Far Above Cayuga’s Waters: Seniors Reflect Upon Their Favorite Spots on Campus

Art Direction and Text by Ellen Leventry ’95
Photos by Lindsay France

In the 1933 Cornellian, Edmund N. Bacon ′32 waxed poetic about the campus: “The university—built on this hill—overlooking the lake and a rich valley—surrounded by farms and woods—may inculcate in its students something more than appreciation of the power of the mind— rather through the pressure of the presence of beauty impart a deep sense of the splendor of living.”

We asked a number of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ seniors to share with us their thoughts on what parts of the Hill have imbued them with that deep sense of splendor, and what they will remember most “of our own, our fair Cornell.”

Laci Taylor – Libe Slope

Hailing from Washington, D.C., Laci is an animal science major, a sister in the Mu Gamma Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a member of the CALS Student Advisory Council to the Dean.

Laci Taylor"When I’m not in lecture or lab learning about the complexities of the physiology of domestic and companion animal species—or getting involved in the planning and organization of events through my student leadership activities—you can likely find me somewhere on Libe Slope. Libe Slope is my favorite spot on Cornell University’s campus because of its central yet peaceful location. It allows me to feel like I have gotten away from campus entirely. Overlooking West Campus and even downtown Ithaca, Libe Slope is where I go when I want to take a moment to myself. I’ll swing by Libe Café, grab a hot chocolate, and sit on the slope to relax and clear my mind."

Joe Spivak – Baker Portico

One of Cornell’s Big Red Bear mascots and a former chair of the Orientation Steering Committee, Joe is a communication major who is heading to a job at S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., after graduation.

Joe spivak"The Baker Portico is my favorite place on campus because of its distinctive union of old and new, where the 1920s-era Baker Laboratory and the ultramodern Physical Sciences Building converge. To me, this atrium embodies the spirit of Cornell, as it pays homage to the university’s history while providing a modern, comfortable space to study, socialize and relax between classes. I particularly like the rows of soft leather chairs against the former facade of Baker Lab; they are ideal for catching a quick nap on campus. Even though I’m not a chemistry or physics major, I go out of my way to spend time in this open and airy space."

Richard Delplato – Suspension Bridge

A transfer from Genesee Community College in Batavia, N.Y., Richard is a food science major who came to Cornell with an associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts from the Culinary Institute of America.

Richard Delplato"I first discovered the suspension bridge during my second visit to Cornell. While I was here, I wanted to figure out the best way to walk from campus to my future apartment, and I discovered the suspension bridge over Fall Creek Gorge located conveniently close. I remember thinking how cool it would be to get to cross a gorge on my way to class every day. At first I was a bit nervous since I’m not a fan of heights, but I soon came to love walking across it. I’ve often stopped on this bridge to admire how the gorge transforms over the seasons, from the rich colors in fall to the snow and ice that covers it in winter. It’s truly a great spot to come to appreciate the beauty of Ithaca."

Melania Mora Tomas – Mann Library

Coming to campus from Costa Rica, Melania double majors in international agriculture and rural development and applied economics and management and is a student ambassador for Engaged Learning + Research at Cornell.

Melania Mora Tomas"As a CALS student, I’m on the Ag Quad for the greater part of my day, and Mann Library is my home away from home. I always head to the upper floors where I am near good views and close to windows. Windows inspire me, offering glimpses of the outside when I’m stuck inside studying for a prelim or finishing a paper. They remind me of greater purpose and set into context whatever task is at hand. I like to see the snow fall as I type, the sunset’s warm light hit the pages of my books, and the shadows of the tall trees move against the sun. Looking out the windows reminds me of where I am, that Cornell represents a dream achieved, an opportunity taken, challenges overcome, as well as tears, laughter and many blessings."

Joe Nathan Lindsey – Greenhouses

An agricultural science and plant science double major from Lithonia, Ga., Joe Nathan hopes to translate his studies in fundamental plant biology into increased food security and sustainability in developing nations.

Joe Nathan Lindsey"The greenhouses are some of my favorite places on campus because they provide me with an opportunity to get out of the classroom and get my hands dirty. They provide a great transition between the academic nature of the classroom and what industry will really feel like. I work in the lab of Professor Tim Setter in the School of Integrative Plant Science on flowering mechanisms in cassava, a staple crop in multiple developing countries, so experiments like these directly impact food security. I enjoy being surrounded by plants because they add life to any room, and they literally provide life. Practically speaking, I also like the greenhouses because they are warm, which makes them a perfect place to be on cold Ithaca days."

Shoshana Das – Weill Hall

When this Goldwater Scholar is not busy raising the bar in undergraduate research, Shoshana, a biological engineering and biological sciences double major, spends her time at the ballet barre.

Shoshana Das"I have spent countless hours since my freshman year in Weill Hall taking classes, attending office hours, working on projects and, most importantly, researching in Associate Professor Jonathan Butcher’s biomedical engineering lab. This is the building that has given me most of my most treasured opportunities, from discovering my interests and winning the Goldwater Scholarship to deciding to pursue a Ph.D. next year. This is the place at Cornell where I was given the opportunity to grow and learn the most. Whenever I walk into the sun-filled atrium of Weill, I am reminded of how much I have grown over the years from the first time I set foot in this building."

Victoria Hathaway – Johnson Museum

A development sociology major who will soon be pursuing a master’s degree of education in student affairs at UCLA, Victoria has fostered community both on campus as an Alice Cook House residential assistant and in New York City, where she interned at City Year with the Cornell Urban Scholars Program last summer.

Victoria Hathaway"The panoramic scenery from the Johnson Museum is breathtaking. I love to gaze out on the beautiful city of Ithaca, which has been my home for nearly four years. From the fifth floor, I can see everything that I cherish about Ithaca. The stunning Cayuga Lake, where I often kayak, is always the first area that catches my eye. Yet, on campus, I have the best view of the McGraw Clock Tower, as I hear its music echoing through the glass window. Just below, I watch my peers walking about, often displaying their school pride in Cornell apparel. At night, the bright and lively city appears closer to a metropolis than to the natural, “gorges” setting it offers in the daytime. In the distance, I can see the towers of Ithaca College, which hold fond memories of my time spent there prior to attending Cornell University. The sights outside the window are comparable to the displays inside. The key feature that draws me to the Johnson Museum is its array of captivating and thought-provoking artwork. Alberto Giacometti’s  Walking Man II is my favorite piece. When I graduate, I will reminisce about all of these sights that capture my home."

Evan Gao – Warren Hall Collaboration Zone

A December 2015 graduate, Evan was a member of the Big Red Marching Band and Phi Gamma Nu, a business fraternity, who is “paying it forward” to his Dyson School peers by teaching courses in accounting and statistics and to future students as a CALS Ambassador.

Evan Gao"The Warren Hall Collaboration Zone is not only a place where I can relax after a full day of classes, eat lunch or study with my classmates, but it also embodies the community and the strong student network of the Dyson School. Surrounded by a number of faculty offices, it also offers interaction with professors—all of whom are the friendliest and most approachable people I have ever met. The collaboration and community of the Dyson School were apparent to me even on the very first day of my Cornell career and are why I love this school. The Collaboration Zone was made possible by generous alumni, and, as a recent graduate, I plan to pay my debt forward in many ways, including mentorship, guidance and career advice for current students."