Nate Jacobson: 'Each student that passed by embodied an amazing story of diversity and achievement'

Nate Jacobson

Government & Economics

Winnetka, IL

Why did you choose Cornell?

I remember very clearly the moment I decided to attend Cornell. As a prospective student at “Cornell Days,” I was walking up Ho Plaza towards McGraw Tower. As afternoon classes let out for the day, students poured out of the arts quad while the alma mater started ringing across campus. Caught up in this tsunami of red sweatshirts, I felt a real sense of energy, ambition and community. It was an intense experience. I realized immediately that each student who passed by embodied an amazing story of diversity and achievement and would go on to make a positive impact in society. At that moment, it finally hit me that my acceptance letter represented an opportunity to join this incredible community and to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities Cornell offers, from world class academics, to community service, club and intramural athletics, student organizations, career development and so on. Just standing in the middle of Ho Plaza that day, it was obvious to me that the founding mantra “any person, any study” really does permeate the student body: Cornellians are diverse, open-minded and welcoming. I did not choose Cornell because of location, cost, national ranking or some other criteria, but because it is truly the only school where I immediately felt the energy, passion and excitement that comes with being a Cornellian. Simply, I just knew that this was the school for me – it was an easy choice.

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

My sophomore fall semester, I was searching for an interesting elective course to take in addition to my major courses in the economics department. Haphazardly, I settled on Intro to American Government and Politics with Professor Suzanne Mettler. Over the course of that semester, Professor Mettler sparked my academic interest in American politics and profoundly changed the trajectory of my academic journey through Cornell. The following summer, I enrolled in the Cornell in Washington program and immersed myself in the heart of contemporary American politics. I loved the courses I took in Washington so much that when I got back to Cornell, I went all in, declaring a second major within the government department. Coming full circle, I had the honor of working directly with Professor Mettler on an undergraduate thesis. Professor Mettler, who is representative of all professors in the College of Arts & Sciences generally, really cares about the academic development and growth of undergraduate students.

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

I think it is typical for students entering college to have a pretty self-centered worldview. Coming off of the college selection process, which requires a lot of introspective reflection, I think I entered college, probably like many other students, concerned about what Cornell could provide to me, rather than what I could contribute to Cornell. By engaging with a lot of great organizations – the Chi Phi Fraternity, the Club Tennis Team, the Cornell Consulting Group – I quickly came to understand that at Cornell, and in life in general, “you get what you give.” Committing to a few organizations that you are passionate about provides a richer and more fulfilling college experience than joining a ton of clubs as a passive general body member. Through my extracurricular involvement, I tried to leave a lasting impact on Cornell and the greater Ithaca community. As philanthropy chairman of my social fraternity, I expanded my brotherhood’s commitment to the local community. As captain of the Club Tennis team, I expanded campus-wide involvement in tennis, providing more opportunity for non-varsity tennis players to continue to play. As a project manager in the Cornell Consulting Group, I mentored underclassmen, helped them prepare for interviews and advised them on potential career paths. Over my four years here, I learned that Cornell not only changes your life by providing opportunities for success at all levels, but, more importantly, it provides the opportunity for you to positively change the lives of others.

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