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Well, this is it…144 posts later, it’s finally time to write about the conclusion of my college years!

You were there during my pre-freshman summer, watching me as I eagerly counted down the days to my Cornell arrival, and finished my packing list. You were there when I moved in, did laundry for the first time, got care packages, enjoyed parents weekend, took my first round of prelims, questioned my original major, dealt with course enrollment, got nervous about my first finals, and finished my first semester (and year).clocktowerx300-qvdiob

You were there as I got involved with clubs (like the Program Board and The Sun), took quirky P.E. classes, went to career services, and quartercarded on Ho Plaza. Some cool stuff happened along the way, like discovering a “secret” tunnel and running into Bill Nye in the Cornell Store.

Over time I’d like to think you watched me grow–mastering the TCAT, coming around to ‘liking’ Ithaca, speaking in lecture halls, and finally transferring into an academic program that I ended up loving (and which I’d say defined the second half of my college career). I also realized howcornell_fall_sunset adults handle birthdays in collegeBecoming a teaching assistant was a huge growing experience, as were the few embarrassing situations I happened to get myself into.

I brought you along as I got my first internship, then second…then third. Acclimating to life in Manhattan, then D.C., proved to be growing experiences as well. Interestingly enough, over time Cornell changed as much as I did–with the addition of the NYC Tech Campus and removal of the fences on the bridges.

But you were also there when things weren’t so great-when I dealt with awfully stressful weeks and being sick in college, when the fire alarm went off in Donlon at 3am during finals week, when I had doubts about leaving for a semester, when I lost $300 worth of textbooks, and, of course the saddest, when I had those kind of family emergencies.artsquad03

Once I got the hang of Cornell I may or may not have used the blog as a podium–such as by talking about the land-grant mission, the importance of enjoying the ride, how random everything is, what any person-any study and elite, not elitist mean and what truly makes Cornell unique. If you actually thought I knew what I was talking about, props to you–but I made everything up. (Just kidding.)

I can’t believe I have a chronicle of my 4 years of college life to look back on. I have to thank Lisa and Emily in the Office of Web Communications for having faith in me, inspiring me and giving me irresponsible incredible amounts of freedom. IMG_4470I’m not sure how many other Ivy League universities would let a student blog this freely, but somehow I’ve maintained to hang onto this gig for 4 years without any furious calls from Day Hall.

Thanks to everyone else that made my Cornell experience incredible as well. A prevalent theme throughout this blog is undoubtedly the importance of people, and how they make Cornell great. My time in Ithaca was not always easy–far from it–but the fantastic people I’ve met here tended to pull me through the good and the bad. This includes the student my sophomore year who found my ID card and returned it to me, the professor junior year who1 2 wrote me a 14 paragraph email at 4 in the morning, and the many friends and familiar faces I’ve grown to meet over the last few years. Thanks to this job, I’ve corresponded with prospective students from places like Pakistan, China, Australia, Thailand and Nigeria…and that’s an experience I certainly won’t forget either.

If you’ve been a regular reader and have been silent, I’d love to hear your comments. (Blogging is kind of a one-sided conversation; I only really get feedback when people have huge disagreements, like when we’re discussing top on-campus lunches.)

I guess I’ll wrap up this final post by using the exact same line I used 4 years ago in my inaugural post:

“Thanks for coming along for the ride!!”

The Day Finally Came: Cornell Graduation!

Well, the day finally came. After 4 years and 8 semesters enrolled as a student at Cornell, and after this weekend’s events, I am officially a Cornell alum!! edhelmsThis whole “Cornell graduate” thing is feeling pretty darn surreal, so let me try to break down the events of the weekend.

My parents, sister, and grandma made the 5 hour trek to Ithaca on Friday night. After a great dinner at The Heights–which began at 9:30pm, because every restaurant in Tompkins County is swamped with reservations this weekend–we called it a night, 1aand went separate ways to get ready for Saturday’s activities.

Saturday started off with convocation, where a guest speaker imparts wisdom on the class of 2014. This year, actor Ed Helms spoke; from all the people I’ve spoken to, I’d say the general sentiment was that it was a fantastic speech. I’d agree. He was funny, but also provided some wisdom about “being a fool,” and related experiences from his own life to prove his point.

