"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

31. Andrea Forgacs

Montreal, Canada · Arts and Sciences

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrea.forgacs.75

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

I've been living in Montreal, Canada for the past three years with
my husband, son (9), and daughter (6) and now a third one on the way, due March 1! My husband and I met in Cambodia during a backpacking trip after I finished grad school. He's French, and before Montreal, we spent almost 10 years in France. That's where I got into the travel industry, working for a travel management company in Paris and then for a hotel chain in London. Here in Montreal, I am a marketing strategist for a loyalty marketing company that has its roots in the travel sector.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

Junior and senior year, I lived in an off-campus house with nine amazing women, whom I still count among my closest friends today. The list of experiences we shared (and continue to share) goes on and on, and they're definitely among my fondest memories of my time at Cornell. Other favorite moments include working in the Browsing Library and sneaking into Okenshield's, locking myself up in the stacks to write my papers, after-hours at a certain fraternity, the summer I spent in Ithaca and of course, the gorgeous gorges.

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

When I was living in Paris, my advisor, David Grossvogel came to spend a semester there. Together with the local Cornell Club, I got to host him for a dinner at my house... nearly 10 years after we parted ways. Not only was I honored to welcome him into my home, I also met a great group of fellow alumni, some of whom I'm still in touch with.

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?
It's hard to articulate this one... I am incredibly proud of being part of the Cornell family and still feel very connected to the School. Part of the reason for this is that my Cornell crew are among my best friends in the world, even after all these years. I've returned to Ithaca many times since graduation, and even took a family vacation there one summer when I was still living in Europe (is it ever too early to start the college visits?). Not-so-secretly, I hope at least one, if not all of my children end up studying at Cornell!

Monday, October 20, 2014

32. Denys T. Lau

Washington, DC · Arts and Sciences

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I am Deputy Director of the Division of Health Care Statistics at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the Nation's principal health statistics agency. I have an adjunct associate professor appointment at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), College of Pharmacy, where I was full-time associate professor before joining the CDC.   I am on the editorial board of the American Journal of Public Health, the official peer-review publication of the American Public Health Association. A former NIH-funded investigator, I published over 50 peer-reviewed publications and research reports examining quality and safety of health services use in older adults. I have a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a B.A. with distinction from Cornell University. I completed a Pfizer post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and finished a certificate program in management at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.  

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

My favorite memories at Cornell were when I was living at the Holland International Living Center (ILC) then in north campus Low-Rise 8.  This was the premier residential college for students from all over world and those interested in learning about world cultural, political, economic and social issues. We celebrated our microcosm of diversity through potlucks, theme parties, outings, and just hanging out with each other in community lounges. After all these years, I remain in close contact with many fellow ILC'ers who are now living all over the world; well Facebook also helps.  

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

During the first semester of my junior year, I did the Cornell-in-Washington program, which solidified my decision to choose public health as my career. Under the guidance of Dr. Steven Jackson, the former Associate Director, I conducted a study evaluating the DC Needle Exchange Program, a groundbreaking initiative aimed to curb HIV transmission among injection drug users. I also interned at the U.S. Conference on Mayors where I helped track the legislation of President Clinton's health care reform bill and studied its relevance to local municipalities.  The highlight for me was meeting Hillary Clinton and Donna Shalala at congressional hearings.

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

I wish I explored more what Ithaca had to offer when I was a student.  A recent report from The American Institute of Economic Research - published in the Business Insider - has ranked Ithaca the #1 college town in the U.S. based on the academic environment, quality of life, and professional opportunity.  I loved hanging out in Collegetown, the Commons, its numerous gorges, Collegetown, Moosewood, and Stella, just to name a few of my favorite things about Ithaca.

Monday, October 13, 2014

33. Kevin Yelenik

Stavanger, Norway · Agriculture and Life Sciences

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevin.yelenik

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

I am a father of two wonderful boys soon to be 8 and 5. It leaves
me once-in-a-while proud, usually humbled, constantly learning and amazed, but mostly quite tired. I lucked out and found the most beautiful life-partner I could ever have dreamed of. She did drag me to Norway to grow old though, and things are really hard here with the world's highest quality of life. I teach Physics at the International School, and this is very fun. It doesn't have much to do with what I studied at Cornell, but neither have most of my other strange teaching and engineering jobs I've had. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, skiing of all kinds, snowboarding, traveling, collecting music, and lately attempting to play the guitar again. Nathalia thinks I am having a mid-life crisis with this hobby, but I plan to be a rock star by 50.

How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
Cornell taught me how to work hard, how to start thinking deeply and critically, and certainly how it feels to be humbled. It prepared me well for my MS from another CU - Colorado, Boulder, and thus for my careers in both engineering and teaching. 

Cornell also taught me how to be more independent and more mature. I think I grew up a lot in those years; they left me with a sort of heady, mystical once-in-a-lifetime experience that could never be relived. 

Cornell also taught me how to speed-walk/wheeze/sweat my way up hills when late to classes.  

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

Being surrounded by a truly spectacular academic atmosphere, living in the coolest little city ever, hanging out with friends at places like the Chapter House, swimming in the waterfalls, exploring the nature, seeing lots of live music, and chilling out on our terrace on East Seneca St.  

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?

It means that I spent a good part of four years wandering around a beautiful campus and town filled with lots of intelligent, interesting, and creative people - and I tried to learn stuff from them.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

34. Leslie Nicholson

Toronto, Canada · Arts and Sciences

Name at Cornell

Leslie Davis


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

I live in Toronto with my husband and three daughters.  We moved here ten years ago from New York , and now I cannot imagine living anywhere else.  Canadians often ask me how I manage the winters when they find out I am originally from Atlanta and I tell them that four years in Ithaca more than prepared me for this!

 After my third child was born, I chose to step down from full time work in financial services, and accepted the opportunity to become a partner in a small giftware company, Signature Keepsakes.  The majority of our customers are brides and grooms.  Most of the brides are lovely, but our customer service department could tell you stories about some real life Bridezillas out there!  In my free time, I ski with my family, jog with friends, and volunteer as a board member of a children's charity.

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

The class that I enjoyed the most at Cornell was Close Relationships Across the Lifespan (Professor Cindy Hazan, Human Ecology).  Professor Hazan's teachings and research still resonate as my relationships mature with Cornell friends, with my husband and children, and with my parents.  The most useful classes turned out to be French.  Who knew that I would move to Canada and my kids would learn French from age five?  My seven year old is already correcting my pronunciation!

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

Of my many memorable Cornell experiences, ones that stand out are Fun in the Sun on the Arts Quad each fall, spending the summer at Cornell in '93, semester abroad in Paris, and of course wines class.  A rite of passage for Cornell students, it felt like a long, long wait before I was able to take wines in the spring of my senior year.

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

Since stepping onto campus freshman year, I have been in awe of the intelligence and drive of our Cornell classmates.  I would want to tell the incoming class of students that they will be surrounded by the most impressive group of people they may ever meet, and to let themselves be inspired by those who surround them.