Alpha Phi Omega

Gamma Chapter at Cornell University

Rupal Khaitan ’20

1. What is your internship and why did you choose it?

I’m working at Prisoner Express this summer on campus, helping make book packages and newsletters for prisoners. I wanted a way to do work that was a bit more personal than most of engineering is and be able to do something directly tied to helping people. It’s been so interesting to be able to read prisoner’s mail; so many of them are genuinely positive about their experiences and their time, which I definitely didn’t expect coming into it! I’ve also been doing research on campus, looking at how breast cancer cells spread throughout the body, and developing new ways to image these cells in mice.

2. Tell us about a friendship you’ve formed in APO.

I absolutely LOVE how open everyone in APO is to making new friends. It’s so easy to just start talking to people at events and listen to people talk about their passions, whether it’s a random art project, a Netflix show about glass blowing, or a random funny video at 3 AM. I first met Jessica Lim through some mutual friends, but now, she’s become one of my closest friends and one of the people who I’ll reach out to at odd hours of the day to watch trashy reality TV, adventure the Commons, and eat my food when I accidentally make too much. Last semester I’d force her to come to art fellowships and stay longer at Relay to hang out with me. Jess is the perfect person to take to any APO events because she’s so easily convinced into procrastinating work and is such a fun person to be around!

3. What is your favorite service project at Cornell? Why?

One of my favorite events recently was actually one I went to completely on a whim. It was a panel about opioid overdose, and I didn’t really know much about the subject before the panel. I loved hearing different aspects of the problem- both the social perspective and a more scientific perspective. After the panel, I found myself seeing the overdose epidemic pop up everywhere, from news articles about changing health policies to my orgo lectures where I learned more of the chemistry behind this problem. I feel like a much more informed citizen now and am ready to take on the problem!

4. What is something you’ve learned from service?

I have loved learning from other brothers who are passionate about service. Every brother has a particular service cause that they’re dedicated towards, and for every problem, there’s such a wide range of solutions, from raising money to direct personal interactions to pure educating each other of the problem. Through APO, I’ve been able to take part in every step of the process and learn how better to make an impact. It’s so easy to fall in the trap of feeling like problems are too big and too inherent to solve, but seeing how motivated people are makes it feel like I can make a change!

5. Have you been volunteering this summer?

I haven’t been volunteering much, mostly out of pure laziness, but I have been starting up planning for Big Red Thon in November, which I am definitely very excited for! I’m thrilled for the rest of campus to see what we’ve got planned for this semester!