Saturday afternoon was very relaxed. My family and I all proceeded to do Cornell-y things–take in the view from the top of the Johnson Museum, go to the Cornell Store, and attend an ice cream event under aMessages1 tent where we got a picture with President Skorton and his wife. That night, we had a great meal at Taughannock Farms Inn, then celebrated a bit with champagne at my apartment. I realized then that graduation is kind of odd in a way; as much everyone loves (and appreciates!) having their families and loved ones present, the nature of commencement weekend makes it somewhat difficult to get in final farewells to many classmates.

Sunday was the big day!! Commencement had all grads up early, as we had to be on the Arts Quad in regalia at 9:15, ready to walk Messagesto Schoellkopf. This is where the picture taking/mingling began. Once we all filed into the stadium, the elaborate ceremony took place–and of relevance to me, Dean Boor of CALS recommended to President Skorton that all the CALS bachelor of science candidates receive their degree. Luckily, he took her advice (phew) and bestowed it on us.

After the University-wide ceremony, there were numerous department ceremonies. My major, AEM, had something on the Ag Quad–a more relaxed event where I was presented with a certificate. It was great speaking with many1 2 professors that I’ve had from over the years then–and was a nice conclusion to my college experience.

Cornell, in general, does a ridiculously good job of shuffling crowds around–with extensive signage, transportation, food options, etc. (think Disney World levels of crowd control). I guess after doing these ceremonies 145 times they have it all down pat.

I can’t begin to put into words how weird it was saying bye to people, not knowing when/if I’ll see them again. Sure, a good chunk of my major will be in NYC…but1-2 what about the many people I’ve met over the years from places like California? Driving out of Ithaca for the last time was a ridiculously bizarre experience as well.

Overall, it was a very positive experience–and definitely bittersweet. Walking into Schoellkopf with the stadium filled,  there were definitely feelings of energy, excitement, and nervousness. Everyone I spoke to would probably share those sentiments. Now that I’m officially an alum, I’m in a state of temporary disbelief…and now that I’m back in Connecticut, I’m craving Collegetown Bagels more than ever before.

Stay tuned for a few more wrap-up posts!

Let Senior Days Begin!

So, my Cornell academic career may have ended when I turned in my final paper on May 15…but that doesn’t mean I’m outta here just yet. Today is Monday, and graduation activities for me start next Friday night when my family arrives in Ithaca. Most of the seniors I know have already finished their work and are celebrating, but officially,Cornell Senior Days 2014 the final exam period ends tomorrow. I’ll be proctoring an exam on the 20th, and  I do feel bad for seniors that couldn’t fully celebrate last weekend due to unlucky exam timing.

For those not in the know, seniors have a few days before graduation called Senior Days, filled with events and activities to celebrate our time together. I’m looking forward to a boat cruise and a brunch–as well as maybe an impromptu wine tour or other types of get-togethers–before next weekend’s march to Schoellkopf in graduation regalia.artsquad03

As I am completely done and thus have no work to do this weekend, here’s a random list of things on my mind at this unique time in my life:

  • Earlier in the semester, I had the choice of taking Introduction to Wines and Vines for a grade, or S-U (similar to pass/fail). I figured that it would be a better move to take it S-U as my schedule was already pretty heavy for a final semester…and now I’m realizing that I’d have probably received an ‘A’ in it. Darn.
  • A common theme I hear among friends and fellow seniors is “I don’t wanna graduate.” My response: that’s a good thing, because you can rest easy knowing you made a good college choice and it’s all been worthwhile.  On the other hand, to those who say they can’t wait to get out of here…at IMG_3379-2least you’re almost there.
  • Cornell Dairy is open and well worth the trip to Stocking to get there. I’d recommend whatever I got but the name of it completely slipped my mind…it had “Big Red” in the name though. Here was a picture of it if it helps.
  • Shoutout to the girl in a completely different major that was in one of my first classes as a freshman, and was in my last class as a senior–I didn’t see you at all in those 6 semesters in between, but it was nice sandwiching my college career with you.
  • Things I’ve already picked up: Cornell yearbook, honor cords. Things I don’t think people actually pick up: Class rings, and stationery announcing my graduation (I might be wrong on this one). Thing I should probably pick up sooner than later: My diploma frame.
  • I posted a picture on Facebook that seemed to get attention, so I might as well post it here too: this is what happens when the University shortens the pre-finals study period, then opens the library as late as 10am on a Sunday. As I mentioned, I’ve never seen anything like this at any Black Friday event I’ve been to…there were crowds actually waiting to storm into the library before it opens, in order to get first dibs on seats:

2So that about wraps up how I’m feeling/what I’m thinking going into Senior Week Days. Alumni, feel free to get in touch with any pre-graduation suggestions or ideas!


