'The most valuable skills I've gained are persistence and perspective'

Ulysses Rios

Temple City, Calif.

Why did you choose Cornell?

person under trees

I chose Cornell because I wanted to move out of my comfort zone, and moving across the country seemed like the best way to do that! I thought that immersing myself in a new environment would help me learn about myself and different kinds of people. The campus and location was also just absolutely beautiful; Ithaca really is gorges!

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

The Cornell memory I treasure the most is seeing my parents in the crowd as I graduated. Both my parents immigrated later in life to the United States, and never really had the opportunities to pursue their dreams here. They ensured that I had every opportunity to pursue mine, and I wanted to push myself as far as possible to ensure their efforts paid off. It was a struggle at times, as I suffered from culture shock and homesickness, but seeing their beaming faces as I walked across the stage made every moment worth it.

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

person with pumpkin

The most valuable skills I have gained from my Cornell education have been persistence and perspective. I learned that, in order to be successful at whatever I need to accomplish, I need to push myself as hard as possible. That means going the extra mile and figuring out the question behind the question so to speak. And, paradoxically, sometimes pushing yourself as hard as possible means taking breaks! You need to recharge to push harder! I also learned that adjusting one's perspective is a valuable skill to have. Understanding things within the context of other persons or through different timeframes allowed me to sympathize with and contextualize ideas I may have dismissed when I was younger.

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

What influenced my Cornell education the most was honestly just what I felt was the most interesting. I came in drawn in several directions about what I would study, but slowly and surely found my way towards economics specifically. Something about the creed of studying how people made decisions and how those decisions affect others struck me as an interesting and bottomless question. While it may be futile to answer, it's something that interests me regardless.


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 2023.

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Ulysses Rios