"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

14. Danielle Wolff

Los Angeles, California · Agriculture and Life Sciences


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


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


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.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

17. Alie Shaper

New Suffolk, New York · Engineering


Twitter:  @@AlieShaper, @bklynoenology
Facebook: facebook.com/AlieShaperfacebook.com/BrooklynOenology

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
I am living my passion and dreams!  I'm the proprietor and winemaker of Brooklyn Oenology (aka BOE), my winery I started in 2006.  BOE is the tree that grew from the seed of taking that Intro to Wines class in senior year.  My love for wine, and specifically for NY wines, started there. BOE's wines are made entirely from grapes grown in New York, and we feature contemporary works by Brooklyn-based artists on their labels. 

I started the company from scratch after working as a manufacturing engineer for 10 years, and part- and full-time in the wine industry for six years while still engineering.  I admit, I spend a lot of time working; so far my winery and staff is my family, the wines my children - but I love it every day.

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

Of course the Wines class was my very favorite - but one that was incredibly useful and still shapes my thinking today was ORIE 5100, Design of Manufacturing Systems.  Not only did I love my professor, the now retired Jack Muckstadt, but his course is why I became an entrepreneur. It was the foundation of how to consider the build of a consumer-goods based company, and it taught me how to think in order to create an efficient business. It's also a discipline of thinking that I've applied everywhere in my life.

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

Hah, hindsight is always 20-20, isn't it?  Well, seven semesters into my engineering degree I considered changing to a Hotelie after taking the Wines class... but then reconsidered when I thought of the repercussions from my folks if I even floated that idea with them. I think I took the exact path I was meant to take, and my engineering degree prepared me well for taking on a manufacturing business. 

The only thing I might have done differently might have been to take more time to graduate, maybe take a semester off to have traveled, or ease the course load.

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?
Being a part of a large family, that extends well beyond my graduating class. Anywhere, anytime I meet another Cornellian, there is an instant connection and innate understanding of one another. I think it has to do with the fact that we all went through the same forms of hell: hard work, hard winter, and a lot of walking.