Warrior-Scholar Project 2020 Cornell University Cohort Spotlight: Mack Fina and Tyler Stark

Mack Fina, U.S. Army veteran

Mack Fina
Mack Fina

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

Before WSP, the last educational experience I had was a semester at my local community college in 2013. The professors were great, but I lacked the foundational academic skills that would have helped me excel, and I did not feel confident as a student, which led to me enlisting in the Army. 

Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

My week with WSP was the first time I participated in any virtual learning, and it was excellent. It was a unique opportunity for me to work out any kinks and get some practice in a virtual environment before I start classes online this fall, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to participate.

Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I was excited to participate in WSP this summer because I was looking forward to practicing academic skills like analytical reading and writing, and after the isolation that COVID has imposed, it was refreshing to talk to new people. 

What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

We spent a lot of time reading and annotating, which really helped me retain the information and reference it later. I also feel like being in an academic environment like WSP where we were discussing readings and talking about our essays was helpful just to get reacclimated to learning in general. 

What was your favorite session, and why?

My favorite session was with Professor Kim Todt discussing what the United States was like when the Declaration of Independence was written. She was engaged with us and prepared, and what I thought was a valuable takeaway was thinking about the context of what we were reading during its writing. 

Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?

It's impossible for me to pick a favorite. The fellows I had were all incredibly engaged and caring, and I was blown away by how amazing the writing tutors and professors were. Every person involved was willing to take the time to talk to us, help us with whatever we were working on, and they all contributed to a fantastic experience which has absolutely made a difference for me. 

Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

WSP was a very intense and challenging week, but I made it through! If I can do that, I'm sure I'll do just fine at school. 

Tyler Stark, active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps