'I realized my goal was to do something impactful'

Maximillian Chen

Computer Science and Statistical Science
Syosset, N.Y.

Why did you choose Cornell?

guy in chair

Cornell has a phenomenal reputation in CIS, and is one of the most important research universities in the world. I thought it would be a great place to challenge myself to learn a lot and grow as a person!

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

Research! I've been really fortunate to work with three amazing professors in three different departments, who each taught me a variety of different methods and helped me think about questions from different perspectives. I felt like research gave me an opportunity to constantly learn and challenge myself, while applying my knowledge from the classroom to impactful real-life issues.

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

I'm proud of the fact that I made the most of the opportunities around me. Coming into Cornell, I could have never imagined authoring/co-authoring multiple publications, leading a project team, or holding two executive board positions in my fraternity each year. I felt that my wide array of experiences helped me grow a lot as a person.

guys standing near research poster

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

I realized that my goal was to do something impactful. Coming to Cornell, I thought that the standard life trajectory I had to follow was to get my degree and come out with a good job and live a comfortable life (which is fine!). I realized that I felt a lot more fulfilled when I was challenging myself in research and working on highly impactful projects.

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

Come in with an open mind, and make the most of the opportunities that are given to you! It's okay to change your major, it's okay to try out new clubs and organizations you didn't initially think you would like. College passes by quickly, and it's better to take a chance than regret not knowing what would have happened!

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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Maximillian Chen