'My research is focused on gender inequality within STEM'

Rachel Spivak

Information Science
Avon, Conn.

Why did you choose Cornell?

I will never forget the first time I came to Cornell. It was one of those beautiful spring days where almost every student was out on campus. The slope was filled with people laughing and studying, and the weather was perfect. It truly looked like a scene from a movie. I knew I loved the campus itself, but I began to wonder if any programs at Cornell would truly be a good fit for my unique interests. I had always loved math and knew that whatever I wanted to study should be STEM-focused. I wanted to try computer science but didn’t know where to begin. After further research, the information science major intrigued me. This major would give me the flexibility to take classes that sparked my interest, eventually leading me to focus on data science and user experience.  Because it was a major within the College of Arts & Sciences, I could focus on information science while also exploring other topics through my core requirements.

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

woman on skis in winter

Aside from the quantitative skills I gained through my coursework, I would say the most useful skills I gained were invaluable communication and collaboration skills. As I progressed through my Cornell education, my classes shifted from exam-based to project-based, which was immensely helpful in my transition into the “real world.” This past semester I have been working as an analyst at Blackstone and I constantly find myself relating my work to projects I did in the user experience concentration. The collaborative style of the information science curriculum allowed me to grow as an individual and prepared me immensely for my career.

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

My main extracurricular activity is Cornell Club Lacrosse. This organization has completely shifted my college experience. I have gained lifelong mentors and learned so much. The Cornell Club Lacrosse team has given me a second family. I love being able to put all my stress behind me and go to practice and compete in friendly games. This past year I was elected as co-captain, which was a large responsibility to rebuild the team after the pandemic prohibited us from playing last season. It was so rewarding to finally play on Schoellkopf Field this season knowing our hard work paid off. 

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

woman on a rocky beach

I am most proud of my senior thesis as I view it as a culmination of all that I have learned at Cornell. I am working on my senior thesis with Professor Wilkens, who is my advisor. My research is focused on gender inequality within STEM, specifically during the job recruitment process at Cornell. I feel lucky to have met so many inspiring professors throughout this process, and I hope that my research will provide the Cornell Bowers CIS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion data to create specialized events/workshops.

I am also extremely proud of my work as a teaching assistant. I vividly remember struggling with my first coding assignment as a freshman and going to a TA for help. I was so relieved after I realized TAs act as a support network, and I knew I wanted to be able to provide help to my peers when I had the opportunity.


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 2022.

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