'Science has a wide community and you can always find people to help'

Shiva Dahagam

Chemistry & Biology & Economics
Berwyn, Pa.

Why did you choose Cornell?

Cornell made me feel like I could be at the forefront of whatever field I wanted to explore. Coming to Cornell, I knew I wanted to get involved in research, volunteering and sports and this place made me feel like I could do it all and do it in the best way possible.

What was your favorite class and why?  

person petting a cow

ECON 3130: Statistics and Probability. I had Professor Doug McKee for four consecutive semesters at Cornell, but this class was by far one of my favorites because of the time we took to understand the nuances and logic behind probability. I think economics and chemistry rely heavily on statistical theory to explain how their fields work because we can’t “see” every single molecule in a reaction or every single individual in a population. This class taught me to appreciate the math behind how we treat information that is too vast to understand and made me a better student of chemistry and economics because of it.

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

Being brave in uncertain situations. I think a lot of Cornell students come from strong academic backgrounds where there is always a surefire way of achieving success. The real world is not so straightforward and sometimes you have to be willing to invest time and energy into a project, extracurricular or activity not knowing whether or not it will be successful. I think the second part of this skill is accepting unexpected/undesired outcomes and having the self-confidence to learn and move forward. There is no such thing as a failed experiment if you can learn something from the results.    

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

I am most proud of the work I was able to accomplish in research that ultimately led to a publication. I think research work requires you to think outside the box and solve problems in a different way than you would in a class. It’s harder to solve problems that have not been solved before, but it forces you to learn and develop new ways of finding and synthesizing pieces of information together. More importantly, I think it taught me the importance of perseverance and asking for help when you need it. Science has a wide community and you can always find people to help you are brave enough to ask.

person standing by academic poster

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?     

My research mentors, Dr. Todd Hyster and Dr. Nozomi Ando, definitely influenced me the most. They took me under their wings and showed me how fun and exciting research could be. They are forever my role models in how to dig deep into your passions and find new ways to use that knowledge to benefit the world around us.

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 2024.

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Shiva Dahagam