On Opportunity

Michelle Carfagno ‘19

When I came to Cornell and decided to audition for the Chorus, I was simply looking to continue my singing career after high school. I was excited to make music at the collegiate level with people who were just as passionate about classical singing as I. However, I never could have predicted that the Chorus would provide me with the opportunity to develop the leadership skills that I will treasure for the rest of my life and throughout my career.

I realized how special the Chorus was during my first Chorus retreat in Vestal, NY. Each class was brainstorming ways we could raise funds for our endowment campaign and improve our visibility on campus. I was amazed by the fact that every member of the group was equally invested in the future success of the Chorus and that every voiced idea was valued, no matter the person who voiced it. I realized that the Chorus was different from all my other general body clubs from high school. I decided at that moment that I wanted to take it a step further and hold leadership positions within the Chorus so I could help the Chorus grow in any way possible.

Since then, my organizational and leadership skills have blossomed. My positions have taught me how to deal with conflict, to lead a large group of people, and to communicate effectively.  These skills are simply not things that you can learn in the classroom.

While holding these leadership positions within the Chorus, I have had the chance to work on  meaningful projects. During my time as Officer-At-Large, I helped to lead a crowdfunding campaign to raise more than $11,000 for our trip to the American Choral Directors Association Conference, eliminating the potential financial burden for members to attend. This involved designing and implementing a fundraising strategy and overseeing the efforts of twenty team members throughout the month-long campaign. As Vice President, I am currently developing and maintaining our Alumnae Mentorship Program in order to foster relationships between our alumni and current students. These are just two of many projects on which I have had the honor of serving.

As I am a senior interviewing for jobs, companies love to ask about what I learned at Cornell. Experiences like these are always the first that come to mind. Beyond that, these experiences have allowed me to meet so many of our inspiring alumni along the way who are equally invested in the prosperity of the Chorus. These experiences have given me the opportunity to mentor younger members both musically and socially as they adjust to the group. The Chorus is like no other organization I have ever been a part of. I will forever cherish all the opportunities the Chorus has given me to grow, and I can’t wait to join the alumni ranks and continue to give back to the organization that keeps on giving.