Graduate Ambassador at Cornell University
Graduate Program: Nutrition, Ph.D.
Anticipated Graduation Date: 2024
Institution: California State University, Long Beach
Major: Dietetics & Food Administration
I am a Filipino American; born in the Philippines and raised in CA. My childhood experiences with food has led me to pursue degrees and a research career in nutrition & dietetics led by a mindset of cultural humility. Some of my favorite hobbies include trying new recipes and practicing calligraphy.
There are three main reasons why I chose Cornell for my PhD. 1) The first is my advisor. Not only did our research interests align, but our personal values did too. We approach our work in obesity prevention and health equity with the same passion and energy, and at the same time believe in setting boundaries and that there is more to our identities than just our work. Most importantly, during the interview process, he talked to me as if he were my colleague, not my boss. Immediately, he established a symbiotic relationship where both of us would learn from each other. I wanted to be part of a lab that would appreciate my contributions and grow from them. 2) Secondly, I wanted to get out of sunny SoCal. As much as it is the ideal place to be, it became too familiar and I wanted something new. Cornell and the city of Ithaca definitely provided an exciting and different experience from nature walks to snow days to the dependence on public transit. 3) Lastly, I knew attending Cornell was going to challenge me. I wanted to be surrounded by thoughtful discussions and great minds who were deeply invested in their work. At the same time, I knew I was going to be surrounded by a supportive community to get me through this long and difficult journey.
I am currently a part of a lab whose research goal is to develop socio-ecological strategies and efforts focused on food and nutrition to prevent childhood obesity and advance health equity. Our efforts mainly target food and nutrition security. Personally, I am interested in how intersecting identities play a role in dietary behaviors in immigrant families and addressing social issues and barriers that hinder these individuals from achieving sustainable change in their health.
Attending this institution has been a challenging yet incredible experience. Because my entire training is personalized, I am acquiring knowledge and skill beyond my nutrition background that has helped me become a better researcher. The graduate courses are difficult but manageable and discussions are insightful. The campus is beautiful, everyone is friendly and supportive, and I feel inspired every day I’m at Cornell.
Graduate school is a major investment, and you should only consider it if you are absolutely certain that it is what you want to do. If you do decide to apply for graduate school, explore as early as possible - and I mean 1-2 years before applying. Initiate conversations with current graduate students and even alumni about their experiences inside and outside their respective universities. Especially talk to faculty. If able, visit the campuses and experience what graduate school may look like for you. This was the most valuable experience for me (I visited Cornell during the winter and immediately saw myself thriving here! It also helped me identify specific reasons for applying to the university.) Investing in this process and conducting extensive research before the application period will help narrow your choices to several programs. In which case, you can refine and cater your applications to the uniqueness of each program, saving you time and money.