Last night, I attended the Big Red by the Bay event in San Francisco. It was quite a night. I got to hear from and personally speak to past and current Cornell students, as well as faculty members. Knowing that I had to attend school the next day, we had to reluctantly pull ourselves away from the gathering around 9:30 p.m. So here is my experience…
The driving time was less than we expected, so we arrived half an hour early. This worked to our advantage because it gave us a chance to enjoy the spacious lobby of the beautiful San Francisco Marriott Hotel prior to checking in for the event. As the event hall opened and people began filing in, we saw Mr. Don Kuehne, our gracious host. From the reception area, we were led through double doors into a grand room with low lighting, but also purposely flooded with Cornellian Red. Because we arrived early, we were able to sit with Mr. Kuehne in the second row. Andrew Woo and his father arrived soon after and sat behind us. Once the event began, the magic unfolded.
The program began with a Student Conversation. Professor Valerie Reyna moderated the conversation between two current Cornell Seniors, Dorian Bandy and Serena Chiang, and one Graduate student, David Korda. Professor Reyna asked each student to give a bit of background history about themselves and how they came to arrive at Cornell, as well as what their social lives were like while attending the University. It was interesting to hear about their various backgrounds and social interests. The audience was then allowed to ask the students questions. After the Q&A, Dorian played a marvelous piece of Baroque music from the 18th century. I was blown away during the entire performance. After he finished his piece, I realized that my jaw had literally dropped. It was amazing. After this portion of the evening, we took a break to mingle and enjoy the refreshments in the reception area.
Next, we listened to a discussion among five Cornell professors, which was moderated by Professor Daniel Huttenlocher. The panel included Professors Joseph J. Fins, Thomas Gilovich, Jon Kleinberg, Brian Wansink and Valerie Reyna. Each of the professors specializes in a different area of study, such as medicine, psychology, computer science, economics and human development, respectively. Their primary focus is the psychology involved in their applied field. The discussion revolved around decision making, psychology, human predictability and human actions. Even though they each specialized in completely different areas of study, they were able to relate to every question asked because of this link with psychology. Again, the audience was allowed to ask questions at the end. Each of the professors was captivating in their discussion and very engaging. This was my favorite part of the night because of the analysis of, not only human morals, but also the thought processes of the average person when presented with a certain scenario.
After the discussion, we were invited to adjourn downstairs to a long narrow room to sample the diverse hors d’oeuvres and to mingle and network with Cornell alumni, current students, as well as the professors that spoke during the presentation. My first discussion was with a Cornell alumnus. He was very personable and happy to tell me about his Cornell experience, having recently graduated in December 2009. I told him of my excursion this summer and he said that these sorts of events (the summer program) were great ways to get my foot in the door with universities. I was excited to meet and speak with Brian Wansink, one of the professors from the second presentation, as his portion of the panel discussion was very engaging. We talked about how the night was going so far and my trip to study at Cornell this summer. He then offered to give us a private tour of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, of which he is the director. He was very interesting to speak to.
I think the person I enjoyed speaking with the most was Dorian Bandy, one of the students from the first presentation. We discussed the piece he played and how long he had been involved in music. He has been playing music since the age of two. Yes, I said the age of TWO. I was speechless when he said that. He also said that after visiting Ithaca, places he once found beautiful now paled in comparison. I heard something along those lines at least five times last night. He also said something very interesting. Every time he returns to the Ithaca campus, upon arrival, the light changes. I think that is what I’m looking forward to the most now – seeing the campus as David does and viewing the rural setting.
This night was absolutely unforgettable and I cannot thank Mr. Don Kuehne enough for allowing me this amazing opportunity. I only wish I could have spoken to Andrew Woo after the event to get his impression of the event.
This was definitely an event that very few would want to miss.
Once again, this is Alex Elms signing off.
P.S. - Happy Dragon Day (which is a MAJOR event at Cornell)