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College of Arts and Sciences

Shiana Kuriakose: 'The growth mindset I was able to cultivate at Cornell will carry me through all the uncertainty'

May 11, 2020

Shiana Kuriakose​
Science & Technology studies
Congers, NY

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

My main extracurricular activity is Life Changing Labs, a startup accelerator on campus. Through my involvement with Life Changing Labs, I’ve been able to spur the entrepreneurial spirit on campus and encourage students to pursue their ideas and transform them into tangible companies and products that help build a better world. A life well-lived is a life in which I am able to invest in others and see them succeed. I’ve been able to harness the power of meaningful connections and thoughtful conversations to connect people with the resources, mentors, and opportunities that enable them to achieve success. I love seeing the vision students have behind their startup ideas, hearing their stories, and learning about factors that motivate them. I genuinely cherish meeting people from all walks of life who share a vision of a better working world, each through their own nuanced perspectives and goals. For me, this has been the most meaningful part of Cornell, meeting people who incite you to think differently and expose you to ideas outside of your comfort zone.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

Some of my most cherished Cornell memories are the spontaneous run-ins with friends on campus which turn into several hour-long conversations. Despite having no classes together, never living together, and having busy schedules inundated with activities, my two best friends and I have been able to maintain a friendship throughout the last four years, which has been my strength through the highs and lows of life at Cornell. I can truly say that I’ve found lifelong friends at Cornell, without whom life would not be the same.

shiana kuriakose and friends in Cornell shirts at the football stadium
Shiana Kuriakose and friends at Schoellkopf Field for a football game.
How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? What have you discovered about yourself?

Prior to Cornell, I would describe myself as an introvert and had a meticulous ten-year plan that I intended on adhering to strictly. Over the course of four years, I have become an extroverted leader, always on the lookout for new challenges and interesting opportunities. I have basically thrown that ten-year plan out the window and molded my goals as I go, flexible to all of the hurdles and changes that come in life. Cornell taught me to embrace the uncertainty of the future and to always be open-minded. Whether it be by enrolling in a course that explores how nature is a sociopolitical structure or going to a hip hop class workshop, I’ve learned that the most rewarding and transformative experiences are often those that I least expect. The community at Cornell enabled me to grow and push my boundaries, revealing talents and skills I was unaware of beforehand. The growth mindset that I was able to cultivate at Cornell will carry me through all the uncertainty in the future, and allow me to succeed, wherever I go and through whatever life throws my way.

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

My science & technology studies courses and professors influenced my Cornell education the most. Initially, I arrived at Cornell intending on majoring in a natural science, but was in awe of all the interdisciplinary courses available in the college. While exploring different majors, I stumbled upon S&TS and decided to enroll in two S&TS courses in the fall semester of my sophomore year. This decision was by far the best academic move I made, as it sealed my fate as a science & technology studies major. The S&TS courses I enrolled in explored the implications of science and technology on society that I had never considered beforehand. The interdisciplinary nature of S&TS allowed me to have provocative conversations with peers from different academic backgrounds and discuss how technology is a ubiquitous force woven into our daily lives. My professors encouraged me to voice my opinions, to always question the norms, and to welcome new ideas. It was this mental model that allowed me to thrive outside of the classroom, build meaningful relationships with peers across different activities, and take advantage of all the opportunities available. Being an S&TS major has redefined how I think, how I engage in conversations, and how I approach problems, equipping me with the skills to handle challenges with patience, critical thinking, and meaningful dialogue with others.

How has your Cornell education and experience prepared you to deal with the challenges and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic?

Now more than ever, my Cornell education has proved to be valuable in dealing with the challenges and uncertainty of the pandemic. As an S&TS major, the world is our classroom, and the conversations I’ve had in class debating about the risks of technology, living in a "digital world" and seeking the truth in an information overload world, are more relevant now than ever before. As an A&S student, I’ve always approached my academics as puzzle pieces, each of which fit together to solve bigger problems. My interdisciplinary coursework in the humanities and social sciences has allowed me to view the pandemic not only as a health concern, but as a massive disruption that is experienced differently across different economic and social levels. It has been remarkable to see my class discussions on the risk and social implications of technology play out in the real world. In these unprecedented times, I’ve used my propensity for learning and skills I learned at Cornell to better engage with new information and have conversations with friends and family that are positively impactful. Cornellians are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. We are collaborative. We don’t shy away from a challenge. We bridge our differences. And we mobilize our resources to solve problems. This time is no different.