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The Beginning of the End of My Cornell Experience

Well, I have finally reached my senior year and believe me when I say that lack of motivation is not really conducive to a difficult fall semester. That's pretty much how I felt considering it was an evil 17 paper, 3 quiz, 1 final semester. The scary thing is that I actually liked all the classes I took. I would even hazard to say that it was the best semester content wise that I have had at Cornell. I did not dislike a single course. The work....I didn't like so much. Oh well. In the immortal words of Gloria Gaynor: "I will survive!"

Fall 1997 : Here's the listing of the classes that constitute the evil coursework I had in the fall semester. The funny thing is that it's 12 credits, but it's actually the combination of classes, not the credits that really matter in the end:

  • Policy Analysis and Management 383: Social Welfare as a Social Institution MWF @ 11:15-12:05 PM Prof. Josephine Allen: This was perhaps one of the most interesting and relevant courses I have ever taken at Cornell. Well, the subject matter was of particular interest to me, seeing that I'm planning to go into Social Work and all. In class, Prof. Allen lectured on many issues and policies regarding the social welfare system as it developed historically and what it is now. She was an interesting lecturer and she always encouraged the class to discuss the issues. During the last third of the course, class time is devoted entirely to group presentations in 7 social service areas. I was in the Services to the Aged group (or duo, as there were only 2 people in the group), but other groups included, services to children, families, health, mental health, criminal justice, and community development and planning. Overall, it is a great survey course on historical and contemporary social welfare issues (as I have said before). There were 4 small papers in the beginning of the semester and there was quite a bit of reading, although I honestly did not do all of it. The class really bonded as it was a small class (only 20 students) and unfortunately, the Cornell BSW program is in danger of being cut by the College of Human Ecology. It would be a shame to lose this field of study and I hope the Administration realizes the value of such an education, but alas, they probably will not. Have I known earlier about my life, I would have change schools like that.

  • Anthropology 200: Cultural Diversity and Comtemporary Issues MW @ 3:35-4:25 PM Section R 9:05-9:55 AM Prof. John Borneman: Continuing with the semester where I liked all of my classes, Anthro 200 was a different, but still a great course. We learned about the study of differences and why people were different. It was a good reinforcement of what cultural anthropologists do and look for when they are studying people. I especially enjoyed reading an ethnography on the Baruya of New Guniea as well as reading about a home health aide's experience with people with HIV/AIDS. Perhaps the highlights of the course were the videos. I don't know of any other course where a full episode of the Simpsons and the movie Speed is shown. The interpretation of the sexual forms in Speed was a little bit too out of this world for my taste, but it does make you think about the movies that are out there. Overall, there were three major assignments for this course. The most fun of them was an interview with a person over what love and sex means to that person. You transcribe the interview (an many hour tedious task) and then go forth and analyze the person based on the interview. The other two assignments were essay take home tests based on material covered in lecture and readings.

  • Biology 207 (also History 287 and Science and Technology Studies 287): Evolution TR 10:10-11:00 AM Section M 1:25-2:15 PM Prof. Will Provine: Of the four courses I took this semester, this class was the only one where I showed up to each and every lecture because Prof. Provine was a most engaging lecturer. This is not your typical science evolution course. Here, one learns the history of the debate over evolution and to be able to critically think and question arguments for and against evolution. Will Provine is always excited about the topics of his lectures and never has a dull moment in his class. Section is the forum by which students discuss and debate the issues. There were three relatively difficult papers scattered throughout the semester and about 5 required books that for the most part made for good reading. This course, especially Dr. Provine has made me really think about evolution as well as about meaning in my life. He has made me realize and affirmed what is one of the most important things in my life: friends. Thank you for teaching, Prof. Provine. I highly recommend this course for anyone who is interested in learning about the evolution of evolution.

  • Policy Analysis and Management 350: Contemporary Issues of Women's Health TR 12:20-1:35 PM Prof. Andrea Parrot: As the title suggests, this class covers a wide range of current health issues related to women. Topics include breast and cervical cancers, unhealthy behaviors, pregnancy and birth, and menopause. Perhaps the highlight of the course was the discussion on alternative medicines. Prof. Parrot touched on aromatherapy, acupressure, acupunture, herbal remedies, and natural sources of hormones and drugs. Overall, the lectures were interesting although Prof. Parrot was at times a disorganized lecturer and was a bit flighty. The class included 3 quizzes that were not too difficult, a very simple web site assignment, and a major interview research paper. I do recommend this course for anyone who is interested in women's health or is a woman as there are some very relevant and important issues.
  • In addition, for PE this semester I am taking Intermediate Swim at Helen Newman Pool. It's quite fun, except when it's really cold outside.

