So I missed the Oscars — typical Sunday night pounding away at the thesis in Mann Library — but I am still joining the Cornell in celebrating the victory of one of our own. At 73, David Seidler ’59 just won an Oscar for his original screenplay of The King’s Speech, making him the oldest winner in that category, a record he said he hoped was beaten “quickly and often.” His speech was absolutely lovely, and the more I learned about his research process and all the time he poured into the project, the more I was impressed. Years of research, combing through old diaries, all motivated by his own experiences overcoming a stutter… I’m so proud. I mean, I liked the movie already, but knowing a Cornellian was behind it really kicks it up a notch. Seidler was even declared the “quiet hero” of the night. Not too shabby, Cornell! Check out his acceptance speech here.
Finals at Cornell are spread out over a ten-day period, with the time of the final determined by the start time of the course during the week. (For a painstakingly detailed description of this process, check out the registrar’s version.) Somehow, all of my final exam periods fall during the first week of exams, which is both good and bad. Good in that I get an extra week or so of winter break and thus more time to do interviews for my thesis, and bad that I have an insane number of pages to write before December 10. Over the years, I have discovered that I am more a “paper person” than a “prelim person,” meaning I’d rather write an essay than sit for an exam, and I’ve chosen classes accordingly. But contemplating the eighty or so pages that have to get written almost makes me wish I had a sit-down exam I could knock out in an hour and a half and move on with my life. Ah well, you can’t always get what you want, right?
Earlier this week, I had yet another one of those my-time-at-Cornell-has-come-full-circle moments: I finally got to see my alumni mentor, whom I met before freshman year, on campus. The summer before my first year here, I requested an alumni mentor through the Cornell Alumni-Student Mentoring Program, and I was matched with Seth Stern ’97, an ILR grad and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Little did I know then that we shared an interest in history and politics, and that he was basically leading my dream life — having a present- and future-oriented job in public affairs while writing history on the side. We’ve been able to meet when I’m home and stay in touch over e-mail since then. In October, his biography of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan hit the shelves, and he came up to Cornell this week to meet with students and talk about his subject, the writing process, and time as a student here. It was pretty awesome to see him in his old stomping grounds after having accomplished so much. I also recommend everyone check out the book. The reviews have been glowing, and I’m so looking forward to reading it when I get some downtime.