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Nathaniel Houghton of Orchard Park, N.Y., studied policy analysis and management
Why did you choose Cornell?
For its beautiful campus and the possibilities in the Policy Analysis and Management major. I also was aware of Cornell's service orientation, which is one of my favorite aspects of Cornell.
Main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
I spent two years as co-chair of the United Way Student Campaign, which raises more than $30,000 annually for the county's United Way. I was honored to find creative ways to fund vitally important projects in the local community. Managing Duff Ball, Cornell's senior prom and our largest fundraiser of the year, has been more or less a dream job.
While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
Being vice president for university and community relations on the Interfraternity Council and a board member for REACH, which tutors local children. Also, founding the nonprofit organization Congo Leadership Initiative that works in Kinshasa, Congo, to train young local leaders through an intensive leadership development curriculum. We had 16 Congolese students in the inaugural class, and 16 in the second class. And I am proud to have been elected to Mortar Board and to the Sphinx Head Society. Finally, completing my honors thesis on demographic changes in unmarried mothers was an enormous challenge that I am fortunate to have achieved.
Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
In the fall of my junior year, I lost the presidential election in my fraternity (Phi Kappa Tau). In retrospect, this loss was an overwhelmingly positive turning point, as it gave me a chance to reflect on my interests and role in the Cornell community. The positions I ended up with were better fits for me personally and allowed me to grow in ways that I would not have otherwise. I learned that blessings are not always as neatly packaged as we would like them to be.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be working for a few years with onewire.com, a startup in New York that is a recruitment tool that brings candidates, companies and universities together, before moving on to Harvard Business School via the 2+2 Program. In 10 years, I hope to be happily married with a family, on my way to professional success in whatever field I end up choosing and to have a positive impact on the lives of all those I encounter.
Who or what at Cornell influenced your Cornell education the most?
The men of Phi Kappa Tau represent everything that is the fraternity ideal. My brotherhood gave me my first outlets for leadership, but more importantly kept me in check when I succeeded and helped me up when I failed. Had I not joined Phi Tau, I am certain that my experience at Cornell would not have been as positive as it was. Most importantly, I know that I will have friends for the rest of my life thanks to my fraternity.
What Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
I received financial aid all four years at Cornell and could not have attended without donors' generosity. During my senior year, I received the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Scholarship as part of my financial aid package. In addition, I was a Cornell Tradition scholar for three years.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
In my senior year, the United Way Student Campaign hosted a Bailey Hall sellout A Cappella United Concert that raised more than $6,000 for United Way.