Elite, Not Elitist

If you were to walk into Day Hall, Cornell’s administration building, a while back and follow the left hallway  around the building, you might’ve eventually hit an old promotional poster for Cornell that said something along theIMG_3157-2 lines Elite, not Elitist.” Now, I have no idea what they did with that poster, or if it was just tossed away.

It’s a shame,  because the motto on that poster is one of the best ways to describe Cornell succinctly.

I bring this up, in all honesty, because a week or two ago, it was “Ag Day” at Cornell–where farm animals descended upon the Ag Quad to show students the kind of animals that some Cornellians (particularly in CALS) study. As I was walking to class, and saw plenty of cow manure, hay, and chickens on the beautiful quad, it made me realize that this truly was one of those “Only at Cornell” moments–because for the life of me, I can’t imagine many other universities turning their quad into a farm for a day.

So what does this phrase mean? “Elite, not elitist,” in my opinion, means that Cornell is truly a world-class place–but without much of the snobbiness that would come from having such a distinction.clocktowerx300-qvdiob

It means proudly accepting community college transfers through transfer agreements with NYS community colleges. It also means taking “risks,” if you will, by admitting passionate students that come from unique backgrounds–and helping them reach their potential through HEOP.   It means hearing a Finance professor sing alongside a choir of TA’s, seeing an entomology professor lick a bee’s bottom in front of you, and having another professor recognize you from his car on the sidewalk and give you a ride to class (yes, I’ve experienced all of these).

Most recently, it means feeling comfortable reaching out to a professor I had over 2 years ago before finishing a final paper this semester, as I know he’s an expert on the topic I wrote about and I wanted to hear his thoughts.

I guess I would argue that Cornell’s grounded nature–one thing that people tend to “rip”elite Cornell on (e.g. Harvard throwing chicken on the ice at hockey games, a slight at Cornell’s ag school)–is one of the core things that distinguishes it, along with its diversity and land-grant mission. Not once at Cornell has anyone seriously asked me my SAT scores. Regardless of your pedigree, you still gotta pass a swim test–that even President Skorton took. “Elite, not elitist” means finding out amazing things about people, what they’ve done, or who they’re related to, only after a while…because they’d never bring it up to you first.

If any Cornell marketers are reading this: bring back the “Elite, not elitist” motto, and sell the posters in the Cornell store!

Done with College Classes and my Final Slope Day…Wait, What?

This’ll unfortunately have to be a short post–I’m sitting here in the library with 3 papers/projects due in the next few days. But, I just need to exclaim that after 4 years and 8 semesters at Cornell, I have finally finished my last day of college classes!

Honestly, last Wednesday was surreal. And there couldn’t have been a more fitting sendoff to my 17 years of education than in Wines on Wednesday night…where many seniors were also celebrating “the end” and we were able to have a toast (of sorts) to our undergraduate career.

Not to blatantly copy pictures off of my Instagram, but here was one of the final wines we had.pic1

And…I can’t neglect to mention that the day after classes was Slope Day! My fourth Slope Day was spent enjoying the sun with friends, getting ridiculously burnt, and enjoying decent Slope Day Chinese food. I’m not a huge Ludacris fan, and honestly didn’t even know who Matt and Kim were before they were announced as Slope Day performers…but it was just fun to be in the sun, and celebrate the end of my senior year. Below is a pic that was tweeted out by one of the performers, 3LAU; note that I’m the type of person that wouldn’t wanna be in the middle of this, right up front. Some people see it as fun and exciting…I see it as sweaty, hot, and crowded.


I gotta say, it was sad walking around and realizing all the people that I knew, or could at least nod my head at–a result of friendships that have been built up over 4 years! It makes me really want to appreciate these last few days…before these people move around the country and world.

I’m going to try to blog more in the next few days…look for hopefully more substantive posts soon, as I wrap up my college career. I seriously can’t believe that this is the end–especially when I look back and read posts written by my naive freshman self!!

