"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone for following along with this blog for the past 95 weeks. It's been a pleasure to reconnect with so many people and to catch up with so many classmates! We hope to see as many of you as possible at Reunion this week. Check the hashtag #cornell95 on social media to see pictures posted from Ithaca if you're not able to attend.  And look for more opportunities in the future to connect and engage with fellow members of the class of 1995!

The Cornell '95 Faces Committee, and the Class of 1995 Council

Monday, May 25, 2015

1. Frank H.T. Rhodes

For our final post, we're featuring someone who "graduated" from Cornell at the same time as our class. The words at the top of the blog, that Cornell students "dream bigger dreams" are from his 1995 commencement speech, and he'll be back in Ithaca with us next week for our 20th Reunion. We couldn't be happier to call Frank Rhodes an honorary member of the Class of 1995. 

Hope to see everyone back on the Hill in a few days to catch up and celebrate!

Bonita Springs, Florida & Ithaca, New York 


Tell us about what you have been doing since you left Cornell.
Well, I retired when your class graduated in '95. And for the first few years, I did a great deal of traveling. I was a member of half a dozen boards, General Electric and the Mellon Foundation and I was Chair of the National Science Board for a while. And that took an immense amount of time. Since about two years ago, I've done much less. We now divide our time between Ithaca and Florida. I am in Florida at the moment, enjoying the sunshine.

What is one of your favorite memories of your time at Cornell?
You know, the memories crowd in. I think the happiest times were just meeting with faculty, staff, and especially students. We would have a student breakfast once a week and it was kind of an open house. We restricted the numbers, as I remember it, to 25. And people could just come and talk about anything they wanted to. They were always overbooked and those were really some of the best times. But I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. There were no downs, it was all up and whether it was on campus people, students, faculty, or alumni or trustees, it was just such a positive time in our lives. We are still in touch. When we are down here we go to various Cornell events and we go to events in the city periodically. We are going to one next month. And we participate in activities in Ithaca from time to time. But we really have, I really have, retired. And I spend what time I have writing books.


    Do you have any advice for students starting at Cornell this year? 
Make the most of it. It's the richest experience possible. It’s four brief years and it flies by. It is just such a magical time. And I know that, not because I have been a student there, but because we have had grandchildren who have been students there. As undergraduates and at the graduate school. One was an undergraduate, one from the medical school, and the two granddaughters are undergraduates, and a third is a PhD there. So we know firsthand as a family what a great place it is.

Monday, May 18, 2015

2. Matthew French and Alison Torrillo French

Every few weeks, Cornell '95 Faces features a profile of our class officers. This week, meet the Class President and Vice President. 


Vienna, Virginia · Engineering and Agriculture and Life Sciences


mr.matthew.french@gmail.com
amt7@cornell.edu

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
We currently live in suburban Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. Our daughter Sarah was born in January 2011 and our son Ben in October 2012. 

After Cornell graduation, Alison lived in NYC for a while doing some hospitality consulting, then moved to DC to work for a nonprofit. After 5 years, she went to work in marketing at American University, got her MBA, got married to Matt (not in that order), and went into consulting. In January 2014, she started up her own consulting company, Alto Solutions, LLC, which helps organizations and their people manage through change, improve their leadership and communications and build strong teams. Being an entrepreneur has truly been a breath of fresh air and has allowed her to do the work she loves while achieving balance and flexibility. When she's not working or spending time with her family, she is privileged to serve as the President of the great Class of 1995! 

By day, Matt is Assistant Director at the University of Southern California’s applied research lab called Information Sciences Institute, which oddly, has a campus in Arlington, Virginia. He has the privilege to lead a great team of researchers in the embedded computing area. By nights and weekends, he's Dad to two high-energy kids. And of course, there’s being a husband to a certain President of the class…

What are your duties as class officer and what have you enjoyed about the job?
Matt:
The Vice President is one of the more malleable roles and has generally been in charge of ‘special projects.’ The special project that I’ve enjoyed the most was to lead the development of our Class Council. While we have a great set of Class Officers, we wanted to expand our outreach to be more comprehensive and representative of the class. The Class Council is a great way for us to not only have extra helpers for the officers, but also serves as a great way to train future officers or retain previous officers as advisors. I have been really impressed with the people that have volunteered for council. They have really extended the class’s capabilities and brought a lot of new energy, enthusiasm, and great ideas.

