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congrats, Cornell Class of 2021! In Student & Campus Life, we have the opportunity to work and engage with thousands of phenomenal Cornell students each year. Get to know just a few of these students from the class of 2021 below.

Ailen Salazar

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Community Partnership Funding Board, DREAM Team, Cornell Committee to Support Undocumented Students, Alpha Phi Omega, Undergraduate Student Leadership Council, Mortar Board Der Hexenkreis Senior Honor Society, Engaged Ambassador, and Tradition Fellow

My advice for the first-year version of myself would be to try as many things as possible before committing to certain organizations and clubs. Four years do fly by, cherish all the memories and people.

Thinking back to my first weeks at Cornell, at the LLC Bienvenidos BBQ, I finally met up in-person with someone who I was connected via email over the summer. When I met her, there was an instant connection. She connected me with others from the DREAM Team, and the people in it have become my family and biggest supporters in the many things I took on at Cornell.

Alex Batino

College of Engineering

Affiliations: POST Team Leader

A piece of advice I would tell the first-year version of myself: Say yes to more trips to Sweet Mel's, to late night stargazing at Mount Pleasant, to sunsets on Libe Slope, to dinners in the Commons--there's only so much time in Ith and looking back you'll want to remember being with friends more than studying for that extra hour.

Alison Munford

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: Upward Bound, TST BOCES, Varsity Field Hockey

My four years at Cornell didn't turn out how I expected, in the best possible way. I thought going in that all my time would be focused on schoolwork and athletics and that those two things would define my time at Cornell. Looking back, however, I have gotten to experience so many more opportunities through the public service center and Upward Bound that while academics and sports were still important they were just an aspect of a far richer and more fulfilling college experience than I could have even imagined. Therefore, my advice to my fresh-man year self would be to go in with an open mind and try all the new experiences you can - you'll be thankful you did.

Alvin "Alvy" Croak

College of Arts & Sciences

My freshman year, I needed to learn that college is about cooperation, not competition. Radical kindness has gotten me farther than thinking about my grades or resume ever has. Mostly, I needed to learn how to be kind to myself. In high school, I worked as hard as possible, but now I see that if you’re burning out, you’re not being your best.

Giving myself meaningful, achievable goals, and being kind to myself if I don’t meet them, was the key to success that Cornell, and Triphammer Cooperative, taught me.

Amaris Janel Henderson

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar, Meinig Executive Board member, Slope Media content writer and editor, CAMP Public Relations Chair, Soup & Hope 2021 Speaker, Communications Assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences communications department.

I have felt inspired by my own positioning in the world. I am a woman of color from the U.S.-Mexico border and I know that my worldview is underrepresented. I do what I do for those who will come after me, to create spaces that didn't exist before for others to tell stories similar to my own.

I would tell me first-year self, remember you belong here. You will always belong here.

Annie Li

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Translator Interpreter Program

Explore all that there is to offer and take all the time you need to find yourself and build your future. The world is a canvas to our imagination so don't doubt yourself and just go for it!

Ashni Verma

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Affiliations: Carol Tatkon Center for First-Year Students

Working at the Tatkon Center has been one of my favorite experiences at Cornell. I've really enjoyed being able to work with first-year students and help them navigate their paths in college. In addition, I've found incredible friends in my fellow staff members. We've grown alongside each other as upperclassmen even as we've been actively working to help underclassmen.

Bailey Landow

College of Human Ecology

Don't be afraid to take risks or try something new. Before joining STAY, I had never tutored before, and now I not only have formed a strong bond with my student and her family, but have decided to continue down this path and teach elementary school next year.

Without the connections I have made over the last four years and the experiences I was so lucky to take part in, I would not be where I am today, and I am so grateful to Cornell and the Public Service Center for everything.

Benjamin Kim

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Affiliations: POST Team Leader

My favorite Cornell moment was attending a Cornell vs. Harvard hockey game, in which Cornell won! It was awesome being with the rest of the Cornell student body cheering on our hockey team!

Bianca Murillo

My most significant memory and experience at Cornell is my engagement in Alternative Spring Breaks. I first joined it as a trip participant for the Mountain Lake Academy (MLA) trip during my freshman year. As a sophomore, I returned as a trip leader for MLA. My junior year I was he Head Service Learning Chair. This year, I am the president. I dedicated most of my time to Alternative Breaks because of the meaningful and reciprocal relationships that the program has with community partner agencies in Lake Placid, New York City, and Florida, This organization taught me many valuable lessons that I will be forever be grateful for.

