'Entertain the notion that your "requirements" are actually opportunities'

Adelyn Carney

Mathematics & Economics
Rochester, N.Y.

What was your favorite class and why?  

person standing inside a beautiful building

Behavioral Economics. It was the first time that I encountered economic models that departed from the conventional assumption of full rationality, and this appealed to me. I always found it a little strange that people always acted purely rational in my previous economics classes since I, for one, know that I don’t act that way. It was also the first time I encountered experiments that were performed to support economic models (including the famous experiment involving Cornell undergraduates that showcased the “endowment effect”). I was intrigued by the way researchers went about designing such experiments. It was while taking this class that I knew I wanted to pursue economics research in the future.

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

Cornell Running Club. It is the first club I joined when I arrived on campus. I was looking for a way to continue my active lifestyle, as well as meet other college students with this shared interest. And what better place to run than the “gorges” Ithaca? Through Running Club, I have met not only some of my closest college friends but some of my closest friends. Because of the fun and uplifting atmosphere of the club, it has pushed me to run distances that I had never previously considered. I’ve raced two half marathons since joining and am looking forward to my third coming up!

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

people in running clothes

My advice is simple: expand your horizons. Students will have ample opportunity to do so while fulfilling the wide and colorful array of distribution requirements for the College of Arts & Sciences at Cornell. I understand that the word "requirement" often conjures the visceral emotion of dread. I would encourage freshmen to entertain the notion that these requirements should first be deemed as an opportunity. If I had followed my own advice, I would have discovered my love for language and would have been able to graduate with a minor in German. (I'll still be able to burnish my German when I visit Berlin, Munich and Hamburg this summer.)

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

I am interested in the intersection of economics with public policy. The topics in the various classes that I have taken that appealed to me most involved applications to public policy: managing inflation through interest rates in macroeconomics, determining optimal taxes on “sin goods” in behavioral economics and addressing environmental-related concerns involving the Tragedy of the Commons in game theory, to name a few. Although I am currently undecided on the specific field I will pursue in my economics Ph.D., I hope to pursue economics research that contributes to answering policy-relevant questions, whether that be in academia or government.

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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Adelyn Carney