Category Archives: Uncategorized

Both Work and Fun: Watershed Conservation in Alaska

This week, Ambassador Tait Stevenson tells us how he spent his summer in Alaska, supporting watershed conservation with creativity. 

By Tait Stevenson ’20, Biological Sciences (Evolutionary Biology and Ecology Concentration)

My name is Tait Stevenson and I am a biological sciences major concentrating in ecology and evolutionary biology. I was lucky enough to get to spend this past summer in Alaska, as an invasive species intern for the Kenai Watershed Forum. The Kenai Watershed Forum is a non-profit organization with the goal of protecting the watersheds of the Kenai Peninsula through education, restoration, and research.

Getting ready for the Kenai River Festival! This annual community event, hosted in the town of Soldotna, includes numerous local musicians and vendors. It draws people from all over Alaska in celebration of the Kenai River and the community’s goal of protecting it.

Through the internship, I was able to gain a wide range of invaluable experiences relevant to what I’m studying; I learned management techniques for dealing with invasive plants and animals, assisted in hydrological research, helped in conducting wetland surveys, and engaged in various community outreach projects. I was able to gain some unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as visiting the Native Alaskan villages of Port Graham and Nanwalek, which are accessible only by boat or small plane. There, I helped to educate people on the invasive plants of their villages and the potential steps they could take to manage them.

I was able to do a ride along with an Alaska State Fish and Game warden on the Kenai River, in order to witness the law enforcement aspect of conservation.

While I was in Alaska, I lived in a yurt on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, outside of the town of Soldotna, though I traveled all over the Kenai Peninsula for various projects. On my time off of work, I soaked up as much of what Alaska had to offer as I possibly could by going on hiking, canoeing, fishing, and camping trips. I was able to witness incredible wildlife and experience the breathtaking landscapes.

A large part of my summer was spent doing surveys on various Kenai Peninsula lakes for an invasive, aquatic plant called elodea. I was also able to enjoy some incredible scenery while on the job.

In Alaska, I was able to apply the concepts I have been learning in classroom at Cornell to real world issues. This experience gave me a newfound perspective on the challenges faced in the area of conservation and how to overcome these challenges through creative solutions, such as community engagement.

I am excited to be back in Ithaca for another great semester. I can’t wait to see where Cornell takes me next!

Kidney Stone Research: A Blast in Birmingham

This week, Dean Kim takes us inside his summer experience as a medical research assistant.

By Dean Kim ’20, Chemistry and East Asian Studies

I spent this past summer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducting kidney-related research in the Department of Urology. Since my last blog, I have spent nine weeks in Birmingham, Alabama making amazing memories, conducting exciting research, and eating lots of fantastic food.

All the KURE students celebrated the experience at the UAB Summer Expo: (left to right) back row: Skip, Brian, Chava, Jillian; middle row: Shamyra, Ellen, Miles, me, Stephen, Jeff; front row: Viangkaeo, Meryl, Mary Claire, and Emile

I had an incredible time performing medical-related research in a lab for the first time in my life, as well as learning about everything from kidney physiology and pathology to diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases, during my weekly kidney cross-talk workshops. In lab, I studied the metabolism of glycolate to oxylate in human kidney proximal tubule cells using cell culture to determine how kidneys contribute to the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones. (Fun-ish fact: around 1 in 10 people will get kidney stones in their lifetime!) Through this experience, I was able to explore my interest in the field of nephrology.

From left to right: Skip, Chava, Emile, me, and Meryl at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Not pictured: the three samosas I just bought from a stand and ate.

On weekends, when I wasn’t in lab, I took time to explore the local area with other students in the program. We walked to the local Farmer’s Market, watched the Birmingham Barons play baseball at Regions Field, hiked at Red Mountain Park, and even visited the World of Coca-Cola, over the course of the summer. My trip wouldn’t have been complete, of course, if I didn’t eat copious amounts of Southern barbecue. My personal favorite barbecue restaurant was Dreamland BBQ.

My summer concluded with me giving a poster and oral presentation at UAB and then attending the Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic (KUH) Summer Undergraduate Research Conference in Boston, where I shared my research experiences with other undergraduate students across the country participating in similar research programs.

I presented my summer research at the UAB Summer Research Expo on the last day of the program!

The summer went by too quickly, but I’m making sure to stay in touch with the great friends I made this summer as well as my excellent mentor. I owe a huge thanks to the KURE Program for providing me this opportunity, as well as my mentor, Dr. Sonia Fargue, for introducing me to the world of medical research.

