'I presented my research at national conferences'

Thea McKenna

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Why did you choose Cornell?

I loved the combination of a fast-paced learning environment with the slowness of the beautiful

person next to poster at conference

nature surrounding Cornell. The gorges and parks provide a soothing deep breath when classes and extracurriculars become overwhelming, and serve as a counterpoint and tether to reality that is much needed during a stressful prelim season. I love that you have access to nature right on campus.

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

I was on the women's varsity swim team for three years, and have joined the club swim team in my last year at Cornell. Swimming as a sport has been such a joy; I started competitively at five years old and haven't stopped since. I've learned so many lessons in the pool and gained friendships and a sense of community as well. I love the grind of practicing and the adrenaline of competing, and I will continue swimming even after I leave Cornell.

woman swimming

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

There are almost too many to choose! One that sticks out is eating Thai food on a warm fall night on the Slope with my friends. We laughed constantly and had a delightful time in the warmth.

woman with two cats

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

I'm most proud of the research projects I was involved in. I got to delve into a variety of topics, from exoplanet atmospheres, detection, and orbits, to planetary surface processes and geophysics in our solar system. I presented my research at national conferences and explained my work to other scientists in the field. I am also equally proud of how I handled the many challenges and obstacles I've faced as a student at Cornell. It was very hard at times, but I kept moving through it, striving to become a better person and researcher, and learned so much through the hardest parts of my journey.


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		Thea McKenna