"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

30. Brian Smith

St. Louis, Missouri · Human Ecology


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

After being diagnosed with Type I Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy in 2010, and ultimately unable to continue working, I am now a full-time stay-at-home dad and volunteer in my daughter’s first-grade classroom. Type I Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy is a degenerative neuromuscular disease.  It impacts all muscles–smooth and skeletal–and all systems in the body.  There is no treatment and no cure.  This is a relatively new disease and the research is still in the early stages.  My wife and I, along with other family and friends, have been become members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (www.mda.org) and actively participate in fund raising, support group development and awareness programs in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

For me, Ithaca was mountain bike trails and East Shore Sailing on Shore Road.  

Midway through senior week, my father (may he rest in peace) arrived in Ithaca to spend some time and enjoy the campus.  We decided to get on our bikes and just ride.  Four hours later, we found ourselves in the parking lot of East Shore Sailing, renting a boat.  And, while the sailing and the grueling bike ride back up Gun Hill road were fun, the perfect way to end the day was over cold beers and hot pizza at The Nines.

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

Four years at Cornell is about so much more than academics and earning good grades.  College is just as much a social learning experience as an academic one.  Leaning to live and interact with people from many different backgrounds will provide you with life-long lessons that will serve you well in life after college, both personally and professionally. Whether you are more inclined to a faculty-sponsored wine and cheese, a fraternity party, or the bar scene in Collegetown, it is vitally important to include this social component as part your Cornell experience (just don’t forget to study as well).

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

The top-notch education you receive at Cornell means little in the real world.  In both the academic and professional arena, it is the name, prestige and reputation of Cornell University which enables one to get ahead.  On more than one occasion, I was told by recruiters and potential employers that I was invited in for an interview, and sometimes eventually hired, because I went to Cornell.  All other things being equal, and competing against many other similarly qualified candidates, the fact that I went to Cornell set me apart and gave me that special edge over the competition.