'The academic freedom fueled my own critical thinking and curiosities'

Ianna Ramdhany Correa

Government & China & Asia-Pacific Studies
New York, N.Y.

What was your favorite class and why?  

My favorite class has been Experiencing Global China, which I took as a Cornell class offered at Peking University through the Cornell China & Asia-Pacific Studies (CAPS) program. Every week, experts from different disciplines would come and give a lecture on a topic related to China and foreign affairs. This structure allowed me to experience perspectives in areas such as economics, sociology and sustainability that I had not previously taken courses in. I took this course alongside graduate students from across the world who pushed me to think critically about international politics.

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?        

My Arts & Sciences education has challenged me to constantly dig deeper and ask questions. The structure of many of my government and CAPS courses allowed me to conduct research on topics that I had a personal interest in. This academic freedom in my classes fueled my own critical thinking and curiosities across new subjects. Through these classes, I was able to take my interests including race, gender, education, criminal justice, international relations and law and apply these lenses to political institutions and historical events. These opportunities to explore my interests in the classroom helped me discover my future career aspirations from early on in my college experience. 

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

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In the fall semester of my senior year, I studied abroad in Beijing, China, which was absolutely life-changing. The program pushed me to be completely immersed in a culture and language that is so different than what I had previously been exposed to. I had incredibly fulfilling experiences such as teaching English at a school for the children of migrant workers, learning Chinese Sign Language while volunteering at a cafe that employed deaf workers and speaking to professionals at the Alibaba headquarters. One of my most memorable experiences in China was traveling to Guangzhou to attend the Cornell-China forum. I met alumni from all walks of life who gave me invaluable advice about my remaining time at Cornell and my next steps upon graduation. This conference, in particular, made me realize how connected we are as Cornell students, even when on the other side of the world. I was even able to do a research project in Beijing, where I looked at disadvantaged populations and spoke to changemakers spearheading activist work across China.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?     

My family has been the biggest influence on my Cornell education. My parents and older sister have made tremendous sacrifices to allow me to chase my dreams, and I am endlessly grateful to them. My parents are immigrants from Cuba and Guyana, and I owe them the world for leaving their lives behind to give me the opportunity to explore my passions. They have always supported my goals and been my biggest fans, even traveling to China to visit me while abroad. My biggest dream is to be able to repay them for their sacrifices and support them however I can. I am incredibly fortunate to have such an incredible support system of people cheering me on through everything.

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope to be a practicing lawyer in New York City. It would be my dream to provide pro bono services where I can directly give back to the communities I have always advocated for. I also hope to live in close proximity to my family. In 10 years, I also hope to continue exploring new cultures and languages in different parts of the world.

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2024.

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