There exist at Cornell many persons of interest. Some of them occupy the pages of our fair newspaper on the regular, but they are hardly the only ones who merit widespread discussion. You’ve seen these Scintillating Seniors around campus. Perhaps you’ve awkwardly locked eyes with them on Ho Plaza, unaware of their subtle importance to campus culture. Below, you will find 20 Scintillating Seniors worthy of your attention. Maybe you’ve only seen them cramming in the library, killing it on the elliptical at the gym or making unfortunate mistakes at Collegetown’s finest drinking establishments, but these Seniors have carved themselves a place in Cornell lore and demand your utmost respect.
— Sam Bromer and Arielle Cruz, Sun Arts & Entertainment Editors
Spencer Whale — Pittsburgh, Pa. / Theatre — The last student to declare the Theatre major at Cornell, Spencer Whale has used theatre to bring art to the research-focused environment on campus. At Cornell, Whale is president of the Shakespeare troupe, he has directed over seven full-length plays at Cornell and in Ithaca featuring Broadway veterans and, at one point, 20 pounds of almonds on stage. Whale is currently developing a production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus at the Schwartz Center, a project with roots back in his Freshman Writing Seminar, where he first read the tragedy.
Andy Johnson — Ann Arbor, Mich. / Biology — An avid birder since elementary school, Andy Johnson is a researcher in Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology. When he’s not on expeditions filming birds in coastal China, fending off polar bears in the Canadian arctic or recording birds in the Chilean Altiplano, Johnson enjoys filmmaking, photography and writing — which are also often inspired by his love of birds.
Andrew Strauss — Roanoke, Va. / Psychology and anthropology — Having hiked the second highest peak in Africa and undergone expeditions spanning 25 countries, Andrew Strauss brings his worldly experiences back to Cornell, where he teaches rock climbing for Cornell Outdoor Education and studies psychology and anthropology. Strauss may be spotted on campus beatboxing in the Absolute A Cappella group or walking around barefoot. After graduation, he plans to move to Southeast Asia and do research in cultural psychology.
Lizzie Brooks — Newark, D.E. / Psychology and film — Lizzie Brooks is committed to never being bored. At Cornell, she found a lot of ways to stay busy including starting the Centrally Isolated Film Festival and learning to tie a bow tie from Bill Nye. A film and psychology major, Brooks links the two by both making movies and researching the ways that people understand film. She does not enjoy long walks on the beach and prefers whiskey to piña coladas.
Chris Cruz — Bay Shore, N.Y. / Industrial and Labor Relations — As a starter for the men’s baseball team since his freshman year, Chris Cruz’s successful baseball career at Cornell has set him up for opportunities to play professionally after graduation. Cruz hit a record-setting walk off home run in extra innings to give his team its first Ivy League title and send the baseball team to its first regional competition in over 30 years. At Cornell, Cruz rounded out his athletic career by winning the intramural bowling championship with other members of the baseball team.
Talia Angelitti — Montreal, Canada / Hotel Administration — This punk-loving, tattooed Canadian may not appear to fit the Hotelie mold at first glance, but her passion for sustainability in the food and beverage industry put her on track to an impactful career in restaurant management or concept development. When not interning in kitchens from Montreal to Switzerland, she can be found in her Cornell home at Watermargin, where she is currently president. In her spare time, Angelleti is dedicated to weightlifting — she can back-squat 200 pounds.
Ingrid Nuñez — Kent, C.T./ Hotel Administration — As an active member of Greek life and Teaching Assistant in the Hotel School, Ingrid Nuñez’s battle with Stage 4 lung cancer over the past four years has not stopped her from making a mark on campus. She has raised over $100,000 for lung cancer through Jog For Jill 5-Ks in Ithaca. Over the summer, Nuñez worked in San Francisco with some of the West Coast’s greatest culinary talents, all while getting chemo every three weeks and blogging about her experience.
Marianne Dorado — New York, N.Y. / Fashion and Apparel Design — Having worked at New York Fashion Week and started her own women’s lingerie line — “Unfair Advantage” — it’s hard to believe that Marianne Dorado started at Cornell as a pre-med Biology major. When she’s not designing, Dorado is rush chair of her sorority and enjoys cooking — she even made Thanksgiving dinner for 40 people in her freshman dorm.
Quinn Kelly — Fayetteville, Ark. / Urban and Regional Studies — Growing up making his own wine and pesto, Quinn Kelly spent last summer working on a vineyard in Tuscany and then studying bicycle transportation policy in the Netherlands. The other students in his major know Kelly as the bike guy because of his various projects, including his senior thesis, which is on the social effects of bicycles. Kelly is also house manager of Watermargin Cooperative.
