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Yang Guo: 'My roommate helped me walk through the toughest periods of college'

Mon, 04/30/2018

Yang Guo

Statistical Science & Economics

Beijing, China

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

As an international student from a public school, I obtained most of my training in English through preparing for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and SAT tests. Well aware of my potential weakness in languages, I decided to take three writing-intensive courses (a first-year writing seminar, an intro environmental science class and a writing in the major class) and a Spanish course in my freshman year. On average, I needed to spend two hours every day for Spanish outside the class and finish two essays a week. Rather than the time commitment, the most challenging aspect was to admit that all my fellow students had a more solid background in English writing than I did. Therefore, I usually went to the writing center 2-3 times a week for help editing my essays and came to the office hours every week. Through my consistent working, I eventually did a good job and achieved an above-average performance for all my classes. Even though after the first semester, most classes are objectively more advanced than the writing classes, none of them required the same amount of effort to bridge the knowledge gap between my fellow students and me.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

The person who influenced me the most is actually my roommate. He shares a quite different background from mine, but we share similar ambitions. He helped me walk through the toughest periods during college. When I started to question the meaning of work ethics due to the temporary lack of a future goal, he stood out to point me in other directions. When I started to isolate myself from other friends during a meniscus injury, he encouraged me to reach out to the community and persuaded me to go to the gym. The most important thing that I learned from him is the necessity to keep optimistic in the face of any challenge.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

Personally, I believe that all subjects are born equal and each of them shares an individual methodology. Exploring different subjects through a liberal arts education is always beneficial. Studying philosophy of science and classical music addressed many questions I had before college. Discussions with the passionate instructors and fellow students are a pure joy. However, reaching out of the comfort zone can sometimes be very challenging.On the surface, a liberal arts education can be seen as the humanity requirement for science students and science requirement for humanities students, but I interpret it as the ability and willingness to explore different subjects and perspectives.

Yang Gao