6 Reasons Why AEM was the Best Move of my Cornell Career

It’s pretty safe to say that most students’ college years are rife with decisions. At Cornell, deciding whether to go Greek, choosing your major, and selecting which of the 800 clubs to join are merely some of the decisions agquad01that you’re faced with upon setting foot in Ithaca that first time.

As my tenure at Cornell wraps up, I’ve started to evaluate the consequences of my many decisions in college–and it’s been an interesting activity. Working in the Sun’s business department exposed me to a great group of people. Becoming a “Life on the Hill” blogger has given me incredible opportunities. Spending a summer in NYC was rewarding. The list goes on…

Want to know the best decision of my college career, though? Bar none, it was internally transferring into the Dyson School (the Applied Economics and Notification Center-1Management major). I’ve gotten a lot of questions about AEM from prospective freshmen and transfer students, so I’m happy to go into detail.

Why was it a great move? There are a few reasons:

1) It provided me with a sense of community. As a business-minded student in another college at Cornell, I bounced around a lot of different departments, taking classes of all sizes in Economics, American Studies, Sociology, and the like. This academic diversity is great, no doubt, but I’ve found that there’s something to be said about finding a Notification Center-2true ‘home,’ if you will. AEM majors all take a set of structured classes, know many of the same people, and the professors (mostly) all know each other; all these factors help to create a sense of community within the large university.

2) It helped me foster my passion for business and technology. Taking strategy classes like Digital Business Strategy helped to develop my passion for tech, and learning the fundamentals of finance and economics in an applied setting ignited my interest in many of the topics discussed. Cornell’s great for providing a plethora of opportunities, and nothing’s better than being engaged in a program that you know fits your interests and aspirations perfectly.

3) There’s very much a “Dyson education.” As a practical, career-oriented person (who still manages to enjoy the ride), the fact that there’s a Dyson education is very appealing. Students and alumni alike know that being a Dyson alum means you likely took accounting with Jack, enjoyed the rigor of (or suffered through) Finance, and witnessed the enthusiasm and energy that comes with taking warren-hall1.jpg (1920×1264)Professor van Es’ statistics course. This creates unity among students and alumni, who recognize the quality of teaching in the School.

4) The attention. Undergrad AEM majors are literally smothered with attention if they want it–through interview preparation workshops, office hours, opportunities to network, etc. The school’s director noted that the fact that the MBA program is in a separate school makes all the difference. Plus, the tiny size of the major, for a business school, helps too (only ~200 graduate each year).

5) The building. I’ll keep this short and sweet: the newly-renovated Warren Hall is beautiful and modern. Check it out when you get a chance.

6) Collaboration and friendliness. It has consistently amazed me that, for an Ivy League business program ranked #3 in the country, everyone is so unbelievably friendly and collaborative. I’ll neverNotification Center-3 forget, for example, how a classmate in managerial econ made an amazing study guide for an exam–then shared it with the entire class. Or when I first heard of groups of people getting together to study finance or accounting. The use of undergraduate TA’s, frequency of teamwork-based assignments, and  grading policies that encourage students to help one another facilitate this.

7) Okay I had to add one more; it’s a business school with a conscience. As a part of a land-grant University, one of Dyson’s missions is to create and disseminate knowledge across New York State and the globe. As anNY_map_landgrant-1miqg09 undergraduate, this has meant that my courses have allowed me to work with the New York State horticulture industry in Marketing Plan Development to bolster sales, and learn about “going green” in The Economics and Psychology of Sustainable Business. How many business schools could say that they have a give-back mission in their DNA?

My satisfaction with this internal transfer decision–which was, no doubt, the best move I made at Cornell– is why I pay it forward, too, as an internal transfer mentor. I enjoy helping students find the right academic fit for them and navigate the internal transfer process. I’ve also served as a TA for a large introductory business course, which many students have taken before applying to transfer into AEM as well.


Hopefully this sheds light on Dyson’s strengths for potential applicants–or, as you’d say after AEM2601, core competencies. While this is just my opinion, I’d imagine that many of these sentiments are shared among a lot of the AEM majors!

Cornell Plantations: How Have I NEVER Been Here Before?

