Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
When Susannah Faulkner came to Ithaca College, she knew she was interested in politics. She didn’t know that a food allergy would lead to a passion for activism.
“As a freshman, I came into Ithaca having a severe intolerance to gluten,” Susannah recalls. “Eating in the dining hall is such a social experience, and it was really hard for me because I’d have to bring bread in the dining hall and worry about cross-contamination.”
Through her frustration, Susannah saw an opportunity to help other students. She successfully ran for Student Government Association senator for her class. “My main platform was promoting celiac awareness and food allergy awareness on campus, except I literally had no idea it would turn into my calling of some sort.”
Susannah worked with IC staff to change the menu, with supportive professors to encourage her along the way. “My academic adviser, Kelly Dietz in the politics department, was the most incredible mentor a young, passionate, driven student could ask for. Any time I threw a crazy idea at her, she would tell me how to make it happen.”
In November 2009, the gluten-free pantry opened in the Campus Center Dining Hall. “Because Ithaca is such an inclusive community, it’s so welcoming, and it’s so open to change, I was able to put forth this idea and actually see results.”
Her political path did not end there. As a senior, Susannah was elected vice president of campus affairs and co-founded the Food Allergy Awareness Club. Thanks to her efforts, there is now a gluten-free pantry in every dining hall on the Ithaca College campus. “I can’t imagine doing this anywhere else. I was in the perfect place at the perfect time in the perfect community to make a change that was really needed.”
After graduation, Susannah was recruited by Udi’s Gluten Free Foods as their university outreach specialist. The passion she found at IC has become her full-time career—leading a gluten-free revolution on campuses across the country.
“I work with interns who remind me so much of myself during my time at Ithaca,” she says. “They’re this little army of gluten-free warriors.”
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
Eric Leibensperger was always interested in outdoorsy things, and at Ithaca College he became even more interested in the environment. “I eventually double majored in physics and chemistry to learn how to apply science to environmental issues,” he says.
Eric recently completed his Ph.D. at Harvard, and he credits his experiences in Ithaca’s science departments with giving him the ideal foundation for success.
“In a Ph.D. program you’re doing research all the time, and Ithaca was great preparation for that. I did research nearly every semester, and I learned the fundamentals for everything. I learned to think logically. I learned to write and present research. And when you do research at Ithaca, you work side-by-side with faculty and get lots of hands-on experience. At Harvard, that gave me a big leg up on students who’d been undergrads at large research universities but didn’t have that kind of experience,” he observes.
Eric’s doctoral thesis examines climate change from two sides of a coin—how climate affects air quality and how air quality affects climate.
“My field—atmospheric chemistry—straddles chemistry and physics, so my Ithaca majors were the perfect fit. I’ve just begun a postdoctorate program at MIT, looking at similar issues in the stratosphere. Long term, I’d like to become a professor,” he says.
Eric points out that while Ithaca is a great place to learn science, it’s not just a science school. There are plenty of opportunities to explore other disciplines and pursue personal passions, too.
“I was really into music before coming to IC, and I knew it was a really strong college for that. I took music classes right along with the music students, and played bass in a jazz ensemble. That kind of balance helps you manage your time and stay sane. At Ithaca, you really get the whole experience.”
>> More on this story: Undergraduate Research at IC: Learn by Doing
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