Fare Thee Well, Cornell

This will probably be my last blog post here.

Words cannot express the immense amount of gratitude I have for Cornell. Three years ago TO THE DAY, I arrived in Ithaca for the first time, having only before caught glimpses of the campus on glossy brochures, Google Maps, and friends’ Facebook albums. I brought with me two suitcases that contained my entire life, and left behind in Vancouver everyone I knew. As the Prepare volunteer’s car sped toward West Campus and the scenic beauty of my alma mater came into view, I distinctly remember feeling a combination of excitement, awe, and trepidation. I wondered (didn’t we all?) if I was the right fit for Cornell and vice versa. I wondered if I would do well here. I wondered what it would be like to look back on my college experience and how I would’ve given anything, in that moment when I first saw the clock tower on Ho Plaza, to know what the future had in store for me.

When I first walked into that second-floor suite in Flora Rose, I would have never guessed that the girls in my suite would become my best friends at Cornell. I would’ve never guessed that we would take weekend trips out of the country together, meet each others’ families, and celebrate every success and drink to get over every setback together.

Three years ago, if you told me that I would meet the love of my life on a Shortline Bus from New York to Ithaca, I would have laughed, checked your sanity, and laughed some more. Yet here we are.

I took a gamble by switching from two very sensible and practical majors – finance and computer science – to something I have to explain every time I introduce myself – industrial and labor relations. Boy, was I lucky I did. It’s true, ILR has the most amazing and caring professors at Cornell. Under the guidance of Professors Friedman and Compa, I managed to cobble together a thesis on labor relations and multinational-companies in China. Professor Gold let me TA for his labor law class, even though I spent an entire semester being terrified of getting called on, socratic style. Professor Jackson taught the first economics class I’ve ever understood. My advisor, Professor Lieberwitz, is a role model, though I will never forget the time I lost my voice and she made fun of me in class and threatened to dock participation points. Christina Homrighouse asked me to co-teach a seminar with her in the Johnson School, which pretty much makes her the coolest faculty member ever. Professor Nelson taught me the value of rhetorics and introduced me to a wonderful debate partner who’s off to do great things. The list goes on and on. The point is, my education at Cornell was not a process in which authority figures passed on knowledge to students. Instead, it was a collaborative learning effort where professors respected, valued, and even learned from what each of us contributed. More than anything, Cornell as an institution recognizes the dynamic, ever-changing world we live in and seek to provide education in a way as to be relevant, engaging, and globally-minded.

Without Cornell, I would have never had the opportunity to study abroad at Oxford. I’m sure you guys all know how much I enjoyed my time at St. Catherine’s College given all that gushing that permeated this blog.

The Cornell in Washington program afforded me the opportunity to work for what I think is the greatest institution in this country.

My experiences with my business fraternity, Phi Gamma Nu, was also one of the important highlights. This network of brothers is so supportive and talented. Also, shout-outs to Mock Trial, Forensics, KAPi, CCG, Hilltop, Entrepreneurship@Cornell, etc.

I started writing this entry with the aim of covering the major components of my Cornell experience. Now I’ve realized that it’s simply impossible to do these three years justice. I came to university with very little and it was thanks to Cornell’s generosity that I was able to finish college. Truthfully, I counted my blessings every day to be able to simply wake up and attend class. Through it all, I’m incredibly grateful for the love and support my parents have provided me along the way. I know I don’t say this enough, but mom and dad, you guys rock and I love you guys so much.

As I spend the next few years in New York City trying to make my mark on corporate america, I will never forget the humble place I came from and the warmth and fervor with which Cornell welcomed me into her embrace.

Any person, any study.

Phoebe Yu
Industrial and Labor Relations
Cornell University
Class of 2012

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