Academics


Student Highlights: Sara Martinez

Photo of Sara Martinez

Sara Martinez, pictured in Ithaca's DeWitt Park, spent four years playing the flute in Cornell's Big Red Marching Band.

Major: History
College: Arts and Sciences
Hometown: Santa Paula, Calif.

Why did you choose Cornell?
Mostly because of a gut feeling: I knew when I first glimpsed a picture of the clock tower. The incredibly beautiful campus, the unbeatable financial aid package and the wide variety of majors (I came in undecided but with astronomy in mind) reassured me of my decision.

Main Cornell extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
The Big Red Marching Band for four years. At first it was just a continuation of music (playing flute), as I've been in band since fourth grade, but it is so much more than a musical ensemble. The band upholds Cornell tradition and becomes a family to people of incredibly diverse backgrounds and characters. I've met some of my best friends there. The feeling of being part of the only real marching band in the Ivy League is beyond description. I'm going to miss you guys.

Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
During the winter break sophomore year, I had my mid-college crisis. The previous three semesters I had followed my plan to be an astronomy major, but I realized I didn't like physics or math enough to continue on that path. Then I got a job at Mann Library as a conservation student assistant and had also taken a class on material culture taught by Professor Eric Tagliacozzo. Because of these and a few other reasons, I became a history major; in retrospect this turning point allowed me to establish my future career goals.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?
The Committee on Special Educational Projects influenced my education the most. The Prefreshman Summer Program provided me and others with a support system and an advanced look to what Cornell was like and what it expected, without which I would have either failed or dropped out.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
A marching band road trip to Columbia University: Winning the game in the last 10 minutes followed by a parade just for us down Fifth Avenue, what could beat that? The freshman-year snowball fight with the drum line on Rawlings Green and junior year Montreal trip also top the list.
I also loved the winters here. Every year when people could not wait for spring, I hoped for more snow! I'm going to miss how the Arts Quad looks with snow covering the grass.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
Get my master's in museum studies, during which time I will have to decide whether to go into conservation or administration. Hopefully I'll be in Boston, as I want to stay on the east coast.