Human Ecology spotlights outstanding graduating seniors

CHE outstanding seniors

While this year’s graduates did not get to celebrate their accomplishments on campus as expected, they have demonstrated the drive, creativity and resiliency to rise above the challenges facing our world.

Each year, the College offers a glimpse of the graduating undergraduate class by highlighting a senior from each of its five academic departments. As do all Human Ecology students, these graduates represent the values of innovation, multi-disciplinary collaboration and academic excellence that define a Human Ecology education at Cornell.

Human Development

Vivian Li ’20 distinguished herself academically and through giving back to university organizations. She earned the Robinson Award for Academic Excellence for her academic work and served as a project manager for the Consult Your Community non-profit, where students worked to improve the Ithaca community. She was also Phi Sigma Pi Executive Council Chair and a research assistant in the Little Thinkers Lab Research Assistant. After graduation, she plans to work as an analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Li’s favorite class was Professor Tamar Kushnir’s Psychology of Imagination. “Professor Kushnir challenged me to look at imagination not only through a psychological lens but also through philosophical and cultural lenses,” she said. “This class showed me the value of a multidisciplinary approach to understanding any particular subject. Without a doubt, I will miss the Human Ecology community! I especially loved spending time with friends in the Human Ecology commons and learning from professors who constantly encouraged me to be a bolder and more analytical thinker.”

Design+Environmental Analysis

Jialin Ke ’20 marked her undergraduate years at Cornell creating innovative designs and inventions with a focus on the healthcare industry. She served as the president of Medium Design Collective, overseeing the development of six different design projects. She also organized RAW Expo, Cornell's largest interdisciplinary design event, and earned awards at many design competitions. She is the recipient of the Hiller Award for her design work.

Ke has patented a personal care device and co-founded a start-up company, PediCure. After graduation, she will be working full-time on the start-up. 

Her favorite class was DEA 4402 Disruptive Design. “Everyone in the class was invested in creating amazing design projects, and always thought critically about one another's work,” she said. 

“I'll miss the multidisciplinary nature of Human Ecology. It was always so cool to read the Human Ecology magazine about the amazing research and work that students in other departments were doing. I liked that I got to be a part of a community that cared about and prioritized the human experience.” 

Fiber Science & Apparel Design

Julia DeNey ’20 distinguished herself by designing, researching and implementing an independent study to create functional and fashionable clothing that are more comfortable for children with Sensory Processing Disorder and those on the autism spectrum. She is a Merrill Scholar, vice president of Alumni Relations for Cornell Fashion Industry Network, and a member of the Human Ecology Academic Integrity Board. After graduation, she plans to continue to design and create functional and fashionable apparel to meet the needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. One of her favorite classes was Human Bonding with Cindy Hazan, associate professor of human development.

“While it is not within my department, Human Bonding was such a unique class that I constantly found myself engaged in and talking about,” she said. “Not only does it help you look within yourself and your life, but it also helped me to be more empathetic, which is incredibly important within design. I am going to miss learning from the other departments in Human Ecology and finding ways to use that knowledge in my design work,” she said. “Human Ecology is a community that shares what they know to help keep everyone inspired and working to solve problems from many angles. I’m going to miss learning within this community and from all the encouraging people within it.”

Division of Nutritional Sciences

Talia Bailies ’20 has been recognized for her service and leadership as a Cornell Traditions fellow, Robinson Appel Humanitarian Awardee, Florence Halpern Awardee, Clinton Global Initiative fellow, SUNY Chancellor’s Awardee for Student Excellence, and Human Ecology Outstanding Senior. 

She has served on the Global Health Student Advisory Board, worked as a Program Assistant for the Global Health Program, danced with Pandora Dance Troupe and founded and directed Ballet & Books. She has lived and learned in Ecuador and Colombia during her time at Cornell. After graduation, she planned to work in Guatemala in Latin America at Hospitalito Atitlan but those plans are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She says the mentor who shaped her experience at Cornell the most has been Jeanne Moseley, Director of the Global Health Program.

“There is no teacher that believes more strongly in the good of her students,” she said. “Her student leadership and professional development opportunities allowed me to grow as an individual, reflect on my own passions, and to discover my own interests that lie at the intersection of academia and experiential learning. I miss, and know I will continue to miss, the inspirational peers that motivate me to remain curious about the world, the interdisciplinary courses that stimulate my mind and incite a love of learning, and my mentors who encourage me to reflect on my own place in this world and how I want to make a difference,” she said.

Policy Analysis and Management

During her time at Cornell, Dominique Turner ’20 served as a writer and editor for Slope Media, a Human Ecology Ambassador, vice president of recruitment and marketing for Cornell Marketing Organization, and a member of Pi Lambda Sigma pre-professional government organization.

As a self-proclaimed political junkie, Turner enjoys learning about global and domestic politics. After graduation, she will join Abernathy MacGregor, a strategic communications consulting firm for financial institutions. She was most influenced by Senior Lecturer Tom Evans.

“I am so glad I found the perfect major and academic setting to spend my four years at Cornell,” she said. “I have made the closest friends within PAM and have met the smartest, funniest, and most welcoming professors. I wouldn't have it any other way.”

Zayan Ahmed ’20 matriculated from Half Hollow Hills High School East.  During his time as a PAM major, Zayan served as a Teaching Assistant for PAM 2300 Introduction to Policy Analysis.  He was also a member of the Cornell Hedge Fund Club, Cornell Strategic Consulting, Apex Capital, Phi Kapp Tau Fraternity, and the Phi Gamma Nu Business Fraternity.  While serving Phi Gamma Nu, Zayan assisted with new member education, recruitment efforts, and helped several members with interview preparation. Off campus Zayan gave back to the broader Ithaca community through his volunteer work at local food banks and the YMCA.  Zayan’s interests include wrestling, nutritional science, kinesiology studies, piano, and listening to film scores. In July, Zayan will begin a position at Morgan Stanley as an Incoming Wealth Management Analyst. Zayan would like to thank Professor Rosemary Avery for making a lasting impact during his time in PAM.

View all stories