What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
When I came to Cornell as a freshman, I really had no idea what I wanted to study. I knew from my time in the Boy Scouts that I had a huge passion for the outdoors, and from summer programs in high school at the Duke University Marine Lab I knew I had a love for the ocean. So, at the end of my freshman year, I spent the summer studying at Shoals Marine Lab; it was a phenomenal experience. It was there that I got my first exposure to environmental policymaking, and as someone who hopes to go into energy and environmental policy after graduation, I cannot help but feel that it was my time at Shoals that set me on this path.
How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
I genuinely think I became a more open-minded person through my time at Cornell. The North is a very different place from the South where I grew up, and it has been a positive experience and a privilege to have been able to meet and study with people who have very different backgrounds from me. In particular, I really clicked with the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program here at Cornell, and programs like these helped open my eyes to the successes, struggles and stories of parts of modern America that I might never have been exposed to in a meaningful way had it not been for my time here at Cornell.
If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?
Expand your horizons. Whether you feel like you know your major or not, seriously consider classes that have nothing to do with your degree. Take classes outside your college or major, and be sure to capitalize on the programs that Cornell does uniquely well, such as any that get you out into the 'field,' be that a wetland or a government office. And don't hesitate to reach out to Cornell alumni! There is an active alumni network on LinkedIn, and every alumnus I've reached out to has been extremely helpful, and I continue to be friends with many of them.