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Cornell Student Spotlight: Meet Caitlin & Anastasia

Cornell Student Spotlight: Meet Caitlin & Anastasia

Apr 24, 2020

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By Caitlyn Park, Cornell University ‘22

As a current student at Cornell distance learning in her home in New Jersey, it would be an understatement to say that I miss Ithaca right now. This is especially true now that the weather is finally getting warmer and springtime in Ithaca is one not to miss! However, I am beyond excited for the launch of our new Cornell University collection since it is the best way to take a piece of my school with me wherever I go. To celebrate the launch of our new school collection, we wanted to share the stories of two of our friends currently attending Cornell. Meet Caitlin, an MBA student graduating May 2020, who opened up about her reaction to this semester’s cancellation and her unconventional graduation plans. And, Anastasia, a sophomore undergraduate, who shared with us the extraordinary way she’s combining her passion for fashion and education to help fight against coronavirus. 

Caitlin Namnoum

student at the SC Johnson College of Business 

What made you decide to go to Cornell?

I was invited to attend JWiB (Johnson Women in Business), a women's recruiting event at Cornell during the Fall of 2017. I was in the process of applying to MBA programs and was flattered to have been invited to Ithaca. Long story short, the theme of that recruiting weekend was "The Fearless Girl", Kristen Visbal's famous bronze statue on Wall Street which represents the power of women in leadership. This message deeply resonated with me and I walked away from that weekend determined to be accepted into the program. 

What has been your favorite and/or most memorable part of your graduate experience? 

 There are too many highlights to count: Formals, Slope Day, Destination Johnson (our accepted students weekend), JWiB, Cornell Tech, traveling with classmates, interning at Apple in Cupertino, etc. It has all been wonderful and deeply memorable. However, the experience I will remember most is serving as a second year mentor in our High Tech Club. I was able to coach, case interview, and prepare first year students for internship interviews and I am thrilled to say that several of those students will be joining organizations like Apple, Google, Microsoft! Serving as a mentor definitely stands out as an experience I will never forget.

What makes you most proud of Cornell?

Cornell was the first top business school to launch an office dedicated to supporting the rising generation of women, underrepresented minority (URM), and LGBTQ leaders.

At Cornell, we have a culture that not only values differences, but also leverages them as a source of strength and innovation on campus, and in the professional world. 

I am honored to have served as the president of our Women's Management Council and I am so proud to be a Cornell MBA. 

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your studies at Cornell, and what was campus like when you had to leave? 

We have moved to virtual learning until mid-May and I'm actually really enjoying it! I still wear my KC Cornell jewelry at home on Zoom but without the hassle of my full-blown morning routine. 

Is Cornell still planning on having a graduation ceremony? 

Yes! The university, our deans, and our President Martha Pollack have exhibited excellent communication during this time of crisis and we are hoping to be in cap and gown for our formal graduation ceremony sometime this fall. 

Anastasia Mahdavian

student studying Fashion Design and Management in the College of Human Ecology

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your studies at Cornell, and what was campus like when you had to leave?

When I left campus, it was total chaos. At first we were told that we would have 3 weeks left on campus, to spend time with friends we may never see again, seniors that made an impact on our experience at Cornell, and professors that changed our perspectives forever. However, 2 days later all of a sudden the message turned to “classes are cancelled for 3 weeks. Pack your bags and get out ASAP," which threw everyone into a panic. Quickly after this panic though, sadness seemed to overwhelm campus. 

Everyone was starting to leave the next day, the next night, the next hour. There was no time to say goodbye to all of the things we loved about Cornell, or all of the people that made it home.

As I watched all of my friends leave one by one, the campus began to feel empty and cold. It’s not that I don’t love my home, I love my family and spending time with them; but I lost living in a place with the best friends I’ve ever had, and the loss of that social interaction is probably the biggest way this has affected me. I miss my support system that I finally formed at Cornell, and that is a really hard thing to lose.

What made you decide to start sewing masks?

When I first came home, I was upset all the time and I really didn’t feel like doing anything. One night I was watching TV with my parents, moping about not being at Cornell, and my mom told me my uncle who works as a surgeon, was using a ski mask as protective equipment because they had completely run out of masks. It really put things into perspective for me. I have the privilege of staying home with my entire family and not worrying about our safety, while there are medical professionals who are risking their lives for us.

I had seen online that Christian Siriano, a well known designer, was making masks and I just thought ‘I could do that too!’, so I looked it up on youtube and I did. 

How many were you able to create and where were they donated?

Making masks is more time consuming than I thought! I spent most of my days making them and was able to make 65, and sent them to Kingston Hospital in Upstate New York. I also made a few for another private practice in New Jersey. 

What are you most excited for when you return back to campus?

The people. I really can’t communicate accurately how much I miss my friends. I miss laughing with them the most, I’m excited for that.


Check out the full Cornell collection today.