Alison:

I have served as a class officer since our senior year at Cornell. One of my fond early memories, which helped set my path as a volunteer leader, was getting on a bus at oh-dark-thirty  from Ithaca to New York City for what was then the CACO (Cornell Association of Class Officers, now CALC) annual meeting. Here, our officers were joined at our lunch table by former President Frank H.T. Rhodes, who encouraged us to dream those bigger dreams by giving back through alumni service. After three terms (15 years!) as Class Correspondent, wherein I connected with and learned so much about so many of our classmates, taking on the role of President these past 5 years seemed the logical next step. In this capacity, I lead a phenomenal team of 9 other officers and 14 Council members, supporting all of our class activities, from dues payer recognition to fundraising to managing our budget to communicating via our website, listserv, Facebook page, class column, and this blog to planning for our 20th Reunion. It's been a fantastic journey and I can't wait to see the fruits of these efforts on the Hill in just a few weeks! 

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

Matt: 
Can I cheat and say The Big Red Marching Band? It was after all a gym class! Seriously though, while the Engineering courses I took were all of excellent level, Band allowed me to meet a ton of great people on Day 1, learn the ropes at Cornell, get advice from upper classmen in my major that I normally wouldn’t have met, and provide opportunities for leadership.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?
Alison:
It's incredibly difficult to pinpoint just one. A few that come to mind are: performing with the Cornell University Chorus and its a cappella subset, After Eight - in particular, arch sings and the time we serenaded Frank and Rosa Rhodes during Trustee weekend; shooting a Cinderella-meets-the Godfather spoof in multiple parts of campus as part of a Comms video production class; wine touring during senior week; and all the wonderful friends made along the journey.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?
Matt:
 If I were to be starting Cornell today, on the surface my experience would be completely different – they remade West Campus, renovated Phillips and Duffield Hall, heck even the Marching Band has a new building. But what doesn’t change at Cornell is the excellent all-around education they provide – and it’s not just the classes but the opportunities to be involved in so many high quality extracurriculars. Make sure to graduate taking advantage of these and becoming a well rounded person.

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?
Alison:
While on our honeymoon in Positano, Italy, in July 2003, Matt and I ran into classmate Azfar Hashmi at an ATM! I hadn't seen him since we both lived in Manhattan in the mid-90s. He and his wife were also honeymooning, and it happened to be the one night none of us had plans, so we all had a lovely dinner together and caught up on old times.

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?
Alison:
It's so exciting to me that our 20th Reunion (holy cow, is it really our 20th?!) coincides with Cornell's Sesquicentennial. It makes me feel like we are really part of something big and important. I often think back to how we "graduated" with President Rhodes in 1995, and now our Reunion occurring the year our alma mater turns 150 is another pretty neat milestone. And, of course, I am also looking forward to catching up with old friends...and maybe even making some new ones!

Monday, May 11, 2015

3. Brian Farfel Rose

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

Dallas, Texas · Arts and Sciences


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
The last twenty years have gone by at a frenetic pace. I'm grateful to God for granting me a life which is better than anything I deserve.

I've spent the years in the investment industry, returning to my native Texas to join a private firm after stints with hedge funds in London and Chicago. I spend most of my spare time with my amazing wife and our four awesome kids, ages 11, 10, 7 and 3— maybe there is a future Cornellian among them!

Giving back is important to me, so I serve on the board a few local nonprofits. And I love academia, which I get to support as executive-in-residence for a unit of the SMU business school, where I taught in the past as a faculty adjunct. The Big Red is forever in my veins—I'm the community service chairman for the Dallas Cornell Alumni Chapter.


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

In my junior year of undergrad, I had the privilege of taking a finance class at the Johnson school, which was taught by Professor Kent Womack. It was a great introduction to the business world, but more importantly the beginning of an amazing dialogue with an amazing teacher. Professor Womack was my mentor through all the early years of my career—to the extent I have made good decisions, it is to his credit and not my own.


· What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?
Have a good time, but put the books first.

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

Those Ithaca winters were tough on a boy from Texas—I sure could have used some global warming back then!

