Wiley to Wales for Intelligence and Strategic Studies

You would never know that public speaking once made Tim Wiley ’16 nervous. After spending four years with Cornell College Mock Trial, three of which were spent as squad captain, Wiley gained the confidence to go before anyone to present his position, think critically, and think on his feet.

Tim Wiley '16 is off to Aberstwyth University to pursue a master's degree in Intelligence and Strategic Studies.
Tim Wiley ’16 is off to Aberystwyth University to pursue a master’s degree in Intelligence and Strategic Studies.

Wiley also found time at Cornell to take part in the Russian Culture Club, Russian Conversation Group, wind ensemble, jazz band, and brass quintet. During the course Introduction to the Modern Middle East with Middle Eastern history scholar Aaron Hagler, Wiley discovered a new passion. After taking every course Hagler offered, Wiley graduated with majors in international relations and history with a specialization in Middle Eastern history.

In September, he’s off to Aberystwyth University (pronounced Aber-ist-with) in Aberystwyth, Wales to study Intelligence and Strategic Studies, with an eye toward government or international service.

Q: What will Aberystwyth University offer you?
A: I’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in Intelligence and Strategic Studies. It’s the international politics graduate department, which was founded in 1919 and is the oldest in the world. It was the first institution to offer both the sub-fields of intelligence studies and strategic studies. The program is for a full 12 months and then I hope to be able to work for either the United States government or for one of a wide array of international organizations.

Q: What Cornell experiences prepared you for your master’s program?
A: My classes here at Cornell have done an excellent job of preparing me for the rigorous schedule that my master’s classes will have. It will be very strange going back to a traditional semester plan, but through talking with my future professors, the structure for each class will actually be very similar to my history and politics classes here. Classes will consist of discussion and presentations on the readings, as well as some papers that are only a little be longer than a standard block paper. With a whole semester to do to these papers instead of three-and-a-half weeks, I’m very confident I’ll be able to well, all thanks to the Block Plan.

Q: What do you most value about your Cornell education?
A: The things I value the most about my education here at Cornell are the relationships I’ve built with people, and the ability to do anything in a short amount of time. In the real world you rarely have the luxury to work on a project for four months without some sort of deadline; you have to turn things in pretty quickly. Cornell has helped me be able to do that.

Q: What person on campus had the biggest impact on you?
A: There have been a lot of people who have mentored and impacted me here at Cornell, from my advisors, Phil Lucas and David Yamanishi, to my Russian professor Lynne Ikach, to my mock trial coaches Abbe Stensland, Vince Geis, and Kalissa Holdcraft. However, the person who had the biggest impact on me was Dr. Aaron Hagler, who was here on a postdoctoral fellowship my first and sophomore years. I took his Introduction to the Modern Middle East third block my first year because I thought it sounded interesting, and I loved the class from the minute it started. I ended up taking every class he offered, and my history degree specialization became Middle Eastern history. He was just as helpful outside the classroom too. I knew I could always go and talk to him about anything, whether it was sports, struggling in a class, or if I was just having a bad day. He was always there for me. He has meant so much to my academic career here at Cornell, as well as helping me get into grad school. I can never thank him enough for all he has done for me.

Q: What is your biggest academic accomplishment?
A: My biggest academic achievement is probably being elected to Pi Sigma Alpha, which is the national politics and international relations honors society. However, the academic achievement I’m personally most proud of was getting a 95 percent on a test in my Russian 205 class. I know that sounds a bit mundane, but I had been working so hard to study the material, not getting a lot of sleep and I was just so frustrated with myself over not understanding the material that I did not have high hopes going into that test (we’ve all been there). But I ended up getting a 95%, which was far and away the best grade I’ve gotten on a Russian test, and I was on cloud nine the rest of the block.

Q: Did you study abroad?
A: Eighth block my junior year I took Carol Enns’ Psychology of the Holocaust class in Europe. We spent an entire block traveling between Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary learning about the psychology of the victims and the perpetrators, as well as how the Holocaust affected each country we visited. It was really heavy subject matter, but traveling and learning so much about other cultures was an experience of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to go back someday. Plus, one of my best friends, Brett Johnson ’16, was on the trip with me, so we got to spend every minute of every day together for an entire block—something we will always remember.

Q: What have been your most meaningful experiences beyond the classroom?
A: My most meaningful experiences outside of the classroom have been through mock trial. When I came to Cornell I was a very nervous public speaker, but mock trial gave me the confidence to go before anyone and present my position, think on my feet, think critically, and come up with counter arguments, which are invaluable skills. Although these are important life skills, what will stick with me the most are the friendships I’ve made. The countless hours during practices 3-4 times a week, the van rides, the plane flights, the competitions, seeing your friends improve, watching them become All-Americans and place seventh in the country as the smallest school in collegiate mock trial; these are all things that I will hold near and dear to my heart for the rest of my life.

Q: What was your favorite activity on campus?
A: My favorite activity on campus was the Middle Eastern Movie Nights that Dr. Hagler used to run. Once a month would meet in Cole Library and watch movies about the culture, politics and religion of the Middle East. The Muslim Student Association would provide soda, and the Spiritual Life Office would provide falafel and pita from a restaurant in Iowa City. Afterwards we all would talk about the movie, the politics and culture of the region, sometimes for hours.

Q: Why did you choose Cornell?
A: I chose Cornell because of the block plan, its small class sizes and faculty-to-student ratio, and the mock trial program.  I first heard of Cornell my junior year of high school right after my United States history class had finished its World War II unit. We spent only one 90-minute class period talking about it, then we moved on to a new subject. As a future history major, this was appalling to me, so when I heard about how I could study one subject for three-and-a-half weeks, that was music to my ears. I visited campus that summer. I know this sounds corny, but it felt like home the minute I stepped foot on campus.

Q: What would you tell a prospective about Cornell?
A: I tell this to prospective students on tours all the time: Cornell offers so many different and unique experiences—go take advantage of them! Whether it’s joining different clubs or teams, internships, study abroad trips, student senate, mock trial, guest lecturers, pre-professional programs, Alternative Spring Break, close relationships with professors, all of those are uniquely Cornell College. You can certainly just go to class, go back to your room and do homework and have that be your life here at Cornell. I encourage students to go explore all the new horizons you’ll be introduced to here. Never again will you have four full years to do whatever you want, so go seize the day.

Q: Where is your favorite study spot?
A: On the second floor of the library there is one study room that can’t be checked out on the meeting room manager system, so it’s a first-come, first-served race to get the room. I have a lot of really good memories of studying, and actually being productive, with friends and classmates in that room.

Q: Which part of campus has special meaning for you?
A: Atkinson Courtroom in the Thomas Commons will always have a special meaning to me. We hold all of our mock trial practices in that room, I dedicated so much time and energy and made so many lifelong friendships through mock trial, and it all happened in that room.

Q: What is a random fact you’ve learned through your major?
A: In 1994 the island of Palau became the last formerly mandated colony to gain its independence. Learned in POL 333 International Organizations.