Alternative Breaks taught me that to create structural change, all issues should be addressed at the root cause or else we will only perpetuate the same broken systems. For these reasons, and many others, Alternative Breaks was and will always be my most treasured memory and experience at Cornell.

Cameron Dunbar

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

My favorite Cornell moment was traveling to Nicaragua for a service trip with the Public Service Center. While preparing for the trip, I had the opportunity to learn more about ethical volunteering and language learning with some amazing, like-minded peers.

I would tell my first-year self not to be afraid to follow your passions. If something fails to serve you, let it go. Your time and energy here are precious. You will find the most joy in what fulfills you, gives you life, and captures your spirit.

Christian Mancheno

Dyson School

My favorite Cornell moment is getting to be part of a dance group and all the friends I made along the way. Shoutout to E.Motion!

Christian Romero

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Upward Bound, Big Red Marching Band and Pep Band, Cornell Anything Goes Musical Theater Troupe

My advice to my first-year self: Be confident! You are so capable of accomplishing great things and you should never for a second doubt that!

Dana Meskan

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Cornell University Deaf Awareness Project

Don’t be afraid to try things! Sometimes it won’t work out, but you’ll regret the time that you didn’t spend with friends and the places that you didn’t go more than anything else. It’s okay to give yourself a break from schoolwork sometimes, and if someone invites you to something, be willing to give it a chance.

The best college experiences are sometimes the ones that you didn’t expect, so let yourself be a little spontaneous and step outside of your dorm room when you can!

Destiny Malloy

College of Arts & Sciences

A piece of advice that I would tell my first-year self is to explore as much as possible! Take a ton of courses across different majors/schools your first semester and don’t be afraid to branch out and attend meetings for clubs you know nothing about! Exploration always makes for great stories and you can never meet enough.

Evelyn Torres

Affiliations: Cornell STEP

Time management should be applied to more than just academic duties. While scheduling readings, studying, and homework is important, making time for friends and just having fun also has to be kept in mind.

Gauri Binoy

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Cornell Hunger Relief, Ithaca Health Initiative, Cornell Anjali, Cognitive Science of Language Lab

Cornell has been a transformative experience for me. This school has provided me the opportunity to truly grow into myself and my passions. The conversations I have had with every single person on this campus has helped opened up my perspective to all aspects of the world. I can confidently say that I am leaving this campus a better scholar and person.

I would say to have an open mind. Whether that comes to making friends, figuring out your career, taking on opportunities, saying yes to plans, everything comes down to mindset. This school can be one of the best things to happen if you just let it and know that even when you are uncertain about the future, everything works out in the end.

Hana Gabrielle Bidon

College of Engineering

Affiliations: Meinig Scholar

Know that you cannot plan everything out and there will be a degree of uncertainty. Try something you're afraid of trying, especially when you think you're going to fail.

Judy Liu

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), Early Childhood Cognition Lab, Big Brothers Big Sisters, POST, and Cameradery.

I would tell the first year version of myself two things: that it’s okay to change who you are, what you’re studying, and who you surround yourself with if it means bettering your well-being and to always choose kindness, even when it’s hard.

Katherine Stanford

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Affiliations: Cornell Elderly Partnership President

A piece of advice I would tell the first-year version of myself is explore the hiking trails in the local Ithaca area. It’s really beautiful here and the fall weather is great for hiking.

Kelly Zhou

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: CEP, APO, Human Elements, KON, CUBMD, CISL

I transferred here from a smaller institution and this transition allowed me to especially cherish one thing Cornell brings as a large, diverse university: the superb resources and opportunities Cornell provides to almost every area of study! However, it is essential that you put yourself out there to explore what the school has to offer.

Don’t hold back, because college is what you make of it.

Kevin Cook

College of Engineering

The chimes have been a core part of my Cornell experience, and have really given me a sense of belonging here.

It's not surprising to me that my favorite Cornell memory involves playing the chimes, at the homecoming concert in 2018. We were celebrating the sesquicentennial of the chimes, and put on a special recorded concert for the public during homecoming weekend. I played the Jennie McGraw Rag, which is the song played at the beginning of every morning chimes concert, and since we play so early in the morning, is probably rarely heard by most of the Cornell community. It was very stressful knowing so many people were watching and listening! After that concert, I never got nervous playing the chimes anymore. I'll also never forget as everyone joined together singing the Alma Mater as we ended the concert.