Monday, May 4, 2015

4. Susan Starnes

Oak Park, California · Engineering


Name at Cornell
Susan Minch

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

My husband, 3-year-old daughter, and I recently moved from
Charlotte, NC to Southern California.  We are having fun exploring the West coast and soaking in the beautiful sunshine.  For work, I am leading the Services business for Guitar Center.  I don’t play the guitar, but it is a fun industry with great people.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?
One of the most influential classes for me was the Intro to Chemical Engineering.  It helped confirm for me what my major would be.  And, in taking the class, I found my study buddies that would share many hours with me over the course of the next 4 years.


    How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
My time at Cornell really helped broaden my horizons.  Meeting so many great people from diverse backgrounds has influenced my perspective for the better.  Great classes like Art History (glad I took it pass / fail!), Philosophy, Business School Classes, and of course Wines were all fantastic learning experiences.

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

Being part of the sailing team was a great experience for me.  I got to travel with interesting people and compete in regattas.  I also found my love for being out on the water.  I knew I loved sailing when I didn't mind that it started snowing while we were practicing on Lake Cayuga.

Monday, April 27, 2015

5. Jevan Taylor

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

Kansas City, Missouri · Human Ecology


jevantaylor@sbcglobal.net

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

I am married, have 2 great kids, and have built a career in marketing and advertising.  Soon after graduating from Cornell I got married to my high school sweetheart, Andrea, and we moved to NYC.  I started a career in advertising and she pursued business management.  We soon tired of the big city life and moved to North Carolina.  I continued to work in advertising while we had two children, Rowan and Zane.  We moved around a little, finally settling in Kansas City.  I currently work in marketing for a financial services firm while Andrea is going back to school to pursue a second career in the medical field.  I keep busy striving to be a good dad and husband while continuing to build my marketing career.  I try to fit in a little tennis, hiking, swimming, and travel when I can.

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

Not really a class, but I participated in the semester in NYC program, where I had an internship in the industry of my choice 3 days a week, while taking a multi-cultural class the other days.  This enabled me to see what my chosen career was really like, gain valuable job experience, and ultimately it was the key to getting that first job.  As the company where I did my internship hired me after I graduated.  It was the single most important experience in college that prepared me  for employment in the real world.


·  What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?
Hanging out with my close group of friends.  Upon arriving at Cornell, I quickly became close friends with 5 other transfer students.  We spent the entire time at Cornell together, doing everything.  I remember playing tennis across from my dorm room with them after class in the sunshine on a warm fall afternoon.   Catching some sun in the Quad.  Hiking in one of the nearby parks.  Even sitting on the dock of the lake and watching the sailboats.

Which Cornell classmates do you keep in touch with?

Chris Erbig.  My long-time roommate at Cornell And currently godfather to my two children.

Monday, April 20, 2015

6. Leah Berkery

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

Albany, New York · Agriculture and Life Sciences


Leah.Berkery@sphp.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/leah.berkery

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

I work as a physician at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY.  I am a hospitalist, which means I exclusively take care of patients when they are admitted to the hospital.  It is a relatively new medical specialty, and it has been exciting to be in such a challenging and quickly-changing field.  I am also the President of the Albany Area Chapter of the Society of Hospital Medicine, our national organization.


I decided to take on a new challenge last November by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I actually had not written any fiction since high school, but I was able to write a 57,000 word first draft of a novel within a thirty-day period.

I love to travel, and am about to go on my 22nd cruise!  I also enjoy Zumba classes, and I have been licensed as a Zumba instructor for three years.


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

The most useful class I took was one that was outside of my major (Biology), but which has proved essential to my career—Scientific Writing for Public Information.  The course taught me how to take technical scientific jargon and translate it into something that people without a scientific background can understand.  Every day in the hospital, I have to explain complex medical issues to patients with no medical background.  It is vital for me to be able to communicate that information in such a way that they fully comprehend their conditions and their treatment options.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?
I would encourage new students to take some courses in areas outside of their main fields of study—courses which have little bearing on their future career, but which are just interesting or unusual. This is your chance to explore and learn about new things! I was a biology major, but I was also able to take a year of French, a semester of Archeology, and (of course!) a semester on Wines.

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?

I cannot wait to re-connect with old friends from both Cornell undergrad and Cornell Med in New York City, which I attended for med school—a fair number of my Cornell Med classmates went to Cornell as undergrads as well.  I am looking forward to seeing campus again and doing some sightseeing in the Ithaca area.  I am also hoping I’ll be able to do some shopping at Wegmans!

