Category Archives: Background

The Long Road to Ithaca

Due to layout changes, I have had to remove my “Choosing Cornell” story from About Me. In honor of the brand new Cornellians who learned of their acceptance earlier this week, I will post my story here.

Shortly before the beginning of my senior year of high school, after I had carefully chosen a reasonable set of six schools to which I would apply, a brochure from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations landed in my mailbox and changed everything. I poured over its glossy pages and accompanying letter that asked, “Are you a problem solver? The person your classmates come to whenever there is a mix-up, impasse, or disaster?” It described one school that covered essentially everything I wanted to study. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply to a seventh school, and vowed to visit Cornell on the off chance I was accepted.

Cornell, unlike the other schools I had selected, was rural and isolated. I recall wondering where Ithaca was and why it was “gorges.” A six-hour drive north, Cornell was the farthest away from my parents and Maryland home. We are quite a close-knit family (Hispanic, only child, only girl, you get the picture.) I had my doubts about the distance, but temporarily tabled them while I kept busy with senior year and all of those applications.

Completely unaware that ILR released decisions on a rolling basis, I was a little bit shocked when I stumbled upon Cornell’s website in the middle of February and found I had been accepted. After verifying that it wasn’t some hilarious joke, my mom and I drove up to Ithaca during my spring break in early April. It was snowing, of course, but the peaceful beauty of the surroundings and freshness of the mountain air were stunning, especially for an asthmatic girl from an overcrowded suburb.

If any of my experiences during Cornell Days cemented my decision, it was definitely my interactions with current students, who were all bright, articulate, and engaged. They were confident, but never arrogant. They took their work seriously, but not themselves, and maintained a healthy sense of humor about the rigors of Cornell, their overachievement, and the Ithaca weather. The list of reasons why Cornell was an ideal choice steadily grew: ILR had an unbeatably small, close-knit community with the resources of a large resource university; the institutional loyalty the students felt for their school was palpable; I looked great in red.

Though hopelessly in love with Cornell, I had tough financial choices to weigh, and I wondered if my parents and I would be able to handle the separation. After doing my research and making my T-charts, I knew I belonged at Cornell. After the deliberations and monetary considerations, I was finally able to make it here. I sent in the deposit, learned the alma mater, and never looked back. For a choice made based on a brochure and a convincing handful of tourguides, it turned out to be quite a good one!

Come Friday

With my two prelims for this week finished, only one problem set stands between me and my Spring Break in Maryland. It seems manageable until I remember everything else that has to get finished before break: cover letters, Tradition stuff, essay outlines, and wading through a giant stack of books about Woodrow Wilson. Oh yeah, and those two jobs. Wish me luck!


I rang in my nineteenth birthday this weekend with perfect weather and a bunch of incredibly well-timed and free events on campus. If that isn’t classic Patricia Moscoso luck, I have no idea what is.

On Friday night, my friends and I got dressed up for Prom Night at the Johnson Museum, a celebration of Mary Ellen Mark’s Prom Series. Over the past three years, she photographed high school proms all over the U.S., and our own Johnson Museum showcased her work with highlights from her photoshoot at Ithaca High. The Museum hosted a free event for students only: “Eat, dance, get your picture taken… all the old favorites, plus stroll the galleries and make your own corsages and boutonnieres.”  I have a hard time saying no to chances to get dressed up, and I was able to successfully coerce a good group of friends to join me.

We looked sharp, and our tissue paper boutonnieres turned out way better than any of us would have predicted (the best one was clearly made by an engineer.) The photographs were fantastic.  I was particularly struck by one with a girl in a white dress and a guy in a Marine Corps uniform. Their expressions best reflected the point of this exhibit: prom as a liminal experience between adolescence and adulthood. Her uncertainty was palpaple, and his uniform and commitment to military service couldn’t be a better representation of growing up.

The photos definitely got me thinking about my own senior prom. At our high school with its comical gender imbalance, prom wasn’t quite the defining experience that it seemed to be for so many in the photographs. Most of us elected to go in groups and not even sweat asking a date; I believe my prom group had something like six guys and eleven girls. It never struck any of us as strange, but apparently having a date counts at every other high school in America.

I had a great weekend, even though it wasn’t one of those milestone birthdays. It actually only hit me that I was a year older when I was punching in my weight and age on one of the ellipticals at the gym. I’m guessing twenty is going to be much scarier.

And now, back to frost advisories in October (!) and my classes.  Happy business as usual!

Itching for Something to Start

Welcome everybody (ok, mom…) to my Life on the Hill blog! I am thrilled to be here and looking forward to my official start as a blogger just a few months. The entries will begin when I return to Ithaca on August 19 as an Orientation Leader for new Cornellians. In the meantime, check out my About Me, Academics, and Choosing Cornell sections. Leave a comment or drop me a line anytime.

Though legit thrilled to get back to school, my friends, and my home in Ives Hall, I am having an awesome summer as a Legislative Intern at the National Archives. Its Center for Legislative Archives, where I work, is responsible for preserving the records of Congress in addition to important public outreach functions. I work with people who love talking history as much as I do and have actually made a living out of it! (An additional shout-out to my fellow interns and history junkies Lauren and Liz.) We are doing a good deal of background research on the historical context and important players- seriously, ask me anything about Henry Clay- in events where Congress has shaped American history. Our work is a perfect intersection of history and politics, and whether or not it gives me any career direction, I am loving what I’m doing.

Summer should continue to literally continue to rock: I’m taking a brief break from War Hawks and Radical Republicans to catch my second Bruce Springsteen show this summer! I also think I’m in for a fabulous sophomore year, though it has very big shoes to fill.