 

Summer Adventure Series: Ambassador Shoshana spent her Summer in Cape Town, South Africa

For October, we ask our ambassadors how they spent this past summer. This week Shoshana takes us across the ocean to her experience at Eventerprise, a startup where she developed her design skills.

By Shoshana Swell ’20, Information Science and Performing and Media Arts

My name is Shoshana Swell. I am a Junior in The College of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in Information Science and Performing and Arts. This past summer, I traveled 8,000 miles to live in Cape Town, South Africa. My time there was an experience I’ll treasure forever.

I have always been passionate about the intersection between visual storytelling and human-computer interaction to generate positive social change. I believe the best way to grow as an individual, creator, and as a student is to push yourself in unknown and new situations. This past summer, these interests led me on an adventure to Cape Town, South Africa.

Woodstock Cave, Cape Town

Mission 1: Find a way to get there
In February 2018, I found a job posting at a tech-startup called Eventerprise located in Cape Town, South Africa and accepted the offer to travel and work for this emerging company. After receiving the job, I had to find a means to gather money for travel and expenses. I applied for and was a recipient of the Summer Experience Grant. This grant helped fund my entire trip including airfare, accommodation, and food.

Mission 2: Blastoff to Cape Town
A week after I finished finals, I flew to my new home in Cape Town. I left with my passport, a suitcase, a housing agreement and not much else. Leaving the United States with no connections in Cape Town and many uncertainties, I embraced the new risks and explored the world beyond my comfort zone. Twenty-four hours later my plane landed; Cape Town International Airport welcomed me and my journey began.

Lion’s Head

Mission 3: Making Cape Town my new home
Cape Town, 8,000 miles from my New York home, at first, unsettled me. The realization that I’d be spending the next few months in a vastly different country hit me all at once. Quickly, though, my shock turned from excitement to elation.

I moved into a student-living space in Observatory — a small town outside of Cape Town —full of international interns and local students.  I built lifetime friendships with students now living full-time in Cape Town, and others who moved across the world to London and Singapore.

My friends and me at Observatory.

Mission 4: Internship
I worked as a User Experience and Videography Intern to solve problems through design, to improve the digital platform’s features and to enhance user experience. During my time there, I was the only American and was surrounded by international interns from various countries in Europe, Singapore and South Africa. I not only developed my design skills each day at work, I also learned about new cultures and distinct experiences.

Hard at work!

Outside of my internship, I attended local entrepreneurial events, such as the Amazon AWS Summit and an event about robotics in Africa. I learned about the intersection of AWS products and local innovators to generate products and new technology.

I also had the opportunity to explore innovative ideas to improve rider safety in Cape Town Ubers, by designing a new Uber safety feature. You can read more about my case study and research here.

I saved my badge as a souvenir.

Mission 5: Adventure
Some people like to walk around, but I like to dance! Check out my video I made dancing with new friends at all the places we visited in Cape Town.

Between dance moves, I went swimming with sharks! I went Great White Shark Cage Diving and made it out alive! While inside the cage, multiple Great White Sharks nearly brushed my cheek. I wasn’t scared, only exhilarated.

Great White Shark Cage Diving -Hermanus

South Africa is known for its shark filled waters. After being up close to one, I tried the odds in the open water. I found my favorite surf spot at Muizenberg Beach. One time, I was on a wave and spotted a seal ride it with me. I rented a board and a wet suit on the weekends and surfed (read: wiped out) a lot.

Another weekend, I traveled along the Garden Route. The Garden Route is a journey that stretches from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. With 12 friends, I packed up and headed on a five hour road trip outside of Cape Town. Along the way, we fed elephants and hung out with penguins!

I made animal friends, too!

Mission 6: The Future
My experience in Cape Town exceeded my every expectation. If you have the opportunity to travel 8,000 miles away from home during your time at Cornell, take the risk! As for the future, this summer I will be working at Facebook as a Product Design Intern. I look forward to exploring more of the Design industry in the years to come.

If you have any questions about my experience, or if you would like to learn more, reach out to me! ses372@cornell.edu

Happy Holidays!

The Arts & Sciences Ambassadors would like to wish you all happy holidays! We at the blog will be taking some time off to catch up with friends and family. Good luck to all seniors finishing up their college applications – we’ll see you back here in January!

Happy Holidays from the Arts & Sciences Ambassadors!

