'Cornell was the perfect place for me to study nature'

Isabella Eclipse

Environment & Sustainability
Orange County, Calif.

Why did you choose Cornell?

woman holding little dog

I actually first heard of Cornell when I was in middle school because I was trying to identify a bird in my grandparents’ backyard! The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website was one of the first results of my Google search, and from there I discovered an interest in ornithology and Cornell became my dream school. In high school, I attended a summer camp at Cornell and I loved how the campus was surrounded by forest — it was so different from where I grew up in Southern California. Cornell seemed like the perfect place for me to study nature, and the College of Arts & Sciences would allow me to explore my interests in the humanities at the same time. 

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

One of the most meaningful activities I have participated in while at Cornell is tutoring farmworkers through the Friends of Farmworkers club. I grew up hearing stories about the difficult experience of immigrating to the United States and learning a new language from my Colombian grandparents. Through Friends of Farmworkers, I have had the opportunity to provide English as a second language (ESL) tutoring to farmworkers working in upstate New York. Developing a relationship with the farmworkers and helping them to reach their learning goals has been incredibly rewarding. I plan on continuing this volunteer work with similar organizations after I graduate.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

woman standing outside the EPA offices

In fall 2021, I spent a semester in Washington, D.C. through the Cornell in Washington program. I had never visited D.C. before, so I relished the opportunity to visit museums and galleries, attend exciting community events and study at libraries and cafes. I loved nerding out about compost and climate policy with my coworkers at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, where I worked as a communications and policy intern. It was awe-inspiring to be in D.C. as major environmental policy decisions were being made. Most of all, I treasure the memories I have of simply hanging out with other Cornell students: watching movies, exploring the city and having late-night discussions. 

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

I met Dr. Allison Chatrychyan when I decided to take her course, Climate Change Communities. I was fascinated by the way her research combined social science and climate policy, so when she invited me to be her assistant over the summer, I had to say "yes." Helping Dr. Chatrchyan to launch the Cornell Climate Stewards program gave me the unique opportunity to help develop a curriculum and train more than 50 adult volunteers to take climate action locally. This experience helped to deepen my interest in local, grassroots environmental action. I am still working with Dr. Chatrychyan today, and I have no doubt that what I’ve learned from her will shape my future after graduation. 

twin sisters


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 2022.

More News from A&S