Annika Bjerke: ‘Arts & Sciences has given me the ability to pose meaningful questions that advance understanding and knowledge’

Annika Bjerke

Government & Anthropology

Greenwich, CT

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

Arts & Sciences has given me the ability to pose meaningful questions that advance understanding and knowledge, a methodology for processing information, and the skills to write and communicate this to others. Simply put, it has bolstered my information literacy. My studies have also taught me to be both passionate and compassionate. Anthropology has nurtured a deep sensitivity for differing cultural, social, economic, and academic perspectives. My studies and approach to the materials have reaffirmed the value of listening to, collaborating with, and incorporating the expertise of people across multiple, seemingly disparate disciplines. At the same time, they have reinforced the courage of my convictions and strengthened my ethical decision-making abilities.

What was your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was ANTHR 2468, Medicine, Culture, and Society, with Professor Stacey Langwick. Though I took the class freshman year, it has resonated with me throughout my four years at Cornell because it illuminated the interconnectedness and interdependence of diverse human experiences and medicinal practices. I discovered this class while casually browsing through course offerings even before I officially enrolled at Cornell, and wrote about the class in my Cornell application. I was drawn to the way it reconceptualized health and reframed the impact of politics and culture on human well-being and disease. This class helped me gain a clearer perspective on our own society and values by understanding the concept of healing and its relationship to humanity across different times and places. Ultimately, it was this class that inspired me to pursue a degree in anthropology. By extending my experience beyond my own familiar social contexts, anthropology has shown me the value of drawing on knowledge and experiences from around the world.

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

My positive attitude, my inspiring and innovative professors, and my intelligent and thoughtful friends have influenced my Cornell education the most. Cornell is a place where if you are willing to try, be enthusiastic, and work hard, teachers and classmates alike will bend over backwards to make sure you share in their enthusiasm and in their academic passion.

What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I feel that I am decidedly undecided about next year, but am optimistic and well equipped to face my future. I am debating between hunkering down in a job or going abroad to learn more about how other countries approach their national health challenges. In 10 years, I hope to be part of an effort to make a real difference in shaping how we in the U.S. will deliver the best healthcare in a manner that is consistent with our notions of ethics, fairness, compassion, and budgetary realities.

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 Annika Bjerke