SPEAKER 1: Please welcome President Martha Pollack.
Senior Class President Andrew Semmes.
Student Convocation Chair Charlotte Lefkowitz.
Guest speaker Bill Nye.
And Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi.
Students, families, and friends, if you're able to, please rise and join us for the singing of the national anthem as performed by the Cornell University wind symphony and chorus and glee club.
[MUSIC PLAYING - "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER"]
CHORUS: (SINGING) Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
CHARLOTTE LEFKOWITZ: Good afternoon, and welcome friends, family, and members of the class of 2019 to our convocation ceremony. My name is Charlotte, and it has been an absolute honor serving you all as convocation chair. Class of 2019, congratulations. We did it.
To all the friends and family in the audience, thank you for the sacrifices you've made, so that your child, grandchild, sibling or friend could have the opportunity to graduate from one of the foremost universities in the world this weekend. And for those not here, your presence is no less felt nor validated by the sea of smiling faces I see before me now.
Here we sit, class of 2019, amongst our family and friends, unified in celebration of everything we have accomplished to get here today, unified at the precipice of limitless opportunity with the values, relationships, and knowledge this remarkable place has bestowed upon us and unified in the knowledge that tomorrow, we join the ranks of distinguished alumni who have led lives of purposeful discovery like our convocation speaker, Bill Nye.
But in this time of unbridled joy, we are met with uncertainty. This transition seems scary because it feels final. We realize for the first time in a very long time that our purpose is no longer bound by the security of our Cornell student identity. The prospect of leaving this magical place, leaving the comfort of our Cornell student identities can be daunting. Let's not give the uncertainties of tomorrow the power to spoil the joys of today.
Let's instead allow the search for purpose guide us through uncertainty. Let's embrace the transition that lies before us and appreciate the opportunity it represents, the boundless potential of a first draft, one with no deadline and endless opportunities to edit. Today, let's embolden ourselves with the revolutionary spirit which founded our university, the first of its kind, and focus on how we can thoughtfully embrace uncertainty through the pursuit of purpose.
Purpose isn't about choosing one static goal. Purpose is staying loyal to an ideal, but knowing it's OK if it changes as we continue to learn new truths about ourselves and the world around us. Purpose isn't about amassing the most material wealth. Purpose is recognizing the privilege of our Cornell degree and sharing the benefits of that resource beyond ourselves.
Purpose isn't about being the smartest person in the room. Purpose is letting curiosity consume you and continually chasing the thrill of intellectual pursuit. Purpose isn't about touting our Ivy League pedigree. Purpose is humbly recognizing that there is a difference between being smart and being well-educated. Purpose isn't about taking ourselves so seriously. Purpose is living boldly and laughing loudly, because life can be silly, messy, and absurd.
When we find ourselves in a period of uncertainty, much like we are facing today remember the joy of this moment being surrounded by the friends and family who have supported us. Remember that we are not powerless against the apprehension this uncertainty provokes if we let the search for purpose guide us. Let us honor generations of Cornellians, past and future, our friends and families, and most importantly ourselves by leading meaningful lives guided by the boundless opportunity of an ever changing purpose. Thank you and congratulations again, class of 2019 on starting our first draft tomorrow.
It is now my honor to introduce my best friend, my first friend, and our Senior Class President Andrew Semmes.
ANDREW SEMMES: Thank you, Charlotte, for that touching introduction. I feel so lucky to have been best friends with you since freshman year. We all know the motto of our university as Ezra Cornell first phrased it. "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." This is meant to shape and inform our time here at Cornell. The majority of us most likely came here for any study.
The academic, research, and career opportunities are recognized globally and will give us strong foundations as we start our careers. Although a majority of the emphasis is on any study, I'd like to focus on any person and the impact that the people around us had on us during our Cornell experience.
In our first weeks and months on the hill, we may have felt awkward or unsure as we frantically searched through the course catalog before add drop closed or sat down with random groups of people at Appel or were forced to join 20 list serves at club fest. These pursuits helped us start to get a sense of our place at the school.
