What is your main extracurricular activity? Why is it important to you?
I have found reading to be quite a rewarding pastime when I have a break between homeworks and projects. Changes in the trajectory of my life have often been inspired by or accompanied by ideas and subjects I came into contact with through books. I typically read non-fiction, recently primarily in the veins of Zen, physics, and metaphysics. When going about my day, my mind is frequently mulling over, considering and reconsidering ideas in these fields; reading gives me a constant source of new ideas, novel arguments, and different positions to consider as I form my view of the world.
What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
There was a moment during the summer between sophomore and junior years, while interning in San Francisco, when I just thought to myself, “I’ve made it.” My whole life up until that point I’d been working hard so that one day I might be able to make a career out of doing what I love, but all of a sudden I realized I was already doing it. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any goals left for myself, but a sensation that regardless of what the future held, everything would be okay. More than okay. So, having reached this stage, I could stop and consider where I wanted to go next. I think it’s important to ask oneself, “If I could do anything in the world, without concern for what obstacles might seem to be in the way of my getting there, what would I do?” It can be easy to cruise through life only ever looking to the short-term, but when you become truly thoughtful about the long-term, you can make extraordinary things happen.
Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?
More than any single individual, my greatest influence has been the culture of striving for greatness in everything Cornellians do. I am continually amazed by how normal/routine people here make it seem to do world-class research. For every accomplishment one makes, there is always someone who will take it one step further. Rather than turning campus into a competitive warzone, though, it has the effect of bolstering collaboration and encouragement throughout the community, motivating everyone to continually improve both themselves and the world around them.
What do you value about your liberal arts education?
I think many young STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students encounter a choice between two paths of study: diving full-on into their technical discipline or allocating some time to pursue other, perhaps completely unrelated, fields as well. My decision to come to Cornell was largely based on an affinity for the latter option, and I am more than satisfied with that choice. That is not to say one or the other strategy is better; it’s simply a matter of which is right for the individual. During the past four years, I have cherished the opportunity to take courses in a number of disciplines. A liberal arts education has given me a variety of perspectives to consider, and the chance to examine the unique questions posed at the intersection of many disciplines.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’ll be moving out to San Francisco after graduation to work as a software engineer for Thumbtack, a growing tech company that aims to simplify the process of hiring local professionals and services. I spent the last two summers interning at Thumbtack, so now I’ll get the chance to really sink my teeth into the Thumbtack ecosystem and help it as it expands with an ever-increasing energy. If you asked me 10 years ago where I’d be now, I could never have imagined the adventures I’ve been on, the things I’ve accomplished, and the people I’ve had the immense pleasure of getting to know. My life has honestly surpassed my wildest dreams over the past 4 years. So with that in mind, I really have no idea where I’ll be in 10 years, but I know it’ll be exactly where I need to be at that point in my life. Time is curious in that way; looking back, our current state seems almost inevitable, but looking forward, the future is unknown.