Why I Chose Cornell and ILR as a Veteran Student

Aerial shot of McGraw Clock Tower

By: Catherine Draves, ILR ’21

As a non-traditional, veteran, first-generation student, my concerns around picking a college were a little different than the average student. After seven years serving as a military police officer in the Navy, I was ready to pursue my dream to become an attorney. I am self-supporting, so I transitioned to the Naval Reserves and started my educational journey by earning my A.A.S. in Paralegal Studies from SUNY Broome.

Throughout my time there I was employed full-time as a litigation paralegal at Aswad & Ingraham, LLP in Binghamton. Both my supervising attorney and the owner of the firm are Cornell Law School alums. I remember being so impressed by both their breadth of knowledge and the professional way they conducted themselves. Their strong example and investment in my development really cemented my desire to continue my education and made Cornell high on my list.

I was accepted to every school I applied to. Part of the reason I chose Cornell was the exceptional uniqueness of the ILR curriculum. I feel that it is both more comprehensive and flexible than other, similar programs. I am becoming a well-rounded student and exploring my interests in equal measure.

Practicality was high on my list of considerations as well. Sometimes life intervenes and plans change, so it was important to have an undergraduate major with a high level of employability. The flexibility and rigor of ILR provides options with respect to employment after graduation, even without a graduate degree. Cornell also offers 100% yellow-ribbon match for its undergraduate GI Bill students. This made attendance a practical reality financially. The student services provided by ILR are extremely helpful and made the transfer process seamless.

I continue to discover reasons to love Cornell. I have had the privilege to be lectured by experts, participated in a study featured on NPR, and become the president of the Undergraduate Veterans Association in the last year. The University really makes me feel like I am limited only by my own ambition.