"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, February 24, 2014

66. Catherine Marie Charlton

Chester County, Pennsylvania · Engineering

Twitter: @cmcriverdawn
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cmcriverdawn

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I am a pianist, composer, and improviser with multiple relaxation albums (www.CatherineMarieCharlton.com). I run my record label part-time from home and also have two little kiddos ages 4 and 2.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

Watching the solar eclipse from the Chimes Tower; entering the Chimes Master competition and having access to the tower during practice time; paging books in the basement of the music building, running up and down the stairs to retrieve them back to the circulation desk; semester abroad in Hamburg, Germany; Systems Dynamics class; group problem set solving sessions; Star Trek at Risley (everyone knew what season the episode was from based on Captain's stardate log); building a laser; breaking the curve along with my best friend in Physics class.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

Playing piano in random places—top of High Rise 2, Robert Purcell Student Union (my fav) as people streamed by on their way to breakfast, various pianos in Willard Straight Hall. I think having to practice in public places helped my performing confidence! I also loved playing the Noontime Concert Series and Coffeehouses at Willard Straight—was so incredibly grateful for that forum to work on my compositions and gain confidence in performing.

If you could change anything about your Cornell experience, what would it be?

I wish I reached out more to people around me and realized how many friends I truly had. I was pretty insular in my emotions and kept to myself a lot, especially at group gatherings—I always thought of myself as an introvert and was too afraid to jump into conversations!

Monday, February 17, 2014

67. Jared Genser

Bethesda, Maryland · Human Ecology

Twitter: @jaredgenser
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jared.genser

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I am an international human-rights lawyer and my work takes me all over the world—something I enjoy less and less over time. After being a partner at a global law firm, I left to start my own law firm, Perseus Strategies, and founded and serve on the board of a non-profit group, Freedom Now (www.freedom-now.org), which works to free prisoners of conscience around the world. I've been tremendously honored and challenging by representing such clients as Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo. I also teach a seminar at Georgetown Law School about the UN Security Council. Personally, my wife Lisa and I have two beautiful children Zachary (5) and Alexandra (2). To blow off steam, I play ice hockey in an adult league. I've never been all that good, but keep thrashing away!

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

There are so many wonderful memories from my time at Cornell. They include, among others, Thursday night "group therapy" at Dunbars with my fraternity brothers; a Spring break road trip to New Orleans and Panama City, Florida; some really inspiring faculty and classes; and having the luxury of time to build deep friendships.

How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?

I have wonderful memories of my time at Cornell. It was just a fabulous time of my life. In many ways, the kinds of things I studied and the extracurricular community service activities that I was engaged in at Cornell in HumEc put me on the path to where I've ended up today. I never could have imagined exactly where I've ended up or how I would have gotten here, but the foundation that was laid at Cornell has had a profound impact on my life.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

Hockey. I never would have imagined how much the PE requirement from college would have a positive effect on my well-being. I took ice skating to meet the PE requirement, then starting taking hockey lessons, and ended up playing intramural hockey at Cornell. I later played in grad school and law school and for a few years after that. And now that my five-year-old son is on the ice, I've returned to playing. It is just a fabulous sport and I love to play. Ironically, I married a Canadian who can barely ice skate!

Monday, February 10, 2014

68. Shawn Morris

New York, New York · Architecture, Art, and Planning

Every few weeks, Cornell '95 Faces features a profile of one of our class officers. This week, meet the Treasurer.

Name at Cornell
Shawn Hecht


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I'm a master juggler!  I’m a mother of a toddler, wife, and project manager at an large international bank. I love living in Soho NYC, travelling the world, and hanging out with my four nieces and two nephews.

What are your duties as class officer and what have you enjoyed about the job?
I am currently the Treasurer for the Class of '95. For those who know me, not to worry, everything is on a spreadsheet.  I'm in charge of keeping the Class's finances in order, ensuring we increase the treasury, and helping to spend some of it on reunion and/or other Class activities. This is my third officer position; I was VP as well as Class President.  My commitment to our class keeps me involved and connected with Cornell.

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?
I am so proud to be a Cornell alumnae. My father, brother, and a sister-in-law all went to Cornell and I have already started teaching my son, nieces, and nephews to say "Go Big Red."

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

I was very involved in the Greek system and my junior-senior years I was Panhellenic President. Regularly speaking in front of hundreds of students and members of the administration plus organizing events for 1,200 women was great training for project management at a big bank. Plus a lot of fun.  And most importantly, I made long lasting friendships with women inside and outside of my sorority.  During my annual Oscar Party, I usually have three sororities and at least ten “sisters” represented.

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?

I can't wait to connect with friends from the Hill I don't get to see very often. A lot of us waited a while to have families so I'm excited to see pictures (or meet!) the next generation of Cornellians. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

69. Rodrigo Abela

Arlington, Virginia · Engineering


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
After Cornell I went to graduate school, where I got my masters in architecture and landscape architecture and where I also met my wife, Susi. We now live in Arlington, VA with our two kids, Sofia (11) and Antonio (8).

Professionally, I spend my days drawing and designing. As a landscape architect I work on projects across the country, typically in culturally significant, complex urban sites. I have worked in downtown Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and most recently in Washington, DC. I have been incredibly lucky to work on projects that really engage these cities, their unique histories, culture, and people, and that allow me to play a role in creating new spaces that have been embraced and have become part of the identity of their respective cities.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

I really enjoyed our materials science class, but looking back on it, what stands out, less than a specific subject matter, is classes with particular professors who had a gift for teaching – professors Williamson and Warhaft in the Engineering School, professor Haith in the Agriculture School, and professor Blum in the Architecture school, to name a few. In each case they were clearly passionate about what they were teaching and found a way to convey that passion and make the material relevant and incredibly interesting. Even years later I find myself drawing on those experiences over and over.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

My roommates and I lived in a house on Eddy Street with a generous and inviting front porch and we always seemed to have a diverse cast of characters coming through. I remember once when my friend Mai (Vietnamese/French) and I (Bolivian) were sitting on the porch trying to teach English phrases to a Turkish post-doc who had just arrived from Istanbul. That moment has always stayed with me as a reminder that while Ithaca may be a remote and isolated part of upstate New York, for me it was a great window into the wider world.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?

Explore at all levels – take advantage of the almost limitless range of options that are available and the amazing teachers and researchers that surround you. Seek out and be open to different people, different ideas and don’t forget to discover the actual campus, and make it your own.