Build up your experiences

Mari Dettweiler ʼ19, environmental studies majorMari Dettweiler ʼ19 is an environmental studies major with a focus in conservation biology and stats and a double minor in biology and English. She fell in love with the Hilltop on her first visit to Cornell College.

“Everyone was very welcoming, and I felt like I would fit in perfectly,” Mari said. “As a homeschooler, I really liked the idea of the block plan and thought it would be very beneficial for my learning style.”

Despite the challenge of test-taking anxiety during her first year, Mari worked through various strategies to mitigate the anxiety. (Cornell’s Office of Academic Support and Advising provides tips for just this sort of thing.) Now, Mari doesn’t give the notion of taking a test much thought.

“My biggest achievement at Cornell is the adult I have grown to be today,” Mari said.

“Cornell has strengthened the skills and passions that I already had as well as preparing me further for the outside world. I have been able to do many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do like traveling to Guatemala for Spanish classes, presenting research in Cartagena, Colombia, and doing two summers of monarch research for my honors capstone.”

For her capstone, Mari wrote about the effect that mowing prairies has on monarch butterflies. During this process, she learned how to write a grant, conduct fieldwork with a team, organize data, and run different comparative analyses on spreadsheets. She also presented a research poster overseas to fellow students and conservation biology experts from around the world.

“We found that although the milkweed plant is important, it is not a limiting factor, which means the butterflies are not fighting over the last few milkweeds,” Dettweiler said. “We also noticed a decrease in monarchs from the year before, which we think is from a cold front earlier that year which wiped out many of the monarchs.”

Mari plans on taking at least one gap year before graduate school. During her gap year (or two), she will work in her field in order to determine what focus she wants to pursue for her master’s degree and where she wants to complete it.

Mari’s Hilltop Favorites

Campus spot:

“The Pedestrian Mall is my favorite because I see so many familiar smiling faces passing by, and it is so peaceful in the early mornings when I walk to work at the library. Seeing all of the different seasons on the Ped Mall is a beautiful experience.”

Club or organization:

“The sorority Phi Lambda Xi has had the biggest impact on my life at Cornell. I never thought I would be in a sorority, but as soon as I met the members of this group, I knew that these were the people that I wanted to learn and grow along with. They have helped me develop more of an open mind, and I have helped others work better as a team. Overall, it has been a very good and supportive experience.”

Hilltop food and drink:

“I really like the chocolate almond milk and the pastries in the morning, and the salad bar with all the yummy toppings. I also really like the bratwursts with the sauerkraut.”