Salem Argaw '17
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: Parker, CO
How did you decide on your major? Have your plans changed since you started Cornell?
I decided to major in Biology, because of my curiosity and interest in the human body. I was—and continue to be—marveled by the intricate systems that make our day to day actions possible. My plans of study have changed in the sense that they have grown. The different talks, events, and courses I’ve been lucky enough to attend at Cornell have allowed me to expand my interests. I’m now also planning to take courses in Health Policy and International Development.
What activities/organizations are you involved in at Cornell?
I’m in the Cross-Cultural Adoptee Mentorship Program. It’s a non-profit student run outreach program through the Public Service Center. The program is geared towards matching transnationally adopted youth from the Ithaca community with a student of a similar cultural background. I have been mentoring a young girl from Ethiopia since the fall of my sophomore year and the time I have spent with her and her family has shaped some of my best memories of Cornell.
Among other things, I’m also in CRU. CRU is a Christian fellowship on campus that is centered around creating a community passionate about Christ. We have a large group meeting every Friday night with different bands and speakers coming in. We also have various small groups that meet on different days and at different locations. I have been able to be a part of different service projects in the community through CRU and have also gotten the chance to lead a small group.
Are you involved in any research on campus? Or special academic projects with a professor or other students?
Research was not something I did on campus, but I do believe it’s an incredibly valuable experience that everyone should try at some point. My research experience comes from the medical school in my hometown, but I sought out the opportunity because of a course I took here. I’m concentrating in Neurobiology and Behavior and I took an Introduction to Neuroscience course (BioNB 2220) my sophomore year. The class got me interested in the motor pathway and I searched for summer opportunities that would expand my knowledge in the area. I ended up doing clinical research in the Neurology department analyzing neuroimaging biomarkers of a motor disorder.
Can you tell us a little about your career plans or goals?
I plan to attend medical school after Cornell. I would like to use my medical degree to serve some of the under-privileged communities around me. I’m also interested in using my training for international humanitarian aid and medical relief trips. In addition, I’m very passionate about working with children and would love to include that into my career and international trips.
What has been the most life-changing lesson or experience you've had at Cornell so far?
I remember playing video games as a child and I specifically remember reaching for the reset button every time I realized I was losing. Its one of those benefits of playing a game; when it becomes too difficult, you can just turn it off. However, life doesn’t work like that. This is by far the most life-changing lesson I’ve learned at Cornell.
The fall of my sophomore year, I became a bit too overjoyed by all the clubs on campus that I joined a handful and took leadership roles in more than half of them. Once classes took off, it became very difficult to balance everything and still have time for sleep. It wasn’t too long before I found myself searching for a reset button. However, life doesn’t come with one of those. There’s always the option to give up, but there is so much more value in finishing. In that semester, I learned to persevere. It taught me to be comfortable with wanting to call it quits, but still fighting through. That semester is now one of my favorites; not because it was easy or fun, but because I can look back and see what I got through.
Where is your favorite place to study on campus?
My favorite place to study on campus is the new Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove. The scenery is beautiful and the quotes are inspirational, however the weather is usually not as cooperative. On gloomy or cold days, I prefer to study in Olin Library’s 7th floor stacks or in the Kinkeldey room in Uris Library.
What was the last book you read?
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (by Nabeel Qureshi)