May 25, 2010

My Final Letter to Cornell

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Dear Cornell,Well, everything started with a letter, so it is only fitting that I end with one.

I was eight years old when I first decided I wanted to go to Cornell. A visit with my family to the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles ignited in me a desire to be a hotelier. My third grade self, thinking he had found his life’s passion, sought out every opportunity to pursue it. I collected piles of miniature shampoo bottles and little soap bars at every hotel I visited.

One day, my father, encouraging my interest — possibly out of sheer amusement? — told me about the greatest hotel school in the world and suggested I write a letter to the dean. I learned how to put together a formal letter and set about chronicling my unadulterated love of hotels. I sealed it up and sent it off to faraway Ithaca, N.Y.I waited and waited for a response, and just when I thought the dean would never reply, a package came in the mail. A man by the name of Dean Bishop sent me a letter telling me to keep my grades up and to check back in about 10 years. Along with it were a bunch of glossy informational brochures and an invitation to a Hotel School open house that coming fall.That September, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, I went with my dad to the information session. Surrounded by high school seniors clad in jackets and ties, I soaked in the scene and decided that I would some day go to Cornell.Somehow it happened. The narrative of my life led to the Hotel School, where I enrolled just about four years ago.Over the years, Cornell has been the subject of many letters. There’s the letter I wrote to the Internal Transfer Department stating my intention of transferring out of the Hotel School and into Arts in Sciences.There’s the e-mail I wrote to former Sun editor in chief Erica Fink ’07 asking how I could get involved in The Cornell Daily Sun.There’s the countless e-mails I have written to friends, professors, colleagues, and employers proudly proclaiming myself a Cornellian.And then there’s the e-mail I recently sent to my parents about making dinner reservations for graduation weekend.My eight-year-old self would never have imagined where his enthusiasm, passion and ambition would bring him. For the greatest four years of my life, I have many people to thank. So, here are my final Cornell letters:Dear Dad, Without your stacks of old New York Times in the living room and your staunch belief in the power of journalism, I never would have found my way to The Sun. Your unfailing encouragement, even when it means being a harsh critic, has made me who I am.Dear Mom, Without your constant persistence that Dad get his newspapers out of the living room, among many other things, I never would have learned the virtue of fighting for what I believe in. Your work makes me proud every day, and I will consider myself happy if my life’s work is half as fulfilling as yours.Dear Emily, Who would have thought that that first double byline we shared would lead to so much more. You have made the past two years of college — inside The Sun and out — absolutely amazing, and I can’t wait to step out of the Cornell bubble with you. I love you.Dear 127th, We’ve become something of a family over the last year, and I can’t imagine it any other way. You all mean the world to me.Dear Sam, Venus, Seth, Strat, On all of those late nights, there’s no one I would rather look across the computer bank at than you guys.Dear Sammy, Your passion for everything you do is an inspiration, and it made working with you quite a blast.Dear Deb, Between Wednesday dinners, pregames and you showing up at 3 a.m. to redesign pages, our lives have become uniquely linked. Thanks for everything, and for not hating me.Dear Stratford, I’ve known since your first byline that you would make a great managing editor, and I am so proud to see you carry on the tradition. I am in awe of your journalistic skills and I can’t wait to see you continue to make The Sun yours.Dear Meredith, Peter, Cara, Jasmine, Willi and the 126th, We’ve been through it all together. To Keenan, Irene, Ben, Brendan, Mike, Dani, and the 128th: You guys are awesome.Dear Sarah, It’s no coincidence that the trajectory of my college experience followed closely behind yours. You have always been and will continue to be a mentor and friend. The steady tricycle will keep on peddling.Dear Morisy, I’ve always tried to be the hard-hitting reporter that you were. Though I never drove the Collegetown Creeper home from jail, I still certainly learned what makes The Sun so special.Dear Schroeder, Boy, will you be glad to get rid of me. Thanks for making The Sun such a great place.Dear Prof. Kramnick, Thank you for your guidance during the last year as my thesis advisor, and over the last four years of college.Dear Chadski, Ginger, Jeff, Jeremy, Piper, Scott, Tom, I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends. We’ve been through it all together, from the house to the “crackden,” from doing it up big in the city to hitting up McDonalds at 5, er, 6 a.m. Here’s to many more great and ridiculous times.Dear Stately Westbourne, Not sure what I was getting myself into when I let a southern gentleman with a penchant for lying convince me to sign my bid, but I can’t imagine Cornell without having joined the house.Dear 4-5, Drinking in the triple and making scenes outside frat parties seemed like just yesterday. It’s amazing how far we’ve come together, yet how little my drinking tolerance has improved.Dear Cornell, Though deciding to go Cornell was by far the greatest decision I have made in my life, I’m not naive enough to think that my experience at this great institution was entirely unique. For the hundreds of thousands of kids who have been profoundly changed by this place, there will be hundreds of thousands more. To those who have time left here, enjoy every minute of it.

Sincerely,Ben

Ben Eisen, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the former Sun Managing Editor. He may be reached at beisen@cornellsun.com.

Original Author: Ben Eisen