Like many Cornell undergraduates, Lauren Palmiter came to Cornell with many different interests. Currently a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, Palmiter will graduate with majors in American Studies and Psychology and minors in Feminist Gender & Sexuality Studies, Inequality Studies, and Law & Society.
Her combination of majors and minors has allowed her to explore different facets of her identity that is leading her to a career in law. However, it wasn’t until she talked to her advisor that she considered AMST as a possible major. After taking Introduction to American Studies, Palmiter decided to declare the major.
“I loved the professor and the intimate class setting. And I liked that I was actually involved in the class and I wasn’t just being taught and expected to to memorize outside of class but actually have these conversations, something that’s very important to me,” Palmiter notes.
Since declaring the AMST major, Palmiter has taken a variety of classes tailored towards her interests, including History of Human Trafficking. She mentions that this class surpassed her expectations and went into depth about the connection between slavery and human trafficking. In fact, the class has helped her write her senior thesis about prejudice and stereotyping in the jury selection process.
Palmiter has also been heavily involved with her hometown by working with the mayor of Scranton, PA Paige Cognetti. Palmiter worked as an intern last year, handling social media and Cognetti’s schedule. This past summer she returned to work on Cognetti’s legislative team where she wrote gun control related legislation, which was presented to all Pennsylvania mayors.
“It was definitely a lot of research but research that I was used to because of American Studies. A large part of [American Studies] is researching and getting your own resources and understanding what you’re studying, so it definitely helped me with gathering data about gun control,” she emphasizes.
She says that her upbringing in Scranton, PA was a motivating factor in choosing the AMST major because it pushed her to think about her own identity coming from a predominantly white area.
“I think when I first joined American Studies, I quickly realized on the first day, just the readings for the first day, we flipped the narrative on Columbus and how he wasn’t like our same read and finds new America with new world. It was already found,” she highlights.
“That’s a narrative I never even got in high school, so just like these bits of information that opened my eyes to the American Studies major and why I wanted to be a part of it was important to me and definitely very important to my future,” she adds.
Palmiter hopes that those considering the AMST major try a class that sounds interesting to them and stick with it if it piques their interest because that’s what led her to choosing AMST.
After graduation and before embarking on law school, she will take a gap year to work in a New York City law firm as a paralegal.