'All of these wonderful people have always advocated for me, believed in me and encouraged me'

Adriana Sanchez

Computer Science & Spanish
Sayreville, N.J.

Why did you choose Cornell?

Two people standing by a monument

I knew I wanted to study computer science since early on in high school, so one of the main reasons I chose Cornell was because it has one of the best programs in the country, with some of the most accomplished professors in the field to learn from. After I did more research on the school, I also learned how many student organizations existed on campus that focused on helping students succeed in tech such as Women in Computing at Cornell (WICC) and Underrepresented Minorities in Computing (URMC). I was also drawn by the variety of engineering project teams, which give students a chance to develop practical skills they can carry over into industry. In addition, one advantage of a big school is the diversity of the student population and all the organizations that exist for all kinds of hobbies and interests. There’s truly a community here for anyone. Lastly, I remember the first time I visited campus and when I got to experience my first sunset on the slope I was absolutely mesmerized by the beauty in and around Cornell’s campus. All these years later, I still can’t believe I have been so fortunate to attend my dream school.

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

I have done various extracurriculars throughout the years, but one of my favorites has been Hack4Impact. We are a project team that partners with non-profits to build technology for social impact. When I first joined the team, I was a developer working on a volunteer management system for the Tompkins County-based non-profit Love Living at Home. Afterward, I became a product manager and worked on projects ranging from building a template website for the Earth Law Center to building a mobile app and data visualization platform for the Wash Foundation. This was one of the most valuable learning experiences I had as I got to apply the technical skills I learned in the classroom to real-world problems. I also got to practice my Spanish skills as I communicated with partners based in Lima, Peru for the Wash Foundation project. At the same time, I made friends with some of the best designers and developers on campus, who also shared the same interest of developing for social good.

a group of people standing in front of a sign

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?         

Some of my favorite memories at Cornell include all the concerts I went to on campus. Over the years I got to see some of my favorite artists, such as when Aminé headlined Slope Day 2022 or when Flo Milli headlined the Cornell Concert Commission’s April show back in 2022 and when JID did the same back in 2023. All those concerts had crazy, high-energy atmospheres that were completely unforgettable. Also, I got to discover plenty of artists through the concerts on campus who I still listen to today, including Soccer Mommy, Beach Bunny, Magdalena Bay and Slow Pulp.

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? 

Prior to coming to Cornell, I used to think I was only interested in STEM and while I enjoyed humanities classes, I never thought they would become a focus of mine. That all changed when I took my first Spanish class my freshman spring and I realized that there was more that I wanted to do than just fully immerse myself in computer science. From then on, I turned my education into a journey of self-discovery in which I realized there would be no better chance than in college to get closer to my Hispanic heritage by formally studying the language and the culture of Latin America. I was nowhere near fluent when I first took Spanish, and in fact I almost never pursued the major because I thought I was not proficient enough to succeed. However, my professor Cecelia Lawless encouraged me to stay in the class and eventually enroll in the major. Since then, I have become so much more proficient at Spanish that I can now comfortably speak with my relatives every time I visit Peru. In addition, I realize now that the major has offered me some of the most interesting and enriching classes I have taken at Cornell. 

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?   

a person with a bike outside a Google building

There are a handful of upperclassmen I met through various clubs who made a profound influence on my personal, academic and professional development. First, I want to shout out Natalie Kalitsi ’22 who became my mentor through URMC. She guided me on how to enter the tech industry by exposing me to different underclassmen programs, helping me craft a resume and doing mock interviews with me until I landed my first internship. In addition, she showed me that it was possible to do a double major in a STEM field and a language. In addition, I want to shout out Connie Liu ’23 who became my mentor when I first joined WICC and later encouraged me to apply for Hack4Impact, which would become one of the best decisions I ever made. Lastly, I want to shout out Tise Alatise ’23 who became a mentor-like figure to me after I joined WICC e-board. All of these wonderful people have always advocated for me, believed in me, and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and without them I don’t think I could have accomplished all that I have today.  

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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