Monday, April 13, 2015

7. Jake Karam

Toronto, Ontario, Canada · Arts and Sciences


jkaram@6thavenue.ca


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


I am currently living in Toronto with my wife and enjoying being settled in Canada.  After Cornell, I spent a number of years in New York and earned my MBA from the Johnson School.  About 10 years ago, I started an online poker company focusing on the Eastern European market that required me living in some pretty interesting places in Europe.  Subsequently, a group of us bought a manufacturing company outside Toronto where I spend my time these days stressing over waterproofing products.  Socially, I couldn't ask for a better environment so I consider myself pretty lucky.

How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
I find that there is a big difference between Canadians and Americans and their approach to entrepreneurship and risk. The people and the environment at Cornell helped shape my attitude towards taking bigger chances and thinking more creatively than I would have normally.


    How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
Playing hockey had the biggest impact on my experience at Cornell but getting into Sphinx Head the spring of my junior year was one of my most memorable moments.  I found that whole experience to be very rewarding because it was outside of what I was comfortable with at the time.

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

I was living in Malta and I was invited to this magazine launch party at a massive outdoor club. The people at the party were excited about a DJ who was being flown in to play that night and in walks this kid who couldn't have been more than 20 years old. We ended up have a drink together it turns out he came to Malta straight from Cornell.  It is amazing how small a world it can be.

Monday, April 6, 2015

8. Stephanie Geller

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

Baltimore, Maryland · Architecture, Art, and Planning


Name at Cornell
Stephanie Lessans

stephaniegeller@hotmail.com



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

I live in Baltimore with my husband, Jeff, and my two sons, Henry (age 12) and Ira (age 9).  Although I’ve changed jobs several times since graduating from Cornell and obtaining my MSW several years later, my professional goal to help revitalize our nation’s distressed urban areas has not changed.  I’m particularly passionate about catalyzing out-of-the-box, community wealth-building models such as worker-owned cooperatives to create quality, empowering job opportunities in low-income areas.  Outside of work, I love reading, games, and spending quality time with my friends and family.  I also love hiking, especially around waterfalls (which definitely has roots in my years at Cornell).

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

My favorite times were those spent with dear friends—first, hanging out on the 3rd floor of U-Hall 3 and then at “The Brick,” a dilapidated house on Eddy Street, where we spent many nights playing hearts, laughing, and just relaxing together!  I spent too much time at Uris Library, but even when I think back to those long days and nights of studying, my memories are quite happy ones—sitting next to good friends (we spent so much time in one area that we deemed certain desks to be ours) and taking breaks to enjoy stir-fries and cookies at the Straight.


·  How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
As an Urban & Regional Studies major at Cornell, I learned about the interconnected nature of the systems, institutions, policies, attitudes, and many other factors shaping our communities and oftentimes resulting in severe urban challenges.  My classes helped me develop a “macro-lens”—an ability to recognize the interrelated forces that have left so many of our nation’s neighborhoods facing severe disinvestment and stress.  As someone now working to revitalize some of Baltimore’s poorest areas, this lens has helped me better understand the complex challenges facing this city and formulate the type of systemic-level solutions necessary to affect positive, sustainable change.  

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?

First, I am so excited to re-connect with my friends.  Our four years together at Cornell helped us become so close—I know that even though it has been so many years since we’ve seen each other, we will jump right back in where we left off—laughing, sharing, and catching up!  I also am looking forward to sharing one of my favorite places in the world—Cornell—with my sons, who are now 9 and 12.  They had a blast at the last reunion, and now that they are 5 years older, I know will get even more out of the experience.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reunion 2015 Registration is Open!

Just a special post (no April Fools!) to let everyone know that registration for Reunion 2015 is now open.

Reunion is June 4-7, 2015, with lots of fun activities planned for all ages, including Friday and Saturday evening dinners for our class and the Kids Club for ages 6-15.

If you've never been back to campus for Reunion (or at all!) this is the one to attend.

Follow this link to register or go here for more information about Reunion activities and events.  

If you register by midnight on May 10, you can take advantage of the early-bird registration rates - $220 per adult for the full weekend. After May 10 the price jumps to $270. There are similar early-bird price reductions for partial-weekend attendance and kids as well. 

