Category Archives: Uncategorized

Food at Cornell: The Ivy Room

This week, Ambassador Nick writes about one of his favorite places to eat on campus.

By Nick Smith ’20, Economics major

If you’re on campus and looking for a bite to eat, Cornell’s hottest dining hall is the Ivy
Room. Located conveniently in Willard Straight (the student union building), this place has
everything: Chinese food, quesadillas, a salad bar, breakfast all day and the best pizza on
campus! My Stefan impression aside, I think the Ivy Room is a bit of a hidden treasure on
Central Campus, whereas most people might point you towards Terrace, Trillium or Okenshields (which are all great but can sometimes get a little crowded).

The Ivy Room’s also a great spot for more casual meetings and lunches with friends, as
there are almost always a couple tables open in its large seating area. Of the food options I
mentioned above, you’ll definitely want to go for either the breakfast station or the pizza. At the
former you can get egg burritos, toast, hash browns or eggs cooked any way you like and at the
later you can customize a pizza and they’ll cook it to order.

Tait Stevenson (another Arts & Sciences Ambassador, on the right) and I enjoying some food and coffee at the Ivy Room.

The main dining area has a number of floor-to-ceiling windows, so it’s always a pleasant
place to be and there are a couple TV’s plus a ping-pong table if you’re just trying to unwind
between classes. Beyond all that, the Ivy Room is a great deal for how much food
they give you and it stays open later than any other dining hall that accepts Big Red Bucks (as
opposed to meal swipes) in case you need to get dinner.

If you’re here for a visit or tour, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. And if you’re
not sure what you want to eat, just ask on of the staff – they’re notoriously nice!

My Favorite Class at Cornell

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.

My Favorite Organizations On Campus

This week, Ambassador Jack describes a couple of his favorite organizations on campus.

By Jack Liufu ’21, Chemistry and Classics major

Cornell, unsurprisingly, is a busy place. Classes and academic obligations are certainly dominant consumers of time, but I also think it’s of incredible importance that I don’t dedicate myself solely to those endeavors. In my “non-academic” time, I spend much time with both the Cornell University Glee Club and with HanChum Traditional Korean Dance Team.

Here I am (left) with a senior who has now graduated, at our spring 2018 annual HanChum showcase. We’re in positions to start Halyangmu, a dance of scholars, in our traditional outfits and fans.

The Cornell University Glee Club is a storied group. Started in 1868, it was the university’s first student organization, and as so, it is currently the university’s oldest club! I sang for seven years in a community choir before coming to Cornell, and I knew that when I went to college, it was something that I needed to keep in my life. I wasn’t sure how the audition was going to go, and I was definitely nervous to go through the audition process, but one thing is for certain: I’m so glad I did it. I’ve now been a part of the Glee Club for 4 semesters and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To be able to see with 50 other tenors and basses, to be able to tour domestically and internationally every single year with them, to put on amazing concerts multiple times a year, to be able to host workshops with high school young singing men and spread the love of singing… all are absolutely invaluable and truly incredible experiences that are so unique to being a part of the Glee Club. Being entirely student run, there are plenty of opportunities to be both a member and a planner in the Club. I served as Secretary in this year — my sophomore year — and next year I’ll be serving as President, and I couldn’t be more excited. The Glee Club has given me not only a bounty of singing and performing experience, but has also provided me with an incredible group of people that I’m proud to call my friends and leadership experience that I can carry forward.

Here I am (middle, second row, green shirt) with the Cornell Glee Club of 2017-2018, on tour in Chicago during spring break. It was part of our week-long tour of the American Midwest. We also had stops in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Lafayette, and Cincinnati.

