Cori Clifton

Thriving in Tech's competitive culture

Sport: Volleyball
Major: Biochemistry
Year: Second Year 
Hometown: Williamsburg, Virginia

Cori Clifton’s future is wide open. She’s a biochemistry major concentrating in pre-health. When she first committed to Georgia Tech as a high-school sophomore, Clifton wanted to study biomedical engineering. She thought she might have a career in prosthetics.

But when it came time to pick her major, she decided on biochemistry, hoping to go into pharmaceuticals and drug research.

Lately, though, her mind has skewed away from that path, wandering toward the possibilities of medical school.

The second year of high school may seem too early to decide on a college, but for Clifton, it was the next step in a long volleyball career.

“I started playing in third grade,” she says, “Growing up, I tried every sport. But I loved volleyball the most.”

She eventually played on both high-school and travel teams. “I liked the team sport and unity of playing with the same girls. And I like the energy. It’s a really a fast-paced game. It’s exciting.”

Traveling fulfilled her hunger to explore new places and try new things. Clifton especially loved the challenge of playing new teams.

And Tech seemed like a challenge. “I wanted to be a part of the competitive culture of Tech,” Clifton says, “I do well under pressure.”

Now that she’s here, Clifton has faced no shortage of pressure. Every year, she plays 30 games, in addition to a couple of spring tournaments. Like most teams at Tech, the women’s volleyball team works out and practices every day in the fall and spring.

Balancing schoolwork with practice is a daily challenge. “Even if you think you have free time there’s something you need to do in advance.” Clifton has learned to use every moment of her time wisely and to work closely with her teachers to stay on top of her work.

It’s all been worth it.

“In sophomore year of high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Clifton says. Learning from her peers and discovering the paths they took has been helpful. “They enlighten me and help me find out where I want to go.” In a few months she may decided that medical school is not for her. But one thing is certain: She will never stop searching for challenges.
What do you love most about volleyball?
I love that you can’t predict what’s going to happen during a game. You just have to react and do your best. No points are ever the same. It’s always new and surprising.
What has been most surprising about playing for Tech?
The challenge of balancing school and volleyball. The game is faster paced than in high school, and courses are more challenging than in high school, so balancing is harder.
What do you love most about biochemistry?
The challenges. I like understanding the processes and going deeper with the concepts.
Who are your role models?
The first person that comes to mind is Oprah Winfrey. She’s a great business woman. The way she built her brand is really impressive. She can’t fail because she built her whole brand around being herself. Being herself is what made her famous. I think that’s admirable
Do you have any advice for students who may want to become student athletes?
Learn to manage your time as soon as you can. Value every second that you have because you can always be getting better at something.