'Live an exaggerated life'

Paris Ghazi

Literatures in English and Biology
Boston, Mass.

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

I learned to embrace and seek change rather than be daunted by it. We do not exist in a vacuum, especially at Cornell, so of course our interests will change, of course we will be shocked by our changing paths. This is healthy, this is a sign that we are present in the education we worked for and have been afforded. My majors at Cornell are literatures in English and biology. This can tell you about a lot that I'm intrigued by, and nothing at all. They are labels that are easily interchangeable with any number of classrooms I engaged in. I learned that I can be anything I want. I learned to speak up, because if I see something unsettling or confusing, I have learned through articulating it, that I'm never the only one. I learned that professors value student criticism and insight, and that you can have a hand in shaping your own classroom. I learned to learn with people, to make friends out of the students who sit next to me in lecture and wish me good luck from the row behind me in exams. I learned that when our education feels lonely, maybe we need to replant ourselves into fertile soil in a different department, different library, different classroom, and begin again.

girl in front of poster

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

The Cornell Daily Sun. It is important to me because it taught me to not walk away from stories and ideas that anger and move me, to leave the immediate radius of campus and see what life thrives just beyond it, and to document everything. It also taught me that many, many things are not as urgent as we think they are and can be handled better the next day. This lesson, I think, will bring me many nights of sleep.

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

My friendships. Without a doubt, my friendships. People always say their favorite thing about a place is the people, no? I'm going to be one of those people here. There is so much magic in people. I am proud of the relationships I have sought out, the sisterhoods I have forged forever and even the unexpected friendships that teach me so much every day. Still after four years I am making friends I know will stay in my life beyond the space where our paths diverged.

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

girl with medal after race

I learned that sometimes it's OK (in fact, better) to not have an opinion about something and be a sponge in the learning space, to absorb facts and narratives from readings, the lived experiences shared by other students in discussions, and find my way to my own beliefs shaped by my own perspectives in a process. I learned to be OK with discomfort and to accept that I will say the wrong things as I work my way toward what the right ones are to me. I learned that developing good questions sometimes serves our learning more than developing arguments. This, in turn, has helped me discover that I will never run out of questions, and that has kept life at utmost excitement every day here.

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

Live an exaggerated life. If there's a pretty sunset (there will be many), make a big deal about it because it is beautiful and absolutely warrants your awe. When you see the cherry blossoms in the spring, tell your friends to stop every day they bloom and take a hundred pictures. When you finish a prelim, reward yourself with a chocolate chip cookie at Libe or go grab bubble tea with friends because you did something grand and you should celebrate. When you are walking between classes with your headphones in and feel like the main character in your own movie, make a playlist out of your feelings and be the main character.  When you are studying with a group and you are all caught up in laughter, sharing stories of your childhood, and achieving zero productivity, let it happen, those are the little morsels of life you will hold on to. 

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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