Ana Penavić: 'My most treasured memory? Folk music on Sunday nights'

Ana penavic​

Why did you choose Cornell?

Ice cream! I love ice cream so much that I actually wrote part of my college statement about how I would be able to continue my passion for eating ice cream at Cornell. Of course, after doing my research, I became aware of the even more amazing things Cornell offers to its students, like its beautiful location, the faculty and a stellar religious studies program.​

What was your favorite class and why?

You know the movie "Accepted" with Justin Long where he creates his own college? The classes in that movie never seemed real in that they were too good to be true. Introduction to Religious Studies is the type of course I thought only existed in these types of movies–the eccentric teacher, the contemplative field trips and the yummy cooking classes. This was the first class I took at Cornell and from the first day I knew that this was what college was all about. The topics that I was introduced to in this class still resonate throughout my life today. This course inspired me to become a vegetarian. It allowed me to understand how every day facets of life can connect to religious identity, from apple trees to organ donors, from fearless goats that eat your boots to fast fashion. The religious studies program is defined by this interdisciplinary method of teaching and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Ana with a horse
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

Bound for Glory without a doubt. Every Sunday night, I would venture to the Alternatives Library at Anabel Taylor Hall and listen to folk music performers. Phil Shapiro started this concert 53 years ago as a Cornell student and never stopped creating and archiving a medium that speaks to the beauty of the soul. I would go with two of my closest friends and these nights were something that I always looked forward to, no matter the upcoming life stressors, be they exams, personal issues, or spontaneous bad weather outbreaks. Being able to enjoy these intimate concerts with the kindest old people from Tompkins County reminded me that life is here to be enjoyed with the people we love (and that bagpipes are the best instrument).

How have your beliefs or perspectives changed since you first arrived at Cornell? What have you discovered about yourself?

The summer before starting Cornell, my dad and I talked about who I was as a person. We strongly argued, i.e. yelled, that I leap into things without thinking. This hasn’t changed. I am so proud of who I am, and who I grew into, and am still growing. Cornell allowed me to grow into the best version of myself. I still want to leap into new adventures without thinking of the consequences but now have more life skills and training to support these decisions. Cornell is any person, any study. That “any person” is true regardless of how you grow. The person you entered into Cornell as will change, but don’t be afraid to embrace the new experiences and just leap into it. I promise that you’ll come out the other side a stronger version of yourself.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

So many things! Remember that Cornell isn’t just a stop-over to the next big thing. Enjoy the moments you make with friends and the things you learn outside the classroom. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors. Don’t push yourself towards a goal that doesn’t sit right with you. Never doubt your enrollment here. Cornell’s motto is "any person, any study" for a reason. Cut yourself some slack your freshman year. It’s going to be a hard adjustment, but it’s the first adjustment of many in your long life. Study abroad, the sooner the better. Studying abroad in my sophomore year influenced my studies at Cornell. It cemented what I wanted to learn, while also making me aware of even more opportunities available on campus.
Also, spend a summer at Cornell! You won’t regret the sun-filled evenings and the afternoon swims at all the beautiful parks. Climb the clock tower sooner rather than later (you never know when a global pandemic will shut down campus!). Tell your friends how much they mean to you. Eat healthy!!! But also don’t regret the late night mac and cheese and ramen noodle binges. And finally, trust yourself.

Where do you dream to be in 10 years?

I’m not sure at the order of these plans, but I know I want to do the Peace Corps; attend an Indonesian art school through the Darmasiswa Program; receive my Master’s Degree from Leiden University; and go to cooking school because coronavirus has me baking every single day. Mostly though, I’ve dreamt about working for National Geographic since I was in sixth grade so I want to end up on one of their expedition boats to travel and continue learning about the cultures of the world.

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		 Ana Penevic