and women's rights movements. During her senior year, she and some others decided to teach Cornell women about birth control—a move that did not endear her to some in the administration. Morse spent time working with Planned Parenthood and the YWCA, and she now volunteers as a mediator with the Center for Conflict Resolution, in addition to grassroots organizing and philanthropy.
She said her Cornell education taught her the analytical skills she needed to succeed, but the sense of community taught her something, as well. Because of the small size of Cornell, she dealt with and respected people with views different from her own.
"You had to talk with people with different opinions," she said. "You couldn't demonize people who disagreed."
Ron Corbett '83 also credits Cornell for a share of his success in the public sphere. Corbett ran for the Iowa House shortly after graduation, where he served for 13 years, the last five as the youngest Speaker of the House in state history. He attributed his election to his willingness to go door-to-door talking to voters. And his ability to do that, he said, came from Cornell. Because of One Course At A Time, students had to interact with each other during the extended class periods, he said, and that got him comfortable talking to many different people.
In 2009, after a decade out of elected office, Corbett was elected mayor of Cedar Rapids. He ran, he said, because he thought the June 2008 flood paralyzed some city leaders, and things weren't getting accomplished. "As someone who cared about the community, I felt like I had to get involved again," he said.
After receiving a master's degree in social work, Tina Effner DuBois '99 became executive director of the North Liberty Community Pantry, now recognized as a model for others around the nation and the world. (Photo by Tina Effner DuBois '99)
For Tina Effner DuBois '99, a Cornell education helped start her on the path to where she is now: executive director of the North Liberty Community Pantry. While at Cornell, the elementary education and psychology major had a practicum at Tanager Place in Cedar Rapids. She got a job there after graduation, and then pursued a master's degree in social work. For her master's practicum, she worked at the community pantry. Then she got the job there, and helped turn it into a model pantry for the region and the nation. But beyond the connections she made at Cornell, the things she learned—adaptability and flexibility from One Course At A Time, a sense of the importance of service and education from her course work—have helped her tremendously, she said. As the pantry's only employee (everyone else is a volunteer), she does everything from advocate for public policy changes to helping get food to families.
Derek Johnson '04 said Cornell helped him realize his ambition to change the world. Classes and co-curricular activities taught him how to interact with people, solve problems, and make lasting, positive change. Now the chief of staff at Global Zero, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide, he works with young people and heads of state to try and further his organization's mission.
"Global Zero is civic engagement at its finest," said Johnson, an attorney who serves on Cornell's Alumni Board. "We're facing humanity's single greatest challenge and asking world leaders to set aside the most powerful, devastating weapons known to mankind. We have a truly historic opportunity to rid the world of nuclear weapons and change the course of human events, and we're mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people, from heads-of-state to high school students, to seize that moment before it passes by. Having even a small part to play in the pursuit of that vision is incredibly exciting. And looking back, I'm convinced that my decision to attend Cornell College is what led me here."
After graduation Brittany Atchison '10 went to Nigeria through the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership, sponsored by the United Methodist Church. She helped to start EmpowHER, a micro-finance initiative designed to give women the chance to start their own business. Within six months of starting, the project had 40 groups and 400 entrepreneurs. When she left Nigeria this spring the repayment rate for the loans was 100 percent, and she estimated EmpowHER had an impact on more than 20,000 people.
And it was her time at Cornell that sparked her interest and gave her the chance to learn about the causes of and solutions to poverty. She had internships and courses in Africa and South America, and she founded Students Together Eradicating Poverty on campus.
"It's more than a slogan," Atchison said. "Civic engagement is a lifestyle. It's a commitment to something greater than yourself."