If in high school, you had told me that I would be a part of HanChum Korean Traditional Dance Team, I wouldn’t have believed you. First of all, I’m not Korean, but most of the 12 of us aren’t Korean, either! It started at my first-year, first semester ClubFest, and a senior in this incredible Korean hanbok (traditional Korean dress) approached my friend and I and asked us if we wanted to participate in dance. We were both a little taken aback; both of us had previous dancing experience — her more in ballet and me more in musical theater — but certainly neither of us had experience in traditional Korean dancing. Nonetheless, we signed up, and one thing led to another… and now we’ve both been participating in HanChum for almost 2 years. It’s amazing to be able to experience, learn, and admire a culture that may not necessarily be your own. We have an annual performance to showcase all the practicing and efforts we put in during the year. I am so appreciative of HanChum not only for giving me a set of amazing people that I connect and hang out with, but also for allowing me to explore and appreciate a new culture, that otherwise I truly would not have experienced.

Here’s a photo of the Glee Club performing our Fall Concert in November 2019 in Sage Chapel. It was a free concert to celebrate our 150th anniversary year! If you look closely you can see me in the front row, middle right.

The Glee Club and HanChum are two groups that I spend a lot of time with at Cornell, and they are integral and invaluable pieces of my experience here. There’s no doubt that when I think back on Cornell, these will be two of the very first things that I think about. These groups have given me opportunities to develop personally and professionally as well as give me opportunities to study something incredible. So, here we are, singing and dancing, and we couldn’t be happier.

Why Cornell? Ambassador Nick Answers

This week, Ambassador Nick explains how he made the decision to attend Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. 

By Nick Smith ’20, Economics major

I didn’t exactly grow up dreaming of attending Cornell. In fact, I hadn’t even applied until mid-December of my senior year of high school. Being from Orlando, Florida, I always assumed I’d stay in-state for college. After all, just about all the adults in my family had studied at either the University of Florida or the University of Central Florida and I’d been going to Gator football games since before I could stand.

Despite that, in trying to put myself out there a little more during the application process, I’d ended up applying all over the place and was lucky enough to get into a number of schools up and down the east coast. Cornell was my last college tour, and it was squeezed it in right under the wire, with just about a week until the May 1 deadline for me to make my decision.

And as it turned out, I wouldn’t need that week. This is gonna sound cliché, but the shoe just fit. On our couple days touring around campus, it seemed as if the guides had somehow heard all of my qualms with other universities and made sure to point out what Cornell did better. Everything seemed perfect.

Here is a photo of me on my Cornell tour!

Though, if I’m honest, I was nervous about leaving home. I’d never been this far from my parents before, even for a short time, so to move two flights away seemed really scary. However, almost three years later, I couldn’t be happier.

I knew things would be different here – and they have been! I’ve met people from every corner of the globe and seen myself grow academically and extracurricularly in ways I could’ve never imagined. Knowing ahead of time that I could keep up a couple things I’d done in high school at Cornell was reassuring.

Before I flew up to Ithaca for my tour, I’d reached out to both an editor from the The Cornell Daily Sun (the student newspaper for which I’m an Arts columnist) and the President of the lacrosse team (for which I’m traveling around New York playing games for the third season), both of whom took time out of their days to meet with me. I’d been involved with my own high school’s newspaper and lacrosse team and being able to keep both of those activities going at Cornell really excited me.

On top of all of that, this place is just beautiful! And even though the 70-degree weather we saw in late April isn’t always what you get, I’m a second-semester junior now and I still haven’t gotten tired of the cold—I even learned to snowboard last year. Plain and simple, Cornell has offered me so much more than I could’ve gotten anywhere else in the world and looking back at it, I can’t imagine having made any other college decision.


Exploring My Passion for Music at Cornell

This week, Ambassador Eric writes about music ensembles on campus.

By Eric Shen ’20 Physics, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Music majors

The music ensembles at Cornell are so numerous and diverse that you are bound to find one that suits you so long as you have the interest for it.

I’m part of the Chamber and Symphony orchestras, the Eastern Music Ensemble, chamber ensembles, and help my friends out with all the projects they have in store. As a string player, these are just a few of the possible groups to perform with. There’s even jazz combos, opera, ukelele club, African or Brazilian or Japanese percussion, choruses, a capella, a capella, and (I almost forgot) a capella.

The french horns with Grammy Award Winning trumpet player and A.D. White Professor, Wynton Marsalis before premiering his Blues Symphony at Bailey Hall.

