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The College of Arts Sciences Search

Things that you never thought you would do reshape your mindset about the world.

Mingkun Ding '16

Major: Math and Philosophy (Minor: Music)
Hometown: Shanghai

How did you decide on your major? Have your plans changed since you started Cornell?
I came to Cornell as an anthropology major, but very soon changed to philosophy because of the introductory course I took. I decided on philosophy because of its logical approach to seemingly uncrackable problems. Philosophers are a group of people who dare to solve big questions, and I admire the spirit. I study math as a supplementary material for my study of logic (and math is, surprisingly, fun too!). I dreamed of being a music major, but it requires too much work and talent (hence the music minor).

What are your career plans or goals?
I am planning on going to law school after graduation, to fully utilize my philosophy education. But before going into a professional school and the real world, I wish to earn a master degree in philosophy to indulge myself (for the last time) in the fun of it.

What activities/organizations are you involved in at Cornell?
I am most involved in the Cornell Ukulele Club. I was the musical director for the club during sophomore and junior years, during which I arranged the music and rehearsed the club. It is a fun supportive community that welcomes people of all levels of experience and does not put any pressure on anybody. I love it because that's what music should do.

Are you involved in any research on campus? Or special academic projects with a professor or other students?
I am pursuing a senior thesis on philosophy of mathematics and logic. The field of research is inspired by both of my majors. I am still doing general readings on the topic, and am not sure what specific question I will research on. I hope this paper will be a good conclusion to my academic life at Cornell.

What has been the most life-changing lesson or experience you've had at Cornell so far?
I have been in the Cornell improvisation ensemble (which is also a class; take it!) since sophomore year. One night we played a set by Beebe lake on the bridge connect north campus and the crazy slope leading to HumEc. The echo of the instruments, the waterfall and the moon gave me a zen moment. It was a meditation with music and nature. It is precisely these experiences that makes Cornell a special place: things that you never thought you would do, and probably would never do again, that reshape your mindset about the world.

I also have a bucket list of "musicians that I need to see before they die." Cornell helped me crossed out Bob Dylan.

Where is your favorite place to study on campus?
On the Arts Quad under the tree between GWS and Olin library, right below the little slope you get off from Thurston. It is the best spot to study while sneak peaking everyone walking around/pass/to the Arts Quad and wondering where they are heading and marveling how big this schools is and how different people are.

What was the last book you read?
"Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life" by Wynton Marsalis

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