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Week 4: Natalie Keener vs. Ellie Arroway

To vote, simply answer the following question:

Which person, if real, has the potential to offer the greatest contribution(s) to society?

Cast your vote three ways:

  • Submit your answer in the comments of this post
  • Respond via the Cornell or MIT Facebook pages
  • Tweet using the hashtag #MITCU

Need some inspiration? Learn more about Natalie Keener and Ellie Arroway.

Representatives from the Cornell and MIT Alumni Associations will be looking for posts that are clever, witty, absurd, and downright ridiculous. The more entertaining we find your comment to be, the more likely it will tip the scale in favor of your alma mater. Voting ends each Friday at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Leave a comment


  1. Chris

     /  October 17, 2011

    I really hate to go against my beloved alma mater, but this is no contest: Ellie Arroway all the way. I guess we get the consolation prize knowing that Ellie was invented by a Cornell professor…

  2. Natalie Keener is the obvious choice here.
    Both she and Eliie are smart, ambitious women looking to make something of themselves.
    Where Natalie pulls ahead is showing that she is a wiser person. Once she realizes that she is in the wrong situation in her life, she fearlessly quits her job, moves, and finds something that works much better.
    Ellie stubbornly soldiers on, working for a bad boss and wasting time making first contact with alien life, when she could have changed positions and found true happiness with her preacher-man.

    Natalie demonstrates a life lesson: Find your way, then manage your fear and make it happen, now.

  3. Brooks

     /  October 17, 2011

    Natalie by default. Arroway wouldn’t exist if not for the genius of a Cornell professor. (It that giveth life taketh away?)

  4. Natalie… she will revolutionize something, even if she falls flat on her face, And no matter what my friends say, I am not like her at all….

  5. Brian

     /  October 18, 2011

    The important distinction here is that a character’s ability to contribute to society is based on how his/her story ENDS, not how it begins. That would be like selecting young Anakin Skywalker, without considering the fact that he became Darth Vader. Character development is key here, and we must know how the character’s story ends because that’s the person who will be doing the contribution to society? While MIT’s Ellie came into the beginning of the movie with promise in scientific innovation, by the end of the movie she reneges on the scientific method and pushes people to believe in her vision, whether her experience was real or just neurons firing off. Rather than character degeneration and obsession, Cornell’s Natalie Keener understands how to surmount challenges that may be beyond one person, and comes out for the better.

  6. Alan Cisar

     /  October 19, 2011


  7. K. Mills

     /  October 19, 2011

    Definitely Ellie Arroway!

  8. David

     /  October 19, 2011

    I can’t believe this is even close. The most memorable thing about Keener was that she failed to stop someone from committing suicide. Ellie was the first to understand an alien broadcast, was the first human to make first contact, and in the end bridged the “divide” between faith and science. Ellie: No contest.


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