Allison Eikenberry ’21 earns spot at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Allison Eikenberry '21 stands inside one of the Russell Science Center's labs, a favorite spot on Cornell's campus for her.
Allison Eikenberry ’21 stands inside one of the Russell Science Center’s labs, a favorite spot on Cornell’s campus for her.

Hometown: Neola, Iowa

B.A. in chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology

Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length. 

What are your short and long-term plans after Cornell? My short-term plans include moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and attending the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Here, I plan to earn my Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). After graduating from pharmacy school, my current goal is to work in a hospital or in the pharmaceutical industry. However, I am keeping an open mind to pursuing other interests that may arise in pharmacy school.

How has Cornell prepared you for your future?

One Course At A Time has prepared me to adapt quickly to change and also to produce high-quality work in a short timeframe. These are both skills that will help me as I prepare to enter pharmacy school. I will be facing many changes in the future, but starting a completely new class every four weeks at Cornell has taught me not to fear change. 

The rigorous coursework at Cornell has also prepared me to begin a professional health program. I feel as if my coursework gave me a solid base of knowledge in a wide variety of areas. Being able to closely work with professors and collaborate with classmates at Cornell helped me gain a very deep understanding of my coursework.

Allison Eikenberry, Class of 2021, inside a lab at the Russell Science Center. Why do you think studying chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology at Cornell is beneficial? Studying these majors at Cornell is beneficial because they provide me with a solid foundation of chemistry and biochemistry. These classes teach me how to think critically and apply my knowledge to new problems, which is useful for virtually any career someone with these majors would want to pursue.

Can you identify people you considered to be mentors at Cornell? Chemistry Professors Jai Shanata and Craig Teague have been huge mentors for me. Jai and Craig took the time to get to know me personally and have gone above and beyond to help me reach my full potential. These professors have helped me celebrate my strengths while also pushing me to improve my weaknesses. 

My Head Volleyball Coach Jeff Meeker has also been a mentor for me. Jeff has helped me develop into a better leader, teammate, and competitor—all skills that will translate to my future career.

What is the coolest topic you studied for an 18-day block? What made this block stand out to you? The coolest topic I studied for 18 days was the chemistry of drug design and drug action. As an aspiring pharmacist, I enjoy learning about how drugs are designed and how they work in the body. During my Advanced Organic Chemistry course, my classmates and I were split into different groups, and we pretended that we were competing pharmaceutical companies in a race to create the best drug. I had a blast learning about the drug discovery process and collaborating with my classmates in a project simulating real-world drug discovery. I enjoyed this class so much that it inspired me to apply for a medicinal chemistry internship with a pharmaceutical company the next year.

If you could share with your high school self some words of wisdom that you’ve since learned since being at Cornell, what would it be? I would tell my high school self to relax and trust that everything will work out. When I began college, I spent way too much time stressing over my classes and grades. Instead of relaxing or spending time with friends, I would spend extra time studying. Looking back, I wish I would have spent less time obsessing over my grades and more time with the friends I made at Cornell. Thankfully as I grew older, I was able to find a great balance between academics, volleyball, and friendships.

What’s something you learned about yourself during your time at Cornell? I learned that I am able to learn a lot of material and earn good grades without devoting every single second to academics. I learned that I can find a healthy balance between all parts of my life and don’t need to sacrifice self-care or time with friends in order to be successful academically.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a Cornellian? My proudest accomplishment as a Cornellian happened on the volleyball court. During my freshman year, our team beat WashU on their home court when they were ranked #3 in the nation. It was a very exciting start to my collegiate volleyball career, and it was so much fun to be on a volleyball team with such amazing older athletes to look up to. Personally, I am also proud of receiving the honor of Academic All-American. I have worked very hard both in the classroom and on the volleyball court while at Cornell, and this award was fulfilling as a testament to my hard work in these two areas of my life.

Was there anything you learned at Cornell that changed your perspective significantly? Many of my classes at Cornell discuss the current events happening in our country and in our world. Coming to Cornell has made me much more informed about the social and political events occurring right now. Cornell has taught me how to educate myself on current topics, form opinions, and speak respectfully with people who have different opinions than me.

What’s one thing you did during your time at Cornell that you never thought you’d do? I took a class in the Bahamas! I spent a whole block conducting research on a beautiful island in the Bahamas with some of my best friends. I never thought I would be able to take a class in such a neat location and spend half the day in the ocean for two weeks straight. It was exciting to conduct research that could actually have implications to help the wildlife in the Bahamas.

What is your favorite Cornell memory? My favorite memory is staying up all night studying with my best friends. I made some of my closest friends in the wee hours of the morning as we prepared for exams together. We always had snacks, music, and endless laughter. We would have definitely been able to study much more efficiently alone, but I wouldn’t trade these nights for the world.

What’s something about Cornell that makes you smile? The people at Cornell make me smile. I decided to attend Cornell because of the people. When I visited, each person I interacted with seemed genuinely interested in helping me succeed. As my graduation approaches, I can now confirm that the Cornell community fosters an extremely supportive atmosphere. All the coaches, students, professors, and staff are rooting for you to succeed and willing to help you in any way they can. I have felt extremely supported during my time at Cornell thanks to this intricate support system that I think will last for many years to come.

Favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot on campus is the study lounge on the 4th floor of Russell Science Center because it has beautiful views of Mount Vernon. The natural lighting and sunset views from up there are unmatched.

Favorite food served at the Hilltop or Zamora’s: My favorite food served at Zamora’s is mozzarella sticks. Heading to Zamora’s with some friends to get a break from studying is always a pick-me-up, and you can’t go wrong with mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce.

What you’ll miss the most: I will miss the Cornell community the most. I have felt incredibly supported by the Cornell community during the last four years. It feels as if everyone I come into contact with genuinely cares about me and wants me to succeed.