"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

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

Monday, August 18, 2014

41. Stephanie Gendell

New York, New York · Human Ecology


Twitter: @SGendell

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

I am living in NYC, trying to make NY a better place to be a child.  Specifically, I am the Associate Executive Director at a child advocacy organization (Citizens’ Committee for Children) where I analyze legislation, budgets, and policies and advocate for children. (I got a law degree after Cornell.)  Some of my big wins include funding for 3,000 preventive slots to prevent child abuse; saving child care and after-school from being cut from 47,000 children; securing funding for full-day pre-k for all 4-year-olds in NYC; and getting the legislature to add 25 Family Court Judges.  In my free time, I enjoy all NYC has to offer including sports conditioning classes in Central Park, beer gardens, Yankee games, and of course time with my friends from Cornell.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

It’s impossible to come up with one favorite memory of my favorite place—here are some of the best:  Walking onto Schoellkopf Field dressed as the Big Red Bear (and being passed through the stands); sleeping outside to get hockey tickets as a freshman and then inside Lynah as a sophomore; watching someone (whose identity I will protect) be escorted out of Lynah for throwing a fish on the ice; playing hearts; 214 Eddy; the 5 flights to my freshman dorm; Slope Day; Buckfest; Hot Truck; “my desk” at Uris Library; starting the Homework HelpLine; and of course—the gorges.  

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

My time at Cornell has influenced my life in so many ways and essentially shaped me into the person I am today.  I learned that life is short and you need to live each day to the fullest.  I learned to appreciate the beauty in the world around me.  I learned that my passion is child policy and advocacy (thank you Professor Gerner).  I learned how important it is to work hard and play hard— it is ok to both close down the library and the bar!  And I learned to treasure my friends—especially the Cornellians :)

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?

My favorite Cornell moment (and perhaps life moment) happened after graduation.  In 2003, the NJ Devils won the Stanley Cup (YEAH!) and the Big Red’s Joe Nieuwendyk was on that team.  Players who win the Cup get to spend a day with it. Joe spent his day at Cornell.  Ken Gordon and I heard this and headed to Ithaca.  We had an amazing time at the alumni hockey game, seeing Joe and the Cup, and then touching the Cup at Dunbar’s.  Then it happened—I got to drink from the Stanley Cup (best mix of beer and champagne ever!)