You Are Here for a Reason

Student Intern Brendon sits outside on a picnic table.

By: Brendon Gauthier, CALS ’21

As a high schooler preparing to attend college, you will often hear, “College will change your life.” You will probably disregard this after so many people say it to you, but stop and listen to every person who tells you this. Listen to each of their stories and see how they arrived at college compared to how they departed. Here, at Cornell, we say, “You are here for a reason.”

When I was determining my future four-year home, I knew I wanted an institution that would not only provide me with an academic education but also a personal education — one that would challenge my very essence as a person. I did not want to go to a local university, which is what everyone expected me to do. It felt normal, and I was uncomfortable with that feeling.

I was not selected to become a Cornellian, an Ivy League student, on a whim. There was a time when I forgot that and suffered from it. I asked myself, “Why are you here, why aren’t you back home at the same college as your childhood friends? Are you sure you’re as smart as everyone else? What happens if you fail?” Many classmates approached me with the same dilemma. We would talk for hours: discussing our problems, our concerns, and our expectations. I always seemed to boost their morale, but never my own. I had forgotten what made me so driven in the past. I was so focused on academic challenges that I disregarded the personal challenges that stem from an environment like Cornell. I lost sight of the amount of meditation I needed, the idea that I should reassure myself of my abilities and capabilities, and the means to judge when I was working too much or too little.

In the end, I remembered my life is purposeful and that the admissions staff CHOSE me. I remembered I am the same ambitious little boy who put his pencil to paper and knew nothing would stop him from becoming who he was meant to be. I am back to playing basketball every week, working out, getting the amount of sleep I need, learning for knowledge’s sake, and talking to others about their day and mental health. I am here for a reason!

Remember, you are here for a reason. It is easy to doubt yourself when things become overwhelming, but your acceptance is a testament to your work ethic and determination. Don’t forget that Cornell chose you just as much as you chose it, and it would be a pleasure for the institution to have you attend in the fall. Cornell will change your life, but if you do it right by being yourself, you will also change Cornell.