Cornell Merrill Presidential Scholar Leah Rosner ’17 Discusses CGPS’s Impact

Alumna Leah Rosner ’17 was recently awarded the prestigious Merrill Presidential Scholar Award at Cornell University, a prize given only to graduating seniors in the top 1% of their class. As part of the award, Merrill Scholars identify a secondary school teacher who inspired them. At the ceremony, Doug Merrill, Cornell ’89, said “that a key to good education is top-quality educators, teachers and professors. [These are] the real honorees.”

Leah Rosner, who graduated from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, named CGPS history teacher Heather Denbow as her inspiring and guiding secondary school mentor. Leah described her time at CGPS with Ms. Denbow as crucial in helping her find her voice and develop her opinions, especially in an environment filled with strong male voices. “I would talk with her every day, trying to nail down exactly how I can develop my voice and be able to back up my reasoning with strong points,” said Leah, “That was really significant for me to be able to understand how to express myself and how to confidently state an opinion.”

This, in turn, helped Leah pursue her passion for gender equity, an interest that grew into her involvement in workplace equity at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She is currently working for the National Labor Relations Board and is hoping to go to law school in the near future to become an attorney and eventually move into international labor advocacy. She hopes to be able to “use the workplace to elevate and advance the rights and interests of workers.”
Ms. Denbow said that she is not surprised by Leah’s achievements and remembered her early enthusiasm for activism at CGPS: “She talked about going into law and working with immigrant communities, immigration law and labor rights even in high school.”

Congratulations to both Leah and Ms. Denbow on receiving such a distinguished honor!

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