'I met so many great people through the Humanities Scholars Program'

Emma Van Metre

History and Archaeology
Austin, Texas

Why did you choose Cornell?

I first visited Cornell when I was 12. My family was on vacation in the Upstate area and we figured that Ithaca might be a nice spot to visit. It was the first college campus I ever properly toured and it made quite the impression on me. I remember loving the architecture and the atmosphere. In high school, when I was deciding what schools I wanted to apply for, Cornell came up yet again. Not only was it a very prestigious school and one that I already had an interest in, but it also had one of the largest collections of French Revolutionary documents in North America. For someone specializing in French history, especially that of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras, this was an immense opportunity. I have been to the rare and manuscript collections many times to see this collection and each visit always astounds me. 

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

woman with sled

In my freshman year, I heard tell of an event called Dragon Day. On a whim I decided to go and I am very glad that I did. Seeing what seemed like the whole Cornell community all dressed up in glimmering, colorful costumes while shouting and marching jubilantly with a giant dragon was an experience that I will never forget. It was both slightly silly and incredibly fun — one of the best combinations out there. It was especially important to me because it was the year before COVID-19 hit. For two years after that, Dragon Day was essentially suspended and the community missed it dearly. I was so glad to see it come back this year stronger than ever. It is such a fantastic Cornell tradition and one that made such an incredible impression on me in my first year here.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of the honors thesis that I completed in history this year. Writing a thesis was one of my major goals when I came to Cornell, so being able to see this project to completion was a major accomplishment for me. Not only will it allow me to graduate with honors, but it will also serve as my capstone project for the Humanities Scholars Program (HSP). The HSP is a fantastic organization on campus meant to promote cross-disciplinary scholarship within the humanities. It takes on students from many different majors and gives us a place to share our ideas together. I have met so many great people through it that I probably would have never had the chance to interact with before. This thesis is my final step toward graduating within the program which makes it an even greater achievement for me. 

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? 

I would say that being in the Ecology House (Eco) probably influenced my education the most. When I came to college, I was really nervous that I wouldn't find a community. Cornell seemed huge; I was worried about getting to know people in a large dorm. Even if there were social events to try and bring us together, with so many people I feared that it would be difficult to really build a sense of belonging. Eco made that so much easier. It was a small dorm centered around a very strong community of like-minded students interested in animals and the environment. It didn't have the austere feeling that you might get from the stereotypical college dorm. Everyone was very friendly with each other and almost every night there were new events and programs to try out. There was something for just about everyone and I was never lacking in ways to get involved with the community. Plus, because Eco allows pets, I got to keep my little guinea pig Hanko with me. I couldn't imagine going to Cornell without him and the friends that I have made here in the dorm!


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