'I strive to practice bravery and authenticity'

Chit Sum Eunice Ngai

Hong Kong

What was your favorite class and why?  

Collaborative Songwriting is one of my favorite classes, because it blends learning theory and practice directly to develop students’ creative voices. Each person in our class is required to write and present three songs. This both is and isn’t as scary as it sounds: at this point in the semester, we’ve completed our first two songs, and it’s been amazing to witness our musical and personal growth.

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

In junior year, I worked as a research assistant on a project investigating how technology design both exacerbated — and could address — wage theft of home care workers in the U.S. Through qualitative coding analysis of interviews with home care worker and legal and payroll experts, our team studied how interlocking sociocultural, economic and political contexts manifested in the design and implementation of digital pay processes. We co-authored a paper on our findings, which will be published in the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. This experience gave me practice with critically examining the contexts that give rise to institutional design processes, and deeply inspired the topic for my thesis.

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What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of researching and writing my senior honors thesis, “It’s a Worthy Job Paying People For: Home Care Workers and Clients in Tompkins County.” My thesis examines sociocultural narratives about care work in the U.S.; how these narratives have undervalued care work and influence inadequate systemic support for people in it; and how anthropological research and ethnographic documentation can make visible the important work of care workers and clients. My interviews and fieldwork focus on home care workers and their clients in Tompkins County, N.Y. Working on my thesis trained me to persist in uncertainty, overcome perfectionism through deadlines, listen actively with empathy and so much more.

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? 

I strive to practice bravery and authenticity. Whether it’s presenting my song to a class through stage fright, or reaching out to people for anthropology research as a quiet and shy introvert, I’ve had so many opportunities to go out of my comfort zone (even when I am often forced into it for homework!) at Cornell. My teachers, classmates and friends have also inspired me to express myself with authenticity in my projects and creative assignments. These experiences have shown me how empowering and impactful living bravely and authentically can be.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?  

My parents. They’ve been on my side from every niche major I’ve considered, random hobby I’ve pursued and career path I’ve resonated with — and that’s saying a lot. Their diligence in education and life has also propelled me to make the most of every one of my learning experiences at Cornell. My college education would not have been as fruitful as it was without their abiding support and strength.  


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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