Sayrs following career she explored in CSRI

Kat Sayrs ’17 spent last summer creating a computer game to help students learn French through the Cornell Summer Research Institute (CSRI), and now she’s moving into a full time programming job in either software or web development.

The French and Computer Science double major credits the intensity and structure of One Course At A Time and her experience with team-based projects through Cornell with preparing her for her career. She also appreciated the guidance she received from her mentors, Professor of French Devan Baty and Instructional Technology Librarian Brooke Bergantzel.

Kat Sayrs '17
Kat Sayrs ’17

Hailing from Athens, Ohio, Sayrs says she chose Cornell because of the intensive learning and the immersion of the Block Plan appealed to her right away. An overnight visit sealed her decision—she liked the campus and students so much it was an easy choice to come to Cornell.

Q: What activities, clubs, organizations, or work study positions were you involved in at Cornell and how did they add to your education and enjoyment of Cornell?
A: I worked in the Academic Technology Studio in Cole Library from my sophomore year onward, and the past couple years have worked as a student manager there. I love working in the library—I get to interact with not just students, but also members of the Mount Vernon community. I also get to work with some awesome tech, like the 3D printers.

I love music, so being in Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and one of the Steel Drum Ensembles added that much more joy to my time here. I’m so happy I was able to play the oboe throughout college.

I have been a member of Cornell College Chess & Games for all four of my years here. C&G provided me with a community of people who shared my interests, and we have put on many great events together. I made some of my closest friends thanks to the club.

Q: What is your biggest academic accomplishment?
A: Last summer, for CSRI, I was able to combine both of my majors in the creation of a choose-your-own-adventure game based on the medieval romance of Yvain, the Knight of the Lion. The goal was to aid in language learning and retention (as well as teach the tale), so it was created entirely in French. Professor Baty and I worked on the overall design and script, and I coded the game myself in JavaScript. What we had completed by the end of the summer is likely my biggest achievement.

Q: How did One Course At A Time impact your education?
A: One Course At A Time allowed me to focus on my schoolwork without having to prioritize subjects. Because I could throw myself into something without distractions, I could learn it that much more intently. The regular class hours also allowed me to participate in as many events as I could without conflicts, which is something I really appreciated.

Q: What would you tell a prospective about Cornell?
A: If you enjoy freedom in choosing classes, taking part in many activities, and being able to closely focus on your studies, Cornell is definitely a place to look at. It has a great community and a lovely town surrounding it as well!

Q: What have been your most meaningful experiences beyond the classroom?
A: Every year, Chess & Games Club hosts a convention called Jencon, where people can attend panels, games, and other events over the course of a few days. My sophomore year, Patrick Rothfuss visited Jencon as a special guest. It was exciting enough to listen to my favorite author speak on the OC, but playing Cards Against Humanity with him was exceptional. He’s a great guy to hang out with. Just before he left, he gave each of us some advice about living our lives as college students. That experience meant a lot to me.

Q: Did you study abroad?
A: Block 6 of my sophomore year, I took a course abroad in Martinique with Professor Baty during Carnaval. The subject was Language, Landscape, and Identity in the French Caribbean. We stayed with host families, attended Carnaval, and studied at the University there. The final class project was to create a website documenting our experiences.

Fall semester of my senior year, I studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, at Aix-Marseille University. I took classes related to French language and literature, one in creative writing, and one in French business. I lived with a host family and had a lot of independence. I also performed in a community orchestra while I was there. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I would love to go back and visit my host family again.