'I developed a sense of intrinsic motivation, accountability and maturity'

Erik Kirakosyan

Chemistry & College Scholar
Ann Arbor, Mich.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was definitely honors physical chemistr…just kidding. My favorite course at Cornell was a composing podcasts English course (ENGL 2890) I took as my writing distribution requirement. Not only did I get to listen to a wide array of podcasts, but I also learned how to use podcasting software and our final exam was producing our own podcast episode from scratch!

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

firefighters shooting water from a hose

My main extracurricular activity is volunteering with the Varna Volunteer Fire Company in Dryden as the EMS Training Officer and an exterior firefighter. The opportunity to train in courses such as exterior firefighting and ice/cold water rescue and even operating a fire engine is something I never thought I would experience as an undergraduate. This is the first activity I’ve done in my life that’s felt immediately impactful, while simultaneously being a fun and exciting challenge. I will never forget the skills I gained here and being at Cornell has made that possible.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

As I wrap up my honors thesis, I can’t help but reflect on the past few years and the incredible amount of personal and professional growth that was required to produce this paper. To gain the background knowledge required, I had to take a diverse course load in chemistry, physics, mathematics and even some computer science. I spent countless hours in the lab working with graduate student mentors to learn the laboratory skills needed to carry out my own project. I developed a sense of intrinsic motivation, accountability and maturity that helped keep me on track and overall transformed me into a completely different person than I was four years ago. I’m proud and thankful that so many people dedicated their time and energy to help me develop and produce this thesis that is symbolic of growth.

three people with wetsuits on

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell?

Coming into Cornell, I was terrified of being caught in a constant competition with some of the brightest students from across the country. My overall picture of competitive universities was thankfully flawed. I discovered that even the hardest challenges could be overcome with a shift in mindset from constantly comparing myself to others to working to create the best possible outcome for myself. I also found that this school was full of students just like me, who were ready to work together to maximize learning and help everyone achieve what they are capable of. I also found that I wasn’t afraid to take on a challenge, a personality trait that I hope will help me in medicine in the future.

people around a table

What are your plans for the next year?

I will be returning to Cornell to pursue a one-year master of engineering degree in chemical engineering before applying to medical school. I will also continue volunteering with the Varna Volunteer Fire Company and hope to dedicate more of my time to this organization over the coming year.


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		Erik Kirakosyan