An Interview On
Cornell University


Interview Date:August 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: My parents were born in Guyana, so I’m Indo-Guyanese. [More broadly, South American or Latino.]
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Queens, NY with a graduating class of about 108. Most people went to college. It was poorly funded.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Biological Sciences with a concentration in Biochemistry. I’m pre-med.
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: Cornell Cricket Club and I am the manager of a [competitive varsity sports team]

What kind of time commitment is the Cricket Club?
The Cricket Club is typically three hours a week on the weekend for practice and the sports team is at least 5 out of 7 days of the week from about 4:30PM to 8PM. We go before players to set up and leave after to help them after practice.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Since I’m Bio/Pre-Med, I don’t have much reading. I basically had reading for my writing class, which was a requirement, but it wasn’t much at all. I got problem sets in my Calculus class and my Statistics class. For my science courses, it’s mostly studying. You do get a few problem sets, but they aren’t as time-consuming and you get to work with other people.

Is there anything that you feel your either of your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
They have a lot of resources to help students who don’t understand a lot of the content. They have an area called the Learning Strategies Center where they have tutors that are open from 12 to 6 to help with whatever topic in whatever science class you have. That was really helpful.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I feel that it can be a little cutthroat at times just because everybody has the same goal of going to medical school. There is a competitive nature.

How accessible have your professors been?
Fairly accessible. I could walk into office hours whenever I wanted.

What was your favorite class you took last year?
The Bio-Stats class because the professor was really nice and she really taught us, she didn’t just lecture use. She cared about our learning styles.

What was your least favorite class you took last year?
Calculus 1 just because the teacher didn’t give much effort to the students who hadn’t taken AP Calculus [in high school] or if students who were trying but made silly mistakes. It’s not that I hated it, it’s my least favorite but I still enjoyed it.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Biological Sciences because I felt like it was the norm for premed. I felt like it would prepare me the most for the MCAT and help develop a better understanding of human anatomy. My goal for the future is to be a doctor, so it was just to be better prepared for that.

How was managing being the manager of a sports team and your coursework?
I really tested myself last year. I didn’t know to manage myself because I didn’t do this in high school to that extent. It was really hard at first, but I got used to it. I’d find better ways to do my work during the day. I’d do a little bit of this class during my first break and do a little of another class during my second break, then before practice I’d get some more in, and then after practice, I’d eat, get some more work in, and then go to bed. It definitely doesn’t give you the ability to free up a lot of your time, but I think it’s fulfilling because it’s something that I do enjoy doing so I’m okay making that sacrifice.

How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there in
I know there is the First-Generation Student Union that is aimed towards that, but I found out about it very late. I mostly relied on the Learning Strategies Center. They have that for biology, chemistry, and calculus classes. I relied on those resources and professors’ office hours.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Mary Donlon Hall on North Campus. North Campus houses all the incoming freshmen. Mary Donlon is well known for being a social dorm and I was very satisfied living there. I had one roommate who I met through the Facebook group. It ended up being great.

Sophomore: I am going to be living in South Baker Hall, which is Gothic, Flora Rose House, on West Campus. It’s called the Gothic because it’s one of the older buildings on campus.

How did you like Mary Donlon Hall?
When I first heard that Mary Donlon was a social dorm I was a little bit confused and I didn’t really want it because I’m not into parties and stuff. I thought it was going to be rowdy and wouldn’t fit my personality, but when I got there I realized it was a lot different. There is a main common area in the middle of the building and that facilitates a lot of social interaction and you meet a lot of great people. I met two of my closest friends just in that common area from my floor. Because it’s a social dorm you really get to know the kids on your floor and you get to develop relationships with them. I’m really happy about it.

How was transitioning from Queens to Ithaca, NY?
I wouldn’t say it was that hard. I felt like it would have been a little hard because Queens is very populated and it’s noisy and busy, but it was fine.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
There’s a Korean place called Four Seasons that I think is pretty good. Ithaca has a lot of different restaurants from different cultures because Ithaca College is there, so they want to appeal to students from different walks of life. There are a lot of options, like Chinese and Indian.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The Botanic Gardens, I really like nature and being outside.

Pros and cons of being in Ithaca, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s very nature oriented.
(2) The transportation is really good. I love the TCAT bus system. Freshmen get passes for the year for free. That was really helpful, especially when it was snowing and we didn’t want to walk like a mile to get to class.
(3) Being around so many different kinds of people, like people with different interests and different cultures.

Cons: (1) How big the campus is. Your first class could be like a mile from North Campus to Central Campus. That could be hard some days, like when I didn’t want to wake up at 7 or 8 o’clock.
(2) Not all the libraries are open 24 hours and the dining halls aren’t really open that late for students who have problems with their schedules, so coming back from practice at 8:30 or 9 o’clock the North campus dining halls weren’t always open.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Cornell?
There are a lot of fraternity events at Cornell because it’s such a small city. Last year I didn’t really do much in terms of going out to parties because I’m not really into parties and stuff like that. I am more into hanging out with friends and going out to movies and restaurants in Collegetown and hanging out in townhouses and things like that.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Cornell?
I was very satisfied. Even though it’s a small town, I think it offers a lot of social events and there are a lot of opportunities to go out and have fun. It’s just not my nature to go to parties and stuff.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
In the common areas of Mary Donlon Hall.

How would you describe the social scene?
I feel like the social scene is fulfilling. I don’t think it offers as much as a school in a city could offer. I feel like a lot of students go to bars or frat houses to just drink.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I feel like Cornell students are very accepting, so I do think they mix very well. Different races and sexual orientations make very little difference with people who don’t identify the same as them. The majority of students associate with people who aren’t like each other.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Cornell before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how difficult it would be. I know it is an Ivy League school, so I should expect it to be hard, but I didn’t have a good understanding of it coming from a small, poorly funded public school.

What is something a prospective first-generation student should know that we have not touched on?
I think they should know there are resources definitely there to help you and you can take full advantage of them and that can put you very far ahead in your academic standing. And, you know, you’re just like everybody else. Everybody else is [there for the first time too].

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I guess you don’t really get to meet the kind of people you meet at Cornell when you’re actually living here. People at Cornell are really cool people from all different walks of life and with very cool interests. I think that’s one of the key parts because when I visited I didn’t meet anybody who I talk to now.

Reasons to attend Cornell:
1) It has a great college network. When you graduate a lot of alumni [will help you out].
2) Cornell undergraduate programs are very competitive and rigorous, so graduate schools take this into consideration and view us favorably.
3) It’s college so it’s likely going to happen anywhere, but at Cornell you are going to meet people who you will know for the rest of the life.

Reasons to not attend Cornell:
Honestly, I can’t really think of a reason. I love this school and anybody who gets accepted should consider it.

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