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Student Highlights: Corissa Lee
Major: Materials science and engineering
Hometown: Gresham, Ore.
Why did you choose Cornell?
For its well-known engineering program. Also, being from the West Coast, I wanted to experience the other side of the country.
Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
Water polo – it kept me sane at Cornell, giving me that outlet to stay in shape, de-stress and hang out with friends. In the fall I coach the Cornell men's water polo team. I love traveling with the team, encouraging inexperienced players and learning about a new aspect of leadership. In the spring I am captain and president of the Cornell women's water polo team. Water polo takes up lots of my time, with practices almost every night and tournaments on weekends. At times it was hard, but it was a much-needed break from school.
Grace Christian Fellowship – This is where my closest friendships have developed. My fellowship helped me grow spiritually and has also supported me during many of the most stressful times at Cornell.
Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
When I earned my first A in an engineering course. Freshman year was packed with physics and math, and no matter how hard I worked, I struggled with grades. I began to develop an attitude of hopelessness toward school. Fall of my sophomore year, I took my first course in materials science and engineering, and when my hard work resulted in an A, my attitude changed. Since then I've excelled in MS&E, which has helped me fall in love with the major. As my interest in my major and courses became more genuine, the idea of grades being life or death went away.
Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering here. It is small, [so] you don't get lost in the crowd. I have had the opportunity to develop real relationships with my professors. I feel no hesitation to walk right into their offices and ask them questions about homework, courses I should take or even what I should do with my life. The small size of the department has allowed me to honestly feel like I am a part of it, which I feel has truly influenced my Cornell education.
While at Cornell, what other accomplishments are you most proud of?
Being voted Player of the Year for the New York Division as a freshman, and then again as a sophomore on the women's water polo team.
What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Working toward a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign to pursue my interest in polymer science.