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.
College should prepare you for life after graduation, whether you go into the workforce or—as Elitsa Stoyanova did—enter a prestigious Ph.D. program in developmental biology and embryology. Thanks to three-and-a-half years of actual lab work as an undergraduate at Ithaca College, Elitsa will be able to dive right into serious research as a graduate student.
IC affords science students opportunities that larger institutions tend to reserve for graduate students. “It can be really hard to get into a lab and actually do research and not just wash the glassware,” Elitsa says of her peers’ experiences in programs at other universities. “So a lot of kids who are very talented wind up going to grad school with only a couple of months—maybe a year—of research experience.”
Elitsa worked with assistant professor Ian Woods who’s examining the genetics behind anxiety in zebrafish (the animals share a similar genetic structure to humans). This work could someday lead to better, more nuanced treatments for anxiety and depression.
“Ian has been fantastic. I owe my grad school success to him. He gave me great advice on how to write my personal statement, how to talk to my interviewer, what questions to ask. He has been really insightful about what it is to be a Ph.D. student in these times.”
As a junior, Elitsa gave a presentation at the 245th American Chemical Society national meeting in New Orleans, sharing what she’d learned about enzymes that make bacteria undetectable to host immune systems. She also worked in assistant professor Catherine Malele’s lab—forging a connection that helped Elitsa land a summer internship with the University of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
“I honestly think the entire science faculty [at Ithaca College] is phenomenal. They have all inspired me in a way.”
Elitsa chose Rockefeller University for graduate school because the program let her use her extensive experience right away. Since she’s already versed in basic lab techniques, she can focus on loftier goals. “I want to be able to think on my own and ask the right questions. I want to find a mentor who will give me enough freedom to explore my ideas. I want to be in charge of where the project is going—that is how you learn to be a scientist.”
>> More on this story: Beneath the Surface
Some day in the not-so-distant future, as cities expand and climate change continues, Andreas Jonathan will be working to strike a balance between urban growth and environmentalism. “We’re living in a world that is very quickly urbanizing. There are a lot of mega-cities continuing to grow, and I think cities will be the battleground for sustainability in the future,” Andreas says.
As a freshman at Ithaca College, Andreas was drawn to the environmental studies program. “There was a course called Environmental Sentinels, where the purpose was to discover what you’re trying to save. We had class at night in the natural lands where we were blindfolded and had to get back to campus just by listening. It made me think about my place in the natural world.”
Andreas also felt a calling he hadn’t yet fully identified. “I needed something to complement what I was learning, so I could channel my desire for a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society.”
Luckily at Ithaca he had mentors to help him find the right program. "It’s been very easy for me to find people who care about my future. I learned about architectural studies by speaking with professors in the art history department.”
As a sophomore, Andreas secured an internship with the Institute for Urban Design in New York City. He joined the institute’s project team for the Venice International Architecture Biennale, an event where architects and designers from around the world showcase themed designs. The U.S. theme was “spontaneous interventions”—designing to solve urban problems and create new opportunities for the public.
“What I love most about architecture is that it's so much more than building and construction. There’s history, theory, stakeholder relations, and social and environmental consequences,” Andreas says. “It struck me that anyone working in design professions must constantly be balancing, learning.”
For Andreas, learning to strike that delicate balance began with the conversations he had with mentors at IC. He plans to extend his knowledge of design beyond graduation as he pursues dual master’s degrees in architecture and city planning followed by a Ph.D.
“When I was little and was asked, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ I didn’t really know. But I knew there was this scar on the world that needed to be fixed. Then I started falling in love with architecture, city design, and social justice. It was what I always planned on doing before I even knew what it was.”
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