Prompt: Describe two or three of your current intellectual interests and why they are exciting to you. Why will Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences be the right environment in which to pursue your interests? (Please limit your response to 650 words.)
Cornell's "right environment"
Starting at a young age, two languages were intermingled in my mind-Mandarin and its dialect of Fujianese. I began picking up on their distinct characteristics and differences as I got older: Mandarin revolved around tones to deliver a word's meaning, whereas Fujianese contained less syllables and was spoken in a single, monotone pitch. Fast forward to my kindergarten years-English began to infiltrate my mind. However, it was incalculably different from my native tongue: the 26-lettered alphabet replaced the myriad of distinctive Chinese characters, as the use of pitch shifted from grammatical connotation to expression. Not soon after followed my fourth language--Spanish. This came naturally to me, as my new foreign tongue had striking similarities to English phonemics and its Roman-inspired alphabet.
My quadrilingual aptitude sparks enthusiasm within my world-explorer soul, giving me an aspiration to learn more about the languages that surround me every second of the day. My fascination lies in the rich origins behind them, their manifestation in certain areas of the world, and why they have their respective phonemes. This intellectual desire to learn about man's most intricate form of communication-one so second nature to me-can be cultivated within Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences.
As a language aficionado, Cornell's Linguistics Department will grant me unparalleled opportunities to do investigate the development of language. While taking Introduction to Historical Linguistics, I understand how accents and dialects-like Fujianese-are formed through historical, and sociological lenses. Like biological speciation, perhaps my familiar vernacular is the result of physical separation, between the mainland Chinese and the coastal peoples. Moreover, I see myself challenging Phonology II, a more advanced linguistics course. Here, I will analyze English and Spanish sound patterns, examine their transcriptions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, and investigate their similar syntax. No other institution provides a curriculum with as much multidisciplinary depth than Cornell. This unparalleled learning experience allows me to understand more about the languages that I speak.
Cornell's myriad of opportunities doesn't stop when class does. Its focus on undergraduate research, for instance, is one of the college's most esteeming and attractive qualities. Paired with the cognitive science minor curriculum, my passion for this brainy discipline will be further explored at the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. This past summer, I pursued neurobiological research at (insert name of) Laboratory-with my first experiment investigating the development of M. musculus prefrontal cortexes as the mice organisms were conditioned to learn olfactorily, avoiding certain chemical odors. My findings illuminated the steps their human-like brains took to learn, remember, and systematized tactile stimuli. Now, at the CNL lab, I want to continue this endeavor and extrapolate my findings from (insert name of lab) towards understanding how the brain processes language. I see myself assaying brain activity using electroencephalography with Dr. Christiansen, and using eye-tracking methods to analyze learning in child volunteers with graduate researchers. With a renowned curriculum, access to research facilities and welcoming mentors, Cornell will offer me an ideal, intellectually stimulating atmosphere to blossom as a scientist. Here, I'm confident that I'll be able to answer my inquiries about my brain's capabilities in balancing four languages and how it communicates at a cognitive level.
Being a polyglot and an acclaimed child-translator for my parents has provided me with an introspection I employ in my research, as well as a love for appreciating varied experiences and perspectives within me. With Cornell's diverse student body, it's hard for me to resist this enthusiasm-I'll join the OUTreach organization, using my unique perspective of being gay in a traditional Chinese household to encourage queer acceptance and to vocalize LGBTQ+ issues. Cornell is also where I'll form a diverse friend group, be inspired by their backgrounds and life stories, dance carelessly with them to Drake at Slope Day, and even convince some of them to participate in my linguistic studies. Cornell's "right environment" is where I'll ultimately make my unforgettable memories, my lifelong friends, and my second home.