#21: Cornell University

After the last entry in my post card collection was posted over a month ago, I’m back with the next one! It is fitting that all of my free time this month is devoted to studying for the PE exam, since my last post card was about an engineering marvel (Hoover Dam), and this post card is about where I got my engineering education (Cornell University).

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I’m actually finding it pretty challenging to write a good post about Cornell without getting all wishy washy. It is one of those magical places that you wish you never had to leave, but you know if you go back it won’t be quite the same.

English: Autumn view of the Library Slope of C...

Autumn view of the Library Slope of Cornell University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite resistance from my guidance councilor (who said I shouldn’t bother applying) and my english teacher (my essay only got a B- in her class), I applied Early Decision in September (a binding form of college application that says if accepted, you will definitely attend). I had not yet visited the campus, so I have to admit – I was a little eager to like my potential new school.

But as my family and I drove up Route 17 through New York state to visit the campus on Columbus Day weekend in October, I fell in love before even seeing the campus. The rolling hills of upstate New York were vibrant with gold, red, and orange leaves, and the air was crisp with that delicious scent of autumn, tinted with the occasional hint of wood smoke and the faintest touch of winter on the breeze. My mind conjured images of chunky scarves and warm riding boots, chai tea and a good book, and I was sold before I even stepped foot on campus.

My memories of my time at Cornell have acquired a fond glow since graduation.

Heading back up the slope
(Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

Even the things I hated while I was there have become stories that cause me to smile ruefully, and to which any other Cornell grad can relate.

  • Walk to class uphill both ways in the snow? Been there, done that (literally)
  • Hike up the stairs from North Campus to the second floor of Baker Lab for early morning Chemistry lab
  • Stake your claim to a seat in the library before Finals (but don’t relinquish it, you won’t get another seat!)

But even with those frustrating drawbacks, there were more than enough wonderful, exciting, nostalgia-inducing events to make those 4 years in Ithaca the best 4 years of my life.

English: :Houston Pond of F. R. Newman Arboret...

Houston Pond of F. R. Newman Arboretrum. Permission: OTRS Ticket#: 2006061810007652 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So when Cornell calls me up every year and asks me to donate money, I feel somewhat obligated to contribute due to how much I enjoyed my time there (and how much my degree has helped me in my career, but that always is a secondary motivation). It helps that the students who call are as enthusiastic about Cornell as I was/am, so they gladly update me on the progress of new buildings on the Engineering Quad, or on other major topics on campus.

I still have a ton of student loans, so I only contribute $25 to the Annual Fund (I typically direct my donation to Financial Aid). But I get a nice little post card in the mail thanking me for my donation, from the student who calls me up to ask for my donation. A little goes a long way. I do get calls from Arizona State University asking for money sometimes, but they have turned me off from wanting to donate. It’s like night and day. Instead of a student who genuinely wants to give me information that interests me and is happy for whatever amount I donate, ASU had students who read off a script, sound bored, and don’t want my money unless I’m giving a certain dollar amount. (For real – I tried to donate $25 but they said sorry, for this fundraising campaign we can only take donations at $40 or above)

My 5 year college reunion is this June, and I’m looking forward to the chance to revisit campus. Summer in Ithaca is actually the best time to be in Ithaca – even better than the gorgeous Autumn. I will probably skip most of the official reunion events, but will definitely wander around the plantations and hopefully stop at Six Mile Creek Vineyard.

Is anyone else as nostalgic about their time at university as I am? What do you remember most fondly?

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Categories: Engineering, Memories, New York, Post Cards

Tags: , , , ,

6 replies

  1. We didn’t have grounds or buildings as glorious as the ones in your post, but I still have fond memories of some strange things, like feeding the ducks in the pond, freezing in sub-standard houses in the second year living off campus, eating knickerbocker glories at the beach in December and the weird and wonderful world of parties, gigs and the occasional seminar.

    Enjoy your visit!

  2. What a feel good post! Glad I stopped by.

  3. We visited my alma mater- Washington State University- during our Northwest Brewery adventure and it was a fabulous experience. AND Pullman had developed two quite good brewpubs since I was in school, which was a nice added bonus to the stop!

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