Here at the blog, we’ll be taking a break to spend time with family and enjoy the spirit of the season. From all of us with the Arts & Sciences Ambassadors, happy holidays and good luck to all high school seniors submitting college applications!

Thanks so much for reading our blog and stay tuned for new material from Arts & Sciences students in early January!

Spotlight on Ithaca: Apple Fest

By: Julia Montejo ’17

Every October, during the first weekend of the month, the Great Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival takes over Ithaca Commons. For the past three years, this has been one of my favorite times of the year! Colloquially known as Apple Fest, this event brings together students from the city’s three colleges (Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College), surrounding area visitors, and local residents to enjoy a celebration of the abundant apple harvest in the Ithaca area.

Apple chips!

Apple chips!

This year, food and crafts vendors lined the newly redesigned Commons and two adjacent blocks of Downtown Ithaca to showcase local products. As I walked through Apple Fest, I snacked on a local farm’s delicious “apple chips,” which are sliced apples covered in caramel, chocolate, and toppings of your choosing.

My friends and I couldn’t help ourselves – this year, we brought home fresh apples, an apple crisp tart, a peach pie, applesauce, and tomato garlic sauce.

My friends and I bought a lot of food this year - clearly, it didn't last long!

My friends and I bought a LOT of food this year.

As we stopped at different tents, the vendors were happy to talk to us about their favorite recipes and their production practices, which was a great way to connect to the Ithaca community on a deeper level.

A variety of musical acts, from cultural dance groups to cover bands and a cappella groups, also performed on the Commons’ new performance pavilion. I especially liked watching the DixieKats, a local, upbeat concert band, perform. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their face as they walked through the Commons and danced or just listened to the music.

The DixieKats, a local band, entertain the crowds in the Commons during Apple Fest.

The DixieKats, a local band, entertain the crowds in the Commons during Apple Fest.

As a freshman, I discovered my love for Ithaca at Apple Fest, and this year’s Fest reaffirmed that love and appreciation. Seeing the community come together to celebrate not just for apples, but local culture as a whole, always brightens my fall semester. It’s amazing to see so many locals be so welcoming of college students, and vice versa. With a full tummy and a grin from ear to ear, I always leave Apple Fest happy to be a part of such a vibrant, inclusive community.

Ithaca, NY: Popular Spots and Local Staples

COFFEE

by Malika Sharapova ’16

Collegetown, and Ithaca as a whole, offer a plethora of wonderful things to do on and off campus. Collegetown alone hosts a vast array of restaurants as well as bars and cafes. From getting bubble tea after class at the Old Teahouse, or the newer Yogurt, Tea, Salad, to satisfying late-night pizza cravings at CTP, and to enjoying Wednesday night fishbowls (for those 21 and older) at the always vibrant and packed Level B, it is difficult to run out of options in Collegetown. However, for those who have tried all there is to sample at Collegetown, Ithaca commons and the surrounding area offer an enticing, off-campus alternative.

Ithaca is an incredibly welcoming city, and has many events, activities, and shopping opportunities throughout the semester. From the annual Applefest and Porchfest, to the weekly Ithaca Farmer’s Market, it is always possible to find something fun to do in the commons during your spare time. I can never get enough of the Ithaca Farmer’s Market because of the delicious food and the ever-changing booths, and all that the Farmer’s Market has to offer is simply a fifteen-minute walk from Collegetown. One of my favorite stops when I visit the Farmer’s Market is the booth selling honey and maple syrup. The honey sticks are addictively sweet, and the maple cotton candy is always a unique treat. The various types of international street food offered at the Farmer’s Market are also always a pleasant surprise. Ithaca and Cornell boast some of the best cuisine in the area, and the compliment comes from a girl who lives in New York City, a city known for its amazing food.

Malika

Applefest and Porchfest are unique events every student at Cornell should experience at least once during their undergraduate career. Applefest, also known as the Apple Harvest Festival, occurs in October, and as per the city’s description, “is a great introduction to the rich farm and artist community of Ithaca.” The treats at the Festival, like candied apples and cider donuts are great, but the wine and cider sold at every other booth are even better. I have gone to Applefest every year I have been at Cornell, and always look forward to the experience.

Porchfest, usually occurs in September, and is a musical festival that features and promotes local bands. The festival has a unique twist: bands play on their own or on a friend’s porch and festival goers can walk around and listen to a variety of great music, for free! For a college student short on funds, Ithaca definitely offers an impressive variety of things to do and see. With how busy Cornell students are, it isn’t necessary to reserve an entire day to experience all that Ithaca has to offer. Besides Porchfest, Applefest, and similar events, Ithaca itself is a nice and quick getaway from campus responsibilities. I love to look around the little boutiques all around the commons, enjoy amazing coffee and pastries at Gimme! Coffee and finish it all off with an Italian soda or float at the Green Street Market. Returning to the library and getting back on track is always made a little easier after a stroll around Ithaca.

