Alternative Breaks at Cornell

Guest Blogger: Leah Bossom ’17. 
Wondering what it is we Cornellians get up to during breaks? Leah, a PA and ASB/AWB coordinator talks about the amazing opportunity of Alternative Breaks at Cornell. Learn about these unique experiences to grow as a student, citizen, leader, and individual possible through Cornell and get involved in an Alternative Break this year!  

Alternative Breaks: What is it?
Alternative Spring Break, Alternative Winter Break, Alternative Breaks, whatever it is called the concept is the same: become an active citizen through education and service opportunities.
This upcoming year you will have an opportunity to apply for a week-long service trip either over winter break (January 2nd- January 9th) in Belize or one of five trips going across the U.S. over spring break (March 3rd- March 13th). Groups have about 10-15 people including co-leaders, a faculty/staff advisor, and participants.

What do you do?
I got involved with the alternative breaks program my first year at Cornell and it is an experience I will never forget. I applied in the fall and was placed on the Urban Youth and Education trip to Atlanta, Georgia. We got to work with a non-profit youth development program called Create Your Dreams and get an inside look at what school is like in Atlanta. The kids were fantastic and the director of the program was such an inspiration. Kids enrolled at CYD have a 100% high school graduation rate, which is not typical in the area. This organization is changing the odds for students in Atlanta, and they greatly appreciated the extra help with tutoring, activities, and
organizing their space.

This is just one example of what an Alternative Breaks experience looks like, but you can usually do around 40 hours of service throughout the week. That makes a huge impact when you have 10-15 people with you!

What issues can I focus on?
Trips can range anywhere from Urban Youth and Education to Disaster Relief to Animal Rehabilitation. The trip names and descriptions will be available to you at the time of application
so you can choose something that really appeals to your passion.
If you don’t have anything in particular you want to focus on, that’s okay, too! This is an amazing opportunity for you to explore service and learn more about something you didn’t know much about.
Does it cost anything?
Student Senate does a great job of covering costs for us, but we do have participant fees you must pay to have a spot on the trip. For Alternative Winter Break, it is $300 (airfare is expensive) and for Alternative Spring Break it is $100. Not too bad for travel expenses, food, and housing for a week!
Is it a major time commitment?
You will have a few meetings a block with your group to learn about your issue and the area you will be going as well as pre-trip service and fundraising, but for most people it is manageable as your co-leaders plan this according to the group’s schedule as much as possible. All the components are necessary to having a successful and meaningful service trip, so it’s well worth it!
When and how do I apply?
Applications will go out as soon as possible in the fall. AWB applications will probably be out first and ASB application out soon after. The faster we get you placed on a trip, the faster we can
start fundraising! Check social media, especially the Cornell Connects page on Facebook, fliers in residence halls, and check in the Career and Civic Engagement Center if you are confused or concerned.

Applications have questions about the service you have done in the past and why an Alternative Break is something you want to pursue. There are also general information questions about yourself. The application isn’t too time consuming, but the more thought out your answers are, the more of a chance you have to get a spot.
I hope you join the hundreds of Cornell students who have participated in this experience in the past, but when you apply – act fast! There is limited space on trips and we do our best to make
the trips available to everyone. Don’t forget about the participant fees and start saving now!Even if service isn’t something you’ve really considered in the past, it is an amazing experience that
might help you find your passion.

If you have any questions, feel free to email myself ( or Kate Brogan ( or feel free to find me during NSO or anytime during the school year.
Have a great rest of your summer and I look forward to meeting you on the Hilltop in August! -Leah

I went on an ASB trip last spring focused on food systems issues in the New Orleans area and it was one of the best Cornell experiences I have had. Service is such a big part of the Cornell community, and being involved with AWB/ASB is a great opportunity to become an educated, engaged, and active human being.


Something New I Tried on Campus

Guest Blogger: Mimi Vukelich ’17
Mimi, a PA for NSO 2015, talks about her experience trying something new on campus her freshman year and finding a passion in Mock Trial. Cornell brag: Mimi was part of our Mock Trial team that headed to Nationals this spring!

When I first came to Cornell I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be involved in. There were a few activities and organizations that interested me. People on my floor were getting involved in a wide variety of activities. I remember going to the activities fair on the OC. My friends and I circled around the OC, looking at all of the different activities. We put our names on various email lists and talked to different groups we were interested in. There is one group that, looking back, stands out in my mind but at the time it didn’t even appear on my radar; that group was Mock Trial. A week or so after the activities fair, there were flyers peppered around campus advertising Mock Trial try outs. I read them but didn’t really process what I was reading or consciously think I was going to try out. The tryout process, according to the fliers, involved a brief speech period followed by an interview. Continue reading Something New I Tried on Campus

Student Org Spotlight: BACO

Kayla Morton ’16, shares about BACO (Black Awareness Cultural Organization), one of the most active and multicultural student orgs at Cornell. BACO’s commitment to education, community, and celebration of diversity serves the entire Cornell campus in bringing awareness and understanding to black issues and developing a campus with cultural competency.

