December 6, 2001

The 25 Most Intriguing Cornellians

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No matter if you know one or two of them personally, have shaken one of their hands in Ho Plaza, or you pass them everyday unaware and uninterested in who they are, what’s about to be disclosed may peak your interest or offer you a newer, richer perspective. So, who are they? They are the 25 Most Intriguing Cornellians of 2001. A power list of undergraduate students who possess much more than a fancy title (although some do), but also depth and presence. It’s an inner presence that may have been underexposed… that is until now.

Thomas Aichele ’02

Most of us who lived in the eighties have fantasized at least once about flying an F-14 Tomcat high above the clouds upon seeing the hit blockbuster Top Gun. This is a fantasy no more for Tom Aichele who visited the actual Top Gun in the desert of Nevada this past summer and got to take a ride in the real thing. What afforded him this fantastic opportunity? Aichele is the Supply and Athletics Officer for Navy ROTC and President of the Scabbard and Blades Society, an honor society for ROTC members. Aichele’s father and grandfather were both Navy, but Aichele has pioneered his own path in college as well. As a founding member of Phi Kappa Tau, Aichele is rapping up his term as President. Aichele credits his fellow students who he sees as the most talented group of people around as his motivator. However, when this Top Gun survivor isn’t hob-knobing with his Ivy League comarades, he might be cruising around Mt. Pleasant on his motorcycle.

Elizabeth Antczak ’03

Liz Antczak has been riding horses for the majority of her time on this earth. It’s no wonder then that she’s a premier member of the best college Polo team in the nation two years running. A native of Ithaca who has played polo since high school, Antczak decided to continue her career in the sport here at Cornell where she is working for a dual degree in Biology and Society in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Urban and Regional Planning in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Upon graduating from her five-year program, Antczak plans on attending law school. Then, the present Quill and Dagger President looks forward to a possible career in environmental law, which she hopes to pursue on the international or national policy level.

Uzo Asonye ’02

Known campus wide as the President of the Student Assembly, there is more to Asonye than his prodigious title and influential position. Formerly a member of the marching band, Asonye jumped from just being a clarinet player to a political player his sophomore year. Upon reading The Review for the first time, the once self-proclaimed introvert blossomed into the perservering leader he is today. In the midst of being a full-time student and triumphing on issues for the Womens’ Resource Center, Asonye miraculously found time to learn the guitar and apply to law school. The future hopefully holds a career working for the government in public policy.

Khary Barnes ’02

When Khary Barnes didn’t win the SA election his sophomore year, he didn’t let the loss stop him from trying to get involved. Instead, he decided to enter the race for one of two student-elected trustee positions, and won. Still serving his two-year term as trustee, Barnes also serves as the President of Class of 2002 in addition to running his own entertainment company, Pek Entertainment. Barnes is as enthusiastic about contributing to Cornell’s social scene as he is about contributing to its academic and political ones. Someday, Barnes hopes to continue his work in entertainment as the CEO of an entertaiment company like Sony. To that end, Barnes says that he believes life is an art of possibilities.

Leslie Berkemeyer ’03

Leslie Berkemeyer has come a long way since her days as Miss Teen Huntington Beach in her home state of California. At first, Berkemeyer’s interest in organized labor brought her across the continent to the Finger Lakes region, but at the end of her sophomore year, Berkemeyer transfered into Arts and Sciences to study Medieval Histor. She has remained active in the Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA), Cornell Democrats, and Students Against Sweatshops. Her interest in politics eventually led her to run for student-elected Trustee.When Berkemeyer isn’t busy with University politics, she enjoys practicing yoga, experimenting with her grandmother’s Mexican recipes, and writing poetry. A self-proclaimed music fanatic, Berkemeyer was inspired at the age of 15 to pick up the bass guitar. As far as the future, Berkemeyer is still considering a career working in labor, but has no plans of pursuing pagent titles.

Michelle Bellino ’02

Only a true literary enthusiast would travel to the other side of the world in search of a new perspective from which to weave a tale. Michelle Bellino is such a devotee, perhaps being the first Cornellian to study abroad in Samoa. On this South Pacific island, Bellino explored the Samoan language and people, and learned enough to write a short story from the Samoan perspective. When Bellino isn’t globetrotting, rockclimbing (she’s a PE instructor), or scuba diving (she just learned), she acts as the editor of the annual literary magazine, Rainy Day, and the national graduate publication, Epoch Magazine here at Cornell. Bellino does all of this while pursuing her degree in English and concentrating in Latin American Studies. After school, she hopes to write screenplays, poems, and short stories.

Scott Belsky ’02

A dominant business leader and owner, Scott Belsky is motivated toward much more than making money. Belsky was a mere senior in high school when he co-founded Live Big, a clothing company that consists of various clothing “programs” targeted at the 15-25 age group. Although Belsky thrives on his roles as Co-chair of the Student Assembly Finance Committee, President of The Cornell Investment Club, President of The Cornell Entrepreneurs, and the Chair of the Steering Committee for CALS Ambassadors, his interest and time aren’t limited to these activities. A self-taught guitar player of five years, Belsky picked it up after happening upon his mom’s old instrument. He also harbors a passion for writing, penning both songs and philosophical musings.

Apra Bhandari ’02

It’s no wonder that Apra Bhandari is a premier representative of Community Development considering that she is a communications major . A former Resident Advisor turned Programming Assistant for the Class of 1922 and 1928 complex, Bhandari also juggles dancing in the East Indian dance troupe Sitara and as well as the Bhangra dance group. Despite a hectic schedule, she has managed to work as a CALS Ambassador and secure a place in the National Residence Hall Honorarium (NRHH), which is comprised of the top one percent of student staff. Practicing Indian dance since the age of three, Bhandari looks at her involvement with both dance and community development as a means of spreading cultural awareness and diversity on campus.

