Cornell gave Robertson the chance to follow her passions

Hannah Robertson ’18 is a model for how to make the most of a Cornell liberal arts education.

This English major with a history minor conducted research with her professor, participated in the steel drum band, edited the student newspaper, took one semester and two blocks abroad, was a Cornell Fellow in Washington, D.C., and even did a semester to Amman, Jordan.

“There are so many different opportunities that Cornell offers from academic to extracurricular that allow for each student to find something (or many things) that they love,” she said. “It gave me the chance to follow my passions and really figure out what I want to do after Cornell.”

Hannah Robertson '18
Hannah Robertson ’18

Robertson, from Durango, Colorado, will continue her education at Cardiff University in Wales, United Kingdom, studying international journalism and Arabic.

Q: What activities, clubs, organizations, or work-study positions were you involved in at Cornell?

A: For the past four years, I have been a part of The Cornellian, Spiritual Life, band, and Pandemonium (one of the steel drum ensembles). I have also worked as a peer consultant in the Writing Studio for three years and in the Academic Technology Studio for one year, as well as being a resident assistant for the past three years. More than anything, my varied experiences have taught me the impact one person can have on another, both as a mentor and being mentored. I was able to meet new people and branch out into new areas of interest both academically and in extracurricular activities.

Q: Did you study abroad?

A: I have been fortunate to study abroad three times while at Cornell. I studied in Amman, Jordan, for a semester my junior year, learning Arabic and Jordanian culture and history. I also spent a block in Maharashtra, India studying women’s health, and a block in the U.K., learning about architecture, history, and theater in Scotland and England.

Q: What is your biggest academic accomplishment?

A: I think my biggest accomplishment was my Cornell Summer Research Institute (CSRI) work, since it combined several of my interests and will result in something that everyone will be able to use. My project was to build a historical digital tour of Cornell’s campus, using archival documents to bring the past of several of the more iconic campus buildings to light through a website. My CSRI work is part of a larger project within the Mount Vernon community, so I had a really unique opportunity to work on something that both the campus and the greater community can enjoy.

Q: What Cornell experiences prepared you for this?

A: While at Cornell, I had the opportunity to do multiple study abroad trips, one for a semester to Amman, Jordan, and two “block abroad” courses, one to India and one to the U.K. I was also able to do research with one of my professors, and participated in a Cornell Fellows placement with Global Zero in Washington, D.C. It gave me the chance to follow my passions and really figure out what I want to do after Cornell.

Q: Who was your Cornell mentor, or what person on campus had the biggest impact on you?

A: There are so many people on campus who have had a major impact on my time here, but I would have to say the most consistent is Professor Catherine Stewart. I took a class with her my freshman year that led to my participating in the Cornell Summer Research Institute with her a year later. She has remained one of the people on campus I am most likely to reach out to for advice on academics, internships, future plans, and the like. Every time I take a class with her, or ask for a second set of eyes for a paper, she pushes me to better myself in every possible way, even when all I really want to do is submit the paper and go to sleep. I know that her insistence on my best will continue to motivate me in the future.

Q: How did One Course At A Time impact your education?

A: I knew that I liked the intensity of One Course At A Time from the beginning, being able to really throw oneself into the topic at hand and not have to worry about balancing other classes. I’ve also been afforded so many opportunities that I might not have otherwise had, such as my study abroad experiences and the ability to take courses that didn’t apply to my degree but that sounded interesting or were something that I wanted to learn more about.

Q: What do you most value about your Cornell education?

A: The opportunities. I have been able to participate in research, study abroad, fellowships, and steel drums (!!), and that is not even including the classes I’ve been able to take! There are so many different opportunities that Cornell offers from academic to extracurricular that allow for each student to find something (or many things) that they love.

Q: Why did you choose Cornell?

A: I chose Cornell because of One Course At A Time, the opportunities to study abroad, and because I would be able to participate in music ensembles as a non-major.

Q: What would you tell a prospective student about Cornell?

A: The sky’s the limit in terms of possibilities and opportunities. Practice saying “yes” when someone asks if you’d be interested in something because you never know where you’ll end up.

Q: What was your favorite activity on campus?

A: I always enjoyed going to the Friday music seminars where students had the opportunity to perform the music they have been working on in their lessons. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate everyone’s hard work.

Q: Favorite study spot?

A: King Chapel.

Q: Which part of campus has special meaning for you?

A: King Chapel, mostly because I’ve spent so much time there practicing for ensembles or solo work, but it also is a space where I’ve found friends and a community, more so than other places on campus.