Esther Hwang: 'Going to such a large school with students of diverse backgrounds ...has resulted in a transformation of my worldview'

Esther Hwang


Acton, MA

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

My most profound turning point occurred second semester junior year when I became more interested in research. Prior, my career interests leaned more towards Wall Street, but after realizing that finance was a poor fit for me, I started talking to students and professors and became more interested in pursuing graduate studies in economics.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

During the last week of school my junior year, my friends and I went to the Plantations to have a picnic. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the scenery was stunning. I remembering having so much fun just enjoying the beauty of Cornell's campus and kicking a soccer ball around with my friends. At that point, I couldn't imagine any other school coming even close to the breath-taking beauty and distinct charm of Ithaca and Cornell University.

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

My time at Cornell has definitely influenced my perspective on the world. Going to such a large school with students from extremely diverse backgrounds forces you to adopt a much more holistic view of the world. I've made close friends who come from different countries, varying socioeconomic backgrounds, different cultures, etc., and this resulted in a transformation of my world view. I remember feeling very small and scared as the realization of how big this world is gradually dawned on me. But now, it makes me excited to think about how much more I have to learn and explore once I graduate.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Be open to whatever life throws at you! I think a lot of students come into college thinking they know exactly what they want to study, what they want to do, what type of career they want... But one thing I learned during my four years here is that college is a learning process. How can you really know what you want to do if you don't even know what the options are? The average undergraduate changes majors three times, so clearly students learn as they go. So take advantage of all the classes and resources that are available to you here at Cornell, and be open minded to everything! Take courses out of your comfort zone, talk to professors, talk to professionals, join a dance club, travel to Tanzania, skip classes to go to the dairy bar, be spontaneous!

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