A&S alumni join in events to welcome new students

By: Usha Viswanathan,  A&S Parent
July 30, 2015

LONDON — Alumni recalled snow-packed days when they transformed cookie trays into sleds and sun-filled days sailing on Cayuga Lake, while high school seniors listened carefully, during a recent admitted students reception hosted by the UK’s Cornell Alumni and Admissions Ambassador Network (CCAAAN) in London’s Soho district.

The event, co-chaired by Alex Bhak ’89 and Camilla Gersh ’07, both Arts & Sciences grads, brought local alumni of all ages together to nosh on hors’d’oeuvers and reminisce about their years on the hill with new admits from London-area high schools.

In attendance were graduates whose affiliation with Cornell stretched back 50 years, including cancer researcher Natalie Teich ’65,president of the Cornell Club of London, as well as recent grad Becky Richards ’11, a civil servant and advisor to UK government ministers.

Incoming first-year students Paula Paddack and Christopher Vann, graduates of the American School of London (ASL), said the stories fueled their excitement about joining Cornell this fall.


Paula Paddack, a member of the 2015 freshmen class, brought her dad along to an admitted students event hosted by Arts & Sciences alumni in London.

The event allowed alumni to share their Cornell stories with prospective students.

“When I visited last spring, I thought the campus looked really nice, and my friends from ASL already at Cornell kept telling me that college life would be very different from high school,” said Paddack, who plans to major in communications in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “In high school, you move with the same group of people, and we all pretty much study the same thing; but, I’m excited that at Cornell I’ll l meet a lot of people who are doing different things, and that will be really cool.”

For Vann, who joins the College of Engineering as a mechanical and aerospace engineering major, an attractive campus, a wealth of facilities in his area of study and the huge range of eating spots on campus and off stood out. “I really enjoy food in general, and I’m going to the gym so that when I get to campus, I can continue to eat . . . and workout,” he said, laughing.

Completing application essays was not much fun, Vann said. “But, through the act of writing, I learned a lot about myself, about why I wanted to study math and science. I really like the hands-on opportunities I will have to study robotics and to work on group projects” he said.

Bhak said the Cornell spirit was in full expression during the event.

“It’s significant because those of us who had the privilege to attend Cornell can recall even decades later the smallest slice of life details from our years on campus,” he said. “It speaks to the wholeness of education that Cornell wants every student to experience.”

CAAAN chapters worldwide act on behalf of Cornell’s Office of Admissions to serve as a point of contact for local alumni and to answer questions from students applying to Cornell. “Receptions such as these are just one of our efforts to keep the conversation alive among all of us who once called Cornell home,” Bhak said.

Author Usha Viswanathan and her husband, Sekhar Venkatraman, are the parents of Sara Venkatraman, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences.

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