Ronni Mok ’16 was honored as one of 34 Merrill Scholars at Cornell University, a designation given to Cornell seniors who graduate in the top one percent of their class. At the 31st annual Merrill Presidential Scholars convocation on May 22, recipients were honored, as well as the secondary school teacher they each selected as the most influential in their academic careers. Mok’s guest was Tom Drake, her Hotchkiss instructor in history and advisor.
Scholars are chosen by their deans for their intellectual vigor, leadership skills and potential to help society. Mok, who is is from Taipei, Taiwan, majored in economics and statistical science while minoring in history and applied economics. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester, held various leadership roles, and finished her degree requirements in three years.
At Hotchkiss, Drake was one of Mok’s first teachers. “He inspired my interest in history and helped develop my ability to synthesize arguments critically,” Mok said.
“Apart from being my teacher, he was someone I confided in and also my advisor. As a 14-year-old international student, I ran into a lot of trouble expressing myself and demonstrating my abilities. Nonetheless, Mr. Drake never stopping believing in me and encouraging me; he instilled in me the confidence to pursue my passions and stick to my opinions, even when my work wasn’t always rewarded at Hotchkiss.”
Drake said Mok was an exceptionally efficient student. “She devours academic work with great joy — that she also does so without compromising one's need for sleep is truly remarkable,” he said.
“She works collaboratively with patience and clear-sightedness, demonstrating the sort of leadership that often goes unappreciated until adulthood. Her standards for performance are high, but her insistence on achieving them comes without the slightest trace of arrogance. As her teacher here, my role was simply to provide reassurance — and that she has returned a thousand fold by becoming a source of hope for the future.”
At Cornell, Mok was vice president of the Cornell International Business Association and the president of the Cornell International Affairs Review. She was also a staff writer for the Cornell Daily Sun, and a member of the Design and Tech Initiative. Following graduation, she plans to join McKinsey & Company in San Francisco.
At the ceremony, the scholars and their honored educators were recognized by Cornell President Martha E. Pollack and Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi. The program was created by the late Philip Merrill ’55 and is supported by the Merrill Family Foundation.