winters aren’t that bad). I immediately felt welcomed by my peers, by upperclassmen, and by professors who were all eager to share their small slice of Cornell with me.

Some members of the physics department present a hilarious skit for the holidays!

Some members of the physics department present a hilarious skit for the holidays!

In particular, I found my home in the physics department. My major in physics has given me a group of friends I can truly call my second family. The incredible sense of community is not limited to the undergraduate population—professors are approachable and friendly, graduate students make themselves available to offer advice and answer questions, and everyone in the department would be thrilled to discuss their research for hours (myself included). My research group (I work in cosmology) is more than just a group of people who work together. Everyone supports each other in their extracurricular activities, from cheering at soccer matches to attending concerts.

celebrating Halloween physics style

Cooking up some physics magic for Halloween!

h pic 3The Society of Physics Students also fosters a sense of community among physicists, hosting events to connect undergrads with grad students and professors. We even celebrated Halloween in the style of physics.

The department celebrates the winter holidays, too, in our special style, complete with physics-themed carols, physics bingo, a delicious potluck, and hilarious skits.

bingo

Physics Bingo!

It’s exciting to be surrounded by people who are so happy to be doing exactly what they are doing, whether that is physics or work in another field of study. I have found that people who enjoy their work always find ways to celebrate that work and share it with others. I know this type of community does not exist everywhere, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the physics department at Cornell.