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Konstantin Drabkin of Brooklyn, N.Y. (Born in St. Petersburg, Russia), studied government
Why did you choose Cornell?
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on my hometown, my heart swelled with American pride. I could not believe that someone could inflict so much pain on such a great country that had been nothing but kind and hospitable to my family. Making the choice to go to college and therefore delay entering the military at a time when my country needed me was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. Once I decided on college, I looked for an academically rigorous school with a Naval ROTC unit. Cornell fit the profile as the only Ivy League university with representatives from all three branches of the military. Four years later, I am glad that I came here. While I was skeptical about the so-called unquantifiable out-of-class benefits in the brochures, I learned much more at Cornell than what was on the exam, and through this personal growth will be a better asset to the U.S. military and a better person.
Main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
My time at Cornell Navy ROTC. I will never cease to be inspired by the sacred trust placed in me by the American people. It was an honor and a privilege to wear the Navy uniform on campus and carry the Navy flag during parades and ceremonies.
While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Serving as chairman of the College Republicans; helping raise $55,000 to bring in one of my heroes, Elie Wiesel; meeting the governor of Puerto Rico; and staying true to myself through four years of college.
Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Finding my voice to stand up for what I believe ... in a freshman writing seminar. I learned from the instructors that at their core, reasonable beings will listen to your argument if it is grounded in fact. While at times it may seem easier to remain silent, even those who disagree with you will respect you for having the courage to stand up for your principles.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy attending flight school in Pensacola, Fla. In 10 years I hope to still be serving this great nation as a naval aviator.
Who or what at Cornell influenced your Cornell education the most?
While I will be eternally grateful for the ways that countless Cornell students, faculty and staff impacted my life, my Cornell experience would not have been the same without Professor Isaac Kramnick and Capt. Larry Olsen. Professor Kramnick is my academic adviser and mentor. Through his genuine respect for all viewpoints he encouraged a real marketplace of ideas and taught me how to listen. Capt. Olsen was my NROTC commander. His incredible example of servant leadership and heartfelt care for humanity will remain the standard for me as a Naval officer and as a human being for the rest of my life.
What Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
The NROTC scholarship was a blessing. I would not have been able to afford Cornell without it.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
Commissioning as an officer in the U.S. Navy with my family by my side and my friends in the audience.