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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Wichita Falls, TX
Freedom and Justice
Summer College 2009
Hello to future summer collegians, and current ones as well (or to any visitor of this site), my name is Mary Elizabeth and I am a 2009 Summer College student enrolled in Freedom and Justice: The Law in Theory and Practice. I am 17 yrs. old and have just completed my junior year at Wichita Falls High School in a town of approximately 100,000 people, 2 hours from the notorious Dallas, TX. However it was in Waco, TX that I was just recently honored as a Christian Debutante, along with other girls in the state. Since school has been out I have been occupied with the Academic Success Project, a program in our school district that encourages minorities or any academically driven students to apply to top schools. Through this program I've been teaching lessons to lowerclassmen to help them raise their SAT scores. I only have one more week to teach and then the program leaders will graciously allot me the chance to pursue my passion of studying law and politics. Despite Aristotle's statement that the law is free from passion, it is true that I have had, for the longest time, a fetish for political philosophy.

How can I begin to assess my first week at Cornell? It seems as if that rainy day my mom left me to this growing experience was long ago, but at the same time long enough. Also it seems that I've seen and met more people since the ice cream social that night. I guess that leads me to talk about the interesting people I've met, including another feature writer who's from Plano, TX, the same state I'm from. But the best part about meeting people here is that they are not all from Texas or even the United States. Coming from a diverse high school, I enjoy being around students from different cultures. It's also wonderful to be surrounded by colleagues who have aspirations beyond their GPA's and who are pretty determined to pursue a particular field. This then leads me to talk about the program, Freedom and Justice: The Law in Theory and Practice. Having to listen to a lecture about what I'm interested in and covering material that I read before class isn't bad at all. Though, I do have a confession that I had a writing burn-out this week when it seemed as if I couldn't write an adequate essay. This issue is only temporary and I assure myself that I will be able to write like I do at home and as I did for the admission essay. The first class this week brought to my attention the politics within the Bible. It wasn't so much that I was unaware of the differences in law of the Old and New Testament, but it was that I had never seen them in a political standpoint or named them as political. Maybe that was a shortage in my philosophical mind. However, I've been contemplating the ideal of wisdom after learning Plato's view of how only a select few are born with this gift. So my mission by the end of this program is to find out if I have this gift and how well am I able to use it. To wrap up, I will for the interest of others, briefly mention food. Trillium has the best food. My first week has been good and I have adapted well to this environment.

This week I experienced the incessant rains of Ithaca, and I have to admit that I liked the rain. However, it was short lived (as in 5 days short). This was good because no one wanted the fireworks to be rained out on Thursday. Although it did pour Thursday afternoon, and we had to close the windows in the lecture hall. This week seemed to go by faster than the previous one, but weeks always go by fast when you have a big test approaching. This was the week my program had the mid-term exam. To overcome the anxiety, most had a three-day weekend, but that wasn’t granted to all of the students like those in Hotel Management. Many activities were planned for the big Independence Day weekend, but the best was probably the indepen-Dance. We also had a carnival on the 4th and later that night a toga party where we were wrapped up in sheets (courtesy of Cornell Summer College), and had a student produced dance. One thing I have failed to talk about is the guest speakers we’ve had in the Freedom and Justice Program. We’ve so far had presentations from a city judge, an attorney working with another attorney who fabricated evidence, a lawyer who helped Haagen Dazs with a case on trade dress, and another attorney who helped Ithaca High School in a case against censorship. As stated earlier, this week went by fast. I almost forgot to write this blog. I am not ready to leave this city upon the hill, but I hope to make the last week my best.

I'm not sure if this last entry should be a testimonial of how Summer College has helped me or if it should be full of random information that I haven't told my readers. It's hard to believe I'm sitting here in the over-air-conditioned computer lab at Robert Purcell Community Center for the last time. My experience here has been fruitful. Everything I reaped through my work is coming into full bloom. I am excited about the graduation ceremony tomorrow. I feel that this is so, because I'm a rising senior and am getting ready to commence next spring. This ceremony won't have caps and gowns, and I doubt there will be any speeches, but what will be there is the same sense of pride and relief after finishing a course. Most of my belongings are packed and I hope I can turn my room back into one with white walls, blue floor, and brown furniture. I don't know what I will miss most about Summer College: the amazing people I've met, walks to Collegetown on Sundays after church with friends at Annabel Taylor Hall, Professor Kramnik's sense of humor, dinner with friends, the class itself, or even Cornell itself. I feel as if I will miss them all and going back to Texas with triple-digit weather and a lot less greenery will take some adjustment. Here I've learned that grass doesn't have to turn yellow in the summertime. I'm very pleased with my experience here at Cornell this summer.

I remember how I began one of my admissions essays with the quote from Socrates “We must move ourselves before we move the world.” I must center my final sentiments with the same thought. I did succeed this summer at Cornell and am pleased with my final work. But my successes are not the most treasured things that I will carry on from my experience. The jewels of my experience included exploring thinkers who shaped Western political thought, overcoming the anxiety of writing a college essay (which I have now learned from that the first college essay is usually a little overwhelming), learning what I must do to improve my writing, meeting some fascinating people, experiencing college life before leaving high school, and finding out that I wasn’t wrong about my interests in law and politics. All of these things and more are what are going to strengthen me so I will be able to one day move the world. So please, if you share in my desire to move the world through politics, or even medicine, architecture, or the hospitality business apply to Cornell University Summer College and we can all be what the poet William O’Shaughnessy calls the “movers and shakers of the world forever.”