Akila Venkataramany: 'I immediately sensed there was a place for me among the student body'

Sun, 05/13/2018

Akila Venkataramany

Biological Sciences

Ashland, OH

Why did you choose Cornell?

The student population at Cornell is roughly the size of my hometown in Ohio, and, frankly speaking, I was afraid I would get lost within a sea of people when I arrived. However, during my Cornell Days visit, I was shocked at how incorrect my initial conjecture had been. The university somehow felt intimate and small, despite its size, and I immediately sensed that there was a place for me among the student body. As I walked around campus and observed a few large lecture classes, I became more certain that Cornell boasted a welcoming environment, largely created by the professors and staff, that supported all of its students. I left Cornell Days knowing that the plethora of academic opportunities available to me were endless, and as I explored my passions, I would be challenged to grow into a better student and lifelong thinker. This was the type of experience I was seeking for my college education, and coming to Cornell was certainly the best decision I made to support my educational and career goals.

What accomplishments/activities are you most proud of while at Cornell?

I take great pride in how involved I have been in academics and extracurricular activities within the Cornell community. Within my education, one of my major accomplishments has been the successful completion of my honors thesis, a culmination of three years of research. Working on this long-term research project helped me tackle intimidating, higher-level science courses in the biology major since I had experience unpacking complex scientific concepts in the lab. Also, in the four years I have spent here, I have continued developing my older passions, such as Indian Classical Dance, while exploring other interests. I have been involved with clubs concerning volunteering, alumni relations, mentorship, and journalism, to name a few. In each of these organizations, I made it a point to serve in a position of leadership to gain new skills and devote myself to whatever common mission we, as members, wanted to uphold. When I leave Cornell, I will be content knowing that I challenged myself, never limited my experiences, and found new ways to express my identity.

How did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?

At Cornell, I have always been surrounded by students with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Each student with whom I have disagreed has taught me to consider a topic in a different light and to challenge my own beliefs. I have also learned how to discuss difficult, and even sensitive, subjects with respect and empathy. And within this engaging and open environment that allows everyone to explore their interests regardless of their beliefs, my curiosity for a number of subjects has grown, and I am continually dabbling in something new because Cornell has encouraged me to do so. During my time here, I have recognized the importance of pushing the boundaries of my knowledge and embracing that which is unfamiliar to me.

Akila Venkataramany