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My Story: Karin, Biological Sciences at Cornell

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello, my name is Karin Eger! I am an Italian citizen that grew up in Santiago, Chile where I spent my childhood at an International School. Now you can find me in Ithaca, NY studying in Olin library, playing the violin or with gloves and my hair tied at the Sondermann lab.

Why did you apply to study Biological Sciences with a concentration in Genetics at Cornell?

I was an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate working with E. coli for my Extended Essay when I realized how much I liked the combination of scientific investigation with intense academics. Designing and refining my own experiments took my mind off of the stress IB students face during their last year of high school while juggling college applications, meeting external assessment, oral commentaries, TOK and extended essay deadlines. I began to look for universities where I could be part of a research group as an undergraduate student because I learned to value the work at the lab bench as much as my academic involvement. American research universities integrate the two very well which is why I chose Cornell. There are many laboratories here willing to take in undergraduates as early as freshman year. Cornell has given me the possibility of joining a lab with great mentors that after some training, allowed me to be a near-autonomous driver of a research project within the lab. The opportunity to work closely with faculty in cutting-edge research is truly a gem valued and appreciated by students interested in delving deeper into the unknown.

What was the application process like? Do you have any advice for prospective applicants?

At first glance, the application process seems overwhelming. Aside from the common application, there are individual requirements to fulfil for each university you are applying to. My advice is to take it one step at a time. First focus on keeping your GPA high, then work on your SAT, ACT and TOEFL scores. After that start drafting a few versions of your personal statement and send them out to your Project Access mentor or anyone else you trust asking for feedback. Submit your best version, complete the common application and move on to tackle the specific requirements of each of the universities you are looking at. Work consistently and take it one step at a time – it can be done!

How are you finding your experience at Cornell so far?

I just graduated and will definitely treasure the last four years I have spent here. Being surrounded by so many intellectually driven young people is a privilege few places around the world can offer. Everyone at Cornell is highly motivated and serious about academics which is fantastic because you can be inspired and learn very much by just talking to one person. The hard part is trying be part of the top of your class and staying there. You have to push yourself to do well above the mean in core science classes like organic chemistry, biochemistry or genetics (to name a few) that are graded on a curve. You find yourself having to overcome your own obstacles time after time but in the end it pays off and you grow so much from the experience!

What is your top tip for applicants from Italy?

Write a good personal statement and remember to let your true interests and personality be reflected in your application packet. Any American university you apply to is looking for students that will match their profile and you can make that shine through your personal statement. This is where they get a glimpse on who you are beyond test scores and grades. It can really make a difference on your application outcome.

What was your experience with your Project Access mentee?

I have had a very good experience so far as a Project Access mentor. It is rewarding and fulfilling to be able to be sort of an older sibling to someone going through the exact same process, with all its fears and doubts, I was going through as a 17 year old. My mentee is very driven and independent. Her questions have always been clear and we interact mainly through Facebook chat or email. Helping her has been a pleasure and I would recommend the experience to any international college student.

Karin is from Italy and lived in Chile and is studying Biological Sciences at Cornell.

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