'I just published my first first-author paper'

Emily Hurwitz

Music and Psychology
Walpole, Mass.

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

The most valuable skills I gained are time management, communication, and the ability to take constructive criticism. I've learned a lot in my courses, but taking 18-22 credits per semester (while still enjoying life!) takes a lot of diligent scheduling and time management. I came into Cornell as a very shy, non-confrontational introvert and quickly learned the value of collaboration and learning from your failures. Of course it's never easy to fail, and it hurts, but it's important to get back up and reassess what needs to be done so you can grow.

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

girl on slope of hill during sunset

My main extracurricular activity is Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB). I joined sophomore year as a member of the Symposium Committee and then become Recruitment Chair, Social Chair, and a Peer Mentor. Working as Recruitment Chair is so rewarding because I get to interview potential new members and help choose our new executive board. I love organizing research events and meeting people who are just as passionate about research as I am. I plan on pursuing a career in research and CURB has taught me so much about organizing conferences, research outreach, and empowering early-career researchers. Finally, I love how this is a professional organization but still feels like a family.

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

I just published my first first author paper in Frontiers in Psychology, titled "Shifting Listening Niches: Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic." Under the direction of Professor Carol Krumhansl, I researched how the pandemic has affected how people listen to music, and how students have found music to be meaningful during this time. It was really exciting to work on, and I'm really proud of the research that I have done.

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? What have you discovered about yourself?

girl near icy waterfall

I came from a town with little diversity, so it has been incredible to meet people from all around the world at Cornell and learn from their perspectives. I think that I've expanded my worldview a lot and have become a lot more passionate about advocating for equity and justice, as well as mental health. Also, something I love about Cornell is how everyone has their own niche that they're really passionate about, despite having very different upbringings. I grew up in a working-class family and worked my way through college, which is different from a lot of my peers, but it has taught me a lot about myself and how resilient I am. Finally, after dealing with imposter syndrome at the beginning of college, I've finally realized that not only do I truly deserve to be here, but that I have thrived here. I've discovered a lot of my self-worth in my time here at Cornell.

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

Steve Spinelli, who is the director of the Cornell Chorale and Chamber Singers, and assistant director of the Chorus and Glee Club, definitely influenced my Cornell education the most. As a flautist, I never thought that I would sing in college, but my best friend/roommate encouraged me to try out after hearing me sing incessantly in our suite. Sophomore spring, I had missed auditions for Chorus, but Steve invited me to audition for Chorale. That semester, I was dealing with a lot of burnout and was considering dropping the music major because I no longer felt connected to music. But Chorale — and Steve — is what stopped me from dropping it. I fell in love with singing beautiful rich harmonies and finding a sense of community in singing the Evening Song at the end of rehearsal. I left each rehearsal with a newfound sense of happiness and fulfillment, practically glowing as I walked down the slope back to West Campus. I've since joined the Chorus and have gone on tour with Chamber Singers, and I'm planning on finding opportunities to sing after college, too. Steve pushed me to be a better musician and helped me to grow in a way that I didn't know was possible, and I fully credit him with helping me to reinvigorate my passion for music. 

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 2021.

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Emily Hurwitz