Meet Our Staff

Our staff embraces our mission to inspire and empower Cornell Engineers to create lifelong career success. We believe the greatest impact arises when career education is integrated in each student's life from day one as a Cornellian. We encourage every engineering student to engage with our office throughout their time here at Cornell.

Christa Downey

Christa B. Downey

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Christa is inspired by people who pursue their passions through work, service, and hobbies and is passionate about helping Cornell students find ways to connect their strengths and interests through unique opportunities. Christa is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC). She is the Director of the Engineering Career Center, where the team inspires and empowers Cornell Engineers to create life-long career success. Past experiences include leading the Arts & Sciences Career Center, facilitating groups on Cornell’s Hoffman Challenge course, teaching business math at a community college, and other roles in higher education. A first-generation college student and Pittsburgh native, Christa holds a B.S. in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University, where she currently serves on the Alumni Association Board. She also holds an M.S. in College Student Personnel from Miami University (in Ohio - Miami was a university before Florida was a state). When she’s not working, Christa is likely outside, training for triathlons, camping, boating, traveling, or reading. Her favorite hike was in Poland’s Tatra Mountains, her favorite tri was the Timberman in Gilford, New Hampshire and she is always looking for new book recommendations.

Melissa Bazley

Melissa Bazley

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Associate Director

Melissa has advised Cornell Engineering students on a variety of academic, career, college transition, and personal issues for the last 12+ years and has worked in higher education for over 15 years. She is particularly interested in leveraging educational technology to create efficiencies and improve learning outcomes for students. She enjoys working with engineering students and faculty because they work hard, are dedicated, and strive to create innovative solutions to complex problems. Outside of the office, she enjoys camping in the Adirondacks, spending time on Cayuga Lake, and watching recreational youth sports with her family. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in international management, a master’s degree focused on college student development, and recently completed a second master’s degree in instructional systems technology.

Helen Chandler

Helen Chandler

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Associate Director

A North Carolina native, Helen got her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shortly after graduating from UNC, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia and began working at the University of Virginia Career Center, where she realized her passion for student affairs. She then completed her M.Ed. in Higher Education at UVA and worked as the Student Services Coordinator for the Higher Education Graduate Programs from which she had just graduated. Working with the Higher Education students solidified her desire to advise students as they find their interests, talents, and paths forward, and in the Summer of 2018, she joined the Engineering Career Center as an Assistant Director.

Jennifer Soprano, Manager of Employer Relations and Recruiting for Cornell Engineering

Jennifer Soprano

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Manager of Employer Relations and Recruiting

With Connectedness as a top strength, Jennifer believes that successes and failures are the direct result of our ability to work together. She has faith in the links among all things and finds deep satisfaction in working hard to achieve goals. Jennifer has more than 10 years of experience guiding employers through University Recruiting at Cornell and has obtained her Executive Coach Certification (XCC) from Assenter Coaching, LLC. She provides oversight and direction for employer relations, recruitment services (with a special focus on opportunities targeting STEM students from all colleges and schools), and many aspects of external relations. Jennifer grew up in the heart of Wayne County, NY (the third-highest apple-producing county in the country!)  and completed her AS in Liberal Arts at Finger Lakes Community College (Canandaigua, NY). She began her career at Cornell University in the fall of 2006 as an Administrative Assistant in the Advising and Career Services office of the College of Arts and Sciences. She has been an enthusiastic member of the Engineering Career Center team since August 2012. Outside of work, Jennifer loves to enjoy all that the Finger Lakes Region has to offer!

Julie Wright, Co-op Assistant, Engineering Career Center

Julie Wright

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Co-op Coordinator, Operations Assistant

Julie began her career at Cornell in 2005, first at Cornell Health, then joining the Engineering Career Center in 2010. She is the proud mother of two (now young adults), residing in a rural area 20 miles south of Ithaca. A lifetime resident of the Finger Lakes area, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and greatly appreciates nature and the outdoors.