Milstein first-years take advantage of community, opportunity

Mia Desravines’ ’26 says her first year at Cornell has been “all about the ampersand.”

By that she means she’s had a chance to explore her interests in information science & Africana studies & technology & sociology & dance & the list goes on.

Provided Desravines

As a student in the Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity in the College of Arts and Sciences, Desravines also got the chance to meet with visiting speakers, take part in core courses and short courses and work on a community-engaged project highlighting the work of local leaders. She will also travel to New York City this summer for an immersive eight-week Milstein Program experience at the Cornell Tech Campus.

“Milstein is about community, opportunity and information,” Desravines said. “I feel like the sky is the limit and anything is possible.”

Provided Lackley

As the spring semester winds down, the first-year class of 25 Milstein students are finishing up their community projects and looking forward to their summer. Along with the Streetology project on local leaders, students are helping to create:

  • An interactive map for the Ithaca Murals project,
  • A digital story for local theatre group the Civic Ensemble,
  • 3D assets for a VR experience for a faculty project on the gardens at Pompeii,
  • Video stories for local non-profit Neighbor to Neighbor,
  • Additional site specific stories for the Voices on the Underground Railroad website and
  • A website that talks about student experiences during COVID.
Provided Best

“When I applied to Cornell, I had this project in mind,” said Gabrielle Best ’26, who’s leading the COVID stories project. “I had an interesting COVID experience and when I learned more about other people’s experiences, I found a lot of common themes.”

Best’s family moved to Florida for part of the pandemic, where much of the state remained open, but she’s talked to students who were in Seattle — the first area to close down and one of the last to open — and also in Fiji, Argentina, New Hampshire, Westchester County, Los Angeles and several other locations. The 10 interviews will be posted on a website and also become part of the Cornell archives.

Students involved in the Streetology project are converting a book containing stories written by 13 local leaders into a website.

Provided Agrawal

“A big part of this project is being able to reach people from different generations and accessibility levels, so we’re creating short videos and podcasts, as well as transcriptions,” said Arshia Agrawal ’26. “We’re also recording one author’s story in Spanish.”

Marian Caballo ’26 has led the web development side of the team because of her experience with video and audio editing. “Everyone is from different majors, so everyone brings a different skill set,” Caballo said. “I’m interested in journalism and entertainment, in using tech to help tell stories.”

Provided Caballo

During this semester, first-year Milstein students met weekly to work on their projects and check in with others. They also took part in other events including a cooking class at Morrison Hall led by chefs from Cornell Dining.

“It’s been amazing for me to have a smaller community within Cornell as you start college,” said Jane Lackley ’26. “I have a group of people I know I can go to with any question I have about college or about life.”

Milstein students will be sharing their work at the Milstein Expo 2023 from 5-6 p.m. May 5 in the Park Atrium of Statler Hall. The event is free and open to the community.

person being filmed and three other people with cameras and audio recording devices
Provided Students in the Milstein Program practice with each other before they conduct interviews with civic leaders.

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		person being filmed and three other people with cameras and audio recording devices