As a second semester senior, I like to think that I know my way around the campus like the back of my hand. But, I gotta admit, this semester has still been a learning experience! First, in late January, I didn’t know where my AEM strategy course was held–as I wasn’t familiar with Corson-Mudd Hall. And, most recently (with regards to my experience Sunday), I learned something new as well.cgardens03

Namely, last weekend I explored, in-depth, the Cornell Plantations!

For those that aren’t acutely familiar with the property, here’s the run-down. Cornell owns acres of botanical gardens on the east side of campus, with a specialty in native species to the state–and it is an absolutely beautiful area. There are ponds, woods, and all sorts of other natural features, and it is definitely a tourist attraction. Plus, as part of Cornell’s land grant mission, Cornell Plantations has a commitment to cultivation, preservation, and conservation.

As it was really nice out, my friend and I decided that visiting the property would be a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and definitely a great alternative to going to an indoors gym.plantations

I can’t exactly recall the exact path we took, as we were basically meandering–and we had to ask 2-3 people how to get to where we wanted to be. But I can say that we saw this awesome pond with a wooden deck on it (see photo) and I hit a really loud bell at the top of some lookout. Here’s a picture of me as we hit our destination, courtesy of my friend–all other pics were taken from (Please excuse the Chipotle t-shirt I was wearing.)


In all honesty, I’m ashamed that I haven’t been here earlier. The Plantations are highly-renowned, and look like a great place to explore even further. It also makes me understand the advice that many have told me–that plantations-1spending a summer in Ithaca is a really positive experience. Exploring the region’s beauty in this amazing weather, the picturesque views have admittedly made me proud to call central New York my “other” home for the last 4 years. As I graduate in May, I think this was my last frontier, if you will, of the campus to explore; I think I’ve covered most everything else that I need to see. I also figured this would be an appropriate thing to write about on Earth Day, so there’s that…

I can’t believe it’s almost May!

Cornell: The Land of Paradoxes

Given that my last few posts have been pretty heavy–touching upon the fact that my college career is coming to an end–I figure I’ll write a post that’s a little lighter in content.

Over my last 4 years, I’ve realized that Cornell is definitely a place of paradoxes, in many ways. A lot of things that you observe here can definitely make you think, “hmm…”

Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples:

Cornell has one of the best facilities design programs in the world, where renowned ergonomic experts research all aspects of building planning and managementmvr pic

…yet the building that it’s in, Martha Van Rensselaer, is one of the most confusing buildings I have ever been in. EVER. My favorite part of MVR: taking the elevator from one third floor to another third floor. See this post, where I got lost in it 2 years ago.

Mann Library is doing renovations to move an academic department to the fourth floor of the library, which is an interesting spot for offices as the higher floors constitute a lot of the silent study space…Cornell_Mann_Library_Interior_5

…and guess what department it is? Communication. (Okay, I get that a lot of communication isn’t “spoken,” per se, but it seems interesting to put a department with course offerings like “oral communication” in a location that was previously silent.)

ILR’s huge lecture hall was generously donated by the PepsiCo company, hence the nameIVS305 of Ives 305 as the “PepsiCo Auditorium” portrayed on a large sign outside the classroom…

…except signs explicitly say that you can’t eat or drink in it. Not even Pepsi products, I assume.

Driving up to Ithaca, it’s clear from the miles and miles of farmland you pass that Cornell’s in an area with plenty of space and cornfields…

Yet, despite our “middle of nowhere” location, finding parking here is nearly impossible. I can’t even count the number of people I know that have told me about getting a parking ticket. Though our campus is large enough to have its own zip code, somehow, successful parking requires a combination of patience, prayer, and luck.

Entering as a freshman, you’ll notice quickly that most people call RPCC’s Bear Necessities food location “Nasties“…

Except the food there isn’t nasty at all. It’s actually fantastic, and definitely was worth justifying to my tumblr_min01zgyGA1s17hwuo1_1280parents why I was out of BRB’s early in the semester… despite a generous meal plan.

If you could imagine a campus building that did not have windows, you’d assume it’d possibly house a department that’s related to a social science, or maybe something quantitative…right?