Erin Brannan ’02

When it comes to charitable acts, Erin Brannan is the social director, or the Executive Director of On Site Volunteer Services. Brannan also acts as the Philanthropy Chair of her Sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and the Service Chair for Quill and Dagger. What can she say? When she signed up for OSVS her freshman year to find something to do, her passion for public service was ignited. Within all of her philanthropic activity, Brannan is most proud of the work she’s done bridging the gap between Cornell and the Ithaca community. She feels that working with many area residents and leaders has afforded her the opportunity to contribute a positive impact by college students’ on the community.

Dana Brown ’02

Even Dana Brown’s desk is an organized mess. Th
is isn’tsurprising since Brown has made a college career of organizing. Whether organizing students to fight for funding for ethnic studies or organizing a telethon last spring to raise money for the Africana Studies and Resource Center, Brown is an active organizer for change.Brown evene got a bunch of fellow knitting enthusiasts together last spring for a lecture series/knitting circle that featured community leaders and activists as guest speakers. This Fall Brown’s efforts for peace were brought to the fore after the attacks on September 11. Activly pursuing the ideals of peace on campus, in the Ithaca community, and nationally, Brown is a avid member of the STARC Alliance (Students Transforming and Resisting Corporations), a national peace organizing organization.

Malik Dixon ’02

The ability to maintain focus on a campus filled with so many diverse people, activities, and areas of study is a difficult challenge. Perhaps Malik Dixon has aptly faced this challenge because his focus is fixed on the very issue of this diversity. An energetic and passionate activist, Dixon concerns himself with issues of race, overall community interaction between students, and insuring that the amount of diversity within many aspects of the University are not simply maintained, but greatly expanded. A Cornell National Scholar, active presence at program houses Ujamma and MCLLU, and a leading member of La Asociacion latina and Black Students United, Dixon keeps himself firmly entrenched in the world of minority affairs and also serves as a check on the administration’s activism. Dixon is an urban and regional planning student with a concentration in Africana. In the past years, Dixon has helped to organize multiple marches and rallies such as the Diallo Rally, which protested the treatment of people of color by the New York City Police Department.

Nyles Fitzgerald ’02

The creative realm is a familiar place for Nyles Fitzgerald, an artist in the purest sense. An active musician, devoted filmmaker, and passionate writer, Fitzgerald is one of those fortunate souls who has found his passion and is able to live by it each day. A member of bands Mandingo, an infusion of funk and jazz, as well as Poetic Alchemy, a straight hip-hop production, Fitzgerald contributes his talent for poetry and creative writing through his lyrics. During the spring and summer of 2001, Fitzgerald studied in Paris thanks to a grant he was awarded by the Dean’s Scholar Program. Here, he was able to shoot a 60-minute documentary on street musicians in the city that is still under construction. Performance art is not only the topic of his film, but also an outlet and vehicle for Fitzgerald to communicate his experiences to others.

Andrew Gelfand ’02

Andrew Gelfand’s seventh in command reported that he said, “What paper are you from?” upon hearing our request.

Joshua Goldman ’02

If anyone at Cornell could possibly be the next Einstein, it’s Josh Goldman. Goldman’s list of accomplishments and activities reads like a laundry list, yet he still manages to maintain an impeccable GPA. Considering he’s a researcher in the Lab of Atomic and Solid State Physics, a physics tutor with the Learning Strategies Center, winner of a Goldwater Scholarship, co-chair for Arts and Sciences Ambassadors, a member of the Cornell Presidential Scholars Student Advisory Board, Vice-President of Kappa Delta Rho, and President of the Society of Physics students, it’s amazing that Goldman also finds time to be a part of the Cornell Percussion Ensemble. More than just holding titles and leading groups, Goldman enjoys the social aspects of working with his fellow students and University administrators. Of course, certain perks are an occupational hazard, such as his trips to Italy, Honduras, and Mexico in the name of Geophysics research.

Jess Heley ’02

Chances are if you attended a CTA production in 2001, you had the privilege of seeing Miss Heley at work. If you’re not the theatre going sort, then you may remember Heley from her reading of an A.R. Ammons’ poem at the Sept. 11 memorial service held in the Arts Quad. Her experience at the memorial service was one of her most resonate performances to date. The day of the service, Heley was approached by many fellow Cornellians who greeted her with words of thanks and personal stories. It is that type of interactive performance that Heley enjoys. Presently, Heley is also active with Child Protective Services Training for which she acts out situations in order to educate state workers on how to conduct themselves in child abuse situations. Having had the opportunity to turn down the top-ranked Tisch School of the Arts, Heley found herself at Cornell for its diverse cirriculum and its picturesque campus.

Matt and Mark McRae ’03

It could be said that the McRae twins have achieved a moderate level of celebrity here at Cornell as members of the Big Red Hockey team. Mark McRae, a college scholar pursuing medical ethics and religious studies, and his brother Matt McRae, a biology and society major in the Arts and Sciences, hail from Trinidad, Canada, not far from Toronto. They began their careers on ice taking figure skating lessons. Upon entreating their parents to let them switch to hockey at the age of 4, the twins were snuck into a league a year early. Nearly sixteen years later, the boys are enjoying a nice mix of hockey and school, and have already been drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers. For the future, Matt plans to play hockey for a few more years and then go to medical school, while Mark hopes to play hockey for long as he is able. For now, the brothers fill their time with hockey, work, and still manage to give back to the community. Locally, the twins skate with special needs individuals on Sunday nights, an activity started by fellow iceman Sam Paolini. Truly, Matt and Mark McRae redefine the term “dynamic duo.”