LAURA WILKINSON: Laura Wilkinson, Cornell Johnson School of Business, 1985, Cornell Law School, 1986.
SPEAKER: And how is it you happened to choose Cornell? Did you decide to do one degree and then you said, well, I'm here, I'll do the other? How did all that come about?
LAURA WILKINSON: Well, I was interested in doing both law and business, and so I applied to law schools and business schools. And I was accepted at both of those schools separately at Cornell. And I also decided to go to Cornell, because my brother was already there. He was studying architecture as an undergraduate. And he told me it was a great place and that I should come and join him at Cornell. So those factors all brought me to Cornell, and I had a great experience.
SPEAKER: You've been very active in alumni affairs. Did you, were you are active right from the beginning after having graduated? Or did you sort of drift away and then come back?
LAURA WILKINSON: No, I had drifted away. I always had an affinity for Cornell and was involved in some social activities, in part, because of my brother. But I really had drifted away a bit. I came up for recruiting efforts, and that led to some panel discussions and that sort of thing, being invited back by the school So then I started getting more and more involved in alumni activities.
SPEAKER: What were those recruiting efforts? Were those for minority students or what?
LAURA WILKINSON: Recruiting efforts for my employers, for the Federal Trade Commission and for the law firm I was working with.
SPEAKER: So on this business of being involved in the school, which you have been, what was your motivating factor to get more involved in Cornell activities?
LAURA WILKINSON: I gained so much from Cornell, and I really wanted to give back, to be involved with the university in whatever capacities were useful. But also, because I enjoy being around Cornellians.
SPEAKER: Looking back on your years there, and I guess you were there maybe three, three, four years.
LAURA WILKINSON: Four years.
SPEAKER: Anything stand out in your memory about your activities there, whether they were intellectual or some fun events? Anything that when you think about Cornell, you remember that?
LAURA WILKINSON: Well, in addition to the law school and the business school, I was also involved in my sorority while I was at Cornell, which kept me engaged with the undergraduate sorority members. I then chartered a chapter for the sorority, as well, on the graduate level. So that kept me busy running that chapter as its first president, as well as serving as a graduate advisor for the undergraduates, all while doing my own studies. So those are things that stand out for me about my Cornell experience.
SPEAKER: And what's the name of that sorority? Does it still exist?
LAURA WILKINSON: Oh, of course, yes. It's Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and in fact, my niece, who's now at Cornell, has joined the sorority in that same chapter where I was graduate advisor.
SPEAKER: I'm going to turn now to PCCW and your involvement there. And of course, you were one of the PCCW presidents, and an outstanding one, if I might add. Can we talk a little bit about PCCW and what you think it brings to the campus in terms of service to the university?
LAURA WILKINSON: I think that PCCW does quite a bit for the university. Of course, just by its presence, by having an organization of outstanding women affiliated with Cornell, who are all Cornell alumni, I think that in itself is important. But in addition, we provide services to the university through the grants that we give to students, to student organizations, to administration, all of those things are very important to the university.
We're also involved in looking at the diversity issues that face the university and providing input on those areas. All of those things I think, are in line with the university priorities, and are important for the university.
SPEAKER: Let me circle back once again to the university per se. Do you think that Cornell and your education, whether it was in law or business, did it have any not just an impact on you, but do you think it shaped you in your intellectual view of the world and in your professional activities?
LAURA WILKINSON: Well, of course. The Cornell training and background has been important for me professionally. The law degree teaches you to be analytical, but I think that Cornell made a good impression on me in terms of not only my analytical thinking, but just the way I interact with the world and my clients, because of the business background that I also obtained at Cornell. And seeing the world through both the business and the law side is really important professionally and in other aspects as well.
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Former PCCW president Laura Wilkinson, J.D. '85, M.B.A. '86, reflects on how she chose Cornell, her memories of the university, and how Cornell has shaped her life both personally and professionally.
The President's Council of Cornell Women is a group of highly accomplished alumnae working to enhance the involvement of women students, faculty, staff, and alumnae as leaders within Cornell University and its many communities.