'Act with intention, live with an open mind'

Spencer Quan

Barrington, R.I.

What was your favorite class and why?  

Looking back, the class I enjoyed the most at Cornell would have to be Psychology and Law (LAW 2650). At the intersection of both fields, it provided an in-depth introduction to how psychological theory and research have impacted legal procedures and practices. Beyond the incredibly well-delivered and informative lectures, I enjoyed how the course exposed us to the logical thinking process of lawyers as they solved real-world problems in both civil and criminal law. The tangible nature of each lesson, paired with the unique expertise of the professors, helped bring textbook concepts to life. Through this class, I also met other students who were equally enthusiastic about the law, many of whom are my friends to this day.

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

two people with Touchdown the Bear

When I first stepped foot on campus back in August of 2021 as a transfer student, I could not have imagined that I would join a fraternity, much less be tasked with leading one just a few months later. However, this speaks to the incredible nature of the chapter community itself. Within days of meeting the people who would soon become my brothers, I knew I found my place here at Cornell. The once-foreign campus quickly became a familiar home with friendly faces everywhere, and the new environment began to feel smaller. Most importantly, however, I'm grateful I had an outlet and community where I could always be myself and enjoy life through my time on campus. In a rigorous environment like Cornell, where academic, professional, and personal pressures can sometimes weigh heavily on the minds of all students, such places are invaluable. Later, serving as my chapter's president, I am honored to have had the opportunity to keep my house a welcoming and warm environment for future years of incoming students like me.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?     

Cornell works hard to bring real-world practitioners and world-renowned subject matter experts to campus. They often teach courses, host public talks and even offer office hours for students, all while bringing the concepts we learn in class to life. Taking full advantage of these events has defined much of my experience as a student, especially because of how rare and valuable these opportunities are outside of institutions like Cornell. From eating lunch at the Statler with a visiting professor whose work I have been assigned to read in my courses to shaking hands with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg after a university-sponsored panel, the first-person insights shared with me and the memories I gained will stay with me forever.

a group of people

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first-year student, what would you say?

This short piece of advice was given to me, and it served me well, so I'll pass it forward, too. College is your laboratory for taking risks, discovering the world and finding your place in it. Cornell provides more opportunities to aid you in these endeavors than can be completed in a lifetime. Act with intention, live with an open mind, and fuel your curiosity.

What are your plans for next year? 

Next year, I will be serving as a congressional staffer for the Office of Representative Katherine Clark, a Cornell University alumna and the current Minority Whip in the United States House of Representatives.


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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Juncheng "Spencer" Quan