'I'm a tutor in Cornell's Friends of Farmworkers program'

Ben Caplan

Spanish & Mathematics
Fairport, N.Y.

Why did you choose Cornell?

Being from upstate New York, Cornell was always on my radar because of its academic reputation, but what really impressed me was the natural beauty in and around Ithaca. The gorges, the flowers and the sunsets here are all incredible, and I love how the Cornell campus blends together with places like Beebe Lake and the Botanic Gardens.

person on desert-like hiking trail

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

I'm incredibly fortunate to be a tutor in Cornell's Friends of Farmworkers program, which connects students with farmworkers and their families around upstate NY to provide volunteer English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. This experience has helped make me aware of the enormous privilege that comes with English-language fluency in the United States, something that I once took for granted. I'm grateful to have met amazing people through the program and take pride in helping them reach their language learning goals. In the future, I hope to continue to grow as a language educator and advocate for underserved communities.

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

person standing below a bridge

A&S has given me the chance to dialogue with a dazzling array of thinkers whose backgrounds and world views are vastly different from my own. It's given me the confidence to speak up and, even more importantly, the awareness to listen. We are all "&something;" learning about who people are, what they value and why they think the way they do is both beautiful and vital to making progress.

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

person on top of mountain

I'm most proud of the moments where I took an active role in improving my Cornell experience. In particular, I made three critical decisions that profoundly transformed my time here: taking a mental health leave my freshman year, internally transferring to A&S my sophomore year and studying abroad my junior year. These were not easy decisions by any means, and looking back I'm incredibly grateful to have made them. Recognizing that I needed something different and then following through to create that change was (and continues to be) an immensely empowering process for me.


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		Ben Caplan