I decided to give myself a break over the weekend to relax and rejuvenate. I tend to do things in chunks such that I spend either a full day studying or a full day unwinding all at once. I realized, however, that I now have less than two weeks until graduation, and that I can’t leave spending time with and appreciating my friends here for later. So, with final papers and exams in the back of my mind, I went to watch Frozen II at Regal Ithaca Mall. The scene where Elsa begins singing “Into the Unknown” particularly caught my attention.
As the fall semester begins to wind down, fall recruitment season also nears its end. For some, this could be a time of joy as they receive offers to their dream company, while others continue the search in hopes of having better luck with the next cover letter they submit. Because of such a focus on the outcome of the recruitment cycle, both candidates and employers appear to have less consideration for the process through which an offer is extended. Firms rarely ask for feedback regarding their process despite many candidates having strong opinions about a particular employer’s recruitment method. One particular practice in the candidate vetting process has been particularly off-putting: one-way video interviews.
As I was frantically attempting (note the word attempt) to balance prelims, quizzes, interviews and job searches over the weekend, I took a moment to open up the fortune cookie that’s been lying around on my desk, hoping it might provide some insight to the essay I had been struggling to finish. The slip of paper read the following: “Before you wonder ‘Am I doing things right,’ ask ‘Am I doing the right things?’” Well, no offense to fortune cookie producer Wonton Food Inc., but I think that’s what I’ve been doing most of my life, only with little success at actually finding what the “right things” are. I’ve always been an advocate for exploration — traveling to new places, absorbing new foods and keeping various career options open. For the longest time, I’ve been told by teachers, elders, career counselors and upperclassmen that the journey to find yourself is essential to discovering the right career path. While such guidance has helped me become a more flexible and open person, it hasn’t helped to answer the question of what I’m most enthusiastic about and where I find myself to be the right fit.
As I casually scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed last month, a particular ad caught my eye. It seemed like one of those SAT test prep ads with a 20-something year-old Asian female holding books and gazing at the camera with a look of promise. It wasn’t until I read the name of the agency and the cheerful caption, “Make up to $10,000 and help out a family!”, that I realized it was an egg donation advertisement. I quickly scrolled back down my newsfeed, brushing off the thought that this had anything to do with me. But then again, a similar ad appeared on my Instagram feed just a couple days ago, once again encouraging me to monetize my eggs.
As I look toward the semester ahead and consider how I should spend my last semester at Cornell, I realize how much has changed over the past three years of my time here. Most notably, so many on- and off-campus premises continue to be newly established or demolished that I may not even recognize Cornell three years from now. Renovations in Rand Hall have finally been completed almost three years after a car crashed into the building during my freshman year. Long-time Collegetown restaurants such as Aladdin’s have gone out of business and new apartment complexes are constantly under construction. Personally, I have stretched myself far and wide to adjust to new situations as they arise.
Moving from country to country while growing up, I learned to quickly adapt to new environments. I grasped how to approach people from different cultures and backgrounds and especially how to find common ground. Along the way, I strived to make myself polite and agreeable so that I would be able to fit in. Yet, this need to adjust and conform compromised my sense of self. I was molding who I was to correspond with others’ expectations of who I am meant to be rather than letting myself just be me.
The cost to attend Cornell University has skyrocketed each year. The tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year is $56,550, a $6,000 increase from the $50,712 I paid for my freshman year in 2016-2017. This price tag is the tuition alone, which does not consider other costs to attend Cornell, such as the student activity fee, housing, dining and much more. The total cost to attend an endowed college at this institution will amount to around $75,000 for the upcoming academic year. At a place where costs stack up higher each year, fitness memberships should not be an added burden placed on students.
I recently stumbled upon a journal entry from my freshman colloquium class, an introductory course required for all incoming ILR freshmen. As I read the following excerpt from the journal dated Sept. 12, 2016, I was shocked to realize that I continued to face the same concerns and thoughts I had nearly three years ago. “At this point in time, I’m most concerned about what I would like to do with my life . .
Anger, sorrow, disbelief — these were just some of the emotions I felt upon receiving news that our university’s Catholic chaplain Father Carsten Martensen received allegations for sexual abuse of a minor in the 1970s. To any other individual, this may have been just one of the many recent attestations of the Roman Catholic clergy’s sexual abuse cases. Yet, I had never personally experienced, nor did I ever expect, such allegations arising from within my very own community. The news came as an utter shock and disturbance — to think that the chaplain who had provided significant guidance and wisdom throughout my time here at Cornell may have possibly exploited a child and kept silent for all these years. Catholicism has been an important part of my life, especially at Cornell.
Prior to coming to the United States for university, I regarded the American Dream as a far-fetched ideal that had little to do with my personal life. Taking part in Ellis Island role-play simulations in middle school and reading about Willy Loman’s despairs in Death of a Salesman made me aware of the disillusionment associated with the so-called land of opportunity. While I was able to appreciate the sentiments and discussions that revolved around this ideology that has shaped much of the U.S., I saw it as a distant concept as a non-immigrant foreign student expecting to leave the country after my student visa expires. But over the past two and a half years, I, too, have developed my own American Dream. Lively discussions across campus about social mobility and success have ignited a desire to work hard to improve my circumstances, who I am and who I strive to become.