Having not joined a sorority or received a good housing lottery number, Gail Sherman ’82, a Design and Environmental Analysis undergraduate at the time, decided to move into a friend’s Collegetown rental after her freshman year.
“I moved in along with another girl and our housemates decided to host a party to welcome us,” she said. “One of the girls was dating a guy from the Hotel School, and he brought his roommate, Eric [’80], who later became my husband.”
Gail and Eric, now married for 29 years, live in Crofton, Maryland, about 30 minutes outside of the nation’s capital. Never mind the literal distance – Cornell is just as close as it has ever been. This is because their three daughters – Molly, Paige and Emma – are Cornellians too.
Eldest Molly Sherman Berger ’13, MHA ’18, received a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and is currently working on completing her master’s degree from the Sloan Program, while middle daughter, Paige Sherman Berger ’15, MHA ’17, obtained a bachelor’s in Human Biology, Health, and Society from Human Ecology and also a master’s degree from Sloan. Youngest daughter, Emma Sherman Berger ’19, is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in Policy Analysis and Management.
“Eric and I are extremely low key about Cornell,” Gail said. “When they were young we did take them to reunions. I remember walking into [Martha Van Rensselaer Hall] and showing them a mural of pencils in a stairway that I always loved when I walked to my design lab and then I got to share it with them.”
“We would take the kids to those special places that had meaning to us,” she said. “Our faces would light up when we shared a memory. The campus is gorgeous, I think anyone would fall in love with it. And of course without Cornell they wouldn’t be here – perhaps that’s the loyalty.”
According to Emma, Cornell was always an option, but there was no pressure from her parents to follow in their footsteps. “Before my sister Molly went to Cornell, our parents were never pushing Go Big Red or telling us that we should go to Cornell,” said Emma. “It only really became a discussion when Molly went, then Paige and finally me. Our parents were supportive of any school, but deep down their blood ran Big Red.”
For herself and each of her sisters, Emma said that the draw of Cornell was based on its own merits. “I think it’s Cornell’s unique majors, the beauty and professors that lures in students and parents alike,” she said. “I am so happy to be at Cornell with my sisters and reminiscing with my parents of their days on the hill. Cornell is like a second home now.”
Gail, when originally looking at colleges as a high school student, said it was her mother who suggested she obtain a course catalog from Cornell. “She was the one who actually found the Design and Environmental Analysis program and thought it would be a good fit for me,” Gail said. “I was an artistic kid, working in jewelry making, pottery, stained glass, silk screening, so a design program was appealing to me.”
“Human Ecology exposed me to a multidiscipline and world-view approach to problem solving,” she said.
Gail said that her girls ended up in Human Ecology because the College’s mission resonated for them, as it did for her. Emma concurred.
“Human Ecology allows students to be creative, vocal and curious which is something not all colleges allow,” Emma said. “In addition to my core PAM classes, I’m encouraged to take classes in all of the majors offered within the College, which are unique because all of the majors are interrelated in some way. I like the values of Human Ecology and am very happy to be a part of this college.”
The next chapters in the lives of the Sherman-Berger sisters are looking bright, Gail said, and their accomplishments so far have made their parents very proud.
“Paige is going into health care consulting in the fall and Molly is pursuing a career in health policy consulting,” she said. “Emma, who spent the summer in China, is hoping to combine her skill set learning Mandarin into a career in business and management.”
“I know that each of them are driven and hardworking, and I am excited to see how they move forward,” Gail said. “Eric and I are both extremely proud and thought this year, with all of them at Cornell, was a tremendous gift.”