Meet Griffin Erich
Hometown: Hopewell Junction, NY
College: Agriculture and Life Sciences
Major: Plant Sciences
Have you ever heard of a pawpaw tree? Or maybe you live in a major pawpaw-growing state (MI, OH, IN, PA), and you just didn’t know it. Cornell Tradition Fellow Griffin Erich (CALS, Plant Sciences) works with fruit crops, and last summer, he interviewed pawpaw growers in New York state, documenting the cultural significance of the fruit and developing production guides for commercial scale. Griffin’s summer experience helped him to identify the barriers growers are facing with production and marketing and understanding how climate change forecasting can impact pawpaw cultivation. Griffin’s interest in fruit crops has set the goal for him to eventually pursue a PhD, particularly with a focus on plant physiology as he intends to become a professor in the future.
Currently, Griffin is the National Director of the International Association of Students in Agricultural and related Studies (IAAS), a global network of young, motivated people interested in solving the issues that are affecting agriculture, society, and the world today. The organization’s ability to bring students with interests from plant biochemistry to agricultural marketing stands out to him, as Griffin highly values the interdisciplinary nature of IAAS.
Outside of his academic endeavors, Griffin is a member of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Cornell Tradition. He shared that the expectations of the program have helped him to improve his organizational skills and they have increased his ability to connect with a variety of communities and ages. “Being in Tradition has inspired me to become a better leader. By making connections with others, I have gained social and interpersonal skills that aren’t taught in the classroom, I’ve learned them through community events and fundraising opportunities. So, I really value Tradition for that.”
Like other Cornell students, Griffin has also felt the pressure that the academic rigor can induce. He admits that he has been guilty of sacrificing his own sense of well-being in exchange for the work he would put out. “I thought something was wrong at the end of last fall. I realized that I was working too hard, and it was really the first time in my life that I lost motivation to go to class. Since then, I adjusted my sleep schedule so that I can wake up early which has made me more productive. You don't have to lose sleep to think you're getting a step up on the world, because you're not in the long run. At a place like Cornell, the most important thing is taking care of yourself.” He also shared that he had to get comfortable with asking for help and realized that the people around him have most likely struggled during their Cornell journey as well and are willing to provide guidance. He added that he’s not a fast learner and makes sure to schedule extra study time when learning new concepts that are difficult for him to understand. “Hard work improves talent. So, if that means spending an extra hour learning a concept, that could be the difference between you getting a job or getting into grad school one day. So don't be afraid to work hard, but also take care of yourself because they should complement each other very well.”