Cornell women’s volleyball alumna Alena Madar ’21 has positively influenced countless individuals during her time on East Hill. However, her greatest impact has been on a community over 8,000 miles away in rural India, where she has helped marginalized tribal women create livelihoods for themselves that would otherwise be unimaginable.
When Madar initially came to Cornell as a bright-eyed freshman, she had a distinct career path that she was eager to pursue. An extremely driven, high-achieving student in high school, Madar was locked in on being a biomedical engineering major. Or so she thought.
After about three semesters on the biomedical engineering track, Madar started to question if engineering was actually her true calling. Still yielding the same core interests, but becoming curious about what else was out there, Madar started exploring what other avenues Cornell had to offer.
“I stumbled upon the Global Health Minor on the College of Human Ecology website, and it sounded like something I would really like,” Madar said. “It’s solving problems from a systemic level, but it’s also health related, which is something I had always been interested in and is why I looked into biomedical engineering. It sounded like a good option.”
It was an option that Madar decided to pursue, along with switching her major to computational biology under the biological sciences umbrella. In doing so, she came across an opportunity that would not only change her life forever, but would change countless women’s lives as well. She would have to venture far from Ithaca, however, to do so.