It’s been an interesting summer…

Now that Fall is officially here (along with this chilly Ithaca weather…the leaves are beautiful though!), I figured that I’d do a brief update on what I’ve been up to since the summer! As with many graduate students, my plans for the summer changed drastically and I had to adapt quickly to the circumstances. While I was looking forward to traveling a bit and pursuing a research study in India, I’m grateful that I have the privilege to conduct my research from almost anywhere in the world and didn’t experience any major setbacks. I’m extremely proud of the work I completed this summer and am looking forward to pushing towards candidacy by mid-2021 (fingers crossed)!

Photo by Taryn Elliott on
  • I’ve become much more consistent in working out! With the help of a couple of fitness apps, I’ve settled into a routine consisting of a run/vigorous walk followed by a ~30 minute HIIT/cross-training workout. I feel so much better, especially after getting some fresh air outside, and am enjoying the bit of body tone I’ve gotten back. Hoping that I can keep this consistency throughout the long Ithaca winter! 
  • Did a slight rebrand for CollegeSista! The power of Canva is so understated, I feel like a professional designer at times. I really love the collegial look of my logo, which falls more in line with the theme of my blog.
  • I spent the majority of my summer working on a research study to learn more about perceptions of artificial intelligence (AI) in India. I also submitted this project to a major conference in one of my fields and am really excited to share this work! I’m so pleased to be at a place in my research where I’m content and truly passionate about what I’m doing.
  • I deeply enjoy speaking and honing my presenting skills and being in quarantine has definitely given me a lot of options to do so! I presented at a couple of workshops and conferences and enjoyed sharing my work with others from around the world. 
  • I completed two certificates in Women’s Entrepreneurship and Venture Deals! I have so many passions outside of academia and being able to pursue them (to a certain extent) has made me more balanced throughout my studies.

Honestly, it’s been hard making time to write for CollegeSista and I really miss it! Writing for this blog is a way for me to express my non-academic thoughts, and it’s therapeutic in a way. Throughout this quarantine period, I’ve been going through a wave of emotions which has resulted in varying peaks and valleys of productivity. I’ve been reading for pleasure less, procrastinating a bit more on my work, and have found myself going to bed at extremely strange times. I believe in the potential of CollegeSista and am going to be more intentional in building that potential. I’m eager to share my insights and hope that you’ll stick around for the journey!

Note: As graduate students, it can be hard managing our time with all the stuff we have to do ranging from conference deadlines to course readings and to research. The 2020 election is coming up soon, so please ensure that you’re registered to vote!

Thanks for reading! You can catch up on my previous posts here. Feel free to share this post and follow me on all social media platforms @CollegeSista! Have questions about applying to grad school, life as a graduate student, or Cornell in particular? You’re welcome to contact me on LinkedIn or through email

Why I Chose to Attend Grad School

Graduate school application season is here, so I’ll be starting off my blog with a graduate school series! First up, I’ll be talking about why I chose to apply and attend my respective institution.

I’m currently a PhD student in Computer Science at Cornell University studying Computer Vision and Information & Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD). As a young adult, I always loved the idea of attending graduate school but it took me a while to figure out the exact path I wanted to take. Fortunately, I had the privilege of participating in summer research experiences, mentoring groups, and preparatory programs that supported my journey to graduate school and I’m here to share this with you all!

How did you choose where to apply?

My mantra for applying to grad school is that I would only apply to a specific university I would attend if it happened to be the only place I was accepted to. I also wanted to attend a top program in computer science, so making my choices based on these two main criteria simplified my options pretty easily. In grad school, it is important to find professors in a specific field that you are interested in working with, so you can’t choose a school based solely on its name or reputation. I used a handy website ( to factor out university rankings based on specific areas within computer science and then found professors in those disciplines that I would want to work with. Also, I was not picky about location or climate (even though I would have preferred to stay on the west coast), but that is a major factor for many prospective students to consider.

Why did you choose to attend Cornell?

During the second semester of my senior year after a receiving acceptances from graduate schools across the country, it was time to make some visits! Due to my hectic schedule and having to finish up my senior project, I was unable to visit every school but I did make it to my top choices. During my spring break, I flew over 2500 miles across the country to visit Cornell and Princeton and knew that I would have a tough choice ahead. I knew that I would be happy with either choice, but these institutions are so different culturally and academically that it was important for me to take everything into consideration.

Collage of buildings at Cornell and Princeton
Fortunately, my decisions weren’t based on weather because there was snow in March at both places! (top: Princeton, bottom: Cornell)
Princeton Computer Science Visit Day

I’m not sure much how this factored into my decision, but I visited Cornell first and it really set the tone for my subsequent visits. When leaving, I felt a twinge of sadness and knew that I wanted to come back. Even though I had never heard of Ithaca, NY a day in my life, my visit to the Computer Science department left me fulfilled and reinforced the idea that I could survive as a Black woman in a department where I would be one of few who look like me. I loved visiting Princeton as well, but I only saw one other underrepresented student at my visit (who I coincidentally met at a conference 7 months later!) and didn’t get to interact with current students as much as I would’ve liked. Most importantly, the faculty in the research areas I was interested in pursuing were a bit more established at Cornell and I knew it would be easier to switch or add research interests (which I ended up doing!).

Are you happy with your choice?

I can say that I’m extremely content with my choice to attend Cornell for graduate school! The graduate school here is unmatched in terms of support and opportunities and I couldn’t have chosen a better institution for this journey. I’ve had my struggles along the way, but the supportive communities I’ve cultivated across campus and within my department keep me motivated!

Have questions about applying to grad school, life as a graduate student, or Cornell in particular? Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or through email!