Chiara Benitez: ‘I am grateful to have had the chance to connect with so many diverse individuals from all around the world’

Thu, 05/09/2019

Chiara Benitez

Biological Sciences & Comparative Literature

Manila, Philippines

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

The most valuable skill I have gained from Arts & Sciences is how to code-switch. As someone who has had to take a mix of STEM and humanities classes every semester, I have had to learn how to shift gears and go from memorizing biological processes to writing academic essays. While it is tiring sometimes, I have learned to find the change refreshing; it has allowed me to exercise different parts of my brain. There are a multitude of connections between the two fields, and I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to explore them.

What is your main extracurricular activity--why is it important to you?

My main extracurricular activity is my involvement in the International Students Union, or ISU, on campus. I joined in the spring semester of my freshman year, and much of my life has revolved around it since then. ISU has honed my professional skills; it has given me work that I find fulfilling, and, through the organization, I have found many of my friends. The organization has given me the opportunity to grow as a leader, and has taught me to be more inclusive and determined. More than anything, though, I am grateful to have learned so much from being exposed to so many different perspectives; to have had the chance to connect with so many diverse individuals from all around the world.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

While this might be a very generic answer to this question, I am most proud of paving my own path during my time at Cornell. I faced a lot of pressure, particularly in my first two years, to pick a path; to choose one major, to join extracurriculars that would fit said field of study, to stop being scatterbrained! Ultimately, however—with the encouragement of many that I am very thankful for—I stuck to my guns and found my own way. Now, I will (ideally—fingers crossed!) graduate with my double major; I am writing a thesis, I am the president of an organization that represents the international student body at Cornell, and I take photos of beautiful—but dead—fish at the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates. Oftentimes, all of this seems to be purely by chance, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to pursue this breadth and diversity of experience.



  Chiara Benitez