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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


New York, NY
Views on the News: Public Policy in America
Summer College 2016

I am William, a rising senior at Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York (the Bronx). I live in Manhattan and have spent most of my summers in camp near Portland, Maine. As the third of four children, I am the first to head to Ithaca for the summer. I am really looking forward to the Cornell Summer College Program in July and will be taking Views on the News: Perspectives on Public Policy in America. I have a strong interest in politics and political history and expect this summer’s course at Cornell to be very relevant to the elections currently underway. This will be a particularly good summer to follow the media and its focus on the presidential race. Away from school, I am a cross-country runner and an avid baseball fan.


My first week at Cornell has been very exciting and busy. My class is off to a great start. The first three days were spent discussing the economic effects on risky lifestyle behavior. My professor is so knowledgeable and passionate about the topic and was incredibly engaged with class. As a true testament to our professor's dedication in getting to know his students, he took our entire twenty student class to the Statler Hotel for a group lunch.

When I am not in class, I usually hang out on the quad with friends, walk down to Collegetown, or go for a run. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the Cornell Summer College program is the diversity of the students. Among the kids I have met is a Brazilian, an Australian, and three Saudis. Learning about their cultures and stories has been an eye-opening and fascinating experience. I normally go out for a run after class with my friends to explore Cornell's beautiful and expansive campus. Living on the Cornell campus can, at first, seem like a very daunting experience. However, after spending a week on campus, I feel as though I am living in a small and supportive town.

This weekend was spent relaxing with all of my friends after the opening week. The long holiday weekend was great as we were treated to a great fireworks display for July 4th. The whole campus gathered on the slope to watch the fireworks burst over the lake.

I cannot wait for the next part of the program. I know I have made friendships that will last forever.


Professor Wildeman has dedicated his professional career to studying the effects of mass incarceration. Learning about the criminal justice system and ways to fix the flaws was both a timely, given the current political and racial tensions, and fascinating subject. The best aspect of having multiple professors teach the class is that each teacher brings with him/her a unique teaching style. In addition to the unique teaching styles, each professor is intensely passionate about their field of study.

Professor Hall has been speaking to us about yet another timely issue, immigration. His expertise combined with his approach to provide our class with perspectives from both sides of the issue has made each lesson really enjoyable and engaging.

As I enter the final week of the program, I have come away with not only a greater sense of public policy issues that confront our nation but also lifelong friends.


The final few days of the program were spent with the friends that I made over the course of the three weeks as well as preparing for my final project. One of the final objectives of my class was to gain a better understanding of how to develop, analyze, and present different policy alternatives. This week, as part of our project, four members of my class and I began formulating a 30-minute presentation on the efficacy of mandatory-minimum drug sentences. The hours spent researching and writing up the presentation not only gave me a greater sense of the complexity of this issue, but also fostered a bond among the members of my group.

Through the challenging (yet manageable) course material, the many lectures taught by Cornell professors, and staying up late bonding with students from all over the world, I gained a greater sense and appreciation of what college life is like at Cornell. I left Cornell with a better sense of what the university has to offer its students both in terms of its academics as well as campus life. One of the many reasons I applied to the summer program was the very positive impression left with me last October when I visited Cornell as a high school junior. My experience this summer not only confirmed my initial impression, but left me with an even deeper appreciation for what Cornell has to offer. I was struck by the passion and dedication of the professors, life on campus, and the friendships that I made at Cornell. My summer at Cornell was among the best summer experiences I have had.