a graphic with ten portraits of undergrads on a solid gradient color background of red to purple
May 24, 2023
In College of Human Ecology, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Human Centered Design, Psychology


On May 27 and 28, nearly 300 Cornell Human Ecology students will receive their bachelor’s degrees and officially become CHE alumni. 

The Class of 2023 had an unusual four years – they unexpectedly moved to remote classes in their second semester, and Cornell didn’t fully resume in-person instruction until fall 2022. Still, whether they were on campus, at home, in the workshop, or even in Tanzania or Denmark, students in the Class of 2023 made the most of every opportunity. 

Some of our graduating seniors took a moment before leaving campus to share their favorite memories, what surprised them, their advice for new students, and what they’ll be doing next. To read more of their responses, check out the Cornell Human Ecology Instagram. 

What’s one of your favorite memories (or favorite class or professor) from your time in Cornell Human Ecology?

Aidan Collins, Fiber Science

FSAD 6860 [Mechanics of Fibrous Assemblies and their Composites] was a very interesting course that allowed me to apply my knowledge in structural fabric design, mechanical properties of materials, computer science and linear algebra to create an innovative composite prototype. Special shout-out to Fran Kozen who has guided me since Day One and whose laughter always brightens the room. 

My favorite memory is undoubtedly presenting at this year's CFC show; it was a pleasure working with my models and alongside other talented designers.

Rebecca Gordon, Global and Public Health

This past summer, I traveled to Moshi, Tanzania, as a part of the Global Health Program. Through this unforgettable experience, I became part of a cross-cultural team comprised of Tanzanian medical students and my Cornell peers. Together, we developed a qualitative health policy case study focused on reducing school-aged children’s exposure to outdoor air pollution, informed by interviews with local stakeholders. This experience gave me the opportunity to work toward a solution to a complex health problem, analyze it through a critical lens, and inform suggestions by seeking multiple perspectives. I also formed meaningful friendships with my Tanzanian and Cornell peers, and with local families through a homestay.

Isabelle Ilan, Human Biology, Health and Society

I have so many fond and amazing memories in the College. I always look forward to the Human Ecology barbecues because they are times when I can celebrate my hard work and connect with friends from the college, across all majors. Some of my favorite courses include Adult Psychopathology and Nutrition and Disease. All of the Human Ecology classes are very interconnected and expose you to new viewpoints. I vividly recall walking out of Professor Carmalt’s first lesson in Population Health feeling inspired. We watched a video about finding your “why,” and it set me up with a new perspective on how I perceive my future. These “aha” moments are common within Human Ecology and are catalysts for inspiring deeper thought and clarification of our life goals.

Kisa Jafri, Human Biology, Health and Society

Believe it or not, my favorite class was NS 3410: Human Anatomy and Physiology. I really enjoyed the format and the content Dr. O’Brien covered. I learned so many new things. Did you know that your ears never stop growing??

Emme Wong, Design and Environmental Analysis

One of my favorite memories has been working with Professor Jack Elliott in Arborworks, which are large tree sculpture installations. Spending time in the workshop, I learned a lot about the principles of design thinking, ecological storytelling and the magic of crafting things by hand. This experience opened my mind to a world of creative possibilities and inspired me to further study woodworking and furniture making. 

portraits of five undergrads with a graphic of swooping lines in red and purple gradient

Left to right: Abigail Boatmun, Aidan Collins, Rebecca Gordon, Isabelle Ilan and Jafri Kisa.


What surprised you most about CHE?

Abigail Boatmun, Human Development

I was surprised that almost all of my classes had real-world applications! I feel prepared to make an impact in the world after graduation because of my courses and hands-on research experience. 

Eunice Ju, Human Biology, Health and Society

What surprised me the most about CHE was how closely related everyone in my major is. Cornell is a large school and even Human Ecology, one of the smallest colleges at Cornell, seemed large to me when I first entered. Now as a graduating senior, I am so grateful to have been able to meet so many people in Human Ecology. You really get to meet so many diverse and driven people right here in the college. 

