"My education gave me the ability to learn about the world, not just my field."

Rose Hanson '15

Major: History
Hometown: Anchorage, AK

Why did you choose Cornell?
I chose Cornell because it gave me a chance to gain an amazing well-rounded education in an environment where people really love to learn. Coming from a high school where everyone knew everyone else, I wanted a school that was large enough that I could create my own community instead of have one chosen for me, and Cornell fit the bill! I also knew I wanted to study music, but did not want to major in music. Cornell’s music program, which embraces non-majors, was a perfect fit.

What is your main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
I've sung in the Cornell University Chorus since my freshman year, and my time with the Chorus has completely defined my Cornell experience. When I auditioned for the Chorus, Cornell’s premier treble choral ensemble, I had no idea that I would gain leadership experience as part of the organization’s student-run infrastructure, the ability to learn from a student and alumni network of female leaders, amazing musical opportunities such as touring the United States and performing at Carnegie Hall, and the friendship of current members and alumni of both the Chorus and our brother group, the Glee Club. The Chorus gave me a home at Cornell, but I appreciate it most for showing me how women can change the world. We use our music to re-define how our audiences think of female choirs, and we use our organizational expertise to train generations of female leaders to be confident in their leadership abilities and make positive change in their environments. My time with the Chorus gave me the confidence to tackle whatever goals I set for myself, whether musical, professional, or social.

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Realizing that I didn't need to absolutely love Cornell all the time to still be happy here. About halfway through my freshman year, I felt incredibly lost, and began questioning why I was at Cornell. Yes, I was learning, but I was working so hard I felt like I wasn’t actually living. I soon realized that pretty much my entire freshman hall felt exactly the same way. We bonded over the notion that while we had to work hard, we always had each other to fall back on, and a supportive Cornell community to work within. Whenever I felt drowned in prelims or stressed about the sheer amount of work I faced, I returned to that realization, and was able to take a step back and remember how fortunate I was to be learning in an environment that encouraged me to explore new ideas and grow in new ways.

What, if any, Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
Cornell gave me generous financial aid, and I am thankful for the alumni who contribute to Cornell, as I benefitted from many alumni provided grants.

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
I just turned in my Honors Thesis in History, the result of four semesters of study, which I am pretty proud of! I worked with over six hundred images of eighteenth-century letters to write it, and loved digging into the words of the past. I’m also proud of the Spring 2015 edition of Ezra’s Archives, Cornell Historical Society’s Journal of Undergraduate Research. It was hugely gratifying to watch over 25 undergraduate editors work together to publish the research of their peers from around the country, and very exciting to be part of the process as Co-Editor in Chief.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
It wasn’t exactly on Cornell’s campus, but my pre-orientation trip through Outdoor Odyssey will always be memorable. One doesn’t readily forget six days of fun in the woods with people who will become some of your best friends, and I’ve often reflected on my trip as the most positive start to Cornell I could imagine. Another memory (once I was actually at Cornell) that stands out is singing with Chorus and Glee Club members and alumni during Cornelliana night at Reunion 2014 last summer. It was amazing to join in with over 50 years of dedicated alumni, who’s love for Cornell and its singing groups matches, or even surpasses, my own, to sing praises to their Alma mater. The sheer power of being one of over 200 voices celebrating the tradition of Cornell Songs cemented the fact that I will always have a place for Cornell in my heart.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?
Two women in the class of 2013 completely inspired me to embrace my Cornell education. One, the President of the Chorus, showed me how to devote myself to the music and the leadership of the Chorus while still holding high academic standards for myself. The other, the President of the Cornell Historical Society, inspired me to find community in the History Department and to write an honors thesis in History. The number of faculty and staff at Cornell who have profoundly influenced my experience are too many to name, but these two women stand out because they showed me how, as a student, I could follow my academic passions while engaging in a broader education through active involvement in music, leadership, and historical inquiry at Cornell.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?
The broad swath of subjects my liberal arts education expected me to study.  As a History major, I could study history, but being part of Arts and Sciences meant I also took classes in music, environmental science, elementary education, and philosophy, to name a few. My education gave me the ability to learn about the world, not just my field! My peers did everything from conducting biomedical research to writing original plays. Being in an environment of diverse thinkers opened my mind to new ideas, and taught me how to consider topics and issues out of my comfort zone, which in turn helped me grow not only as an academic, but also as a person.

What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m going to spend this summer traveling around the United States, visiting friends and family as I make my way back to Alaska. I love so many different fields that I have no idea where I’ll be in ten years – I might be an elementary school teacher, I might be in a masters or PhD Program, I might be working as a Cultural Resources Consultant, I might be the front woman of a traveling folk band. My Cornell experience means all of these options are real possibilities!

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