Seraphina Lee: ‘One of the most valuable skills I’ve gained is to be a more patient thinker’

Seraphina Lee


Peachtree City, GA

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

I think one of the most valuable skills I’ve gained from my Arts & Sciences education is to be a more patient thinker. I wasn’t used to thinking about problems that did not have relatively quick resolutions until the latter half of my Cornell career. For example, working on a research project where I didn’t know if there even existed a nice answer and reading through published research papers where I didn’t understand many of the terms were new experiences for me that tested my patience, but these challenges helped me develop into a more mature thinker.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of, either inside the classroom or otherwise?

I’m most proud of the work I’ve done through independent studies and projects in my last two years at Cornell. For instance, I participated in the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) after my sophomore year on a project on analysis of fractals with two other undergraduates, which resulted in a paper accepted for publication. Following that summer, I’ve worked through a few semesters of reading courses in algebraic number theory and arithmetic geometry, and I am currently working on a senior thesis on elliptic curves. Though they were very challenging, I think these projects have made me a more mature math student, and better prepared for research in graduate school.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

Be kind to yourself! Cornell provides so many opportunities that it’s tempting to pursue an overwhelming number of them – it’s important to learn to prioritize, and that, for example, a perfect problem set is oftentimes not worth losing a good night of sleep.

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 Seraphina Lee