By Sady Ramirez Ossa
Coming to Cornell from South Florida, I’ve always been questioned about my reasons for ditching the sun and going to a cold place, in “the middle of nowhere.”
Indeed, during my first two years in Ithaca, I did question my motives for coming to East Hill, wondering if it was worth it.
When I first arrived at Cornell, I knew the journey ahead of me would be daunting. Freshman year was the first time I ever lived away from my parents. Moreover, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the academic rigors.
I was coming here having graduated in the top 1 percent of my high school class, but I knew that this was not uncommon for Cornell students.
Now as a second-semester senior, I know attending Cornell is one of the best things that has happened to me. If given another chance, I would not have it any other way.
The four years here have been the most challenging years of my life. I’ve learned what it is like to have to be in Uris Library to pull consecutive all-nighters during finals week. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve had to confront myself and the values that I was raised with, juxtaposing them with the values of others around me, to form my own judgments instead of letting others tell me how to live.
I’ve seen some of my best friends graduate, and soon, I’ll have to do the same.
As challenging as this time has been, it has undoubtedly been more rewarding.
Cornell has given me the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest thinkers in the world. More importantly, the learning that I’ve acquired throughout these years goes beyond the classroom wall, and Ithaca itself.
As a Meinig Scholar, Cornell subsidized a trip to Brazil for me to do some volunteer work with local NGOs. Throughout this time, I was able to practice Portuguese, which I studied my freshman year.
The ILR School gave me the opportunity to study abroad in the UK my junior year, during which time I visited a total of 13 countries. I’m proud to say that I’ll be leaving Ithaca as more of a global citizen than I was when I came here!
I’ve also been able to meet some of the most amazing individuals, and I’m fortunate to consider many of them my mentors. Through my involvement with the Meinig Scholars, I’ve been able to work with Gary Stewart in Cornell Community Relations.
Gary has shown me a side to Ithaca that I would not have seen otherwise. By participating in his executive mentorship group, I’ve been able to meet important individuals in the Cornell and Ithaca communities, including all three of the Cornell presidents who have served throughout my time as a student here, and leaders like City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.
Jura Oliveira, my first-year Portuguese professor, has also been both a great friend and role model to me. Jura actively nudged me to learn more about other cultures, and it was he who encouraged me to travel to Brazil.
Throughout my time in Ithaca, I was also able to find second families in the various organizations that I became a part of, including Cornell Faith and Action that allowed me to meet many great people while nurturing my Christian faith.
Through my social fraternity I gained dozens of new brothers, all from different walks of life, who have each had a positive impact on me. Even outside of these groups, I’ve made some of the best friends that I’ve come across. Many of the friendships that I’ve made here in Ithaca will undoubtedly live on far past graduation.
Finally, I am fortunate enough to say that upon closing this great chapter in my life, I will be working as a full-time consulting analyst for Accenture in New York City. The learning that I’ve acquired throughout my journey in East Hill, and the many connections that I’ve made, will be of use as I navigate the “real world” that awaits me.
And wherever it is that this real world takes me, I’ll always consider Ithaca to be a second home.
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Cornell student Sady Ramirez Ossa will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations in May. East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Mondays in Tompkins Weekly.