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College of Arts and Sciences

Leah Wank: ‘In many ways, my Cornell experience has been shaped by the study of foreign languages’

April 29, 2019

Leah Wank

Linguistics, French

Wheaton, Illinois 

What was your favorite class and why? 

My favorite class, although it is difficult to choose, has been Introduction to Classical Chinese. In many ways, my Cornell experience has been shaped by the study of foreign languages, and this was a class that I decided to take almost on a whim. I have thoroughly enjoyed every foreign language class I have taken at Cornell. My love of the Mandarin classes led me to take this class, largely without knowing anything about it or the subject. But I found it to be fascinating, the professor to be amazing, and it opened the door to interests that I had never addressed before. In a way, this class sums up what I have loved about Arts & Sciences––the ability to take classes in subjects that you would never have previously imagined and become absolutely captivated. The ultimate reason I chose it as my favorite class is precisely because I went in with no idea as to whether I would like it and walked out with a deep interest I never could have imagined.

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

The biggest influence on my Cornell education has been the ability to choose. I found it almost incomprehensible when I was a freshman that, during course enroll, the entire course roster was open to explore, there were almost no limitations, and there certainly wasn't anybody choosing classes for you. It is this freedom of choice that, I believe, leads so many to find their true passion and to explore subjects they would not normally have imagined. It certainly led me to do so.

What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Next year I will be living in Beijing, China, and continuing my Chinese studies at Tsinghua University. In ten years, I hope to use what I have learned at Cornell and beyond for the benefit of international organizations like the United Nations.