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.
As an Academic Enrichment Services tutor, writing center tutor, and teaching assistant at Ithaca College, Julia Becker has enjoyed helping other students on their paths to success. Her plan after graduation is to become an English teacher—but when she came to IC, she was unsure about her direction.
Julia entered Ithaca College’s Exploratory Program, which gives students up to four semesters before declaring a major to take courses across IC’s five schools, receiving focused advisement and mentoring along the way. “I’m an organized person, so not knowing what I wanted to do was kind of stressful,” Julia says. “The Exploratory Program at IC gave me a direction and a plan to get me going on a path that felt right.”
As a sophomore, Julia explored English as a possible major. “I took Intro to Poetry and [Approaches to] Literary Theory, and it just clicked. I hadn’t taken an English class since high school, and once I settled into it I realized that’s where I was supposed to be.”
As part of the Ithaca College Honors Program, Julia took her newfound love for English to the source with a semester abroad in London, England. Through an independent study course of her own creation, Julia collaborated with IC professor Robert Sullivan on his literary work. She spent weeks in the Rare Books Reading Room of the British Library, transcribing an original work by Renaissance-era humanist Sir Thomas Elyot. Julia and Professor Sullivan will eventually create a modern critical edition of the 16th-century book.
“Having the chance to work on something so unique that will result in a publication credit to my name is a valuable experience that I never imagined I could have as an undergraduate.”
Discovering her passion for English made Julia realize she wants to share it with others. She was accepted to the educational nonprofit Teach for America, and will be teaching English to secondary school students in a disadvantaged area after graduation. She also plans to pursue an English Ph.D. to become a professor.
“Working closely with students at Ithaca to help them excel and teach them important skills has been a rewarding experience. It has helped prepare me for the teaching that I’ll be going on to do in the future.”
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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