Angela Lu ’13 graduated from the Industrial and Labor Relations School in 2013 with a minor in Law and Society; Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Inequality Studies. As a young alum, Angela has continued sharing her Big Red spirit as a board member for Cornell Pride, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQIA+ university alumni organizations in the country.
What makes you feel most connected to Cornell since graduation?
Cheesy answer, but the relationships I formed. After graduation, I found myself periodically thinking of certain people and semi-randomly reaching out to say “Hey, how’s it going?” before falling into life-induced hiatus in communication. Some people never left my mind, and whenever we’d correspond we still find ourselves with the mutual desire to continue being friends, even if we no longer shared similar contexts in life. These relationships—with fellow Cornell classmates, a handful of professors and staff—have kept my nostalgia and love for Cornell strong.
What motivated you to become a volunteer after graduation?
I spent years after graduation in “Cornell alum sparse” places: the Canadian Rockies, Barcelona, and Vancouver. I would see all these events come through my inbox in U.S. cities that I wasn’t anywhere near, and I was wistful. I realized I felt disconnected because I couldn’t be involved and couldn’t join events, back when lots of stuff was heavily in-person dependent. When I finally moved someplace with a Cornell Club (St. Louis), I was dorkily excited to participate in events and meet other Cornellians. I can’t really explain why, but meeting other people from Cornell just always feels homey. Plus, I had fallen in love with event planning when I was at Cornell, so starting to volunteer was a natural fit!
What has inspired your philanthropic support for Cornell?
Sam Nelson, Cornell’s biggest champion of speech and debate. Professor Nelson was and still is a mentor and a dear friend. I completely support debate as an activity that promotes critical thinking, active listening, and clear communication skills—and as an alum, I do so with dollars. Even though the world of competitive debate can seem a lot like “this is why you’re wrong and I’m right,” I think the value of debate is in learning to unearth and challenge underlying assumptions, and to explain with clarity and persuade with both emotions and reasoning.
Is there something that Cornell Pride worked on this last year that you were excited about?
We’re always thinking about how we can meaningfully engage with and support current students. Earlier in the spring semester, we had the opportunity to do our first in-person student-alumni event since 2020: Stuff-a-Plush! (Special thanks to new LGBTRC Director Cortney Johnson!) It was a great hit— everyone was excited and we all walked away with new friends, stuffed or otherwise. I was honored to meet some of the (no surprise) dedicated, driven and resilient current students. Here’s to hoping we have more smash hit events coming up in the future!
Do you have a favorite class or extracurricular from your time at Cornell?
Mushrooms of the Forest and Field with Kathie Hodge! It sounds just a touch crazy, but that class left the strongest impression on me. I chose this class in favor of an advanced Human Rights course with Professor James Gross in ILR (sorry!) and also in favor of Intro to Wines (no regrets). I was not disappointed. It doesn’t matter that I can’t remember the different names for how gills are attached, or that I still don’t trust myself to identify anything edible in the wild without Professor Hodge verifying by my side. I’ve carried this class forward with me on every single hike and walk. I’ve pointed out different types of mushrooms and introduced countless friends to different types of commonly found mushrooms that aren’t just the flat-cap, stemmed variety. Oh, and it was through this class that I got introduced to all these different apple varietals, and came to love biting into whole apples (and not just drinking it in cider or juice form). I cannot overstate how much I loved and still appreciate this mushroom identification class I took at Cornell!
Do you have a message for newly graduated alumni looking to volunteer?
Jump in feet first; you’ll figure out what you need to know, be surprised at your own capacity and learn a lot about yourself (including your own boundaries and needs) as you go along. I believe there’s no drawback in experiencing more kinds of team dynamics, and learning what different things happen when a group comes together to try to accomplish something. There’s a lot volunteering can offer, whether you’re looking for community and connection, or exposure to and experience of board operations and governance. Volunteering is one of those activities that, only in retrospect, do you realize taught and shaped you a good deal. So, whatever your hesitations are, ignore them and try it out. You’ll be surprised by yourself.
If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering or giving at Cornell, please fill out this short form and a member of the Northeast Corridor team will reach out to you.