Usually my days are filled with lecture after lecture after lab after lab, so by the time it’s all done, I’m more than ready for a change of pace. Music just really helps me unwind and it really helps that everyone else is coming in from a long day too. The ensembles here aren’t limited by major, so you’ll get to interact with students and faculty from countless backgrounds, all with a common passion.

The orchestras picking apples at Indian Creek Farms!

These groups have become my family in these past few years through all of the travels, performances, and time spent together. Because I have rigorous majors, it became difficult to study abroad, but I realized that music could take me around the world. I’ve been able to explore and perform in Argentina and Taiwan with the orchestra so far and am more than grateful to have seen these countries from the perspective of a musician. Next year, I’m set to conduct the Eastern Music Ensemble in New York City and perform with the Chamber Orchestra at a conference in Vancouver. Many of the ensembles travel around the state or country to compete and perform, and all of these experiences let us experience the stage as a professional while still pursuing the countless fields of studies outside of music. 

The Cornell Orchestras with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra after their combined performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Mahler Symphony No. 1!

My Favorite Resources on Campus

This week, Ambassador Ishi writes about some of her favorite resources on campus.

By Ishi Aron ’19, Biological Sciences major

Cornell has an abundance of resources on campus to help students with academics, career planning, and everything in between.

One of my favorite resources is the Learning Strategies Center (LSC), which offers supplemental courses, problem solving sessions, and daily office hours in conjunction with many of the large introductory courses at Cornell. Over the past four years, I have used the LSC several times per week for help with my general chemistry, organic chemistry, and introductory biology classes. The LSC’s resources have allowed me to build a strong foundation in my courses by helping me clarify fundamental concepts and identify gaps in my understanding. Their problem solving worksheets have been invaluable in ensuring that I develop a thorough and deep understanding of the material. I attribute much of my success in my intro classes to the LSC’s help.

CHEM 1058: An LSC Supplemental Course for Organic Chemistry

Another resource I’ve used and loved is Campus Activities, which provides free fun and de-stressing programs for students throughout the year. Some of my favorite programs are Procrastinate at the Straight and TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday), which offer activities such as tie-dying shirts, meeting and learning about birds of prey from the Cornell Raptor Program, massages, collaborative painting, laser tag, and a Late Night Breakfast from 10pm-midnight (among many more activities). Willard Straight Hall, the building home to Campus Activities, also offers free popcorn everyday with a choice of multiple sweet and savory toppings. Attending these events has been a great way for me to relax and spend time with friends as well as an opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the clubs and resources at Cornell.

Free Popcorn from Willard Straight Hall Resource Center

Why I Chose Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences

This week, Ambassador Eugene writes about how he made the decision to attend the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell.

By Eugene Kim ’21, Biological Sciences major

While applying to college, it never really occurred to me that the hardest part came after getting all your acceptances and rejections.

Average class size. Dorm life. Credentialed faculty. State-of-the-art facilities. The campus itself, and its geographic location. It seemed like every email, pamphlet, and webpage wanted to advertise their own set of “things you should consider” — which was really just code for what their school was good at, wasn’t it? — and it was hard not to get overwhelmed. For most schools, I couldn’t really afford a visit; I was in Wisconsin, and I had insisted on applying to farther, out-of-state schools. To visit several of them felt like a significant expenditure of time and money, and I wasn’t confident that seeing campuses in-person would help me narrow down my decision either.

Cornell’s Clock Tower

So there I was, faced with what could be the hardest multiple-choice question of my life, lamenting the fact that as a not-yet-18-year-old, this seemingly life-altering decision came barreling way too fast, inexplicably landing somewhere between “learning to drive a 2-ton metal machine” and “being allowed to contribute to American democracy.”

In the end, what I had to do was take a step back and think about what I wanted out of my college experience. It took way too long for me to realize this, but once I stopped comparing different schools relative to each other and trying to sort out the hundreds of what-ifs cropping up in my mind, the decision seemed to simplify.

The first thing that I realized but didn’t really want to admit was that I didn’t really know what I wanted to study. I didn’t have my heart set on a major, other than “science,” and even then I was somewhat flexible about that. College for me, then, was a chance to explore what I wanted to do, without feeling the time pressure of choosing a major immediately. Rushing into a course of study on a whim and then spending one or two valuable semesters trying to escape the pigeonhole was not exactly the college experience I had in mind.

