Ulysses Rios ’22 jokes that his name made Cornell an easy choice – the main character in Homer’s “Odyssey,” Odysseus or Ulysses, journeys back to Ithaca, of course.
But the real reason he’ll start studying here in August lies in the strength of the government department and some of its alumni – including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
“It inspired me to want to apply here,” he said.
Rios was one of 24 students invited to this year’s Summer Scholars program in the College of Arts & Sciences, which offered a week of activities and orientation July 13-21 for first generation students from around the country.
The week includes workshops and activities related to career development, health and wellness, writing and undergraduate research, said Paul Sulzer, the advising dean who designed and directs the program.
They also met faculty, staff and students, learned about Cornell’s history and traditions and visited local state parks and Ithaca attractions. Students also spent time talking about their first-generation experiences and expectations.
“At my high school, everyone is 100 percent Hispanic, so being able to meet people who are similar in that we’re all first generation, but we’re from all over and we’re studying so many different things, it’s a sigh of relief,” said Crystal Argüelles ’22, who lives in Houston, Texas. “They’re great and we get along so well.”
Rory Sheppard ’22 said he was “super thankful” to get to know the campus during the scholar program.
“I can navigate my way around the Arts Quad and I know where things are,” he said.
Mary Eng ’22, from Brooklyn, said her goals for freshman year are simple:
- Maintaining a 3.5 GPA
- Finding a job
- Applying for a research position with a professor
- Making at least two new friends in each class
Rios, who’s from Los Angeles, is looking forward to making connections with students and professors.
“I want to volunteer and join some clubs, along with finding a job,” he said.
Reggie Haley ’22 has already “bothered” some professors, even though he’s not on campus full time yet. The physics major from Georgia hopes to get involved with research right away.
“I’ve been interested in physics ever since I knew what it was,” he said. “Even before that, as a kid, I was always finding mathematical patterns in nature.”
Students in the program said their families are excited about this next step in their lives and proud of their accomplishments so far.
“I appreciate my parents even more,” Argüelles said. “They know this is such a great opportunity and what it will mean for my two younger sisters and my school.”
Eng said the experience of doing laundry or cooking will be new for her – her parents and grandma take care of those things for her now.
“It will be a whole new thing living on my own, but I know that I need those experiences,” she said. “Crystal taught me how to do laundry a few days ago.”