Lauren Schmidt

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Alternative Breaks and Students Against the Sexual Solicitation of Youth (SASSY)

It’s okay to not have everything figured out right away. Also, if you’re falling asleep on your laptop, just go to bed. Be kind to yourself, and find small joys to appreciate every day!

Leah Rosner

School of Industrial Labor Relations

Affiliations: Cross Cultural Adoptee Mentorship Program

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to find C-CAMP and the greater PSC community. As an adoptee, I have heavily relied on inclusive organizations that dedicate themselves to cultivating a welcoming environment for self-exploration and empowerment. I have greatly enjoyed engaging in critical identity exploration with my peers through our educational events and forming a small community, here in Ithaca, filled with supportive people!

It’s so wonderful that you can make your own communities wherever you go, and it's the people within them that I will miss the most!

Liel Sterling

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Affiliations: Meinig Scholar

Make time for fun and friends, and don't get too caught up in the stress of Cornell! There are so many paths at Cornell, and you will find your own way. It's about the journey:)

Manavii Kumar

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: Cornell Alternative Breaks, Patient Care and Advocacy Team, Project 2GEN Scholar

I strive to give back to the community in everything I do. I have been involved in Cornell Alternative Breaks as a trip participant and leader for Goddard Home Delivered Meals since my freshman year. As a leader, I work to educate my team and organize a service-learning trip to address the issues of food insecurity and social isolation in older adults in New York City. I am also involved in PCAT through which I was able to connect with local Ithaca residents over weekly lunches at the Tompkins County Mental Health Association. These volunteering experiences have shaped my on-campus research involvement.

A quote that has always stuck with me is “Not knowing is the beginning of wisdom.” We come into college thinking that we have to follow this linear path and have our life figured out. However, that is so far from the truth. Life is messy, unpredictable, and complicated; get comfortable with that uncertainty. Focus on enjoying the journey rather than constantly thinking of the destination, otherwise life will pass you by.

Pichaya (Mint) Damrongpiwat

College of Arts & Sciences, PhD

Affiliations: Asian & Asian American Center

Working at the Asian & Asian American Center has truly been one of the most rewarding aspects of my Cornell experience. As a graduate student, joining the A3C team was a great way for me to get to know others on campus beyond my fellow grads and professors in my department.

Advice I would give my first-year self is: No matter what happens, you’ll make it through -- one thing at a time!

Samantha Graves

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Affiliations: Prisoner Express, Bookroom Manager, PSC, Community Specialist Manager

Working at the Public Service Center gave me the knowledge of resources and grants that could help me get field experience in my career field. Through a Cornell grant, I was able to conduct an independent service project in Ghana for four months, where I was able to provide vaccinations and clean water resources to a community in Wegbe. I now have a full time job after graduation in this same community, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t conducted this project during my time at Cornell. The Public Service Center at Cornell really helped me discover my passion and helped me land my dream job.

Take advantage of Cornell’s many grants/awards and Study abroad opportunities, there are many ways to follow your passion and expand your educational and career interests with the help of Cornell programs and staff.

Samantha Stern

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: TST BOCES Career Skills at Cornell, Cornell Daily Sun, Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society, Sigma Delta Tau Sorority

Cornell is a goldmine of experiences and opportunities. Take advantage of as much as you can! Whether it's a cool class on the Manson Family, a course with a former Congressman, a class trip to Copenhagen, or free Dinosaur BBQ at MVR, explore it all! It is these unique experiences I have had at Cornell that have made the past four years here so special.

Serena Sanon

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Affiliations: POST Team Leader

My biggest piece of advice would be to try new things. Cornell has such a variety of opportunities, and you may never know unless you try. Through participating in POST freshman year, I was introduced to many organizations within Cornell, and within Ithaca, which really helped me find my place as a new student. It also helps you find people with similar interests--I am still friends with many of the people I met freshman year!

Shayla Parthasarathy

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: POST Team Leader

For me, it was joining Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) my freshman year. Being part of a small club where everyone shared similar passions helped facilitate my passion for reproductive health. I may have been one of the youngest in the group, but that inclusive environment helped grow my confidence to pursue future leadership positions. I eventually became President of PPGA, collaborated on new campaigns to promote reproductive justice across campus, and even co-founded a new organization to support people with chronic pelvic pain.

