"I appreciated the down-to-earth quality of people even at the top of their fields."

Dunedin Strickland '15

Major: Comparative Literature

Hometown: Palmer, AK

Why did you choose Cornell?

I was fortunate enough to visit Cornell my junior year of high school and really loved the campus.  I had too many ideas of what I wanted to study coming in to school, and so really appreciated the variety of possibilities that Cornell offered, as well as the down to earth quality that even people at the very top of their fields maintain.  Cornell really seems true to its motto, which is a great one. 

What is your main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?

I walked onto the heavyweight rowing team my freshman year and, after a two year hiatus during part of which I went abroad to Italy, they were kind enough to let me back on the team this year.  I'm naturally a pretty competitive person and so it's great to spend time with a group of such hard-working and dedicated people.  I think that, for me at least, rowing and academics provide nice balances to one another- they're good at keeping everything in perspective.  Being on the water is great too.

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

To tell the truth there have been a few. I was still undecided by my junior fall as to what to study which hadn't bothered me until I realized I was already half-way through my undergraduate career. After deliberating with friends and family I ended up signing up for an Italian class so that I could go abroad the following semester and getting involved in the viticulture and enology (wines!) program. I think I had a conception coming into college that what you're studying should feel like work, and both Italian and wines seemed like way too much fun to be serious objects of study.  It was really kind of liberating to let go of that.  (I've since dropped my business minor...)

What, if any, Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?

Cornell's financial aid program has been hugely helpful for me.  I've worked hard over the summers to help pay for school but I'll be able to graduate this summer without owing a penny in loans, which is a pretty huge privilege.  I'm very grateful to Cornell and all of the donors that made that possible. 

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?

Well I don't know that I've done enough to be proud of much yet (entitled Millenial though I may be...), but I've certainly enjoyed being involved with the rowing program, the Comparative Literature department, the Romance Studies department, and the Viticulture & Enology program. 

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

My senior thesis comes to mind. I'm writing about the appearance of Dante's law of contrapasso as a visual trope in a few of Fellini's more 'infernal' films... I'm not sure whether anyone other than my parents will read it, but it's been fun to go a little more in-depth with both Dante and Fellini.  I'd recommend writing a thesis to anyone who's considering it- it's a simultaneously very frustrating and very gratifying experience.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

There are too many- I couldn't point to just one. It's been a very full four years.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

I think the community of people, both the professors and the other students, are what make Cornell special.  Being surrounded by such a bright and engaged crowd makes learning fun.

How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?

I think my time here has helped me broaden my horizons of possibility. There are so many people here doing fascinating work that it really empowers you to do whatever it is that might interest or excite you. I think I'm less inclined to settle for something that I don't really want to be doing.  Life is too short. 

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

I'm gonna be graduating shortly here with a major in Comparative Literature, and minors in Italian and Viticulture & Enology.  Just having been able to study subjects that diverse, as well as to have taken classes in a few others along the way, is pretty cool. I like that it brings together people who are studying different things as well- it always keeps things interesting.

What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I'm going to be commercial fishing for salmon in Alaska this summer.    I haven't quite decided yet for the fall, I might try to get a job working on a winery or I've also kicked around the idea of traveling to Europe and Russia with some friends.  Learning the piano and writing a novel are still on the to-do list as well.  In 10 years? Hopefully on a beach or a mountain somewhere, having learned the piano and written a book or two.

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