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College of Arts and Sciences

Austin Chiu: 'Advocate for your own learning and growth'

May 7, 2020

Austin Chiu​
Biological Sciences
Las Vegas, Nv

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

My coursework throughout the years, especially in the humanities, has better equipped me to think analytically about the world. My professors have been incredible mentors, encouraging me to develop a critical understanding of not only history, but also the production of knowledge itself.

What was your favorite class and why?

One of the most unique and interesting classes I’ve taken at Cornell is the Animal Behavior Journal Club Topics course taught by Professor Kerry Shaw in the neurobiology department. I really enjoyed discussing primary scientific literature in such an in-depth manner. Dissecting the methods of each study and how the authors connected their experimental results to real-world phenomena helped me better understand the world of academia and research.

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

I’ve been involved in the Person-Centered Advocate Team in the Public Service Center (PCAT) since my sophomore year. I’ve had the incredible privilege of working with Cayuga Medical Center, the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes and the Mental Health Association of Tompkins County throughout the years. Volunteering at these sites deepened my commitment to community service and the healthcare field. Serving the team as a leadership assistant has also further developed my skills as a mentor, as I oriented each semester’s new cohort to their particular site and PCAT’s mission.

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

Take initiative and advocate for your own learning and growth—there’s a world of enriching experiences and inspirational mentors at Cornell. I’d also encourage them to seek out the myriad opportunities to volunteer and serve the communities on and off campus.