The Woodlands, TX
Freedom and Justice
Veterinary Medicine: Conservation Medicine
Summer College 2014
Hi! My name is Carmen and I'm writing from the great state of Texas. My family is originally from Venezuela, but I've been privileged enough to consider Singapore, Mexico, Connecticut, and Florida my home at different times in my life. Although currently at a staggering five-foot zero inches, I am a varsity member of my rowing team. I also love to read (clothes won't be the only thing I'm packing) and to participate in all things music-related. I play a mean piano and ukulele, and at best a mediocre guitar – still learning, no promises!
This summer, I will participate in two courses: Freedom and Justice and Conservation Medicine. Unlike my older brother, whose scientific mind had a clear idea of what it wanted to study, I reside happily in the uncertainty about what career I truly want to pursue. I'm positive my time at Cornell will help steer my interests. I absolutely can't wait!
A week has passed on this beautiful campus and for the first time I'm a bit lost for words. Prior to coming here, I had three weeks to develop expectations about the courses and campus, and maybe a couple of fake conversations with my future roommate. Reality has definitely beat my expectations.
Stepping foot on campus and glimpsing the multitude of Summer College students was initially intimidating, but I quickly came to realize that many, if not all of us, were in the same boat. Fortunately, we were given the weekend to acclimate and explore our surroundings.
Class so far has been incredible! To be frank, I have never been interested in politics. However, after witnessing the revolutionary events taking place in Venezuela and its impact on my extended family, I realize now how important it is to actively participate in public discourse and the democratic process. Taking a course on the historical and modern implications of "freedom and justice" has started to expand my understanding on what those privileges are based on. Professor Kramnick's lectures are extremely interesting and helpful in understanding what at first glance can appear as undecipherable text; however, it's the discussions we have afterward with our TA that I look forward to most. They really make an effort to incorporate everyone in the discussion and force us to think critically—not always an easy thing to do. Their genuine passion for the subject matter really comes through and makes the class all the more exciting.
While classes take up a large part of my day, I get to spend the remainder of my evening relaxing and wandering about (I mean... studying). This weekend was a nice break from the routine. It was spent exploring downtown Ithaca and Collegetown, gorging on the famous Collegetown Bagels, and finally stargazing at the unpolluted sky—a rare sight in Houston. The diversity of Cornell continues to amazing me, and I wholeheartedly look forward to the next five weeks!
Hi everyone! I can't believe I'm writing four weeks into the program. I feel as if I've been here twice as long, and am only a fraction of the way through.
The week following my last blog post was definitely the most climatic. It was equally filled with work and socializing. Sadly, my Freedom and Justice course was coming to an end; however, it also meant that the dreaded final paper and exam were just around the corner. Most evenings were spent in the library with friends, trying to cram as much reading, analyzing, and editing as possible. Thankfully, our TA, Kevin held his office hours in the library's cafe. As he is a proud, self-proclaimed coffee-junkie and male-feminist, we were able hold large study groups and learn not only about the "art" of coffee from drip, but the deeper meanings of the texts we were reading (and a bit more about each other). It was nice being able to talk comfortably among both my peers and teachers. That week we also discovered Insomnia Cookies, a local bakery that delivers fresh-baked goods to sleep deprived students—now an important staple in my diet.
After the final, we were able to celebrate (and sleep)! Having made it halfway through the course, I felt a new sense of comfort and community among the students and the university. I was caught completely off guard one night after thinking, "I can't wait to go home," referring to my dorm. While I do enjoy going downtown with friends, or exploring the local parks and scenery of the campus, what I look forward to the most is reminiscing and laughing over the day's events with my dormmates.
I'm now a week into my new course, Conservation Veterinary Medicine. It's a nice change of pace, and while I do enjoy walking on campus, I'm not particularly fond of the 25-minute excursion it takes to get to class. Our labs, which take place after lecture, are immensely interesting! Last week we did an intro to telemetry course, and today we worked with amphibians and really big snakes. Every day, I learn new and interesting information I would never think were relevant.
I've really enjoyed the past four weeks here on campus, and I can't wait to see what the remaining two have in store.
Hi again! Sadly, my time here at Cornell is coming to an end, as I write to you all in the midst of my last week. While I look forward to going home and reuniting with my friends and family (and seeing the sun), I know I will deeply miss the relationships I've formed.
Class continues to get better. My TA, Sharon, is extremely intelligent and insightful about animals, bordering on being a walking encyclopedia. She teaches a good portion of the lectures, and many of them touch on the conservation work she's done in exotic places with exotic animals, which never fails to amaze us. Last Friday, we took our last major quiz, and (again) were able to relax and celebrate!
Since a good portion of us leave next Saturday, we took advantage of our last weekend together by organizing a BBQ at Treman Park. It has consistently been five or so boys in the six-week program who have had the energy and creativity to organize these BBQ's. This was the third and biggest one yet. This time, around 80 people signed up and close to $1,000 was raised for food, cab fair, and for later, Insomnia Cookies. Fortunately, I was able to contribute this time. I not only helped with the grocery shopping, but with the cooking as well. The trip to the grocery store was exciting on its own! It took three grocery carts, the entire meat aisle at Target, and a nice budget to feed 80 people. I made my madre's famous guacamole, and it was thankfully a huge success.
The rest of the day was incredible. Treman park is extremely beautiful—this type vegetation just doesn't exist in Texas. Two minutes from where we were barbequing, was a waterfall we could jump off of. Although freezing, it was absolutely worth it. The rest of the day consisted of eating, swimming, lounging, playing instruments, and throwing around some sort of ball; I couldn't have asked for a better evening. The most satisfying part about it: We made it happen!
That day, our RCA, Diamond, asked us questions about our experience thus far. While many of us had different, diverse answers, a prevalent theme was that although this experience was difficult and challenging, it was completely worth the effort (also some-sort of mentioning about their sleep-deprived state). I'm so glad I decided to spend my summer here.
I hate to sound sentimental or cliché, but finding the correct words to reflect on this experience has never been so difficult. The six weeks spent at Cornell were easily the best six weeks of my life; truthfully, they were long, challenging, exciting, and for lack of a better word, simply incredible. While I'm beginning to miss waking up to such a breathtaking campus, I find myself appreciating the smaller moments shared among friends and classmates the most.
Something common and unique among the CUSC students is that all of them chose to spend their summer pursuing their passions, or discovering new ones. I was happily immersed in an environment that encouraged growth, exploration and balance. My time here deepened my appreciation of the sciences, but surprised me in the philosophical questions that govern them. The rigor of my courses left me exhausted, but with an unsatiated appetite for knowledge and that "college experience." I was given a taste of the future, and a reassurance of not always knowing what that entails.
It will be odd going back to high school in a couple of weeks, but I'm glad to get back into normal routine; rowing definitely compensates for the lack of walking. Although I'm not thrilled about the summer-reading assignments and applications that lay ahead, I am looking forward to being a senior in high school. I hope these entries were helpful for any perspective students. Thanks for tuning in!