SCC alumna to graduate Cornell at top of class, honors Shoreline Prof. Dave Phippen as influential to her success
Shoreline alumna, Joice Pranata, who transferred to Cornell with an A.S. degree in Biochemistry from SCC in the fall of 2013, was recently chosen as a Merrill Presidential Scholar at the Ivy league university. Merrill Scholars rank among the top one percent of their class in their respective schools and colleges and are chosen “on the basis of scholastic achievement, strong leadership ability and demonstrated potential for contributing to society.”
As part of receiving this prestigious award, Pranata was asked to select a secondary teacher “who made the most significant contribution to her education” to be honored along with her. She named Shoreline chemistry professor Dave Phippen who, along with about 20 other teachers chosen nationwide, will attend a weekend of events at Cornell recognizing the nominated instructors on May 19-20.
As Merrill Scholars traditionally single out and honor high school teachers, Pranata bucked tradition by celebrating a college professor instead.
“I always thought Phippen deserved recognition for his dedication,” Pranata said. “And I am so honored and glad to be given the opportunity to do that.”
Phippen, who remembers Pranata as a bright student committed to learning, considers his nomination a win for the college.
“Even though she pointed me out,” Phippen said, “it really is indicative of the collaborative environment on campus and that we have high standards across the board. It really says something about Shoreline as a whole that we got this nomination.”
Pranata agreed. “Going to Shoreline definitely contributed to my successes after,” she said. “My time at Shoreline allowed me to meet great friends, classmates, teachers and staff, many of whom inspired me…I had the opportunity to be involved in many activities, such as the student government, and was able to take all my prerequisite courses at Shoreline with really good teachers.”
“These learning experiences and opportunities as a whole,” she continued, “contributed to my following successes, and I think especially to getting into Cornell.”
Phippen was pleased, but not surprised, that Pranata was named one of Cornell’s most outstanding seniors through the Merrill Scholars program.
“I knew she would do well wherever she would go,” Phippen said of Pranata. “I’m glad she chose a top university and excelled there. We have very high standards on campus in general, and students appreciate that because then they’re able to move on to universities that expect those standards.”
He went on to describe Pranata as an exceptional student. “My class started at 7:30 in the morning,” he said. “Most students balk at that, but Joice was always prepared. She asked great questions and was engaged during lectures. She even said she enjoyed coming to class because there was always something she could get out of it.”
Phippen, who has been teaching for 20 years, taught Pranata over the course of a three-quarter series chemistry class.
“I thought he was a great lecturer,” Pranata said. “He reinforced fundamental concepts that are important building blocks for what I continue to learn. I thought he made learning chemistry fun, too. It wasn’t like something to be worried about, but more to be excited about.”
What made Phippen stand out to her even more was his patience. “I was always one of the last few people to leave lab,” she said. “I was quite slow running lab experiments, but he patiently waited for me to finish. After that, he stayed to answer all the questions I had and quench my curiosity about chemistry. He is just an incredibly patient person, and you could easily tell that he is passionate about both science and teaching.”
Pranata will graduate from Cornell with a B.S. in Food Science at the end of May. After graduation she will intern at a cheese plant and then look for work within the food sciences industry.
Her future looks bright, and while she knows she’s worked hard to get where she is, she said it’s only fitting to give thanks for the help she’s had along the way.
“Our society often prizes individual achievements,” she said, “but every achievement is the product of contributions and efforts from so many people. I am where I am today thanks to all the people around me who helped me and guided me…This recognition makes me grateful for having all these people around me who had impacted me in positive ways, and I feel very honored to be able to recognize my teachers as well.”
So what advice does Pranata have for incoming students? Watch the video below to hear straight from the soon-to-be Cornell grad herself. Congrats Joice!