Sophie Griswold — Needham, Mass. / Biology and Society — Passionate about making an impact in the field of sustainable agriculture, Sophie Griswold has become active in the Cornell and Ithaca community through innovative food campaigns and her work at Greenstar Cooperative. During her four years, Griswold has cooked meals comprised entirely of dumpstered food under the banner of “Food Not Bombs for Greek Anarchists” and founded Ithaca’s Food Not Bombs chapter, which helps feed children in need.
Sadev Parikh — Cedar Grove, N.J. / Government/Philosophy, College Scholar — With his broad and wide-ranging interests in government, philosophy, history and neuroscience — and a love of ping pong — Sadev is something of a Renaissance man, which is rarely seen at a school that seems more and more to promote specialization. He’s also a member of Cornell’s Delta Chi fraternity, a resident of Telluride and a huge fan of burritos.
Lily Ma — New York, N.Y. / Biology, Hotel Administration, Architecture — Lily started off at Cornell in the College of Engineering. Now, as a senior, she plans on graduating as a pre-med Hotel student minoring in architecture and real estate. Her ultimate goal — however which way she decides to get there — is to design sustainable hospitals that incorporate the value and quality that the hospitality industry demands. Oh, and she created a non-profit startup called The Flour Child Bakery, which focuses on donating to charities in critical need as well as nonprofit groups on Cornell campus that want to hold bake sales to raise money for their own causes.
Brett Henderson — La Jolla, Ca. / Biology — A former Cornell wrestler and avid surfer, Brett is the founder of his own apparel brand, Dirty Surf & Skate. The brand, which currently sponsors two professional surfers, is one of three start-ups Brett currently helps run — the other two involve products targeted at the confectionary and trucking industries. When he’s not surfing or starting-up, Brett enjoys off-the-grid camping in the mountains of Santa Cruz.
Ryann Young — Chicago, Ill. / Hotel Administration — Hailing from the Windy City (she is the self-described “biggest White Sox fan on campus”), Ryann is a Hotelie and a two-year captain of the varsity tennis team. Over the course of her career, she has won a match at each of the eight Ivy League schools and played on the U.S. Open’s tennis courts three times. You may recognize Ryan from the cover of your business computing textbook.
Tejal Thakkar — Rockville, M.D. / Hotel Administration — When she’s not watching New Girl or listening to her favorite Bollywood hits, Tejal spends her time feeding the homeless or tanning on the beaches of Grenada, where she spent a semester abroad. Tejal also worked for a summer in Mumbai. After all of this travelling, she is relieved to have returned to Cornell’s Hotel School for her final year on the Hill.
Leah Meyerholtz — Coeur d’Alene, Id. / Urban and Regional Studies — As Productions Director of Cornell Concert Commission and a subteam leader of Cornell University Sustainable Design — where she has campaigned for Cornell’s Roosevelt Island campus to attain LEED certification — Leah has had the chance to interact with countless fascinating people. She has also spent 30 hours setting up for last year’s Bob Dylan concert, flooded Hollister Hall (it was an accident) and acted in The Schwartz’s production of Adding Machine last semester.
Ebolutalese Airewele — Dallas, TX / Government and American Studies— Like her fellow scintillating seniors, Ebolutalese, known to her friends as “O.T.,” has made the most of her Cornell career. As a four-year member of the varsity track & field squad, O.T. has proven herself a star competitor. She’s also a dancer in Shadows Dance Troupe, whose concert recently took place at Bailey Hall. Both on the field and on the stage, then, Airewele is a force to be reckoned with.
Alyssa Cornelius— Buffalo, N.Y. / College of Veterinary Medicine — Veterinary medicine and research are two of Alyssa’s greatest passions. She is currently applying to veterinary schools across the nation and working on her honors thesis, researching the genetics behind a rare blood disorder in humans, Fanconi Anemia. Alyssa is the President of Guiding Eyes for the Blind at Cornell. It is rare to see her on campus without a puppy, especially her “adorable little man,” Trapper.
Stephanie Addison — Buffalo, N.Y. / Applied Economics and Management — By her own admission, Stephanie marches to the beat of her own drum. As Cornell has confirmed for her, she also has an eye for fashion. She is the art director for Thread magazine, Cornell’s first and only fashion and lifestyle magazine. She is also a burgeoning photographer — last year, her street style photography was published by Teen Vogue.
Kai Keane — Ithaca, N.Y. / Anthropology and Education — As a member of musical duo The Mimis and CEO of Corpus Callosum with a double major in anthropology and education, Kai has found many interesting outlets for his wide-ranging interests, from animation and video production to graphic design and Japanese. During his four years, Kai worked on sustainable neighborhoods in Nicaragua and videography and branding for Cornell Tech.