Continue reading Student Org Spotlight: BACO

Local Banks and ATMs

Guest Blogger: Gabe Flippo ’16
Gabe Flippo, a PA from the senior class, shares a Cornell insider’s tips to local banks and ATMS for incoming Cornellians. 

Money is important! Everybody needs money. However, on top of needing money, you need to be able to access your money. Out of all of my friends and fellow students at Cornell College, I have had a very pleasant experience using banks and ATMS throughout my three years so far at Cornell. There are three main reasons behind this:
1. I avoid fee charges that many ATM’s carry
2. I have an Mt Vernon Bank account and
3. I learned to budget my money.
This blog post will explain how to have the best banking and ATM experience using some helpful tips I’ve learned over the years. Continue reading Local Banks and ATMs

Student Org Spotlight: TWRG

Guest Blogger: Hannah Warner ’17, a TWRG e-board officer–

Third Wave Resource Group (TWRG) serves as an on-campus resource for activism and support for third wave feminism on campus and in the surrounding community. We are activists who examine issues of race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class through a feminist lens. Continue reading Student Org Spotlight: TWRG

Choosing a Cell Phone Plan for Cornell

Guest Blogger: Halee Schomberg ’16
Wondering about how to stay connected on campus so that you can roam without your cell phone doing the same? Senior PA Halee has compiled a guide to cell phone plans and the Mount Vernon area.

With summer here and your college decision made, you’re probably thinking that you’ve got everything figured out for the fall. You’ll soon start checking off items like: comforter, rug, fan, and everything else on the college’s list of “things to bring”. But something that isn’t on that list that is definitely worth thinking about is: which cell phone plan do you have? This may seem like a strange question, I mean, how would your phone plan affect the start of your college experience at Cornell? Well, it just might. It depends if you mind seeing this on your phone screen every time you go to make a call or send a text.

cell phone 2Now, don’t panic. Here are a few friendly tips that will help you in deciding if your cell phone is Cornell College ready or not.

Continue reading Choosing a Cell Phone Plan for Cornell

Using Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar: the Cornell “cloud”

Guest Blogger: Brian Hixon-Simeral ’16, a PA for NSO 2015

Using Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar

This topic may seem pretty easy for some of you, but for everyone out there that hasn’t had the means,opportunity, or need to use Gmail, Google Drive, and the Google Calendar, here’s a brief blog post to help you out. Continue reading Using Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar: the Cornell “cloud”

FREE Microsoft Products for Cornell Students

New and Returning students! Did you know you can download MS Office Suite for free with your Cornell account?!

Director of IT Mike Cereveny emailed all students about it earlier this summer, but if you missed it, here’s what to know: Continue reading FREE Microsoft Products for Cornell Students

What to Bring and What Not to Bring to Your First Year at Cornell

Guest Blogger: Hope Cotter, PA from the class of 2018

New students, are you starting to wonder about what to bring to campus in the fall? Hope Cotter, a PA and sophomore student has compiled an insider’s list of all you could possibly need. The fun part–making your own list for what you want to bring from home, pick up at Target once you get here, and Jenga-into your family’s car for move in day. Read over Residence Life’s details on What’s Provided and What to Bring here. My recommendations are to consider what you will actually use, wear, and want on a daily basis. Talk to your roommate and really consider adjusting to sharing space and a new environment when considering any big ticket items. Everyone’s packing list is going to be different–if you’re filling up a minivan or have one bag off your flight in Cedar Rapids, remember that you will be able to get to a store if you forget something or decide you need something else–Target runs are a Cornell favorite pastime!–and your room will start to feel like home soon!  From three years of experience moving in and out of Cornell: I recommend packing the essentials first, then figuring out realistically how much else you want to pack, move-in, and unpack. The basics: beds are Twin XL, bring what you’ll use on a daily basis, a surge protector, a daily planner and Nalgene water bottle (Cornellian’s favorite accessories!) and you’ll figure it out from there!–Laura 

Here’s the list Hope (an admitted overpacker!)–compiled:
What to Bring and What Not to Bring to Your First Year at Cornell Continue reading What to Bring and What Not to Bring to Your First Year at Cornell

First-Year Housing Info

First Years! Remember to fill out your housing preference forms through the Admitted Students checklist! You can update your preferences through Sunday, July 5.

To learn more about the residence halls for first years and more Res Life info, check out the fall opening information on the Residence Life website and stay tuned for more posts regarding Res Life, recommended packing lists, move in day, etc! Incoming new and transfer students should check their emails frequently for more updates on NSO and fall info. Housing assignments will be distributed by email around mid-July.

Here are some highlights on the First Year housing options: Continue reading First-Year Housing Info