'Challenge yourself to think differently, explore broadly, and connect wholly'

Peter Terrazas

Science & Technology Studies
Tucson, Ariz.

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

My main extracurricular activity at Cornell was my instructor position with Cornell Outdoor Education. I have been teaching paddling, hiking and camping courses with COE since I was a second semester freshman. I have worked with more than 20 student instructors, 50 students and four program coordinators. I have had the opportunity to sea kayak in the Adirondacks, backpack the Finger Lakes and teach both pool paddling and canoe programs here on campus. While connecting with nature through an affordable, safe organization is a major benefit, the greatest advantage of COE is the chance to connect with a diverse array of other students in a challenging environment.


person paddling on lake

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

My favorite memory at Cornell would have to be from my semester in Washington, D.C. There was one evening where my best friends and I spent hours working together in a seminar room to finish our policy papers. We of course got distracted often when we would each take turns sharing our individual ideas for how to solve the world's problems and would then sit back for the subsequent roastings about how impractical our ideas were. When we all got hungry we simply walked out of the Wolpe Center to find whatever 24/7 snacks we could find in downtown D.C. I will forever be grateful for my friends and for the time we spent together imagining a world that we might someday get to build.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

I am most proud of the way in which I have managed to achieve a balance between what matters to me in both my professional and personal lives. I have been able to write a thesis on a topic that I consider to be immensely important with the support of one of the most brilliant faculty I have ever known. At the same time I have built genuine, lifelong friendships with some of the most intelligent, inspiring and determined people I have ever known. Furthermore, I am now less than a month away from being the first person in my family to earn a bachelors degree, from an Ivy-league institution nonetheless. I don't for one second take the work and personal sacrifice that it took to accomplish this for granted. Yet, what makes this accomplishment so meaningful to me is that it shows my family, who has supported me at every step in my life in every way imaginable, that their sacrifices were worth it. I wasn't the perfect student, and I certainly wasn't the perfect friend, boyfriend, son or grandson. However, I did my very best, I never gave up, and I've made it to a point in my life where all I can say is, thank you God, for everything.

person hugging another person

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

I would say, do not spend your time at Cornell living for what lies beyond. Every day here should be transformative. You should challenge yourself to think differently, explore broadly and connect wholly with the people, places and ideas that make Cornell a place where any person can find instruction in any study. There is such diversity of thought, identity and interests here that you should never fail to discover something new. If at any point you think you have seen it all, I would challenge you to keep looking, because that is what makes Cornell unique. You may never again find a place that enables you to see so much in so little time. Broaden your horizons and make every day count. Because, speaking as a graduating senior, one day this Cornell journey will come to an end and I promise you that nothing matters more than knowing you made the most of the time you were given.


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		Peter Terrazas