Lakhpreet Gill, BS ILR '09
Undergraduate Assistant for International Programs
I am a Spring ’07 undergraduate transfer student in Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School. Before coming to Cornell University, I attended Queen’s University School of Commerce in Kingston, Ontario. I always thought I wanted to go down the business path- I even used to own my own company!- but after my first year, I knew the number crunching world was not for me. I took a semester off, did some soul searching, and found myself at Cornell University.
For the first time, I was completely clueless as to what my goals were, what my purpose was, or who I would become. I had micromanaged my whole life on the presumption that I would eventually be a Wallstreet monger, but now, I just didn’t know. I allowed myself to explore a few options in the traditional ILR fields and I added a concentration in Modern European Studies, but nothing really excited me. That was until I took a chance and went on a field study trip to the US/Mexico border with Prof. Maria Cook and a few students. Here, amongst vivid visuals, probing discussions, and elevated emotions, I was yanked from of my bubble… but eager to continue learning more.
I spent the summer in Ithaca doing an Undergraduate Research Fellowship where I explored the European system and how it manages migration. The border trip showed me where my interests would lie, but my summer research taught me why I was so enraptured. That Fall, I decided I would love to do a thesis on international migration management and nation-state transformation. With the help of ILR faculty and the International Programs Department, I secured a place at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK where I will be spending my summer to further my studies and conduct fieldwork in the quaint town of Coventry before going on to Paris, France to volunteer at a migrant advocacy NGO called ADRIC.
These experiences have expanded my curiosity boundlessly. I started a blog and regularly contribute to a student run indy-media cite called World Motion - I never even used to read the newspaper. I co-authored a scholarly article that was headlined for the Cornell International Affairs Review – I’ve never considered to voluntarily write a paper before. I am putting together a speaker series on “Free Trade vs Fair Trade”- I used to co-ordinate business-networking conferences. And I once loved NAFTA. I moved into the French Language Program House where I’ve been immersed in French language, culture, movies and music. The participants are going to New Orleans for Spring Break to learn about Creole culture and the current housing situation- my spring breaks were once reserved for beaches, and sun!
My total outlook on life and future aspirations has changed for the better. I can’t express how glad I am to have transferred here. This school has given me everything I wanted from a college experience. My hope in working for the International Programs Department is to get ILR students interested in traveling abroad and help them find an experience that will instill some degree of personal growth, interest in the unknown, and compassion for the disregarded.
- Lakhpreet Gill