Noah Lee, Nutritional Sciences

What surprised me the most about CHE was how approachable professors were and how willing they were to help you reach your goals. 

Emme Wong

What surprised me most about Human Ecology was the breadth of coursework and learning opportunities I got to experience. For instance, I have gotten to take some fascinating and niche courses from medical parasitology to bike touring. I also had the opportunity to spend a semester designing and building chairs in Denmark–an experience full of surprising and unforgettable moments. As a first-year student, I would never have imagined these things would be a part of my design education, but now it is those diverse experiences and knowledge that I draw from most for inspiration. 

Madelyn Yu, Fashion Design and Management

CHE’s unique and inspiring history! Working in the CF+TC exposed me to CHE’s history, which I love to share and surprise others with as well! For example, did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt was pivotal in establishing CHE and home economics education across the nation?

Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for incoming first-year students?

Aidan Collins

For incoming students, join a new club every semester, schedule a permanent weekly dinner with your friends, enroll in courses you have burgeoning interest in, adventure outside of Ithaca to enjoy the natural landscape, be kind to yourself, and simply enjoy your time at Cornell. The four years go by quickly!

Kisa Jafri

You belong here as much as the person next to you. Spend your first semester exploring different communities, pick one and build your house. You earned your spot.

Noah Lee

Don't be afraid to reach out to Human Ecology staff and faculty. They want the best for students and are always willing to help. Building connections with them can lead to unexpected opportunities!

Thais Salas, Human Development

Just know that the transition will be difficult, but there are people who will be there to support you and accept you for who you are with open arms. It is okay to try new things and not know what you want as you come here. That is what part of your journey is here at Cornell, to find what drives you, gives you purpose, and makes you happy. 

Emme Wong

Take initiative and try new things. The most rewarding experiences have come about because I took initiative to reach out or apply to exciting opportunities which I thought would never go through, but nonetheless some of them did and indeed changed my life! The worst that could happen is you get a no, which is negligible compared to the awesomeness that could result from a yes. You should also say yes to whatever comes your way and see what journey it takes you on. It is completely fine to take a class or join a club and realize it is not for you. But at least you tried!

portraits of five undergrads with a graphic of swooping lines in red and purple gradient

Left to right: Eunice Ju, Noah Lee, Thais Salas, Emme Wong and Madelyn Yu.


What will you be doing next?

Abigail Boatmun

I will be participating in a teaching residency program at KIPP DC College Preparatory High School.

Aidan Collins

After graduating, I will be finishing up my master's degree in materials science and engineering at Cornell, so I have a bit more time to enjoy Ithaca.

Rebecca Gordon

This August, I will be moving to Madison, Wisconsin, to work as a project manager at Epic, an electronic health software company. I am excited to contribute to their mission of improving health equity by leveraging health technology to support both patient and provider needs.

Eunice Ju

I am taking two gap years before hopefully matriculating into medical school. I’ll be working as a medical assistant in my hometown while doing global health policy research at the University of Maryland. 

Isabelle Ilan

I will be attending medical school next year. I am extremely excited for the next chapter, and I am grateful for all of the opportunities I was afforded through the College of Human Ecology.

Kisa Jafri

I will be taking two gap years before medical school. I plan to use this time to take the MCAT, apply and TRAVEL!!:)

Noah Lee

I will be applying to medical school and working in healthcare at home in California.

Thais Salas

I will be working as a program coordinator at Riley's Way. I will be working with young leaders whose goal is to spread kindness in their communities and the world. It is an organization that is very dear and close to my heart and it is a privilege to be able to work there after graduation.

Emme Wong

I am very happy to say Ithaca and its community has become my home in the last few years. I will be joining a local architecture firm as a designer and builder. I get to spend all day designing spaces and honing my craft in the woodshop! I will also be continuing my journey as an outdoor educator.

Madelyn Yu

After graduation I will be joining Bloomingdale’s in New York City in their Leadership and Development Program as an assistant buyer.