 

Putting "Studies" First: Student Jobs at Cornell

Beebe Lake Sunset

A beautiful sunset on Beebe Lake.

by Anna Ravenelle ’17

I always knew, coming to Cornell, that I’d have to get a job on-campus; I worked for two years in high school and am paying for tuition on my own. Every little bit counts. My struggle was always that the jobs I found offered too few hours, citing that their reasoning for offering so few as helping me “put my studies first.” I agree, don’t get me wrong: school comes first. But when I worked fifteen to twenty hours in high school… seven hours wasn’t going to cut it. So, in October 2013, the fall of my freshman year, I got a job at the Statler Hotel that offered me sixteen hours a week. Then, this past semester, I added a second job, as a cashier at the Cornell Store.

Many people, when I tell them I hold two jobs on campus, look at me aghast. “How do you have time for schoolwork?” they ask. “When do you have time to see friends or join clubs?” they wonder. I now work anywhere from eight to twenty hours in any given week, in addition to a holding a full course load, my roles as an ambassador for the College of Arts & Sciences, an active member of a Greek organization and a weekly contributor to Slope Media’s online magazine. And I still get at least seven hours of sleep every night.

The best thing about having a job on campus is that both of my employers are incredibly understanding about putting my role of student first. Both of my places of work allow me to decide exactly when I want to work; I fit in shifts between classes or on weekend mornings when I would be otherwise sleeping in.

Having two jobs, among my other commitments, has forced me into better managing my time. Before I got my first campus job in Fall 2013, I had so much free time I would often leave my homework until the night before, doing seventy page readings overnight instead of pacing myself throughout the day/week, and developing overall very bad habits because I knew that I would still, technically, have time to do it later. Because I now have much less time for unimportant things, I have learned to schedule my homework in because if I don’t, I might not have the time for it later. This means that when it takes me less time than anticipated and I have a free hour, I can celebrate with the things I used to (wrongly) prioritize.

Having a job on campus, whether for extra spending money or to build up savings to pay tuition, is something that can easily fit into your schedule, like it fit into mine. Since acquiring my two jobs, I have become a more organized person, get my work done in a more timely manner, and have made a lot of great friends through my co-workers at both of these jobs. Whether commiserating through a slow shift or working as a team during a busy one, I can easily say that working on campus has helped me grow both as a person and as a student in my time here at Cornell.

CUEMS: Learning for Life

CUEMS Members at Club Fest, Fall 2014

CUEMS Members at Club Fest, Fall 2014

by Ari Bernstein ’15

During my first few weeks on campus as a freshman in the fall semester of 2012, I was both amazed and overwhelmed by the abundance of extra-curricular opportunities that Cornell provides its students. I attended Club Fest, in hopes of discovering a few clubs that resonated with my interests, yet walked away with more than twenty. As a pre-med student interested in the scientific world as well as interpersonal connections, patient care, and moral reasoning, I was particularly interested in activities that would allow me to interact with people in their times of need and contribute to the welfare of Cornell’s student and faculty population. Likewise, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone, gain valuable leadership experience, and obtain a skillset that would be useful in all facets of life. Something clicked for me when I attended that first information session for Cornell University Emergency Medical Service (CUEMS) as a new student on a big campus in the middle of an RPCC auditorium.

CUEMS is a completely student-run, Basic Life Support emergency response agency consisting of certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Its members respond to 9-1-1 medical and traumatic emergency calls on the Cornell campus, operating 24/7 throughout the academic year and part time over the summer months. Additionally, the squad contains many American Heart Association certified CPR instructors, and offers countless CPR, first-aid, and alcohol awareness courses all across campus. I learned all about the squad in that information session, and decided to apply despite having absolutely no emergency medical experience, or knowledge of that particular world. This turned out to be one of the best decision that I would make as an undergraduate.

One of two CUEMS response vehicles.

During first semester, I acquired a substantial amount of clinical and interpersonal skills. I needed to be able to work efficiently with a team of student EMTs to maximize the quality of patient care while at the same time communicating openly and appropriately. I had to understand and utilize different styles of body posture, voice tone and volume, and eye contact to establish short-term relationships built on trust and professionalism. I was able to harness a sense of confidence in my clinical and operational skills through hours of practice and simulation.

