Near Eastern Studies & Fine Art
Glen Mills, Pa.
What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?
My favorite extracurricular activity is being a Teaching Assistant for the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP). Once per week, I drive to Auburn Correctional Facility, where I spend three
hours tutoring incarcerated persons in various subjects as they work to earn an associate's degree through Cornell. One week I had a new student in my class who said he didn't feel capable of completing his work because he was homesick. I asked him where he was from. He replied that he was from Israel. Able to respond in Hebrew, I chatted with him about his time as a Medic in the military and his family. The simple gesture of responding in Hebrew encouraged him greatly — enough for him to want to keep learning and push through the homesickness he was experiencing that evening. CPEP has enabled me to take the skills I have learned in A&S and implement them in surprising and meaningful ways.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
What comes to mind was actually my first time visiting Cornell on Admitted Students Day when I was a senior in high school. Both of my parents took off from work (a rare occasion!) and traveled with me to Ithaca to visit for the day. We parked on North Campus, walked down the hill, and as we crossed the green bridge over the gorge towards Central Campus, we all started blubbering a little bit. We all couldn’t believe that not only was I accepted to such a beautiful and amazing institution but that I would be able to attend college because of Cornell’s generous meet-need financial aid policy. Although I was going to attend for my own betterment, I realized that day that, in a way, I was going to attend for my whole family as well.
What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?
Where to begin? Because Cornell was my home and environment during my “coming of age” years, I had the privilege of being surrounded by stupendous peers and being mentored by
passionate and brilliant professors. While, yes, I gained hard skills in language, reading, comprehension, reasoning, etc., what I truly am most thankful for is the multiplicity of backgrounds, thoughts, and opinions that I was constantly exposed to in every subject of Arts & Sciences. I truly believe that this diversity reshaped, enhanced, and fostered my critical thinking, problem-solving, ingenuity, and overall creativity. These latter skills will go with me as I endeavor into graduate school and throughout my future career and are vital to making well-informed and diligent global citizens.
What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?
I am most proud of my senior honors thesis project for Near Eastern studies. By writing a long research paper, I gained many skills and learned so much about the region I study. Through this project, I was able to tie together things that I had read and learned in my courses throughout my undergraduate career – from archeology to religion to art to languages to literature – I was able to research, comprehend, and synthesize information on a topic that I am passionate about and see how that topic was interwoven with the development of human history and in today’s world community. Though writing it was painful at times, I created a product that I am proud to get to force my loved ones to read when I am all finished with my edits. I was even selected to receive the 2022 Joseph E. Connolly ’72 Memorial Prize for an excerpt of my honors thesis – which means more than just my mom and thesis committee got to read my ramblings!