New York City, NY
What do you value about your liberal arts education?
I value the liberty and thinking space that a liberal arts education gives the student. Ezra was not lying when he said "any person any study." I double majored in chemistry and performing arts here, and I realized that I use the same part of my brain for both fields. I take the basic elements of acting and pay attention to specific details to make sure the audience understands the story they're watching. Likewise in organic chemistry, I apply the same concepts in working my way through reaction mechanisms and pay attention to a molecule's specific properties to make sure my science will work. I would have also been a nervous wreck during my thesis presentation had it not been for my performing experience.
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
My most profound turning point was in my junior year during a conversation with Ordinary People [student theatre troupe] about socioeconomic status. I knew what the term means, and I am aware of how important it is as a factor in our society. However, up until then, I didn't take into consideration how my socioeconomic status affected me on a personal level beyond factors that were outside my control. We spoke about how students' low socioeconomic status slowly influences their experience in college, especially Cornell. As my group members gave more examples, I stayed silent in the background because each and every comment applied to me to a large extent, and I didn't even realize it, being halfway through college. Yes, I went back home and cried. But overnight, my entire attitude changed. I knew that I had to rise up to the occasion and be a part of the conversation as a Latino student. My experience matters. I have a voice – a strong one too. I knew the importance of making the most out of my academic experience at Cornell. And that changed my work ethic for the latter half of my Cornell experience in ways I am to this day thankful for.
If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?
Do not be afraid to own every bit of fabulousness about your character. You are special and you got into this university because you're a leader with something to say. Find a support group that will challenge your views on a daily basis because that's where your Ivy League education gets its flavor. And if you can do something every day – however small – that challenges you, go for it. Be bold daily.