Stolz headed to Bulgaria on Fulbright

Every year Cornell celebrates its graduating seniors at Commencement with their closest friends and families. We also like to highlight a number of seniors online as they transition from college student to college grad and join Cornell’s growing community of alumni.

Tessa Stolz
Tessa Stolz

Tessa Stolz

B.A. in Psychology: Specialist Concentration and Anthropology

Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska

Next: Bulgaria on a Fulbright

“I like the block plan because of the community that is able to be built and fostered through those 18 days.”

What are your plans after Cornell?

I will be going to Bulgaria for my Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award. I will mainly be teaching English to high school students for 15–20 hours a week, either by myself or with a Bulgarian co-teacher. The rest of my time will be spent doing community engagement. My hope is to be able to do something with music (I’ve been in the Steel Pan Ensemble my whole time at Cornell), help students with college applications, and/or be a part of the BEST Foundation, which is a speech and debate organization created by Fulbright ETAs. 

What was the application process like to apply for a Fulbright?

Throughout the whole process, [Dungy Writing Studio Director and Director of Fellowships and Scholarships] Laura Farmer has been the biggest supporter. She has been there for me since before day one encouraging me to apply for various off-campus opportunities. I was so glad I was able to share the news with her shortly after finding out. We were able to talk through the whole process together, scream in excitement, and reflect on my past four years at Cornell (with only a few tears shed). When I was a first-year during my second or third block, I met with Laura and we created a four-year plan. As much as that plan has changed and been revised, her support and encouragement have not.

What do you think you’ve learned since being at Cornell that you did not know before you arrived?

Before coming to Cornell, I did not realize our life is not linear; our opportunities appear endless. Want a club, but Cornell doesn’t already have it? Start a petition and create a new club your first year here. Want to be a part of the decisions that help shape our community? Join Student Senate. There are so many opportunities at Cornell that help us all grow as individuals and as a greater community, and I did not realize how much I have grown as a leader, community member, and overall citizen until I started to reflect on my time here at Cornell.

Who helped you along your college journey?

Laura Farmer and [Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology] Misha Quill have helped me along my college journey. Misha was my first block professor here at Cornell and has been a resource for me since the first day of my first Cornell class. When I declared my second major as anthropology, Misha became one of my academic advisors. She has advised me on what classes to take, how to conduct anthropological research, and my life after Cornell. In addition to advising me, she has encouraged me. Misha has always encouraged me to push my thinking further and has been a source of empowerment during my time here at Cornell.

During my sophomore year, Misha took me and my class to the Bahamas for a block. It was in the Bahamas that I fell in love with anthropology. Being able to watch Misha be a role model for the whole class and confidently approach fishermen, locals, and tourists alike empowered me to feel that I could do that same. Through this experience, I have not only developed stronger communication skills but, I am confident in my ability to conduct research and talk to individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Another source for empowerment on campus has been Laura Farmer. I met with Laura during my first year at Cornell and we created my four-year plan. My four-year plan ended up being more flexible than I thought, however, that meeting was the start of Laura being a huge help along my Cornell journey. When I started working at the Dungy Writing Studio during my sophomore year, Laura conducted blockly training that allowed me to learn about various teaching techniques, interact with other consultants, and learn how to apply the skills I was learning in the Dungy Writing Studio to opportunities outside of Cornell (jobs, careers, etc.). Throughout my time at Cornell, Laura has always encouraged me to apply for fellowships and saw most of the drafts of my personal statements. When I was not as confident in my writing, experiences, and skills, Laura was always there to encourage me and help me with my applications and self-confidence.

Describe the block plan.

The block plan is an academic calendar where students take one class at a time for 18 days. In those 18 days (Monday-Friday), your professor is only teaching your class, so they are able to focus on the success of you and your classmates. A block does not have to happen solely within the walls of classrooms and labs. You can go to Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or surrounding areas for a day, or travel abroad for 18 days. I like the block plan because of the community that is able to be built and fostered through those 18 days. Being able to easily access your professors for help, being able to rely on classmates for support, and being surrounded by a community are all reasons why I love the block plan.

What is your advice to the classes behind you?

Do something your senior year that you have not had the time or chance to do yet. Go to that PAAC event you have always wanted to go to but never have, join in on an intramural event, and really take in all that Cornell has to offer for your last year.