Aleena Ismail, PRESIDENT

Hey everyone! My name is Aleena Ismail. I’m a freshman studying Economics and International Relations at Cornell University. I care about social impact and international development, especially related to women. I also enjoy reading the news, listening to slam poetry, and traveling.

I came across The Failure Project during my first semester at Cornell. After listening to confident campus leaders and enduring several information sessions and coffee chats for Cornell's many professional organizations, I was flustered and left feeling like the standards being set by my peers were impossible to meet. For me, The Failure Project was a “me too” moment - I wasn’t the only one feeling imperfect. In my eyes, The Failure Project - at its core - is about empathy. The stories on the page require people to share some of their biggest insecurities to become truly vulnerable. The effect on the reader is the empowering knowledge that they are not alone in their failures. I hope The Failure Project brings lots of “me too” moments to its readers.

For questions and comments, feel free to email me at



Hi there! My name is Charlie Liao. I'm a graduate of Cornell University working at McKinsey & Company.

As many of you may know, a lot of universities (minus Harvard and its rampant grade inflation - just kidding) are plagued with undue stress. When you come in as freshmen, it can be overwhelming and quite terrifying to hear about the plethora of amazing upperclassmen that are setting out to redefine the world we live in. How do we measure up to that? How can we be like that?  Asking these kinds of questions leads to the idolization of perfection. Every mistake we make becomes a deviation from the goals we aim to achieve. Every misstep becomes a heart-wrenching defeat. We become anxious, stressed, and unhappy. 

To combat the trifecta of negative emotions resulting from this culture at hand, I started The Failure Project in an effort to raise awareness about everyone's shortcomings by having them list some of their proudest accomplishments side-by-side with some of their prominent failures. You see, failures should not be sources of shame - failures are rightfully places of beaming pride. If you take a few moments to reflect on the times you've fallen short of what you've wanted, think about the longer term outcome. Most of the time, you will find a lot of beauty hidden before, during, and after the supposed hurt. 

Being comfortable with failure offers a lot of benefits. You'll be better at taking risks (and a top study has shown that an appetite for risk taking corresponds to success), learn a lot more from what should be deemed as learning experiences, and overall feel a lot better about yourself on a day to day basis. So, let's celebrate failure together, one friendly face at a time. 

Oh! As a final note, failures comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn't matter how mundane a failure might seem; every single one may vary in meaning when examined through other perspectives. 

For questions and comments, feel free to email me at