Then help me figure out why Bradfield houses the Atmospheric Sciences and meteorology offerings.  You’d think that out of all academic options, the one which has a specialty in weather forecasting would at least include darn windows outside. Bradfield’sdisplayImage website says its because the rooms are climate controlled, but why this building-and this department’s location in it-over all others? Fun fact: CNN recently ranked it one of the nation’s most spectacular campus buildings. Just saying, I’d love to hear the author’s thought processes behind that one…  

With its unique “any person…any study” mantra, its commitment to diversity, and the flexible curricula across colleges, Cornell prides itself on accommodating students with all sorts of varying academic and extracurricular talents…

…as long as they can pass a rigorous swim test (which constitutes numerous laps in an Olympic-sized pool). There are some exemptions-if you’re a transfer student, you don’t have to take it, and if you fail the test or just flat out don’t know how toskorton-1.jpg swim, you can enroll in PE 1100: Beginning Swimming. You may find it quirky, but I’ve known students that genuinely cannot swim and were worried about passing to graduate.

Here’s one that I began to appreciate after taking The First American University, aka #AMST2001 (current students, do yourself a favor and take the class).cornell Take a look at the Cornell seal and tell me…

…why, out of all the Ivy League schools to have a picture of a sun on it, is it the one that’s located in one of the cloudiest places I know…  Ithaca, New York? Okay, Brown has a sun on its seal, too…but the point remains.

Finally… there’s been one man on national television that has consistently perpetuated stereotypes of Cornell alums as being cocky, egotistical jerks. The university would probably6a00d8341c51c053ef01310f84cd3e970c want to distance themselves from him as much as possible, right?

…Nah, we ask him to speak at graduation instead. In all seriousness, though, I couldn’t be more excited that Ed Helms (!!!) is speaking at my commencement ceremony.

Cue the disclaimer: While all these are true to the best of my knowledge, no… I don’t actually harbor any resentment towards any of these things. (Except the 2 third floors in MVR thing…come on.)

Things I (May Not) Miss: Ithaca Weather

I don’t think I’ve ever written a post this short in my 4 years as a Cornell blogger. But, sometimes, to get a point across, pictures work so much better than words. This, my friends, is mid-April. In Ithaca. (Taken from the Statler Library, where I’m working on a business ethics paper, and where everyone seems to be staring outside.) Full context: It was t-shirt and shorts weather yesterday…

InstagramAnd here was a picture I posted on Facebook on April 23 of my sophomore year:


So, prospective students, Cornell offers an amazing college experience and unlimited opportunities…but know what you’re getting into with the weather.

The Final Stretch of my College Career

As I write this, I’m sitting here in Mann Lobby, relaxing after walking around the campus for a bit. It’s absolutely beautiful out–just in time for the prospective students to get a distorted perception of Ithaca’s weather. I’m realizing that this year, and my college experience, is slowly winding down. To be frank, this is nuts. I can’t believe that it’s almost over!

Here are a few thoughts that’ve been on my mind:

1. Perspectives are a funny thing. Remember your first day of high school, when you were nervous about how much bigger everyone seemed than you? Or, [if you’re touring college campuses,] remember agquad03what it felt like when you realized everyone on a campus was so grown up? I can’t believe I once felt that college students were so old…because when I look around campus, all I see is a population of undergraduates, roughly 75% of which are younger than me. I just want to yell at these darn youngin’s to get off my lawn (okay, maybe I don’t feel that old).

2. I can’t mess up all these “end of college” tasks and decisions. You may think I’m crazy, but I actually have a lot stuff to do. Examples? CALS post-graduate surveys. Get a cap and gown. Decide on a yearbook. Look at diploma frames and rings. Coordinate graduation weekend. Plan my Senior Days schedule. On a related note, I have no idea if people really get class rings…

3. Update on academics: As much fun as it’d be to write that I’m taking it easy, it  wouldn’t be like me to slack off–especially given the fact that I’ve worked hard for 7 semesters and want to end strong. I’ve been busy IMG_6746with problem sets, papers, projects, etc…but I can’t complain too much. My schedule this semester isn’t too stressful.

4. The “wow” factor on this campus never goes away. You’d think that almost as an alum, I’d get used to seeing the sights around the campus…but a lot of the views still amaze me. Case in point: walking around the footbridge area behind MVR and seeing the waterfalls under sunny blue skies…I couldn’t help but stop and gaze at it.

That’s about it for now…congrats to all the newly admitted students!