Student Highlights: Jeannine Altavilla

Photo of Jeannine Altavilla

Jeannine Altavilla in in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, where she spent the spring semester in the Cornell in Rome program.

Major: Urban and regional studies
College: Architecture, Art and Planning
Hometown: LaGrangeville, N.Y.

Why did you choose Cornell?
The Urban and Regional Studies (URS) program gave me a small, close-knit community in the huge arena of all of the other experiences Cornell had to offer.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
The Cornell Wind Ensemble. I love the level of musicianship at Cornell and the opportunities I've had here. I've traveled to Costa Rica with the ensemble, where we donated instruments to schools in impoverished communities, led workshops for the children and performed, spreading the ability to play and our love of music with children less privileged than we. The group has definitely been a source of friends, comfort and memories for me at Cornell.

Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Creating a vision plan for a community center in Collegetown. The final project is a profile of amenities that we think would benefit the Collegetown area for the students and for local residents. We have presented this project to various Cornell administrators and received positive feedback, though there is no definite outcome yet. The process helped me experience one type of work within my major.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?
The Cornell in Rome program. I studied Italian in high school and have taken courses in Italian every semester at Cornell. The program has been a perfect joining of my passion about Italian language and culture with all of my coursework in URS. In a workshop in Rome we had firsthand experience examining, documenting and exploring small neighborhoods in the city, figuring out what defines the neighborhood. It was a great way to explore the cultural barriers in a new way.
Also the Cornell Ambassadors organization, which works with students who are looking at Cornell as a college choice. I've gotten to help with Cornell Days, running events like bowling and helping organize volunteers, and work on the Steering Committee.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
There are a million and one Cornell moments that I treasure. One stands out from Cornell Days before my freshman year: After the ridiculously long and arduous hike up McGraw Tower for a chimes concert, the views and the great atmosphere that I felt from atop the hill definitely made me fall in love with Cornell.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Graduating a year early, I am excited to remain at Cornell next year to work on a master's in regional planning. At the moment I hope that this will help lead me into the field of community development in planning.