Class of 2019
What is your College Scholar project?
My project explores persuasive technology and propaganda, specifically in the realm of American political communication. I’m also fascinated by trends and differences among persuasion practices across a larger range of western liberal democracies. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, concerns have rapidly arisen regarding the “fake news” phenomenon, providing me one particularly timely topic to focus on. In our globalized, technology and media oriented society, information and misinformation is uniquely fast moving and threatening. Simultaneously, this content possesses various similarities with persuasive communication efforts of previous times. How can we synthesize the old and the new to understand the tools and theories that already exist, while equipping ourselves with strategies to address unprecedented issues? How do efforts aimed at distinguishing “fake” from “real,” and at combatting the factually inaccurate align or conflict with American traditions and ideals? How productive are methods driven by corporate social responsibility initiatives and engineering project teams? How are citizens of western democracies persuaded best? The intersection of technology, political science, and social psychology characterizes my course selections, and the government, information science, and psychology departments have provided me incredible food for thought and structure for my academic pursuits.
What are your most important extra-curricular activities?
Outside of class, I am heavily involved with Outdoor Odyssey as a backpacking and rock climbing instructor for incoming freshmen. I work as a campus tour guide with Cornell’s Visitor Relations team and lead spin and cardio/strength fitness classes with the on-campus gyms. On a weekly basis, I mentor youth at a correctional facility and assist with academic tutoring.
Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended.
During the summer of 2017, I was incredibly lucky to have received the inaugural Andrew Kohut Fellowship at the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. With the help of my summer research adviser, Professor Peter Enns (Department of Government), and the vast resources at the world’s largest public opinion archives, I conducted research on “fake news” and the efficacy of information filtration efforts. My project engaged with the issue from the perspective of public opinion polling, and this opportunity gave me insights into the realm of quantitative social research. This research has provided much groundwork for thinking about my senior thesis.
What do you dream of doing after graduation?
I am very openminded to different pathways after graduation. I’d be interested in exploring campaign efforts, both for specific political candidates and for different social or environmental initiatives. Working in technology or media businesses and organizations that are heavily implicated in conversations of persuasion and misinformation would also be incredibly stimulating. Law school and other forms graduate education seem exciting as well.