Peace Corps sends Pierson to Paraguay

Carly Pierson ’17 majored in Environmental Studies and now her passion for the environment will take her to Paraguay with the Peace Corps.

Pierson says that her coursework laid the foundation for her future.

“I’ve learned a lot about water, pollution, the effects of unsustainable farming, and how people use and see the earth differently,” Pierson said. “This will prepare me to understand the issues that Paraguayans face when it comes to the environment and how to solve problems with the community.”

Carly Pierson '17
Carly Pierson ’17

The Durango, Colorado, native said her greatest academic achievement was her Environmental Studies capstone project, Environmental Activism and Perception of Nature: Oral Histories of the Iowan Outdoors. She interviewed 27 environmentally-minded people to find similarities and themes that connected them.

Pierson says that cross country was her most meaningful experience beyond the classroom.

“Being a part of a team has been such a meaningful experience. Working hard in school and then running hard together during practice means that you make some incredible bonds with your teammates.” Pierson said. “I don’t know how different I would be and how different my Cornell experience would be without them.”

Q: Who was your Cornell mentor, or what person on campus had the biggest impact on you?
A: It’s difficult to say which person on campus had the biggest impact on me. I’ve had so many wonderful professors who truly care about the students and what they are teaching. It is inspiring to be in their classes! One person I will speak about is Misha Quill. She was my capstone committee chair (the head of my Environmental Studies capstone project) and I have been fortunate to take several anthropology courses with her. Misha is a wonderful professor, first of all. Our classes always have interesting material and thoughtful discussions about it. She helps us to understand different perspectives and uses examples from her time in Bangladesh doing anthropological research. As a person, Misha is very kind and compassionate. She pushes me to try my hardest and she asks the difficult questions that need to be asked.

Q: What do you most value about your Cornell education?
A: I value the work ethic that Cornell has helped to instill in me. I have been a hard worker my whole life, but Cornell has pushed me to persevere. In the end, after I have written the paper or finished the project, I am proud of what I have accomplished. What I value absolute most, however, is the sense of community Cornell has. The professors care about their students, and we get to know our peers through the classroom and other activities. I feel supported and nourished by the people around me.

Q: Why did you choose Cornell?
A: I chose Cornell because of the Block Plan and because I enjoyed the small, tight-knit community. President Brand runs with the cross country team on workout Tuesdays and Sunday long runs, professors know students by their names and take interest in them, and the students have the opportunity to receive an excellent education.

Q: What would you tell a prospective about Cornell?
A: One of the best parts about Cornell is that every 3 ½ weeks, you get to experience something totally different. Be a biologist one block, travel to Guatemala and learn Spanish the next, commit yourself to dance in the block after. You get to fully experience each class you take.

Q: Did you participate in Alternative Spring Break (ASB) or other meaningful service?  
A: I was able to participate in ASB twice. The first time I went to Boston to volunteer with Refugees and Immigrants Ministry (RIM.) We learned a lot about immigration and what it takes to be a small nonprofit. The next year, I co-led a group to Waco, Texas, where we volunteered on the World Hunger Relief farm. We learned a lot about global poverty and hunger. I made some wonderful friendships and learned about the issues surrounding both trips.

Q: Did you study abroad? Where/ what did you study?
A: I was able to study abroad in Guatemala and The Bahamas. In Guatemala, I studied Spanish and was able to learn so much about the country’s culture by staying with a host family and taking excursions around the city of Xela where I lived, and even traveling to other parts of the country. In The Bahamas, I studied anthropology and learned about the customs and culture, as well as the effects of tourism, of Bahamians.