At the same time, though, I didn’t want to have to compromise on depth for breadth. Sure, it may have seemed a bit like a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too kind of thing. But this was something I had always felt strongly about, and I had faith that there was an institution out there that had that careful balance. Wherever I ended up, I wanted to have the opportunities to delve deep into my choice of study and make the most out of my undergrad years. For me, a big part of that was doing research in a university lab, which I had been looking forward to while in high school.

After some more deliberation, I decided that these two points were what I should be prioritizing above all. Other miscellaneous items would have to come a distant third, as tiebreakers if necessary.

With new parameters held in mind, I began re-evaluating my options. The first point, flexibility in field of study, narrowed down my list considerably, and Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences already stood out as a top contender in that regard. When I took into consideration the second point, however, Cornell absolutely won out, offering cutting-edge research alongside award-winning faculty in a well-funded institution. So, as April came to a close, my mind was settled.

The beautiful view from the Arts Quad on Cornell’s campus

Of course, that’s not the end of that story. I spent most of my first year here just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was in correspondence with at least three different academic departments, and even briefly considered switching to a different college because of the options it presented. But at every step along the way, I found help, not only from the formal advising offices, but also from various professors and even other students. The Cornell community proved to be vibrant, intellectually stimulating, passionate, and supportive, which was one of the biggest clues that I had made the right decision.

Cornell proved itself beyond my expectations, with broad-range academic options, a dynamic and vigorous student body, honest and supportive staff, and a beautiful campus with plenty of greenery and its own waterfalls. In the end, if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Carol Tatkon Center: A Great Resource at Cornell

This week, Ambassador Meredith explains why the Carol Tatkon Center is such a useful resource for students at Cornell.

By Meredith Chagares ’19, History major

One of my favorite resources on campus is the Carol Tatkon Center located in Balch Hall on North Campus. “The Tat,” as it is nicknamed, offers free support services and resources for first-year students and is conveniently located on most first-year students’ way to and from campus. The Tat is staffed by upper-level students who share their experiences and advice, aiding in the transition to Cornell life. When I was a freshman, undecided about my major, I was unsure about which classes I should take to explore my main academic interests and to fulfill Cornell’s requirements. I walked into the Tat and a calm and friendly senior sat with me and discussed her opinions on what would be a good schedule based on my interests, her personal experience, and the experiences of her peers.


Study spaces within the Tatkon Center

The Tat allowed me to receive helpful advice just by walking in on my way home from class. The Tat offers free academic and personal support services such as tutoring for specific classes (such as chemistry, calculus, economics, and world languages), a writing center, drop-in counseling services, meditation, professional headshots, resume critique, student panels, career fairs, and study-skills and learning strategies tutorials. The Tat also hosts interesting speakers as well as fun events (such as holiday parties, study breaks, trivia, and “post prelim fun”). One of my favorite events at the Tat is Fun Fridays @ Tatkon, which offers games, snacks, and hot chocolate on Friday afternoons, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the Tat and to make new friends. The services offered by the Tat are important in student academic success and in maintaining personal and mental health. Events at the Tat are publicized through a weekly e-newsletter received automatically by all first-year students. The Tat is also a terrific study spot. It is open until 11:00 p.m. most days and offers various tables and group study rooms, as well as a café and printers.

The Carol Tatkon Center is a one-stop shop for support with classes, jobs, academics, and making new friends – a home-base for all first-year students! 

Here is a link to the Carol Tatkon Center’s website for more information and programming: 

A group of students standing outside of the Tatkon Center

Why Cornell? Ambassador Renee Answers…

This week, Renee explains why she chose Cornell, after a visit to campus in high school.

