Fulbright sending Strunk to Colombia

Sydney Strunk ’17 will be headed to Colombia to serve as an English Teaching Assistant at the National University of Colombia in Bogota, Columbia, thanks to a Fulbright grant. She will also volunteer at a medical clinic in the area. Once she returns to the U.S. she will apply for medical school.

Sydney Strunk '17
Sydney Strunk ’17

The Spanish and biochemistry & molecular biology double major credits her Spanish coursework and her work with Operation Walk in Havana, Cuba, with helping her prepare for this next step. She has also worked closely with the Dimensions Program for Health Professions and her professors to prepare a competitive application for medical school once she’s ready.

She also expressed her gratitude to Professor of Biology Craig Tepper and Professor of Chemistry Jai Shanata.

“They have both been tremendous mentors, as they are always very supportive and encouraging and have given me a lot of confidence in terms of academics and pursuing my future goals,” said Strunk, who is from Ottumwa, Iowa. “Whether it be a question about homework or life in general, both Tepper and Jai are always there to listen.”  

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: For the past four years, I have been a part of the track and field team. My teammates and coaches have served as a strong support system during my time at Cornell. I am also involved in Beta Beta Beta (Biological Honor Society) and ACTION (leadership in women’s athletics), have served as a Resident Assistant (RA) and a chemistry and Spanish tutor for the past few years, and have participated in the Lunch Buddies program and Alternative Spring Break. Together, these experiences have enabled me to develop leadership skills, grow as a person, and interact with students whom I might otherwise never have met.

Q: What is your biggest academic accomplishment?
A: A few months ago, I learned that I was selected as a finalist for a 2017-2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Colombia. I applied to the program in October through Cornell, though I was hesitant to do so at first because I didn’t think that I had much of a chance. I was therefore ecstatic/shocked/in disbelief when I found out that I will be traveling to Colombia in the fall!

Q: What would you tell a prospective about Cornell?
A: The professors here are dedicated to their students and want to see them succeed. The school also provides lots of opportunities for its students in terms of campus involvement, extracurricular activities, and places to study abroad. Moreover, Cornell is fully invested in each student’s future and actively aids students in seeking out potential internship opportunities.

Q: How did Cornell change you?
A: My time at Cornell has really opened my eyes to the world around me and inspired me to take a more active role in promoting social change. I have become more aware of the social injustices that continue to perpetuate within society in addition to ways to help combat them.

Q: Which part of campus has special meaning for you?
A: I have spent countless hours in West Science these past four years, so I will always feel a bit of nostalgia when thinking about the building. However, I am very excited to visit the campus in the future and tour the new science building!

Q: Did you study abroad?
A: I studied at Juan Sisay School in Xela, Guatemala, during the summer after my first year at Cornell, earning two Spanish credits. Additionally, during November of my junior year, I assisted on Operation Walk, a medical service organization, in Havana, Cuba.

Q: What is a random fact you’ve learned through your major?
A: There is enough DNA in one human body to stretch from Pluto to the sun and back.