CUEMS at Slope Day 2014.

CUEMS at Slope Day 2014.

The most incredible thing that our squad offers its members, aside from the clinical role that we serve on campus, is a strong opportunity for mentorship. The upperclassmen on CUEMS give up tremendous amounts of time to demonstrate and share their knowledge and skills with the new and incoming members. Within our squad, there is a universal understanding that teamwork is most effective when all members of a team are on the same page and possess confidence in their abilities, and through the mentorship roles, these upperclassmen ensure that all members of each team are extremely well-prepared to adapt to any given emergency situation. The new members benefit by learning the importance of a good and strong mentor, one who helps you reach your ultimate potential. I am fortunate to spend a lot of time with such an intellectually stimulating, responsible, and caring group of students and look forward to all that I will learn from them in my final year on campus as a senior.

New CUEMS members becoming CPR certified.

New CUEMS members becoming CPR certified.

From spending time on shift during the Slope Day concert and festivities to serving as a “New Member Buddy” (The name we give to current squad members who mentor assigned new members) helping newer members master their skills, I have learned the importance of giving back to the Cornell community and the real truth in the phrase, “you will only get out of it what you put into it.” While I have put in lots of time into CUEMS, I am excited and fueled by my desire to give and learn more.

 

Bill Gates and his Visit to Cornell

by Lisa Liu, ’15

On October 1, 2014 Bill Gates came to Cornell University to give a speech and answer student questions about the future of higher education. When you hear the name Bill Gates, a whole string of words comes to mind. Successful. Innovative. Philanthropic. During the conversation, Gates highlighted his philanthropic work and tailored the conversation to reflect his vision of the future. Philanthropy, by service to others, garners support to address and solve some of the largest issues facing the world today. During the conversation Gates discussed the initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing on two areas: global healthcare and the U.S. education system.

Bill Gates talks to President David Skorton.

Bill Gates talks to President David Skorton.

When Gates first wondered what the biggest philanthropic effort to pursue globally was, he concluded that certain aspects of healthcare is the “greatest injustice,” and therefore the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to eradicate and provide more accessible treatment for certain diseases. The next most pertinent task of the foundation is to address the problems that U.S. K-12 schools face as well as issues in higher education. In Gates’ words, education and health problems are connected because they are two gigantic sectors of the economy where the market mechanism does not really apply. In other words, it is hard to place a value on being healthy or educated.

In this conversation about philanthropy and his vision of the future, it is evident that Gates makes giving back the core of his success. Gates donated $25 million to build Gates Hall for information technology studies on Cornell’s campus, which demonstrates his commitment to developing young minds to reflect needs in the Age of Technology.

In addition to discussing these two topics, Gates also provided valuable life advice about what it means to be successful and his road to success:

  1. Someone asked what is the best advice Gates has for the “next Bill Gates.” He jokingly responded, “Well, you have to think of something that I didn’t think of.” Examining his statement speaks to what he believes is important to success: an entrepreneurial spirit, thinking outside of the box, and exploring uncharted territory—as well as the drive to make your dream become reality. This is true about Cornell, which has a working space called PopShop through a partnership with the Ithaca community to develop entrepreneurial ideas.

    The recently-completed Gates Hall now houses the departments of Computer and Information Science.

    The recently-completed Gates Hall now houses the departments of Computer and Information Science.

  2. While discussing the future of higher education, Gates noted that although information has been digitalized and therefore become more accessible, the problems with education have not diminished, and if nothing else, have only taken on different forms. He said, “Education isn’t about the knowledge being available; very few just sit down and read a book.” What I took away from this point was that intellectual inquiry paired with passion to learn about something new goes a long way for being successful.
  3. A student asked what students and universities could do to actually have meaningful international contributions instead of just having a cultural exchange that doesn’t always have a tangible impact. Gates responded by emphasizing that a meaningful international experience is one that engages in both directions, that an international experience can pay back socially by turning the person with that experience into a thoughtful advocate who volunteers and makes a difference. Cornell has many international engagement programs, which range from spring break trips through Alternative Breaks to study abroad and more.

Last but not least, Gates discussed what he did to stay motivated and focused to become successful. His basic advice is to pick a topic that you like and to be comfortable with reading and learning new things. He said, “Work on something that you love and where there’s a sense of progress”—because with genuine interest, curiosity about the world, and dedication to your own pursuits, anything is possible.