"I have become a more caring and aware citizen."

August 29, 2015

Gabriela Walters '15 

Majors: Feminist, Gender and Sexuality StudiesEconomics
Hometown: Acton, MA

Why did you choose Cornell?
As a high school senior I knew I needed to be in large and diverse school with a lot of different opportunities, academic and extra-curricular. Cornell University, with its many, many departments and student groups, was the place to find that.

What is your main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
My main activity outside of schoolwork is The CallbaXX A Cappella. It is a group of brilliant, talented young women, and they have become my family away from home. In The CallbaXX I found a space to get support and love and to challenge myself, learn, grow, and become a better team member, friend, and person.

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
At some point my sophomore year, I realized didn't want to be a math major and instead wanted to study feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. I found myself getting very frustrated with sexism among my peers, particularly in science and math classes where there were only a handle of women in each class. I could tell it was also affecting other women from the stories they told about their experiences. I decided to take my first FGSS class, and while I enjoyed math still, I found it wasn't quite as fascinating to me as studying complex systems of oppression and human interactions. FGSS gave me ways to answer questions that people around me had been asking for a long time.

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
I am most proud of the amazing work that my a cappella group The CallbaXX A Cappella has done in the past 4 years. Each individual contributes so much to the group's success, and it can be hard to get 15 Cornellians, who are already busy with classes and other work, to really work together and create something wonderful, but I've watched the group grow and improve so much. It's inspiring.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
I think my most treasured memories are spending time with The CallbaXX or watching Game of Thrones with my friends in Risley late into the night.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?
Apart from The CallbaXX, which I've already discussed a lot here, living in Risley Residential College influenced my success the most. The community support Risley provides for its students, who are mostly artists and musicians, is unparalleled. I made many of my closest friends living in Risley, and amazing friends have definitely influenced my Cornell experience the most and have been a necessary support system in the sometimes challenging and exhausting environment that comes with attending an Ivy League institution.

How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
I feel like I am a much more open-minded person now. I understand how different experiences can shape people, and I am much more aware of how affected my views have been by society's rules and systemic oppressions. I feel that I am more sensitive to other people's struggles than I was before and that I have become a more caring and aware citizen.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?
I value most how many options I had when deciding what to study. One student can only study feminist theory and financial economics together when getting a liberal arts education.

What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be working in public policy or as a financial advisor for a nonprofit that focuses on bettering the status of women and/or those struggling financially.

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