Here are a few more helpful links:

See Who’s Coming to 20th Reunion 2015:
Link to the 20th Reunion page:
Link to Reunion childcare site:
If you still have questions, feel free to contact our class's Reunion chairs:

Lisa Powell Fortna, Reunion Co-Chair, lisafortna@yahoo.com 
Michael Stroud, Reunion Co-Chair, dms12@cornell.edu 
Steve Strell, Registration Chair, strells@mac.com 

We'll post a few more updates here, but make sure to also keep an eye on the Class Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cornell1995
and Twitter account: https://twitter.com/cornell95 

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Ithaca!

Monday, March 30, 2015

9. Allison Solomon

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

San Francisco, California · Human Ecology


Name at Cornell
Allison Halpern

ajh2@cornell.edu


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

I live in San Francisco with my husband, 6-year-old son, and three chickens! We spend much of our free time rock climbing, hiking, and camping.

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

Make sure you spend at least one summer at Cornell! It's such a magical time when you can really appreciate your surroundings. And it's the only time of year when it's not likely to snow!


·  What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?
Serving on, and then co-leading, the Orientation Steering Committee was really meaningful to me, both while I was at Cornell as well as afterwards. What an opportunity to be entrusted with so much responsibility! I learned so many skills—organization, communication, collaboration, delegation—that I use professionally and personally.

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?

Being a Cornell alum means being a part of a community of people doing some pretty amazing things. I am always so inspired when I read about what Cornellians are doing around the world! And I love meeting other alums—no matter when they graduated or what they studied, we always find something in common.

Monday, March 23, 2015

10. Stephen Przynosch

Toledo, Ohio · Agriculture and Life Sciences


sprzynosch@hotmail.com


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

After graduating from Cornell I went to medical school in my
hometown of Buffalo, NY along with several other Cornellians. Residency in Family Medicine took me to Toledo, OH where I also met my wife, Tammy.  We married in 2004 and were blessed with our daughter, Isabella, a few years later. Professionally, I am in a private Family Medicine practice with four other physicians. One day a week I split my time between precepting Family Medicine Residents in their clinic and also working as an Associate Medical Director of our Health System's Health Insurance Company (ProMedica Health System and Paramount HealthCare, respectively). Outside of work, I am active with our church and Isabella's school.  We just enjoyed our annual Father-Daughter Dance!


Which Cornell classmates do you keep in touch with?

Toshiki Matsui - we go way back.  We first met in 2nd grade and have been friends ever since. Even after our time at Cornell, while I was in medical school in Buffalo, he was in grad school in Buffalo and we were roommates until dental school took him to Washington, DC.  I also have kept in touch with Stephen Koster over the years. Both Toshiki and Stephen live in the DC area and I have been able to visit both on various occasions over the years. I also hear from Stephen McKee every once in a while.

    How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
No doubt about it, Cornell opens doors.  It also helped me grow as a leader. Having been in leadership roles with the Cornell National Scholars and the CALS honor society (Ho-Nun-De-Kah), I felt confident tackling leadership roles in my career as well. I went on to be the Chief Resident at my training program. Later in my practice I became our Lead Physician as we are part of a larger Health System. Most recently, I have served as the Vice Chair of the Family Medicine Department at Toledo Children's Hospital.

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

I was active in the Cornell National Scholars. I got involved in its Mentoring program as a Freshman and ultimately came to be the Mentoring chair for a few years. A group of us would head to a local Middle School twice a week in the late afternoon to help at-risk students with homework and also to mentor them so they could reach their full potential...like a "Big Brother/Big Sister program. They loved when we would take them to dinner in the campus dining halls. I worked with the same young man for a few years...truly an eye opening experience.

Monday, March 16, 2015

11. Jason Ardizzone-West

Yonkers, New York · Architecture, Art, and Planning


jason@ardizzonewest.com



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


After graduating from Cornell with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, I worked as an architect for years, got married to an amazing woman, then took some time off to be a full time dad to our two children. When it was time to enter the professional world again, I decided to pursue theatrical set design, which had always been my real passion. I went back to school, got my MFA in set design from New York University, and am now happily working as a freelance set designer. I’m currently juggling: teaching set design at NYU Tisch, designing two shows at Juilliard, designing the set for the national tour of “Bullets Over Broadway.” designing Cornell’s sesquicentennial weekend celebration events, renovating my basement, and getting ready for movie night with my family. In other words, life is good!