By Renee Girard ’20, Government, Law and Society and Public Policy major

I first walked onto Cornell’s campus as a high school sophomore. I knew I wanted to apply, but as a senior preparing my college applications, I decided to visit Cornell once more to ensure that Early Decision was right for me. As a high school junior, I became interested in philosophy and wrote a paper on the morality of drone use in warfare. Through my research on the ethical implications of this modern technology in combat, I had come across a Cornell Government Professor and her extensive work regarding this topic. I reached out and scheduled a meeting with the Professor, and following the College of Arts and Sciences information session, I made my way to White Hall to discuss her research with her. What was scheduled to be a twenty-minute discussion lasted a full hour.

I took this photo outside of the government building, White Hall, after my class on the American Presidency this year.

Leaving our meeting, I walked through the Arts Quad and experienced the palpable energy among students and faculty making their way to classes. While Cornell is a large university with diverse interests, the passion among students and faculty is a common factor that unites such a broad range of studies.

I had my heart set on the College of Arts and Sciences following my visit as a high school senior. Even as a prospective student, I had experienced first-hand the commitment the professors of the College of Arts and Sciences have to undergraduate students. I knew that if admitted to Cornell, I would be immersed in an incredible learning environment that would allow me to thrive as I pursued my various interests. As a current student, I know that I would like to apply my Cornell government degree to a career in public service. I knew that Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences was the only school that had the resources to offer me the opportunities and skills I need to succeed in my field.

Walking through the Arts Quad is always a nice break in between classes, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

Why Cornell? Ambassador Vishal Answers…

With the regular decision deadline fast approaching, the A&S Ambassadors hope to make the application decision a bit easier for prospective students. Every Cornell student has a story. This week, Vishal tells us why he chose Cornell.

By Vishal Sundaram ’21, Chemistry and Chemical Biology major

By the spring of my final year of high school, I had envisioned many different lives for myself on many different college campuses. Such fantasies are standard practice for high school seniors – a student can’t help but think about how pivotal the next few months will be in directing the course of their future. With each college visit comes a flurry of what-ifs. What if this is my dorm? What if I have class here? What if I one day join the student group that runs this very information session for prospective students? (Update: I did!) Though these fantasies of mine ranged far and wide, not one of them accurately captured the route that I would eventually take – for, as crazy as it sounds, none of them included Cornell.

I took this photo of the slope from the top of the McGraw Clock Tower, during a Chimes Concert.

My application to Cornell was largely an after thought, a last-ditch “you-never-know” attempt to cover my bases and open my options. I assure you this was not because Cornell was lacking in any traits that I desired. Quite the contrary. It was a prestigious institution with a reputation for academic rigor located on a beautiful campus that was not too far from my home (Cleveland, OH). I lacked enthusiasm for the school because I’d never visited! I had not made the effort to visit Cornell before I applied. When decision time rolled around in March, however, it grew clearer to my family and me that Cornell could be my best fit school. Desperate to spark some excitement, my dad and I finally drove up to Ithaca to see what Cornell was all about. The Ithaca campus did not disappoint.

Photographs on websites and in brochures cannot begin to capture the beauty of this campus. Waterfalls, rolling hills, gorges, and greenery abound in such a way that helps students maintain sight of the big picture – a desirable quality in an academically rigorous university with busy and ambitious students.

My friends and I took a trip down to Ithaca Falls, in the fall of my freshman year.

I stayed the night with a friend from high school during my visit; and I was lucky enough to meet some of his friends and dorm-mates. In these peers I found friendly, genuine people who were passionate about what they did. Void of any “Ivy League snobbery” that one might expect to find, these people were humble and helpful. Some of these acquaintances became my friends and mentors.

During freshman orientation, my dad took this classic photo near the entrance to campus from Collegetown.

Having fallen in love with the campus and community spirit, my questions turned to the classes. While I knew about Cornell’s academic rigor, I was concerned about inflexibility in my coursework. But after talking to some students and doing some research of my own, I realized that my concerns were largely unfounded. My desired chemistry major offered plenty of room for elective coursework. I was told that the A&S distribution requirements are seldom burdensome and often very naturally fulfilled simply by taking classes you like!

All in all, I am very happy with the decision that I made and cannot imagine myself anywhere else. A beautiful campus, a fantastic community of friends and peers, and excellent academic flexibility have made for a complete package that is both fulfilling and inspiring.