    Spring 1998: Well, here it is, my last semester at Cornell. I should be taking it easy, right? Nope, actually, I've decided to torture myself even more than last semester by taking 5 courses that make up 17 credits. It's more like I have to take some classes out of necessity, but I do have some fun courses. But the main twist is that I actually had real prelims this semester and huge term papers. It was a tremulous semester, but I SURVIVED it. And now I can say that I'm DONE WITH CORNELL!!! YEAH!!! But what to do after I graduate? Only time can tell. Oh well. And here is my final semester schedule:

  • History/Women's Studies 273: Women in American Society: Past and Present MW 10:10-11:00 AM Section F 9:05-9:55 AM Prof. Mary Beth Norton: I used this course to fulfill my historical breadth requirement and I must say that for me it was a worthwhile, wonderful experience. This is a survey course which covers the history of women in American from colonial times to the present. Prof. Norton is an interesting lecturer and is never boring. She emphasizes the importance of learning women's history and how little it is known by much of the public. For instance, at the beginning of the course, she "quizzed" us on dates of certain event, some specifically related to women's history and some relating to general (or what I would call male) history. People did worse in trying to date the women's events (i.e. Did you know that the first actual feminist movement began in the 1840s?). The material, while broad based provides much insight one of the many neglected subjects in American history. There is quite a bit of reading for this class and I will admit that I did not get to all of it, but most of the ones I did not read are on my summer and future reading list as they all looked so good. The sections focused mainly on the readings, which, for most of the semester, did not coincide with the time period of the lectures, but that was okay. Section was a bit tiring and many people did not talk (me included) but it was at 9 AM and I don't think many people were awake. Oh well. But overall, this was a great survey course that makes me want to go deeper into a topic in women's history. There was a term paper that allowed me to go into depth and I had lots of fun researching it (notice I did not say writing--I usually find it painful to write papers, so I guess this year I was a masochist). Overall, it definitely was worth it.

  • Biology NB (Neurobiology & Behavior) 322: Hormones & Behavior MW 11:15-12:05 PM Section F 11:15-12:05 PM Prof. Elizabeth Adkins-Regan: This course foused primarily on sexual behavior of animals (primarily vertebraes) including humans, as this is the primary research area of the professor. The course also covered other behaviors such as aggression and dominance, stress, parental behavior, biological rhytms, and learning and memory. The lectures for the most part were interesting as she discussed a number of behavioral experiments that yielded some cool results. They were well-organized and informative, although the outlines were difficult to read. The sections focused on one of three topics based on the professor's or TAs' interest. My section topic was Horomones and Life Stages. Research papers from scientific journals on puberty, aging, and life histories on various animals were read and discussed. They made for fun reading and great discussion (really they did, in terms of questioning methods and interpretation). There were three prelims and a research proposal (part of the section grade). Prof. Regan is a very kind professor who was very willing to help if you asked for it.

  • Policy Analysis and Management 205: Research Methods MW 2:55-4:10 PM Prof. William Trochim: There's something to say about a course where a significant chunk of the measures of your performance is assessed on the web. Not sure what that something is, but I'll move on anyway. About 42% of the grade from this class comes from tests that you take and submit through a restricted access page that is located on the Professor's website. The rest of the grade (65% - you wonder- why does that add up to 107%? Buffer Zone) was derived from one big make up your own research paper that was written up into 5 parts that each emphasize one part of the whole social research process. While the course has good intentions and it did give me great insight into the tremendous work researchers put into their work, there were some shortcomings. The major one was that the lectures seemed to come directly from the textbook, which is essentially a hard-copy version of an on-line text that Prof. Trochim wrote himself. It would have been interesting to lecture on related topics or extend the concepts in the book, but alas this did not happen (it could have been that there was only so much one could discuss about research methods but I'm not too sure about that). As a result, not many people showed up to the lectures. Another issue was the fact that the professor did not seem to be aware of what was happening in his course. There were just some miscues between he and the TA staff that at times were obvious from things that happened before the lectures. Lecture lasted only for about 35-40 minutes, and the rest of the time was spent either going to section or mini-lecture, a.k.a. a smaller, more interactive, focused group. However, except for the first month and a half, the mini-lectures were poorly attended as they proved pointless and unfocused. The sections were somewhat useful but only really in helping to write the paper. Perhaps they may restructure the course in the future, but they should keep the plausible fiction paper as it was a really good exercise in learning the concepts. Relative to the rest of my classes this semester, this was one of the easiest but it was very useful as I ponder entering social work in the future.

  • Nutritional Sciences 247: Food for Contemporary Living: Lecture T 9:05-9:55 AM Lab TR 10:10-12:40 PM Prof. Anne Kendall: The main purpose of this course was to demonstrate food science principles in lab. This essentially translated into cooking something and seeing what happens when you change things (i.e. baking cakes with different types of fat). In addition to altering recipes and learning about food science principles, this was a fun course where you did learn to cook. For me, anyway, it was very practical as I now knew what happened when I turned heavy cream to whipped cream and what was the best thing to do in making it. The only discouraging thing about this course was that there were lab write ups due at each lab session, but overall this was a relatively easy going and relaxed course (although others would disagree). The highlight of the course were the two meal plans, where you were allotted $4 and $3 respectively to meet the daily nutritional requirments for the entire day. Basically you had to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner under the allotted amount. And dinner was cooked in lab, which was fun as people had very creative meals. Aside from the labs there was a midterm and final, that primarily tested the food science principles (Notice I said this phrase three times, that pretty much is the course). Some people did not feel that the course was very contemporary, and I do agree as there was not a major focus on healthy eating. However, I would recommend this course if you do not mind the scientific principles, as it is somewhat relevant to life.

  • Science and Technology Studies 494: Gender & Science F 12:20-2:15 PM Prof. Charis Cussins.

  • Adding to the additional coursework, I took Advanced First Aid for PE that involves more reading and work, but it was a practical and a fun class. Perhaps, it was the most useful of all of my courses here at Cornell (definitely more relevant than orgo).
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