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Luyuan Xing of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. (born in Changshu, China), studied comparative literature, German studies
Why did you choose Cornell?
I wanted to study architecture. I knew that Cornell had the best program but didn't allow myself to get my hopes up. After receiving a scholarship from a school in California, I thought I was set. Two months later, I was diagnosed with leukemia and told that I had to defer college for at least a year for intensive chemotherapy treatment. California was now too far, but then came a surprise from Cornell - I was absolutely delighted!
Main Cornell extracurricular activity -- why is it important to you?
I play chamber music, take piano lessons and sing in Chorale. Music has always been the best way for me to get away from the books for a while and to refocus my energy.
While at Cornell, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?
I am proud just to be graduating, especially after transferring colleges and completing two majors in two years. After relapsing at the end of my sophomore year, I had to get bone marrow transplant. The whole process was so exhausting and I felt so defeated that I doubted whether I was capable of finishing college at all. Since then, I have done a lot of course work and realized only last semester that I have completed enough credits to earn a second major in German studies. I think only at Cornell can such a thing be possible! Aside from academics, I am proud of my work for the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. It was an eye-opening experience that was as challenging as it was rewarding. My background knowledge in music, as well as my language skills was put to use, and I learned that analytical and critical skills for literary studies can be applied to the real world. I did a lot of work for the foundation's new website, and also the Young Scholars program, which gives scholarships and all sorts of study and performance opportunities to deserving young musicians.
Your most profound turning point while at Cornell?
Last spring, everything I was studying began cohere - I spoke up in class more frequently, got my first A+, raised my GPA significantly, played a solo recital for the first time in four years and was accepted to the Telluride House.
Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
After my relapse, I realized I had been investing my college education into a projected future career, and in doing so was sacrificing my interests. When illness was threatening the very existence of that future, I decided to focus on the present and do what I enjoyed the most. I decided to transfer into Arts and Sciences for comparative literature, continue with German, study classical Chinese and play music again.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
After graduation, I will continue to work for Lang Lang International Music Foundation, developing innovative music education programs for public schools. I think that graduate school is in the cards for me, but I'm looking forward to first getting some work experience and seeing more of the world before committing myself to a graduate degree.
What Cornell-related scholarships/special financial benefits did you receive?
I received generous financial aid all four years. Without it I doubt that I would have been able to get a college education at all. I have also received a full room and board scholarship as a resident of the Telluride House, which has been an amazing experience.