'I felt as though I had found a poetic community'

Sarah Sachar

College Scholar, Comparative Literature and Spanish
Potomac, Md.

Why did you choose Cornell?

My uncertainty drew me to Cornell. I started off in the College of Engineering — I was initially hoping to delve deeper into genetics, take more of the science classes that piqued my interest in high school. In addition to my enthusiasm for STEM, I knew that I wanted the opportunity to take classes in literature, in government, in Spanish. Cornell’s academic breadth, the fact that I knew I could take fantastic classes whether or not I settled on STEM or the humanities, was an instrumental factor in my decision to come to Cornell. After realizing that I found my first Spanish class, Early Modern Iberian Survey, and my FWS through the Department of Literatures in English much more exciting than my engineering classes, I transferred to A&S and knew that I had entered a space in which I could dive headfirst into my uncertainty through intellectual exploration and relish the opportunity to wander through the breadth of the curriculum under the direction of my curiosity.

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

My involvement with Marginalia: Cornell’s Undergraduate Poetry Review has been instrumental in shaping my experience at Cornell. Still feeling shaky about my transition over to the humanities, I was welcomed into Marg with open arms, and through participating in workshops, helping with the selections process during reading days and spending time with other excited poets and artists, I felt encouraged to further develop my own craft, to keep on writing. Through Marginalia, for one of the first times, I felt as though I had found a poetic community, a group of friends who were excited to stay up all night writing and collaborating in Klarman Hall, whose creative play I hope will carry beyond my time at Cornell. 

I also tutor writing through the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines. Tutoring has helped me realize that I enjoy helping writers learn to think critically and work back through their pieces, refining their writing and craft. I hope to carry with me the sharp pedagogical lessons I have received both through training and tutoring as I continue to work with writers in my future pursuits.

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

I will feel most proud about completing my senior thesis for the College Scholar Program. I  have been thinking around this collection of ideas since my sophomore year, and in many ways, turning in a finished thesis will feel like a culmination of my intellectual work at Cornell. I am excited to see it come together in its final form and share it with my peers in the College Scholar Program. 

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? What have you discovered about yourself?

I have learned how to lean into my vulnerability, to exist and write in a space of productive discomfort and to find joy in uncertainty. Coming into Cornell, I felt that I was very much a shell of myself, still in search of what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Over these past four years, I have become comfortable in my own skin; I revel in my own strangeness and look forward to sharing it with those close to me. Getting accustomed to vulnerability, that willingness to be seen, whether within my ways of being or my writing, has been instrumental in both my personal and intellectual development. 

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

My relationships with my advisors have fundamentally shaped my academic experience at Cornell. It’s strange to think back and reflect on just how far a little bit of belief and some kind words of encouragement went as I transitioned from a more STEM-focused curriculum into the humanities my sophomore year and found myself plagued with doubt, uncertain about my next steps. Without the inspiring classes that left me wanting more after each session, the motivation to push my ideas and my writing further, the extended conversations about graduate school, about pedagogy, about life outside of the university, and the careful reading and feedback offered as I work to pull together my senior thesis, I have no idea where I would be. My advisors exemplify the kind of professor I aspire to be if I make it through graduate school; their intelligence, support and care will stick with me even after my time at Cornell ends. 

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2021.

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		Sarah Sachar