Second day of college. I sat with my parents at convocation, sulking in distress. I had failed to become friends with anyone in my orientation group. I did not immediately click with my roommate. I was under the impression that my parents were probably never going to leave (although maybe I didn’t want them to). And so in my misery I commenced to zone out during the first few speeches. Suddenly, my Mom jabbed me in the side. “Emma, look! The Cornell Chorus and Glee Club!” Right when they began to sing the Alma Mater, my Dad jabbed my other side. “Look! Emma! That’s gonna be YOU!” Another irritating jab from Mom. “Did you hear those high notes?! That’s YOUR part!” Ten more seconds of listening followed by the final, most persistent jab. “Emma, they are DEFINITELY gonna be your friends!” And my parents had been right (as presumptuous as they were).
Joining the Cornell Chorus helped me adjust to college. In the course of our first rehearsal, I went from a nervous, insecure freshman to a valued member of a closely-knit group of friends. I felt proud to be part of a community of such talented singers and musicians. The current women in Chorus made incredible efforts to make the new women feel involved. When I first heard about Chariot Night, a traditional post-rehearsal sing fest at an upperclassman’s house, I began to feel that familiar insecurity again. Should I go? Do they even want freshmen there? I only felt troubled by these thoughts briefly. For that same day, I got an enthusiastic email from our social chair. Her message said that the new women had no excuse not go to Chariot night, and that there would be seniors picking us up from our dorms and driving us back afterwards. I was amazed and delighted by how welcoming the Chorus women were!
At our retreat in Vestal, New York, I was introduced to an incredible enthusiasm for singing and learning that I had never experienced before in my musical career. We warmed up early in the morning and worked hard for hours, tackling pieces that we would perform just the next day. I was blown away by how easily the Chorus could read and perform out of sheer enthusiasm and love for singing. During the morning mass, my first official performance with the Chorus, there was this feeling of pure bliss and unity when we sang together. And with this feeling, my fear for fitting into a new group and my constant worrying that I might not find something I loved at Cornell had completely disappeared.
Seven weeks in, and I already feel like I can strongly identify with my school. I see how strongly connected the Chorus’s alumnae are to the school, how enthusiastic they are about our current music and new members. When I think of the years of college I have ahead of me, I think of the Chorus- a group of talented women with a profound passion for music and an unconditional love for Cornell.
Emma Newburger '18