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CORNELL CLUB MEMBER PROFILES

Would you like to be featured?  We plan to have a new profile of a Cornell graduate on our Home Page every week, and maybe it will be you.  All you have to do is answer the questions at the bottom of this article  and send those answers, along with a picture, to Nancy Mills at NLM5@cornell.edu.  Meanwhile, please enjoy reading about Adam Vagley and Andrea Berloff .  All profiles can be accessed here:  http://www.cornellclubla.com/featured_members.html  

Carol Bass ’14 

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Tell us about how your experiences at Cornell influenced your path.

Austin Bunn, the screenwriting professor at Cornell, really inspired me to chase after my dream of becoming a storyteller. I was considering graduate school when he told me that I needed to go experience life or else I would be writing solely about college students for the foreseeable future. I have spent my time post-graduation not only writing and working as much as possible but also traveling and chasing unique adventures that inspire me.

How did you come to live in Los Angeles and what you are doing now?

 

I interned with Di Novi Pictures the summer before my senior year and enjoyed my experience so much that I interned with Avalon Management the following summer. Through Avalon, I became a freelance Production Assistant. I have since worked my way up to Production Coordinator, most recently on Season 3 of "Penn and Teller Fool Us" on the CW, for which I wrote one of the host's opening monologues, my first time hearing my own words on screen. 


How did Cornell help prepare you for your post-grad life?

The biggest benefit Cornell gave me is my work ethic. I hear time and time again from my employers how lazy my generation is and in contrast how refreshing it is to work with me. The long hours of studying and doing assignments prepared me to research when I don't know how to perform a given task and to keep a strong resolve when working 14 to 18-hour production days. Additionally, as an active participant in both Cornell Theatre and the Taekwondo Team, I learned how to juggle extracurricular activities, which has kept me productive in my off time, writing pilots and producing my own short films.

Tell us a favorite memory of your time at Cornell.

One of my favorite memories at Cornell was putting on the staged reading of my play "What's Your Color?" as part of my Senior Thesis. Part of what made the experience magical was the departmental support I received. Melanie Dreyer-Lude, a faculty director, agreed to direct it and treated it with the utmost seriousness and respect. I felt the same positivity from the costume department, as well as faculty and student actors alike. So many people were willing to put in their time and energy to make my play happen, which meant the world to me.

Tell us a favorite memory shared with another Cornell alum in L.A.

During my first time participating in Cornell in Hollywood, I was given writer Andrea Berloff as a mentor. She told me a story over coffee that has always stuck with me. After turning 30, she fell onto her bed sobbing because almost ten years after graduating from an Ivy League university, she was a dog walker.  A few days later, she sold her first script. I was struck by her willingness to be open with me so that I would dig in my heels and never give up if I really wanted to be a writer. She has since been nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay "Straight Outta Compton." I would say that was worth the wait.

What advice would you give, personally and professionally related to your line of work, to Cornell grads looking to come to L.A.?

Always say "yes." If it's an opportunity, don't turn it down unless you absolutely have to because you never know what connection you could make. If it's a task that you don't understand, research how to do it. Chances are the person who asked you doesn't know how to do it either, but the best way to impress people is to get things done, one way or another. This willingness to work will keep people coming back to you and, when the time comes, will make them willing to help you out in return. 

Adam  Vagley ’04 

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Tell us about how your experiences at Cornell influenced your path. How did you come to live in Los Angeles and what you are doing now?
Cornell directly influenced my career -- my senior year I was taking a Johnson School entrepreneurship class and I heard a partner from a private equity firm speak on one of our case studies. I reached out to him afterwards and ended up working at the startup he had just created. Despite raising nearly $200 million the company folded and I jumped ship to the technology consulting company that had been working with us. That consulting company took me and my wife from New York City to Sydney, Australia where we lived a few blocks from the beach. When we decided to move back to the States we wanted to keep the beach lifestyle going and had some friends and family in the LA area, so chose to come here. We live in Venice just a few blocks from the ocean and love the community feel of this neighborhood.

 

How did Cornell help prepare you for your post-grad life?

Cornell gave me the sense that I could do anything and I think that is an extremely important perspective to have once you start your career. Things will go wrong and you'll need to figure out a new game plan, or you may get inspired to do your own thing and need the confidence to make that leap. My wife and I started a company,https://GoodMigrations.com, based on our own experiences moving abroad to help others making a transition overseas, and I think it all stems from my experiences at Cornell.

Tell us a favorite memory of your time at Cornell.

A teammate from the track team, Brett, drove me and another friend to North Campus for dinner because it had the best cafeteria. When we finished dinner and went to drive back to our apartment on College Ave we discovered that his Ford Explorer was out of gas. The three of us decided to push the car to the nearest gas station, which we thought was no more than a few hundred yards away. This was winter however, so the roads were covered in a fresh coat of snow and I had an arm in a cast (broken from sledding on Libe Slope) and we were making terrible progress. We flagged down some girls driving by and hitched a ride to the nearest gas station (which was much farther than we thought). The station was out of gas cans, so we got a Big Gulp cup and filled that with gas (about 30 cents worth, if I recall). The girls were nice enough to drive us back, despite their car smelling pretty strongly of gasoline from the Big Gulp perched on Brett's lap. We used a coffee filter to get the gas in his tank which provided just enough fuel to make the drive back to the station to fill up.

 

We also jumped off the Triphammer Dam hydraulics lab into Fall Creek with some other teammates, which is an 80 foot drop. Really stupid idea and we had the bruises to show for it. Both these stories prove that Cornell hasn't cornered the market on smart kids.

 

Tell us a favorite memory shared with another Cornell alum in L.A.

Food hopping around the Arts District with a Hotelie friend.

 

What advice would you give, personally and professionally related to your line of work, to Cornell grads looking to come to L.A.?

Professionally: Use the Cornell network. There are thousands of Cornell alums in the LA area and many of them would love to help you out. Use LinkedIn to find people in the field that interests you and just reach out. You'll be surprised what it might get you. But just make sure you are clear with your ask.

Personally: LA is a massive city with very distinct neighborhoods -- you may hate some and love others. Before locking yourself into a lease, you should AirBnB (or couch surf) somewhere for a month and just explore the city to find the areas that you like. And try to find a home near where you'll work so you don't spend your life sitting in traffic.

 

TO BE FEATURED IN MEMBER PROFILES, PLEASE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS AND SEND THEM TO NANCY MILLS AT NLM5@CORNELL.EDU 

 

Tell us about how your experiences at Cornell influenced your path. How did you come to live in Los Angeles and what you are doing now?

How did Cornell help prepare you for your post-grad life?

Tell us a favorite memory of your time at Cornell.

Tell us a favorite memory shared with another Cornell alum in L.A.

What advice would you give, personally and professionally related to your line of work, to Cornell grads looking to come to L.A.?

 

ALL MEMBER PROFILES CAN BE VIEWED HERE:

 http://www.cornellclubla.com/featured_members.html