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Student Mixer informs undergrads about paths to grad school

October 25, 2013

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Karen Ojeda, Ayesha Sujan, and Anne Laurita

The second annual BCTR Student Mixer, held on Tuesday, October 22nd, drew together eleven graduate and seven undergraduate students from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds and disciplines. The mixer was originally proposed by the BCTR Student Engagement Committee (SEC) as a way for undergraduates to talk candidly with current graduate students about their respective education and career trajectories.

During the event, undergraduates discussed the wide range of options available to them after graduating from Cornell. “When I think about what I want to do after undergraduate, a lot of options interest me,” said Nadia Morehand, ’16, Biology and Society. “As a premed student I hope to attend medical school, but I also have a lot of other passions. I interned for Bobbi Brown cosmetics this past summer and found an interest in public relations and product development. Law is also another area that attracts me, and I plan to take some law classes as an undergrad. Currently my main interest is cognitive neuroscience, which was sparked by one of the courses I'm currently enrolled in, HD 2200. Because I am interested in the cognitive area of human development working for 4-H doing research on programs that are meant to develop the cognitive areas in youth is really stimulating and interesting to me.”

How does one select among these interesting and exciting possibilities? “Try to figure out what you want, but know that it could change,” cautioned Andy Jefferson, a sixth year graduate student in Human Development. “Particularly as an undergrad, it’s important to find opportunities to try doing what you think you want to be doing, whether it’s a type of research or teaching or policy work or whatever. It’s important to try things so you can figure out what you find fulfilling to do. But remember that people - even you - change. What I'm doing now isn't what I was doing when I started grad school, and that's OK.”


Vicky Atzl, Brittany Jared, Catherine Riffin, and Pamela Weisberg

Graduate students further underscored the importance of giving oneself permission to take time to figure out one’s goals and priorities. “I think it's important to keep your mind open to the many different paths you can take after being an undergraduate student that could lead you to pursuing graduate studies in the future,” said Anne Laurita, a first year graduate student in Human Development. “Taking time off to explore, learn, and teach in other communities, or, deciding to apply straight out of undergrad, with your continuing momentum- all possible paths can bring inspiration to your research program.”

Graduate students discussed their own varied trajectories, demonstrating that there is no single best way to chart one’s course. Whereas some had matriculated directly from their undergraduate institutions, many had first pursued master’s degree programs or other real-world experiences before ultimately deciding to attend graduate school.

At the conclusion of the event, both graduate and undergraduate students conveyed their enthusiasm for the opportunity to talk informally about topical issues and learn about each other’s trajectories and backgrounds. “I found the event extremely useful,” said Morehand. "It's so interesting to hear the stories of the paths graduate students took to get where they are now,” Laurita concurred. “It was interesting to talk with students from such diverse backgrounds and hear about the passions they hope to pursue.”

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