Alumni at a Glance: Daniel Pawlak ʼ13

Daniel Pawlak ʼ13 fondly recalls late nights in Norton Geology with his friends sifting through sediment and analyzing thin sections. Daniel, a geology major, considers Professor Rhawn Denniston’s course, Climate Change, his favorite while at Cornell.

After he graduated, Daniel interned for the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska giving cave tours of El Capitan Cave. By 2014, he worked as a seasonal employee for the National Park Service at Oregon Caves National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, and Mammoth Cave National Park.

Daniel Pawlak
Daniel Pawlak

Now Daniel protects and preserves Carlsbad Caverns National Park as a permanent employee—a park ranger of the National Park Service. He provides cave tours and assists in the management of the park’s’ social media pages.

“I love my career with the National Park Service because it does not feel like a job,” he says. “I found what I want to do with my life early after graduation and feel very lucky. If I had not attended Cornell I would not be where I am today.”

Daniel attributes One Course At A Time with his ability to approach problems in a logical fashion.

“I now have the ability to calmly break down a scenario and see what steps need to be taken in order for the problem or task at hand to be completed,” he says.

Daniel’s expertise includes some impressive emergency credentials.

“I am very proud to say I have been a wilderness first responder since 2014, an emergency medical responder since 2018, part of two search and rescue teams at two different national parks, and now have a specific skill set for horizontal and vertical cave rescue,” Daniel says. “These credentials have helped me on the job immensely. I have treated and stabilized countless people who have had serious injuries while visiting their public lands. I have found these particular skills to be invaluable.”

We asked Daniel what advice he has for incoming students:

“Prepare yourself for four hard years of study,” he says. “These next four years will be some of the best years of your life and your reward is that you will be set up for success after Cornell.”