Elaine Hayes ’88

My parents were extremely positive that I would go to college. My mother would always say, “when you go to college.” Never “if.” So, because of them, I always knew that I would. I was very involved in music, namely violin and orchestra. All that involvement and practicing paid off because I was a Dungan Music Scholarship recipient. That, and a Presidential Scholarship, really ensured that I could attend Cornell.

Since no one I grew up with went to Cornell, I was able to be ME, without any preconceived notions, or history. I think a great many people feel that way when they go to college. I wasn’t pigeon-holed anymore, as so many people are when they go to a smaller school and grow up with all the same kids.

Cornell got me out of my comfort zone, and I learned to open up and not be as shy as I had been before coming to the Hilltop. In the words of one of our student leaders at orientation, I learned that you have to “make your own fun.” In other words, you can’t expect things to be handed to you. You have to open your eyes and make things happen for yourself! Cornell taught me to think for myself and to be independent. And Cornell brought me to Iowa, where I have been ever since (other than one strange year in South Dakota).

With One Course At A Time, there was no messing around with classes. You had to get to work and stay focused. I still find that I can get more done in less time because of that mindset! I learned to write, and to write well, due mostly to three of my professors: Paul Gray, Sue Astley, and of course, Stephen Lacey.

Probably the most important impact Cornell had on my life, however, was in accepting, respecting, and appreciating people from all walks of life. ALL. Different races, nationalities, orientations, beliefs, etc. I really feel that every student was valued at Cornell, and I believe that is still the case. I know I felt valued while I was there, that I was supposed to be there. Acceptance is a very important value at Cornell. Acceptance and appreciation for each person’s uniqueness, what they bring to the table.

After Cornell, I earned a master’s of arts in educational psychology from the University of Iowa. I spent some time in the corporate training world and as a stay-at-home-mom. I eventually went back to school to earn my master of library and information science. I live in Coralville, Iowa, and am the adult services librarian at the North Liberty Community Library. I’ve been a librarian for over 13 years now and am doing what I love to do.