Nathan Floro '15
Major: Linguistics and Near Eastern Studies
Hometown: Canal Fulton, OH
Why did you choose Cornell?
In high school, I had many different interests and did not know what I wanted to major in when I got to college. When I looked at different schools, I was struck by Cornell’s dedication to diverse curricular offerings and focus on students exploring many interests. The motto “any person, any study” really stuck with me and after I visited the campus, I knew that Cornell was where I wanted be.
What is your main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
My main Cornell extracurricular activity is playing tuba in the Big Red Marching Band. It is difficult to describe its importance to me succinctly, but marching band has been such a significant part of my life for these four years. I auditioned for the marching band on my second day ever at Cornell and the band has been my home on campus since. My experience at Cornell would have been different in the worst way if it were not for the BRMB and the people in it. I am so thankful to have them in my life.
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
The most profound turning point for me was not technically while I was at Cornell. Rather, it was when I left Cornell for a semester abroad in Jordan. Before then, I had never been outside the US and Canada, so I had never even been on an international flight. I had studied Arabic for three years before leaving, but I had not really lived immersed in a foreign language. To say the least, it was the most difficult semester of my Cornell education. But it was also the most rewarding. It was hard for me to give up the ‘family’ that I had found here, but by leaving, I was able to grow so much more and learn so much more than I had at any time before or since.
What, if any, Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
In my junior year, I was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Grant through Cornell and the Department of Education to study Arabic and the Middle East. This grant enabled me to study abroad in Amman, Jordan during the Spring of 2014.
What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?
In terms of activities, I am most proud of having served as the Tuba Section Leader of the Cornell Big Red Marching Band for 2013. I loved the opportunity to lead the group which is made up of some of the closest friends I have ever had. We had some pretty rad adventures, like that time we tried to walk through the drive-thru at the New Haven Taco Bell, and I am so proud to have been a part of them all.
What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?
During my senior year, I completed an Honors Thesis about political speech in Jordan. At first, the thesis seemed large and daunting, but looking back now, I enjoyed getting to explore the topic in a project of my own making.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
One particularly cold and snowy Saturday, a group of maybe eight of my friends and I trekked out to the plantations with three sleds for the afternoon. I am sure we all had schoolwork that we were supposed to be doing, but I can’t really remember. However, I will remember forever going down the hill and crashing ungracefully at the bottom. I probably regretted it when I was cold and sore at the library that night, but now I could not be any gladder about that afternoon.
Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?
My time at Cornell was most shaped by the friends I have made here. In particular, my best friend Kailin Koch deserves special mention. College can be stressful and confusing, but she always knew how to get me through whatever crisis that happened to be going on. I am incredibly grateful to have a friend who always has good advice and has shaped how I have approached the choices I have made here.
How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
Coming to Cornell as a freshman, while I was undecided about my major, I still had some ideas about what I wanted to do academically during my time at Cornell. By chance, the introductory class of the major I first considered was full when I registered for classes, so I decided to try something new, linguistics, instead. I had taken a lot of foreign language in high school and I thought the first linguistics course sounded interesting, so I went for it. I am glad I did because linguistics has shaped the rest of my education here.
What do you value about your liberal arts education?
I value a number of things about my liberal arts education, including learning to reason and gaining a wider perspective of the world. I learned how to view any argument critically, pointing out its weaknesses. I learned how to build my own arguments and account for their weaknesses too. I learned new languages, and how to learn languages; in doing so, I learned how to think about cultures and their interactions. After four years, I am starting to understand how much I have yet to learn, but I am ending this part of my education with the understanding that I never have to stop learning.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Next year, I will working in Morocco teaching English through a Fulbright grant for ten months. I plan to continue working for a few years either in teaching or the nonprofit sector before returning to school to pursue a Ph.D. in Linguistics.