If you have an idea in your head, whether it's starting a club, applying for a leadership position, or beginning a project you're passionate about, don't hesitate to go for it! It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, but I've noticed that when you do, there can be an incredibly positive impact on your self-growth and on the community you're serving. The Cornell community is one filled with many passionate people, and if your drive to help others overpowers your fear of failure, you will go on to do amazing things with some pretty amazing people.

Suri Gime

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: Language Expansion Program, COVID-19 Peer Ambassadors

Advice I would give my first year self? Do it! Do start cramming for a prelim the night before, nap at a library, have many picnics at the slope, visit the statues at the arts quad at midnight and many more. Doing then regretting is so much better than not doing and then regretting. I’ll miss Cornell very dearly. Big shoutout to my wonderful eboard members and the new members on board this semester!

Tien Vo

Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Affiliations: Cornell Alternative Breaks

Diversify your experience, join different clubs, take on challenges, and explore the beautiful gorges, trails, and beautiful sceneries that Ithaca has to offer.

Ugochukwu Ukponu

College of Human Ecology

Affiliations: Alternative Breaks and Students Against the Sexual Solicitation of Youth (SASSY)

I feel inspired to try new things or take new actions if I have my interests peaked, so much that I follow through with it. My inspiration primarily comes from my friends as well as the inherent drive to acquire more knowledge and information.

College is a new experience with many trials and errors, happy moments, and times of sadness. Surround yourself with people who excite you, keep you motivated, bring out the best of you, and challenge you to do more. Also get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There will be situations where we feel we lose control of our circumstances; these times will be uncomfortable.

Vaidehi Patel

College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliations: SASSY, Cornell Bhangra, the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, and Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society

I think a piece of advice I would tell my freshman year self is that its ok to not have a plan. It can be discouraging sometimes when a lot of your peers have fixed 4-year plans or know 100% what they want to do with their life from the start. But, it's ok to not know.

College is a time to explore what you like, and a university like Cornell, with all of its course offerings, is one of the best places to do that. Without a doubt, you will come out knowing what you want to do, and along the way, you will gain a greater appreciation and understanding of yourself. So just breath, and do your thing.

Victoria Tan

College of Engineering

Affiliations: Cornell Chimes

I am so lucky to be able to play such a unique instrument and interact with students and visitors from all around the world. I've also had the opportunity to visit other bell instruments and connect with the welcoming bell-ringing community (Cornell alums and beyond).

In the midst of all the hecticness, everyone needs a stress-reliever. As a Chimesmaster you're given an excuse to take a break for an hour and do something you'll hopefully love. Chimes is hands down my favorite part of Cornell for that reason. Beyond that, you have the opportunity to influence what the campus listens to, by selecting music to perform and adding to the existing repertoire.

William Nnuro Jr.

College of Arts & Sciences

My favorite Cornell moment was actually spending Spring Break on a boat in the Galapagos with Dr. Irby Lovette, President Hunter Rawlings and his wife Elizabeth and 10 other students from the Biology Scholars Program.

A piece of advice I’d give to the first-year version of myself is to talk to your family more about your life goals and struggles because they care and can help you.

Yitzy Rosenberg

College of Engineering

Affiliations: Triphammer Cooperative, AguaClara, Engineers Without Borders, Camp Kesem, Hillel, Rotaract, INCOSE, CU-Empower, Env’E Ambassadors, AWWA

When I transferred to Cornell, I spent my first night here homeless. It was a hard, lonely, and exhausting night. My undergraduate coordinator, Nadine Porter, found out, and sprung into action to help me find a place and within 10 minutes a professor I’d never met, Professor Bill Philpot, reached out to me and offered for me to sleep in his home. Her kindness and the professor’s willingness to have me, a total stranger, live in his home, made me feel welcome and cared for and those feelings have left a strong impression on me.

The seconds year I joined the Triphammer coop with a mission to create the same welcomed feeling that I felt in my first moments. I’ve spent the past two years living at Triphammer and the community that my housemates and I created is one of the most welcoming and caring collectives I’ve ever been a part of. I know that I will cherish the memories and miss the warmth of Triphammer, my home in Ithaca.

Yunyun Wang

College of Arts & Sciences and Engineering

Affiliations: Meinig Scholar

Surround yourself with peers who inspire you and lift you up! I'm constantly amazed by what my friends are up to and it's a really energizing environment to be in and also know you have a support network to lean on :)