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Catherine Lussenhop of Minneapolis, Minn., studied physics
Why did you choose Cornell?
I originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but after I got to Cornell, I realized that animal science wasn't for me. I was good at physics in high school and missed it, so I switched to physics. Cornell's physics department is one of the best in the country. That's what I love about Cornell - you can't go wrong with what you do here.
Main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
My small co-ed fraternity called Sigma Chi Delta. They say there's a fraternity for everyone, and we might be the fraternity for 'everyone else.' I was one of those people who thought they would never, ever, ever go Greek; but through my frat - I've been president since last fall - I've found some of the best, diverse and most accepting people in the world. I am also the features editor for a campus newspaper called The Cornell Progressive, which has been a fun way to learn about journalism.
While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Doing research on dark matter - the 'missing matter' in the universe - researching dark matter at Columbia University summer after my junior year. I did in-depth investigations into the properties of Teflon, which was used to construct parts of the XENON100 detector.
Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
I have had an interest in science for as long as I can remember. But at Cornell, I've found that I'm more interested in the intersections of science with other spheres: social justice, activism, communication and politics.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I'll take at least a year off to work before graduate school, most likely in science, technology and energy policy. I'm not sure where I'd like to be in 10 years, but as long as it involves talking about science, I'll be happy!
Who or what at Cornell influenced your Cornell education the most?
When I first got here, I felt a sense of isolation. It seemed that everyone already had friends. I didn't feel a sense of belonging until I went to a meeting of what was then called Haven, the umbrella organization for all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer (LGBTQ) groups on campus. I was very out as a lesbian in high school, but I was dreading having to come out again to a whole new group of people. But once I found Haven, I felt a lot better about the queer community at Cornell. Haven (now called Haven: The LGBTQ Student Union) does all sorts of important work, from organizing dances to bringing excellent speakers to raising money for organizations like Sylvia's Place, an emergency shelter for LGBTQ youth. Through Haven, I got the chance to facilitate LBQ, a discussion group for lesbian, bisexual and queer/questioning women. As a facilitator, I learned how important it is for queer women at college to have a supportive community so they can know that they are not alone, even if it might feel that way at first!
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Slope Day barbecues with my fraternity brothers, going to see amazing slam poets, walks in the gorges with friends, studying at the Maté Factor on the Commons, singing along to the alma mater at Chorus and Glee Club concerts, finally seeing the new Physical Sciences Building, and a million more things that I forgot.