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

I loved so many of my classes at Cornell—honestly, there is not one that stands out by itself, but I definitely loved every single year of “archi-torture studio,” as well as the few classes I took outside the College of Architecture, Art & Planning - particularly the Intro to Native American Studies class.

·  What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?
I had so many great extracurricular experiences at Cornell, working in the scene shop at the Performing Arts Center, living in Risley and making theater there, rock-climbing, working for Cornell Productions… but I think my favorite extracurricular activity was working with the Cornell Concert Commission loading-in concerts and working security, and running spot light, etc. I met so many people who shared a love of live performance, but who came from so many different backgrounds and colleges.

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

I don’t have many regrets in my life (or my Cornell experience), but if I had it all to do over again I would have participated in the Cornell in Rome program. I still haven’t been to Italy!

Monday, March 9, 2015

12. Nancy Gedeon

Denver, Colorado · Architecture, Art and Planning


neg2@cornell.edu


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I live in Denver, Colorado, with my boyfriend, and work in local government as a demographic analyst.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

I had the luxury of taking one class during a three-week summer session after freshman year.  The weather was gorgeous and the small class size was refreshing after all the large lecture classes of the previous semesters.  It was like a vacation and it’s when my fondness for Ithaca developed.

·  What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?
The question should be which class was least useful.  All my classes were interesting and useful, from my very first urban and regional studies class, The American City, to Introduction to Modern Dance, where I realized my love for dance.

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

Cornell made me a better person.  I may not have had the best time while I was there, but I always knew I would appreciate it in the long run.  Cornell opened my mind, surrounded me with amazing people, and made me humble.

Monday, March 2, 2015

13. Steven Strell

San Jose, California · Engineering


strells@mac.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/sllerts
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sstrell

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I live in Silicon Valley with my wife Rachel and our 3-year-old, Seth.  Besides our own house, we also own a 5-acre walnut farm!  I worked at Apple in the early 2000's, working on iBooks, and then, later, the 12-inch Powerbooks (before they all became MacBooks).  Now, I am a training engineer for Altera, traveling around the country teaching people how to use my company's software.  I do tech support for all of my family's tech; why not do it for my company's customers as well?

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

After the concert at Bailey during Senior Week, some friends and I went to McGraw Tower.  One of our friends was a chimesmaster and he was doing the concert that night.  It ended up being an extended concert, mostly just for us.  He played songs on his list and our requests for well over an hour.  Next to graduation, it was the perfect ending to 4 amazing years.

·   What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?
I wouldn't call it an extracurricular activity, but the opportunity to work for 3 of my 4 years at Cornell Cinema was a life-changing experience.  I enjoyed movies beforehand, but Cornell Cinema opened my eyes to films I had never even considered would be interesting to me: indies, foreign, documentaries, old classics.  And the friends I made through CC, people who weren't engineers, were just amazing.  I still keep in touch with some of them on Facebook.  I still love the movies, see them every chance I get, and enjoy making them myself (for home or work).

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?

It means that for the rest of my life, I am connected to a place that I will never forget, a place that set the course for the rest of my life, a place where I had fun, worked hard, and discovered just who I was.  I don't think I can ever give back to Cornell what Cornell gave to me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

14. Danielle Wolff

Los Angeles, California · Agriculture and Life Sciences


dani@daniellewolff.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/daniellewolff
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DanielleDW

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I’ve been in Los Angeles for the past decade, after living for a while in Washington, DC and Paris. I moved west to do a master’s degree at UCLA and am now working as a writer, primarily in film and television, but also for web series, stage, and radio. I also published my first collection of short fiction last year. I’ve done a lot of work for Marvel Television, writing for characters like Spider-Man and the Avengers, which has been a complete blast and gives me an easy answer for the question all writers get: “Have you written anything I’ve heard of?”


I also travel as much as possible – my favorites have been work and volunteer trips to Ghana, Peru, and Greece, and because Cornell made me realize how much I enjoy learning just for the sake of learning, I'm doing a graduate diploma in International Relations through the London School of Economics.  I also have a fantastic boyfriend, Bassam, whom I’m hoping to introduce to Cornell at Reunion in June.

Plus, since August 2013 I and a group of fellow Class Council members have been putting together this blog!

