Letters Fall 2015

Off-campus study

Your summer article “Windows on the World” was very exciting. I have said many times that my off-campus courses while attending Cornell made the most impact on my life, and I’m excited that even more efforts are being made so those opportunities are possible for future Cornellians.

My studies took me to Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and the Bahamas. Like most of the stories from the article, each travel experience was highlighted by the people I met. There are so many different types of people in this world, and I now believe that the more you can meet, talk to, and hear their stories, the better we as a society can become.

I was included in the first New Zealand trip offered at Cornell and taught by Rhawn Denniston. This was before the establishment of the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies, so I can only imagine the headaches Professor Denniston had in making that trip happen. In addition to learning the curriculum, I learned how to travel effectively internationally. This knowledge has opened doors to opportunities since Cornell. I have been employed with great companies and nonprofits from California to Colorado and Hawaii.

A great addition to the article was the discussion of the most taboo topic of our modern times: Money. Yes, these trips cost money, and I worked many hours at Pizza Palace to pay for them. I’m also lucky that my amazing mother went to bat for me when we were having some issues procuring additional student loans to pay for one of my courses. Make no mistake—it’s important to consider the costs when setting your course schedule for the year, which is why I couldn’t be more excited that various endowment funds are in place to help students with the financial parts of these amazing experiences.

Before reading the article I was actually not aware of specific funding sources for off-campus courses, but that will be my focus when I increase my existing donations for next year, and I hope that my fellow ’06 graduates will consider this option as well. It took me a few years, but I now realize that as much as student loan debt can be daunting, my Cornell experience was made possible by the financial help of others, and I hope to pay that forward when I can.

Dustin Waite ’06
Cedar Rapids, Iowa