arrow grid linear view icon
College of Arts and Sciences

Gavin Wong: 'Now I can stand on my own two feet and am confident in my ability to navigate the world'

May 8, 2020

Gavin Wong
Psychology, Biology & Society
San Rafael, CA

Why did you choose Cornell?

I knew that I wanted to go a school with excellent academics. Beyond that, I wanted to experience a part of the country that’s totally different from where I grew up. Coming to Cornell opened up chances for me to explore new places and have new experiences I otherwise couldn’t have had in California, including watching Broadway shows in New York City, taking road trips to Canada, and skiing around Ithaca. Looking back, I know I made the right choice.

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

One of the most valuable things an Arts & Sciences education gave me is the ability to look at any issue through different lenses. Taking the distribution requirements gave me insight into many different fields and I appreciate how I can now approach a topic with perspectives from both the sciences and the humanities. Another very valuable skill set I gained was conducting research work. I was involved in multiple labs during my time at Cornell, even staying over the summer to work. I learned about the ins and outs of the scientific process, from hypothesis generation through project design, data collection and analysis, and article writing. Through all this, I’ve worked with some of the most amazing people and have gained a lot from the experience.

Gavin Wong in winter coat and hat
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

It is hard to choose one, but canoe camping in the Adirondacks for a PE class was definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life.  We went over the four-day weekend of fall break as a small group of students and student instructors. For those four days, we canoed all around the Saranac Lake region, setting up camp on the islands and beaches along the way. We’d cook our own food and go hiking around the campsites.  It was a way to do something I’d never done before in a place I’d never been before; that’s part of the reason I came to Cornell. I made friends and many great memories on that trip.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

I’ve definitely become more self-confident than I was when I first came to Cornell. Living independently and having to figure things out for myself led to a lot of learning experiences and I definitely feel I’ve grown as a person for it. Before coming to Cornell, I’d never flown in a plane by myself, cooked for myself or written a check. Now I can stand on my own two feet and am confident in my ability to navigate the world. 

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

Take full advantage of the opportunities Cornell provides. Explore the PE classes, join clubs, go to shows at Risley, Schwartz and Cornell Cinema. These are the things that make for an enriching Cornell experience. Also, make use of the academic and professional resources Cornell has. Talk to advisors and counselors whenever you have a question; they’re there to help you succeed.