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

At the time I regretted not taking Psych 101 for my general education requirement, especially after I got a not-so-good grade in the class I took instead – psycholinguistics. But despite being in way over my head, it was a fascinating class about the structure and acquisition of language and it sparked a lifelong interest in learning languages.


·   What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?
I joined the speech and debate team my sophomore year and got sucked in immediately. It was an intense schedule—traveling to tournaments almost every weekend from October through April—which left less time than I would have liked for on-campus activities and socializing. But the skills and confidence I gained in research, writing, persuasion, impromptu speaking, and so much more have paid off over and over in my career and personal life. And I even look back on the all-night van rides through the middle of nowhere and the early-morning weekend start times with fondness. Plus, my teammates and competitors from those days have become some of my closest friends.

If you could change anything about your Cornell experience, what would it be?
After spending a year and a half working on this blog, I wish I could go back in time and get to know everyone we’ve profiled here while we were still on campus. It’s been a privilege to meet and reconnect with so many people as part of this project; the accomplishment, diversity, and just general awesomeness of our class is inspiring, and I hope that it leads to lifelong friendships for all involved – both new or rediscovered.

Monday, February 16, 2015

15. Seth Traum

New York, New York · Engineering


sethtraum@hotmail.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/sethtraum
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sethtraum

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I am living on the Upper West Side of New York City with my wife Lauren and two sons—Zachary, 11, and Jordan, 8.

I am a partner at a brand and marketing strategy and innovation consultancy called Vivaldi Partners Group. I really enjoy the work, but I make sure I find plenty of time to run around the parks of NYC playing sports with my boys.

After leaving Cornell with an engineering degree, I never practiced it, and instead moved into consulting and then spent many years in finance and banking before transitioning over to the marketing side of the business world.

I now return to campus a few times a year guest lecturing for marketing professors at both the Johnson School and the Hotel School. It is always wonderful to walk the campus, reminisce, and see what's changed.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

My whole last semester on campus was wonderful. I had gotten ahead by a class and had queued up a few of the "easier" classes in my major for the final semester. And so I really enjoyed myself. Saw friends who I hadn't seen enough of, explored Ithaca a bit, went out a lot, and gave myself some fantastic final memories to leave campus on a very positive note.

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

Cornell taught me how to WORK. I thought I knew how to work hard before I went to college, but Cornell engineering took things to a whole other level. I learned how to have a work ethic while there, and I have always been proud of my ability to outwork everyone else to figure things out and get them done right. I have never abandoned this, and I have carried it proudly into all that I have done.

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?

I am looking forward to seeing old friends with whom I've done a horrible job staying in touch, but also enjoying the campus and city. I tend to zip in and out quickly when I come to campus to teach, and I never have enough time to take everything in. So I'm most looking forward to having the time I need to truly enjoy the experience.

Monday, February 9, 2015

16. Carlos Falcon

San Juan, Puerto Rico · Engineering


carlos.falcon@yahoo.com


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

As many of us do, I split my time between family, work, and volunteering for Cornell. My wife of 17 years and I have three daughters, ages 13, 11, and 1 (the last one being an unexpected surprise that has transformed our family life for the better!!). At work I am Director of Operations for Puerto Rico Supplies Group, a distribution company for food, health and beauty care, and other household items. For the past few years I have been a volunteer with CAAAN, president of the Cornell Club of Puerto Rico, and a member of the Cornell University Council. I have been in Puerto Rico since graduation, except for two great years spent in Manhattan while completing an MBA at NYU.

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

Interestingly enough, the class I enjoyed the most was not related to engineering or business. It was a course on the literature of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was great to re-read some of his novels, discover new works, and have it all discussed with a group of classmates with so many different points of view.

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

I was involved with the Puerto Rican Students Association, first as Treasurer then President. We had different roles, such as participating in the redefinition of the Latino Studies Program, following the ’93 Day Hall takeover. We also had some fun hosting picnics, volleyball tournaments, happy hours and other events. In February ’95 we held an event at the Statler ballroom in which we presented Puerto Rican art, food and live music to over 400 members of the Cornell community. In addition to flying in 18 musicians, we had guests show up from DC, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and other nearby cities.

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?
While studying abroad I remember meeting a group of Cornellians at the Venice Carnival.  A few weeks later we ran into the same group at the Eiffel Tower. Very random and very fun times.