BackgroundInterview Date:June 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020, transferred in in 2017
High School Experience: Public school in northern New Jersey with a graduating class of about 275 students. There was absolutely a culture of going to college.
Major: Food Science
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete and I am in the Food Science Club.
What kind of impact has the Food Science Club had on your experience?
Pretty much that would give me more of a well-rounded academic experience because they give a lot of information about getting internships in the field, connecting you with people that have more experience, or getting undergrad research and things like that.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
I do either food chemistry or food microbiology, so I have to take a lot of core chemistry and microbiology classes as well. I had to take Organic Chemistry and things like that that had a lot of problem sets and tons of studying. Almost all of it was online, I didn’t have any written homework at all.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I love the Food Science department because it’s a small major, I think there are about 25 or 30 people in it in my graduating class so everyone knows everyone. We have a group chat that we keep each other involved with and they do a lot of mixers between the faculty and students so you can reach out to faculty for opportunities in the field or advice on taking classes and things like that. They also put us in an email group so if there is anything happening in the food science community we get updates and that is really helpful.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s competitive in my general classes. Like, I had to take Organic Chemistry and that’s very competitive because you’re thrown into the class with people of other majors. The pre-med culture is very competitive and I take a lot of classes with pre-med people as well. My Food Science specific classes are very small and very collaborative. We’re connected through our major and are very collaborative with each other.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
Physiochemical and Biological Aspects of Food. It was a really informative class and told you a lot about common knowledge things. It’d tell you why meat turns from pink to brown when you cook it or what chemical properties change in the bread when you make toast. That’s why I really love Food Science because you can see the practical application even though it’s really chemistry oriented. You can use that knowledge, like if you want to make bread, and you know the chemical properties of what would make a good recipe or formula of what you actually want to do.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Food Analysis. That was a class based on lab techniques in food science. Even though that’s helpful, the professor was hard to understand and he put all the PowerPoints online, so you didn’t even have to pay attention during lecture.
How accessible have your professors been?
They’ve been great. The Food Science community is very small. So, if have a professor, the odds are I’ll run into him taking another class or just in the building because we have a building dedicated to Food Science. You definitely have interactions with your professors over your four years at Cornell which is great.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I absolutely love my major. My family used to have a restaurant, so I’ve always been around the food industry. Once I realized you could take food and combine it with science, which I’ve always been so interested in, [I knew I wanted to major in it]. I have had trouble doing things with vague application, and I like how in food science you can see the application right away. You can take what you’ve learned in your chemistry classes or biology classes and apply that to how food tastes, how food interacts and how to make a good consumer product.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Sophomore: I lived in 122 McGraw Place, it was an old frat house so they converted it to a dorm. I lived there in a single with about 35 other people in the building. I loved that because you kind of have that off-campus feel because you’re in a frat house surrounded by other frats, while I was still included in the on-campus dining halls and things like that.
Junior: Alice Cook House on West Campus and I’m in a suite. I have a single room but I have four other suitemates.
How was transitioning from your hometown to Ithaca, NY?
Where I live is a pretty happening area. I’m like 25 minutes away from New York City. I could definitely go do something if I wanted to very quickly. Ithaca is a great town though so it wasn’t too much of a transition. Even though upstate New York is kind of barren, Ithaca is very cute and quaint and has lots of shops and fun things to do. It’s just very hilly, I describe it as a ski town without a mountain.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Viva. I love Mexican food and you can get tacos and margaritas.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Usually I just go out to eat. I love food, obviously that’s why I’m majoring in it, so I’ll just go into town with some friends or by myself to grab some coffee at Collegetown Bagels or get some food in Ithaca Commons as well.
Pros and Cons of being in Ithaca, NY?
Pros: (1) You’re secluded from a big city atmosphere, but you’re still able to have a town that has things going on. Between both Cornell and Ithaca College, there’s a lot of young people that want to have fun and be in the town.
(2) There are a lot of festivals that go on. In the fall they do Apple Fest, which is this whole street fair type thing dedicated to the apples they grow in Ithaca.
(3) They have the farmer’s market right next to Cayuga Lake. That’s such a quaint little shopping experience where you can buy local produce or craftspeople make and have an awesome view of the lake.
(4) Ithaca is absolutely beautiful. That’s my favorite part of Cornell is how amazing Ithaca is.
Cons: (1) Depending on the type of person you are, it might be kind of small. I know some people who are from big cities might want to stay in that city environment. It could be boring and secluded if you want more of a big city feel.
(2) It’s so hilly it absolutely kills my gas mileage. Also, the roads aren’t very well paved.
(3) It’s very, very cold. It snows all the time.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Because I am on a team it’s kind of hard to go out sometimes. Just the physical demands of being on a team and having to wake up and go to class and go to practice every day is pretty demanding. I went out more in the fall because I play a spring sport, and it would be either mixers with other teams or frat parties and things like that. If I am going out, I would go out either on a Friday or Saturday night.
