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College of Arts and Sciences

Julia Shebek: ‘I have slowly been adding tools to a toolbox for living, working, and seeing the world’

April 26, 2019

Julia Shebek

English & Performing and Media Arts

Kensington, CA

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

I’ve made great progress during my undergraduate career as I became a better writer, and an enormous part of that change is that I am, genuinely, a stronger thinker. As I’ve learned new lessons in each of my classes at Cornell, I have slowly been adding tools to a toolbox for living, working, and seeing the world. Many of those tools add up to a more adept critical awareness—I am better able to recognize the choices that make pieces of literature, film, theatre, and television interesting and meaningful. Those analytical skills have informed my own creative work: my writing and my performances have become more complex and more special to me as I’ve grown at Cornell.

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

I joined Humor Us my freshman year, and the group quickly taught me to love sketch comedy, enough to pursue a career as a comedy writer. I learned to listen to my instincts; to speak louder and trust my ideas. Humor Us was the first (and best) of many families I've found here, and I owe an enormous debt to Cornell for giving me the opportunity to meet the people who have become some of my closest friends.

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

It’s difficult for me to choose one project I’ve worked on, one paper, one idea, one script, or one performance. I’m proud of the body of work I’ve created here, as varied as that has been. What's at the same time so obvious and so incredible to me is that the things I'm proudest of achieving at Cornell are things that I've made completely on my own, but which Cornell prompted me to attempt by creating a space for me to fill with those ideas. Before Cornell, I expected college to be like high school: about remembering what you're taught. Yet, I'm amazed by how often and how easily this university went beyond that kind of learning and set me up to realize a potential I didn't know I had. That sense of ownership—that these ideas and these projects are wholly mine—is a gift I never expected, and one for which I am deeply grateful.