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.
There are no bogeys when it comes to finding a major in college. So when Adam Karnish switched from biology to chemistry and then to physics during his first two years at Ithaca College, he was never in danger of going over par.
The lifelong golfer’s fondness for math and science eventually drew him to Ithaca’s physics department. “I’ve always been a logical thinker, and physics is the study of how things work, so that really interested me,” he says.
The summer before his senior year, Adam joined an Ithaca College/Cornell research team studying the composition of an asteroid. The project required remotely accessing the controls of a telescope in Hawaii to do some of the work.
For his senior research project, Adam turned his attention to a different flying object: the golf ball. The real goal was to develop his knowledge of computer modeling software, but he took the opportunity to apply it to something he enjoyed.
After graduation, Adam landed a job with the United States Golf Association, where he now works to define individual course ratings and handicaps using statistical analysis and linear regression—skills he honed in Ithaca’s physics department.
“Within the first 10 years, a new golf course goes through big changes,” Adam says. “Trees, grasses, speed of the green—it evolves dramatically.” Because of that, a course needs to be rated at least three times in its first 10 years of existence, he says, and then once every 10 years after.
Theoretical scores produced from the course rating are compared to actual golfers’ scores to determine the course handicap. Those results are fed back into the course rating system.
“If the score is affected more by shots near the green, or by the difficulty of the contours of the green, that information needs to be weighed more heavily to reflect the actual scores made by players,” Adam says.
Adam also teaches course rating and handicap systems at golf courses around the country. Giving research presentations as a student helped prepare him for this aspect of the job, too.
“One thing I really learned at Ithaca was how to speak in front of a group of people and explain my thoughts clearly, in an organized manner, to convey whatever message I'm trying to bring to the audience,” he says.
>> More on this story: How to Get Involved in Research
Five months after graduating from Ithaca, Tom Healy was working with the search and rescue team in California’s Yosemite National Park when he got a call that a woman had fallen and fractured her leg on Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s iconic peaks.
When Tom and his team partner reached the woman, they knew it wouldn’t be an ordinary rescue. “She needed to be medevaced off the top,” he recalls. “And a storm was coming in, and we were in a very bad place.”
An avid hiker and rock climber, Tom chose Ithaca because it offered a major—outdoor adventure leadership—that could prepare him for situations like this, blending theory with wilderness immersion so that he could put classroom learning into practice.
“You learn that the consequences of your decisions are very important,” he says. “It definitely gives you more tools in your bag for life.”
The storm hit so close that Tom’s partner felt electric shocks through the metal frame of his backpack, and another hiker’s hair stood on end. “What I learned in my classes at Ithaca is to remain calm,” Tom says. “You have to have the coolest head in the group.”
As the weather grew increasingly violent, Tom helped the woman safely aboard the rescue helicopter and then led the other hikers to safety as lightning struck around them. “If we hadn’t gone up there and gotten her off the mountain,” he says, “she definitely would have died.”
Tom got a letter from the National Park Service commending him on his bravery and a heartfelt thank-you from the woman whose life he saved. “The letter of thanks I received from the injured hiker was worth all the effort,” he says.
Now Tom is studying in an advanced paramedics program so that he can return to Yosemite as a full-time employee. “Ithaca College made me ready to adapt to any situation.”
>> More on this story: "Alum's Bravery Earns Notice" - Fuse
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