When I was younger I struggled with the words mine and my. I would feel almost embarrassed to claim possessions as my own. As I’ve grown older the things that are mine were earned through my own hands, my own mind, and the expression of that work is my pride. This is how I feel thinking of Cornell and every single person who walks its campus. They are mine: the people I love and those I’ve only glimpsed on the sidewalk; the sunsets over West Campus and the blizzards that hide the sun from view. I’ve earned the right to be among them, because I’ve stamped my love here time and time again, I’ve signed it into every assignment I’ve turned in, every hour I’ve spent in the library stacks, every tennis ball I’ve picked up at practice and every time I’ve answered the question: So where do you go to school?
My senior year I spent five months at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There, as a foreigner and outsider, my connection to Cornell became the strongest. I was Cornell to these people; I was the only representation of Cornell they’d ever known. I was Cornell’s adventurous spirit when we pulled the car off to the side of the highway and crested an unmarked mountain to find the best panoramic view. I was Cornell’s environmental voice when I spent lunchtimes washing reusable dishes that replaced the cafeteria’s throwaway plastic containers, and I was Cornell’s humanitarian plea when I participated in an initiative to raise money for the fight against poverty. Now when I think of my Cornell, it’s interspersed with the newfound love I have for my semester in New Zealand, which gave me the opportunity to really miss the campus high above Cayuga’s waters.
Lauren Frazier was a winner of the “My Cornell” Writing Contest held by the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee and the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines.