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College of Arts and Sciences

Olivia Goldring: 'Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and use them as a guide'

May 1, 2018

Olivia Goldring

Government & French & Psychology

New York, NY

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

I have been heavily involved in social cognition research in Professor Melissa Ferguson's Automaticity Lab. For the past three years, I have been able to get hands-on research experience, engage with student participants and see my own research ideas come to fruition, culminating in the pursuit of a psychology honors thesis. Another extracurricular activity that has been an integral part of my college career is my membership in the all-female a cappella group Nothing But Treble. It has been a wonderful creative outlet for me and has allowed me to develop both my confidence as a performer and teamwork skills over the past few years.

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

Coming to Cornell I knew that I was generally interested in philosophy and psychology. I was a strong writer and analytical thinker. However, despite my strengths, I thought I should pursue a pre-medical track because it sounded like the right thing to do. The most profound turning point, therefore, was when I realized that there is no "right" path, and that what is "right" for someone else might not necessarily be "right" for me. Around second semester sophomore year, I finally embraced my strengths and my intellectual interests. I realized that they can converge, and that I can even love what I study. This was a very empowering discovery, and it has allowed me to thrive during my academic career.

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

I'd say "do not limit yourself." If you are a chemistry major but you love creative writing, don't wait until second semester senior year to explore that interest. Start early and take classes that spark your interest. Also, if you are completely lost and unsure what you want to study, I strongly suggest taking the time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and use them as a guide. What brings you joy?