What have been some of your favorite times in terms of nightlife so far?
We had a date night which was fun. Everyone brought a friend or a date to this restaurant and then after that we went to a frat party and hung out there. It was fun.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
We had a girl on our team who had connections to Greek life because she was dating someone in Greek life, so we would get in that way. If I didn’t have her, I don’t think I would know about those parties. A lot of people live off campus in Collegetown so if you have your own apartment you can hang out there. Not being in Greek life hasn’t been seriously limiting, but it has helped to know someone because those are your standard college party atmosphere.
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m not particularly happy with it. I’m a transfer student, so I went to a different school my freshman year and I had a ton of fun there. It was a big party and bar school and you would go any night of the week and have a great time. Here, there’s a lot more planning, like is there a party? Will it fall through? Can you get in? Things like that. I feel like having the bar atmosphere at my old school was fun because it was always a constant thing you could do. Here, you run around and party hop a bunch and it’s not really fun because Ithaca’s huge and it takes more time to walk to the next place than it would to just stay where you are even if where you are isn’t fun or it gets shut down.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them through my team. Coming in you already have that built-in friendship with my teammates which is great. Another one of my closest friends is through my major.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s based on the friends you make because a lot of people are so into their studies that it’s hard to stumble upon fun things. You have to really put effort into making things happen. Most of the times when I reach out to someone they’ll be like, “I’m in the library studying,” so you have to reach out to a couple of people before you can find things that are going on.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they do a great job at Cornell. It’s very diverse, I have friends of every ethnicity and every sexual orientation. It just depends on who you meet. There are so many different people and there is definitely a mix. There are no boundaries I can tell, at least with the people that I hang out with. [About 21% of the undergraduate population are underrepresented minorities and about 10% are international students.]
How would you describe the student body?
The student body is very diverse. I’ve met people from all over the world. One of my good friends is actually from Egypt. Everyone has their own niche. There are so many different clubs that if you feel like you want to branch out you can join a club. They also have different housing, so if you really resonate with your culture sometimes they’ll put together a house that you can live in and speak your language and live with people with similar backgrounds and upbringings as you. It’s definitely very diverse and has good bonds and connections between different people.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Cornell by the time they graduate?
I’ve heard mixed reviews. I am not super happy, but I feel like everyone is saying the payoff will be huge. No one really expects going to an Ivy league would be all fun. There’s definitely that mindset of it’s going to be hard, it’s going to suck, but it will be worth it. There’s a little bit of unhappiness while you’re there and while you’re doing it, but it lands you such great opportunities and gets you connected to such great people that people will say that they love that they went through this and love that I have this bond with people that went through this with me.
Have you used the career office at all?
We have this website called Handshake and it connects you to internship opportunities through the website. Most people get their internships through that. I’ve also worked with the career services to get my resume looked over. They were great.
I actually took a whole course where there were guest speakers from the career office came in each week to talk about your resume, your specific personality type and how that works well with other people, things like problem-solving and working cohesively with a group. They’re extremely helpful and will answer any questions you have.
Have you used the alumni network at all?
I’ve been connected with past alumni to discuss things like how to get good internships and what should I look for, and things about grad school and if I need to go or not. There’s a very wide network of people that are out there to help you be successful.
Have you learned any computer programs through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve used Excel mostly just because of lab reports with graphs and things like that. That’s been helpful, but I feel like I still don’t know how to use Excel, I have to Google a lot of stuff.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Cornell before entering as a sophomore?
I wish I knew how competitive it really is. I feel like in hindsight that’s something you should know going to an institution like Cornell. Everyone is there to try to be the best and you’re already surrounded by top students from all around the world. It’s not cutthroat, but everyone wants to be the best and not everyone can, so it’s a very competitive environment academically.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
You can climb up the clocktower, it’s not something you can just look at. You can climb up and look out all over the campus and all over Ithaca. It’s amazing.
Reasons to attend Cornell:
1) You’re going to meet amazing people from all over the world and they’re going to have different perspectives. It’s great to understand different types of people and meet people that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Everybody has great ideas and so much knowledge it’s amazing.
2) The campus is gorgeous. It takes my breath away every single day.
3) It’s big, so you have so many different places to explore, which I love.
4) You are exposed to so many opportunities through Cornell. They want you to succeed and have all the information you need to know how to be successful and thrive in the real workforce.
Reasons to not attend Cornell:
1) If you hate the cold. It’s really cold because you’re in Upstate New York. It’s not always the best weather and they don’t’ give a lot of snow days.
2) If you can’t deal with high academic pressure, I would say not to go because so many people get caught up in having to be the best. Sometimes you get so hard on yourself, so if you’re not up to it that could be pretty hard for someone.