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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Ann Arbor, MI
Design Immersion
Summer College 2014
My name is Claire, and I will be participating in the Design Immersion program this summer. This was an obvious decision because I enjoy using both art and science to explore creative and innovative solutions for seemingly unsolvable real-world problems. Unfortunately, I have little experience, which is why I think the design program will give me insight into this unique career area.

I am in the second cohort of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme at Dexter High School in Michigan. I am captain of my high school varsity swim and dive team and earned the "Most Improved" player on my varsity water polo team. I am a member of the National Honors Society and am the president of the Interact Club. When I have a rare moment of free time, I enjoy knitting and reading books. In the summer I enjoy boating on the lakes and in the winter I enjoy skiing and sledding!


Today was the first day of my Design class and to sum it up in one word it was memorable. Let's just say, a very high standard was set today for college. If every professor isn't like Rhonda, I am going to be very disappointed! And from what I hear, she's the best. Looks like I'll be applying to Cornell. Today in class our minds exploded. My brain was whizzing around with crazy ideas for our "surprise" project that will be in an exhibit at the end of the course.

Everything is related to design—even the chairs for our "T" rooms have cultural and social implications that mean so much more than a comfy modern sitting chair.

One of the things I like best about the program is the people surrounding me. Our design class is truly talented. Clearly we are all talented individuals because we made it into this program, but it's amazing what happens in a room full of young, brilliant, inspired minds ready to take on any challenge. One was arranging the desks in our preferred layout, while keeping in mind the lessons from our morning building lecture, as well as all of the technology and thought that went into the layout and design of the room.

With lecture starting at nine, studio ending at five, and then homework (which never ends), I have become an extremely busy person. The majority of this past week, I was at the studio until nine or ten at night finishing up a project or an assignment. The design students work tirelessly on their projects, and in the end it shows. Our surprise projects look amazing (Sorry, can't tell you what they are; you'll have to take the class or come see our exhibit.).

This weekend I was able to take a semi-break from school, which was definitely needed. On Saturday we worked on our projects while watching one of the FIFA soccer games (in the studio, again), but later that night we stayed in the studio (by choice) to watch Frozen, followed by Tangled. We wrapped up the night with a late night order from Insomnia Cookies, which are the creamiest, softest, gooiest, cookies ever. That'll probably become a tradition.

My dorm room is roomy and a lot cooler than the others. My roommate and I got lucky by having a triple room with only two people. Unlike home, I keep my room pristinely clean here, which I'm sure pleases my roommate and everyone who visits us. Laundry was a success! I only stared at the machine for five minutes before realizing that the card reader was on the wall (I believe everyone has some of those moments.).

In the next two weeks I foresee more outings to the town of Ithaca (the other day we went to a delicious Mexican restaurant) and exploring Cornell's campus (which I am embarrassed to say that I haven't done much of yet!). By the time I leave this campus, I'll take with me a number of practical life skills, including knowing how to do laundry, navigation, and time management.

Based upon the first week, I predict that the next two weeks will also be extremely memorable.


As predicted from my last post, these past weeks have been more memorable than I could have ever imagined. I have made lifetime friends in a matter of three weeks&crazy, if you ask me! Within the last couple of days our design class spent as much time together as possible: going out to dinner, ordering Insomnia Cookies, watching movies in the studio, etc.

When I got to Cornell, I couldn't imagine it being over; it seemed a lifetime away, but just like that we were preparing for our final exhibition. I got a taste of the college experience, but it wasn't enough&I wanted much more. As I sealed my envelope holding my room key, I knew that my time at Cornell was complete, for the time being, at least for this chapter. Whether I attend Cornell or another college, this experience has been a guiding light in my path toward my future.

It is going to be difficult to go back to my high school, where I have been in school with the same people since kindergarten and everyone is from the same town. I want the exciting diversity that a sea of fresh new faces at Cornell brings. I just want to walk the footbridge over the gorges to get to and from class. I want it to rain every other day and to have the storm water overflow over the dam. I want the passion of students and teachers to fill the room every day. I want to laugh at the people who are tempted to fall asleep in class during a lecture. I want to be able to choose where and what I eat for lunch. I want the flexibility and independence college life brings me. Three weeks was not long enough for me to do all that I wanted. If I could give any advice to the students entering this program in the future it would to do everything you want to do the minute you think of it because if you put those fun activities off, you'll never do them because time goes by at lightning speed.


It's been about three weeks since I left Cornell. I am just as busy at home, as I was when I was at Cornell! That statement seems impossible because I worked rigorously on my various design projects, but I suppose the work at home seems more exhausting just because it's less enjoyable.

After the intensity of my Design Immersion experience, when I look at a logo or a unique type of packaging, I now have strong opinions. Even at Cornell, my friends and I were already remarking on the Insomnia Cookies label creativity. Granted, there were many instances where we were looking at the label late at night! When I was flying home from French Language Camp (it's been a busy summer) I noticed a plastic water bottle that had a glacier-like feel to the top. I noted all the good and creative designs about the water bottle that I hadn't noticed at first glance. Then, when I was drinking it (because it was such a cool packaging I had to buy it), I noticed a functionality problem. Before Design Immersion I would have remarked how cool it looked, but not really completely analyze it. The things I learned in Design Immersion will not be forgotten, as demonstrated by my analysis of the water bottle three weeks after class ended!

Our design class became like a family during my three week stay. We created a Facebook group and vowed to keep in touch. I truly believe I have made life-long friends. It feels weird to be getting ready for my final Varsity Swim season and heading back to High School. After Cornell's Summer College, it just feels like I should be continuing in a college state of mind!