Is Cornell somewhere I can be successful?

One of my favorite spots on campus to study is in the Experiential Learning Lab (ELL). Most engineers on campus have come to know the ELL to be the home of many project teams, including mine, Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (CUAUV).

Like most other project team members, if you ask me if I love my experience on my project team I would reply “yes” followed by “oh, and our application link is here, you definitely should apply!”. I, like many others, love my team. And even more so, I adore all of the activities I am involved with on campus.

Campus organizations are an integral part of the Cornell experience. However, as a Senior who has transitioned from an interviewee to an interviewer for many of my own organizations, I find it hard not to discuss my own experiences for how I ended up where I am today.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine on CUAUV just a few days ago about the difficulties of recruitment for her other campus involvements. She communicated to me that she had been stressed about applying to leadership positions in her clubs and was very curious as to how I had managed to find myself in several leadership positions on campus.

And through our conversation, I was reminded of what almost all people might be curious of when they come to Cornell: “Is Cornell somewhere I can be successful?”

When I became Business Lead of CUAUV, it had not been my initial intention when I applied. Nor was my intention to be a part of CUAUV when I applied to Cornell. In fact, CUAUV had been the fourth project team I had applied to since getting rejected twice and switching my major once.

No one ever discusses the journey it took to get where they are. It is easy to tell people to “apply here” and “sign up there” but in reality, success at Cornell takes more than just a resume drop.

When you come to Cornell, you are provided with bountiful resources. But it is up to you to use them to your advantage, and to keep trying when you don’t get the results you were searching for. The tenacity that I see in my fellow students is exactly why I am so proud to be a part of this community, because my friends are all doing amazing things in their lives but overcame unseen challenges to get there.

Success is a strange term. One thing Cornell has taught me is that success is fluid, to one student it may mean starting their own restaurant in Collegetown, for another it is to be able to feel safe enough to travel back home to their families during a global pandemic. Regardless of what it is, Cornell stands behind its students and provides them the tools they need to flourish, but it is ultimately up to you as to what your own success at Cornell would look like.

—Emily, information science, systems & technology