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Veritas Academy: Faith, Learning, & Making the Most of College

A Pre-College Retreat for Incoming Cornell Freshmen: July 25-28, 2019


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Veritas Academy is a three-day residential experience for incoming Cornell freshmen, held July 25-28 on the Cornell University Campus. Led by Christian faculty, upperclassmen, alumni, and campus ministers, this experience helps incoming students ask the big questions, design a meaningful college experience, learn practical tips, and build a faith community among peers – all before arriving on campus in the fall. The curriculum draws upon The Veritas Forum’s 25 years of experience engaging faith and inquiry on America’s leading campuses.

Faculty Mentors:

Praveeen Sethupathy, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University

Praveen is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University. He received his BA degree from Cornell University and his PhD in Genomics from the University of Pennsylvania. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Human Genome Research Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Francis Collins, he moved in 2011 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics. In 2017, he returned to Cornell University as an Associate Professor. Praveen has authored over 70 publications, and has served as a reviewer for over 30 different journals. Recent honors include a faculty merit award for outstanding teaching and mentoring. Praveen’s laboratory is located in the newly renovated Research Tower on Tower Road. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his wife and three children.


Dr. J. Nathan Matias, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Cornell University

Dr. Matias organizes citizen behavioral science for a safer, fairer, more understanding internet. A Guatemalan-American, Nathan is an assistant professor in the Cornell University Department of Communication. Nathan is founder of CivilServant, a nonprofit that organizes citizen behavioral science and behavioral consumer protection research for the internet. CivilServant has worked with communities of tens of millions of people on reddit and Twitter to test ideas for preventing harassment, broadening gender diversity on social media, responding to human/algorithmic misinformation, managing political conflict, and auditing social technologies. In 2019, CivilServant is integrating operations with Cornell University. Nathan is also pioneering industry-independent evaluations on the impact of tech platform policies in society.

Staff and Coaches:

Billy Riley is originally from the rolling farmlands of south central PA. He works alongside his wife, Cole, as CCO campus staff at Cornell University in partnership with Chesterton House– a Center for Christian Studies. He received bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology from Washington & Jefferson College and is interested in the ways philosophy informs the Christian faith. Billy oversees much of the programmatic aspects of the ministry, as well as meets with men in the house for spiritual formation. He also advises Veritas Forum’s student chapter at Cornell.  He loves movies, playing basketball, and healthy introspection.


Vivek Mathew is a sixth-year doctoral candidate in Cornell’s philosophy department working at the intersection of metaphysics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, cognitive science, and history of philosophy. He was one of five nationwide fellowship recipients for cross-training grants given by the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Templeton Foundation. Prior to Cornell, Vivek studied computer science at Princeton University, worked eight years in quantitative finance at Morgan Stanley in New York City, did his M.Div at Princeton Theological Seminary, and read the B.Phil in philosophy at Oxford University. Vivek and his wife Jeanie live in Ithaca with their three children.


Bailey Trimmell is originally from Texas where she graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in social work. She joined the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) while living in Memphis, TN and is now serving full-time at Cornell University in partnership with Chesterton House. She appreciates experiencing new foods, long walks, reading, thrifting, DIY projects, and playing sports.



Students will come out of Veritas Academy with: 

    • Relationships with faculty, upperclassmen, and alumni
    • A framework for integrating faith and learning in college
    • Tools for designing a meaningful college experience
    • A vision for serving and contributing to campus life
    • A faith community of peers before orientation starts

When: Thursday, July 25 – Sunday, July 28, 2019

Where: Chesterton House – 111 & 115 The Knoll, Ithaca, NY

Who: Soon-to-be freshmen at Cornell who are excited to cultivate their faith in college, intentionally contribute to campus life, and meet Christian faculty, upperclassmen, alumni, campus ministers, and peers

What: An intensive learning experience that provides incoming Cornell freshmen with the tools, resources, community and vision to flourish in college

How: Apply by July 15

Cost: $199

Select number of full scholarships available (all expenses including registration, travel, food, lodging) Have further questions? Contact


To learn more, contact

You can learn more about the Chesterton House, a Christian Study Center at Cornell University, here.