Peace Corps sending Goodfellow to Paraguay

Maria Goodfellow ’16 earned her Cornell College degree by getting out of her comfort zone and exploring new ways of learning—starting with her very first block. Though Goodfellow didn’t know it when she enrolled in Anthropology 101, it was the beginning of a journey that would lead her to a study abroad program in the Bahamas, a Fellowship with the Children’s Hospital Colorado, and an independent research paper titled “Getting Swole: An Ethnography of a Weight Room.”

Maria Goodfellow ’16 is preparing to serve with the Peace Corps as an Agricultural Extension Agent in Paraguay.

Goodfellow credits Professor Emerita of Anthropology Alfrieta Monagan with fostering her curiosity, and showing her that she had what it took to be successful at Cornell College.

Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Goodfellow was also part of a mock trial squad, taking 7th place at the National Championship Tournament. Through Cornell Mock Trial, Goodfellow sharpened her critical thinking skills and her confidence.

Goodfellow is now preparing to serve with the Peace Corps as an Agricultural Extension Agent in Paraguay.

Q: What Cornell experiences prepared you for the Peace Corps?
A: As an incoming first-year student I found myself staring at a course catalog, lost and significantly intimidated. What was I going to do after college? Should I bother enrolling without knowing?

By chance, I enrolled in Anthropology 101 with Judith Siebert where we read “African Odyssey: The adventurous journeys of a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa,” the memoir of returned Peace Corps volunteer Floyd Sandford. Unexpectedly, I raced through it, eagerly devouring every page. But, it just so happened that the author was a close friend of our instructor. He came to speak to our class on the same day I would be giving a presentation about the formation of the Peace Corps and his memoir—no pressure! The author’s experiences and journey of self-discovery changed his approach to life, and helped me to uncover the possibilities the Peace Corps has to offer.

The timid freshman from that presentation day is long gone. But I can say proudly that I am thrilled with who I have become. The confidence that I have gained from my time at Cornell, and the experiences I have had along the way—like competing nationally in Mock Trial against teams like Yale and UCLA, making it through tough classes like Organic Chemistry, and doing orthopedic research at Children’s Hospital Colorado—things I would not have envisioned myself succeeding in as a first-year—I have done and done well.

Q: What did you accomplish during your Fellowship with the Children’s Hospital Colorado?
A: I helped to test the accuracy of a new template implemented to ensure that providers check all necessary areas when treating supracondylar fractures. Ultimately we found that the template was a success and providers who used it were 15 times more likely to check all necessary regions when assessing patients. We have submitted our results for publication in an article titled “Standardized Note Templates Improve Pre-Operative Neurovascular Screening Practices for Supracondylar Humerus Fractures: Results of a Quality Improvement Initiative.”

Q: What is your biggest academic accomplishment?
A: As part of my anthropology minor I took a research course in which I was asked to conduct my own independent research outside of the class. I decided to focus my research on weight lifters. Every day I would head down to the Cornell weightlifting facility and lift! I lifted with sports teams, friends, everyone. While there I would take notes on what I saw and I eventually focused that into my favorite paper from my time here, ‘Getting Swole: An Ethnography of a Weight Room.’ This may not be my most technical piece, but I enjoyed the freedom I had. I got out of my comfort zone and explored a whole new way of learning.

Q: What does “Getting Swole” mean?
A: ‘Getting swole’ is a term a lot of the guys who lift regularly use to refer to getting bigger as a result of their lifting regimen, they are quite literally swollen with muscles.

Q: Who was your Cornell mentor?
A: By far my favorite and most influential professor was Alfrieta Monagan. I took my first class with her as a first year student, a 300 level class that my advisor did not want me to take. But, she really helped to foster my curiosity and showed me that I did have what it took to make it here at Cornell. Since then I’ve taken more courses with her, that weightlifting research I mentioned was for a course of hers, and even took an off-campus course with her in the Bahamas. She has challenged me to think in new ways but has also been thoughtful and nurturing along the way. In the Bahamas we called her ‘Mom-agan. She’ll always have a special place in my heart!

Q: What did you do in the Bahamas?
A: I snorkeled with barracudas, hiked to inland lakes to swim, played with an octopus and sea hare, visited schools, churches, and really got the chance to learn from the people. When I came back to campus I felt like a different person, a better person, after just a few short weeks. I went to the Bahamas with the anthropology department. Geology, biology, and writing courses from Cornell were also on the site. We had a blast! I did not think that I would have the chance to study abroad at Cornell; mock trial and finances would be enough to keep me on campus. But, I could not be happier that I did.

Q: What do you most value about your Cornell education?
A: Cornell has taught me how to be more of, for lack of a better word, an adult. My classes, groups, clubs, everything has taught me to think critically, to work with others, to find the most efficient ways of doing what I need to do. When I look back on old papers, presentations, even old conversations I think about how I would approach them now and I feel that I have matured greatly in that way.

Q: Favorite study spot?
A: Third floor of the library, just the correct amount of socializing and studying.

Q: Which part of campus has special meaning for you?
A: I love walking past King Chapel at night. It’s beautiful all of the time but something about the chapel at night really gets to me. It looks so majestic!

Q: What is a random fact you’ve learned through your major?
A: Burning can be great for nature! Who knew?!

Q: What would you tell a prospective student?
A: This is my job! As a tour guide here at Cornell I do this weekly. What I tell students all the time on tour is to go where they can see themselves attending. Sure, the school may be everything you need on paper, but can you see yourself attending? I may not have visited the school but I knew that I could see myself studying in the library, eating in the dining hall, making Cornell my home. Plus, we look good on paper too!

On more than one occasion an underclassman student has come to tell me thank you for helping them to make the decision to enroll, because they could not be happier with their life here.