Ruiz ’20 graduates with engineering, music degrees

Name: Raquel Ruiz ’20Raquel Ruiz 20 portrait

Hometown: Round Lake, Illinois

Degrees: B.S.E. in engineering, B.A. in music

Raquel Ruiz ’20 came to Cornell College knowing she had a love for STEM and music. 

“Participating in a program called Project Lead the Way in Engineering and Science Olympiad inspired me to pursue a degree in Engineering,” Ruiz said. “For my music degree, I was lucky enough to have amazing band directors in both middle school and high school, who influenced my passion for music.”

So, why not pursue a degree in both? 

That’s exactly what this Round Lake, Illinois, native did, and she graduated from Cornell College with a B.S.E in engineering and a B.A. in music. 

Ruiz helped pave the way for future graduates in the engineering program at Cornell as part of only the third class to graduate students with B.S.E degrees. In 2018, the college awarded the B.S.E. degree, the college’s first bachelor of science degree, to three graduates.

“I chose Cornell after meeting with Professor Brian Johns and hearing about his vision of starting an engineering program,” Ruiz said. “The idea of being a part of this from the very beginning was intriguing to me, and I was extremely impressed with Professor Johns.”

Raquel Ruiz 20 fluteWhen she wasn’t solving problems as an engineering student, you could find her learning about the world through music. She played the flute and participated in several music ensembles.

“I recently performed my senior recital,” Ruiz said. “This meant a lot to me because I was able to showcase the skills I have improved upon since coming to Cornell.”

One of Ruiz’s music professors, Jama Stilwell, said Raquel was one of the hardest-working students she has known during her time at Cornell.

“She decided early on that she wanted not only to complete two majors–but two degrees–and in very diverse fields: a bachelor of science in engineering, and a bachelor of arts in music,” Stilwell said. It’s a testament to Raquel’s amazing work ethic, and to her diligent, careful planning that this challenging combination became a reality–in four years, no less!”

Raquel Ruiz playing tennisIn addition to her music ensembles, Ruiz played tennis and helped found the Engineering Club. Inside the classroom, taking classes One Course At A Time for 3 ½ weeks helped Ruiz build strong connections.

“My favorite thing about the block plan is the deeper relationships you develop with your professors,” Ruiz said. “I feel that the professors at Cornell really care about their students and go out of their way to help them succeed.”

This STEM and music student will miss the faculty she has come to know and work with each block. She says the best thing about Cornell is “the amazing professors.”

“Professor Stillwell always awed me with her compassion for her students, always going out of her way to help her students succeed,” Ruiz said. “She and Professor Johns were instrumental in helping me achieve my dual degrees. Professor Johns always drove us to the brink, but thanks to him, I feel exceptionally prepared to continue on towards my master’s degree. Doctor Martin Hearne was always the light at the end of the tunnel every day. I always looked forward to his rehearsals and guidance. Professor Raquel Ruiz with her dogKamran, we joked, was the ‘angel of the engineering department.’ She taught some of the hardest classes at Cornell, but her kindness and patience got us through each day. And last, but definitely not least, Doctor Martin, a brilliant professor, awakened me towards my love of opera. He is an incredible wealth of knowledge and his love of music is infectious.” 

That engineering angel describes Raquel as responsible, on-time, and helpful to her peers.

“She is a great engineer, a fantastic student, a talented musician, and a sportswoman. It is a delight having her in my classes; she is attentive, highly motivated, and eager to learn,” Assistant Professor of Engineering Niloofar Kamran said. “Raquel wanted to pursue her graduate studies, and now she is a graduate student in one of the best engineering programs.”

Ruiz is attending Purdue University to get her master’s in structural engineering because she’s interested in bridge and building design. One day she says she may even become an engineering professor.