Erin McLaughlin: 'My liberal arts education has enhanced my critical thinking and problem solving skills'

Mon, 04/30/2018

Erin McLaughlin

Biology & Society

Longmont, CO

Why did you choose Cornell?

I chose Cornell after visiting campus during my senior year of high school. I was on an athletic recruiting trip for cross country, so I met some of my future teammates and coaches. Their enthusiasm about Cornell was apparent, and contagious. I remember taking a two- or three-hour tour guided by Coach Artie Smith, which included walking across the Fall Creek suspension bridge, the views from the top floor of the Johnson Museum and the story of the clock tower pumpkin. I was charmed by Cornell’s rich history and traditions and impressed by its reputation for academic excellence. I knew that Cornell would challenge me, but also present me with countless opportunities.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

To me, receiving a liberal arts education means engaging with a diverse array of academic disciplines, theories and research methods, while putting them in context with contemporary events and issues. I appreciate that my coursework in Arts & Sciences spanned multiple departments, because I was at times forced to push the limits of my academic comfort zone. I am confident that my liberal arts education has enhanced my critical thinking and problem solving skills, but also taught me to approach new issues and subjects with humility.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Don’t be afraid to change your plans over the course of your academic career, because your career and academic plans will naturally change as you explore and refine what you’re passionate about. Avoid preconceptions of what your undergraduate experience should be, in order to remain open to new opportunities like classes, clubs, research positions, lectures or events. Finally, take full advantage of Ithaca’s natural beauty by visiting the gorges, waterfalls, orchards and state parks.