Nick Raskin: 'My grandfather taught me how to get the most out of my education'

Nick Raskin

Government & Economics

Brooklyn, NY

What was your most profound turning point while at Cornell?

My most profound turning point came while I was a teaching assistant for the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP). Aside from just being a phenomenal experience, it completely changed my perspective on the value of my own education and on criminal justice. In no classroom at Cornell will you find students as motivated and dedicated to getting the most out of their classes as you will in a CPEP course, and it's impossible to experience that without reflecting deeply on your own background and motivations.

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

My grandfather definitely influenced my Cornell education the most. He actually went to Cornell but had to leave after just one semester to take care of his family. It took him several decades, but he still managed to work his way up to a PhD. Needless to say, from a young age he taught me how to get the most of my education. He passed away toward the end of my freshman year, but to this day he keeps me inspired to work hard.

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

I came to Cornell with an interest in law, but only the vaguest of ideas of how I actually want to spend my career. During my four years at Cornell, I've developed an interest in criminal justice and sharpened my opinions on the rehabilitative ends that I believe it ought to serve.

I've also developed an interest in cities: the social, economic and political forces that have shaped their development and how democracy functions at its smallest and most accessible level. At Cornell, I've found the courses and professors who have inspired me to pursue this interest in a meaningful way.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Go to Clubfest and join the listserv for every club that you're even remotely interested in. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of new people, and it also serves as a great way to find out about different events and opportunities that are happening on campus.

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