Pioneer on Campus: Cornell University

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Pioneer Alumni at Cornell

You’ve seen it on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker, but we’ll say it again: “Ithaca is Gorges.” With over 150 waterfalls within 10 miles of Ithaca, it’s no wonder that Ezra Cornell built the institution that bears his name in this verdant paradise. Cornell is truly connected to the area it resides on, as it is the only Ivy that is also one of 76 land-grant institutions in the United States. While up to the mid-19th century most colleges concentrated their academic efforts on liberal arts, Cornell expanded on this by adding agriculture, engineering and science based curriculum to the disciplines offered to students as a provision of the land grant.

Upon Cornell’s founding in October of 1868, 400 would be academics applied almost immediately. That number has grown, and today the university boasts an enrollment of over 15,500 Cornellians, including 75 Pioneer alumni who were admitted in 2020 and 2021. In recent months several Pioneer Scholars attending Cornell got together to discuss their current studies, research and college life.

Pioneer Scholar and Cornell freshman Sia organized the get-together. She loved hearing about how her fellow alumni tied their college academics to their Pioneer experience, and was shocked to learn how different her peers’ majors were from one another. “ I really enjoyed connecting with other Pioneer alumni at Cornell! It was fun to hear about people’s experiences in Pioneer and how their current fields of study connect to their Pioneer research.” she said. “I was surprised by the huge variety of alumni’s majors as everyone in the event seemed to have different academic interests.”

Reflecting back on her time with Pioneer, Sia spoke about how the research program prepared her for college and allowed her to naturally transition into a new learning environment. “My Pioneer experience prepared me for college-level writing and research. The skills I gained when writing the research paper were all transferable to college papers.” 

Sia went on to describe how her cohort was particularly illuminating. “The group sessions in Pioneer also let me get a taste of what small seminars in college were going to look like. Participating in Pioneer was an amazing experience that naturally helped me transition to college learning.”

As for how Sia will occupy her time this summer, now that she has one year of college under her belt? She’s not quite sure, but if you said “more college courses” you wouldn’t be too far off the mark: “I am still considering my summer plans. I might take summer classes at Cornell!”

Stay tuned for future Pioneer on Campus events at other universities. To learn more about Pioneer and our alumni network, check out our official Instagram @Pioneer_Academics, our student-run Instagram page @scholarsofpioneer, or our LinkedIn page.

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