'I realized that anything was possible if I put in the time and effort'

Olivia Snyder

Biology & Society
Center Valley, Pa.

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

My main extracurricular activity is basketball. I played on the Cornell Women’s Basketball team up until November of my senior year. I unfortunately had to medically retire after tearing my ACL

woman with basketball

during my junior season and enduring multiple shoulder dislocations in the beginning of my senior season. Despite forgoing the remainder of my senior season, basketball has been, and will continue to be, a central part of my life. I have played basketball since first grade, and it has been my outlet and escape, which provides balance and exercise to my life. The memories I have shooting with my dad in the driveway, the friendships I have made throughout the years and the opportunities it gave me are invaluable. While it was sometimes challenging, I wouldn’t trade that aspect of my life for anything. Most importantly, basketball provided me the opportunity to attend most of the best schools in the country, and I chose to go to Cornell. Students from my hometown seldom get the chance to attend an Ivy League school, but because of this sport, I was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime.

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell?

I don’t think my core values and beliefs have really changed, but my perspectives on school and my belief that I can succeed in any class or in any aspect of life with hard work has changed. Growing up, I always doubted myself, whether it be on the basketball court or academically. I always wondered if I was good enough or smart enough to compete with the best. When I first committed to a school my junior year of high school, I shied away from the Ivy leagues out of fear that I may not be smart enough. I decided to go to Georgetown, which is still a high academic school, but I was a bit intimidated by the reputation of the Ivy League. After my freshman year of college, I decided I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t challenge myself and take a chance on myself and attend a school like Cornell. Once I arrived at Cornell, I realized that anything was possible if I put in the time and effort, and it paid off with academic success, great relationships and most importantly, unwavering confidence in myself no matter what the challenge. I will take the lessons I learned over the past few years and apply them to any challenges I will face for the rest of my life.

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

I would tell a freshman to try and find balance from the beginning. Cornell has so many things to offer outside of academics. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to take advantage of those earlier opportunities because before you know it, you’ll be in my shoes with only a month left before graduation. My biggest advice would be to find a group of friends and really invest time into those relationships. Take time away from your studies to enjoy eating dinner on the slope, swimming in the gorges, going on hikes, etc. Find what you love to do and make it a priority. Just today in my sociology class, we took a poll and asked students if they would choose the option to attend college online for all four years. I was shocked by how many raised their hands. College should not be viewed as a drag or a chore, but rather an opportunity to learn about yourself and experience life. Make the most out of those experiences and you will not look back on your college years with regret. Just remember, balance is key. It is important to get your work done, but you also need to decompress and get away from the stress of school.

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

In 10 years, my dream is to be working as an oculoplastic surgeon in an ophthalmology practice. I have shadowed a plethora of physicians, but nothing evoked more passion than oculoplastics. Essentially, this is a cosmetic plastic surgeon that specializes around the eye, such as fixing ptosis (drooping eyelids) or periorbital edema (eye bags). The aspect that drew me to this field is the intricacy of the procedures. I knew I always wanted to be a surgeon, but there is something so mesmerizing about the eyes and the craftsmanship needed to perfect these surgeries.


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		Olivia Snyder