Throughout our time here, we were asked, what do you study, what are you interested in? These questions may seem simple at first, but personally, they challenged me to explore my goals, passions, and ambitions. Although Cornell gave us the intellectual curiosity to pursue these questions, I couldn't fully answer them in classes, project meetings, or extracurricular events.
It was my friends who challenged me to reflect through our late night conversations in Cascadilla Hall. It was my friends who opened me to new opportunities on and off campus. And it was my friends who supported me through the highs and lows and ultimately spurred my personal growth.
The value of our university is that the people you sat next to in [INAUDIBLE] class may have different definitions of success than yours. They will pursue different careers and pave unique paths. This might take the form of teaching a classroom of inquisitive third graders, building a Fortune 500 company, or pursuing the arts. The commonality between our paths is that we will build successes through meaningful work with others. With the education and especially the relationships we've built here, one day we will support each other in impacting change in our local and global communities.
We not only have our career successes to look forward to, but also the continued evolution of our friendships we formed here. In just a few years, we will come back together as a class at reunion. In the interim, we may plan road trips, weekends away, fraternity and sorority meet-ups or just drinks after work. Our shared experiences will continue through the next five, 10, or 40 plus years of our lives.
Most exciting of all, there will be celebrations, weddings, and family introductions that will strengthen and deepen our friendships. Your friend who you remember falling down the slope after a night out may become a parent, and you'll be able to share embarrassing stories of your crazy college years to their children. Any person, any study, we as a class lived that motto during our time at Cornell. And we will carry our breadth of knowledge of our studies and depth of our relationships with our friends for the rest of our lives.
Graduation is not a goodbye. There is more to come. Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2019. Let's all now enjoy Richard H. Lee's "Strike Up A Song to Cornell" performed by our talented Cornell University Glee Club and Chorus.
CHORUS: (SINGING) Strike up a song to Cornell, and let the swelling chorus rise before us. Strike up a song to Cornell, and set the campus ringing with our singing. Fill the classes with a song and drink the magic music spell. We will sound good the joy of life intense in a rousing toast to Cornell.
Strike up a song to Cornell, and let the swelling chorus rise before us. Strike up a song to Cornell, and set the campus ringing with our singing. Fill the classes with a song, and drink the magic music spell. We will sound the joy of life intense in a rousing toast to Cornell.
Strike up a song to Cornell. Come let us strike up a song to Cornell. Strike up a song to Cornell.
CHARLOTTE LEFKOWITZ: It is with great pleasure that we welcome our president Martha Pollack. President Pollack is the 14th president of our beloved university, and she has already had an enormous impact on Cornellians in Ithaca, New York City, and abroad during her two years since coming to Cornell. I look forward to seeing her promote an inclusive campus environment in the years to come. So please join me in welcoming our Cornell University President Martha Pollack.
MARTHA POLLACK: Thank you, Charlotte, and thanks to both you and Andrew for your leadership of the senior class and to everyone out there, once again, welcome. To the class of 2019, family and friends of graduates, and members of the community, I am delighted to celebrate this senior convocation with all of you and to warmly congratulate all of our graduating seniors.
The class of 2019 has chosen for its speaker a scientist, engineer, comedian, author, inventor, and Cornellian. The name on his diploma is William S. Nye, but you probably know him as Bill Nye the Science Guy.
As early as high school, Bill enjoyed tutoring other students in math, and he also enjoyed taking apart his bicycle to see how it worked. Given that, it's perhaps not surprising that here at Cornell, he studied mechanical engineering.
Yeah, mechanical engineers. After graduating, Bill got a job as an engineer at Boeing. And then after winning a Steve Martin lookalike contest, he took up a second career as a stand up comic. Eventually, he quit his day job to host Bill Nye the Science Guy, which won 18 Emmys in five years.
Following in the tradition of Carl Sagan, who was Bill's astronomy professor at Cornell, he became a charismatic and beloved figure sharing his PB&J, that's passion, beauty, and joy of math and science with people everywhere. He's done it not only on TV, but also through books for children and general audiences, through a series on Netflix, and through his work as CEO of the Planetary Society, the world's largest space interest group.
He has returned to our campus many times to speak to enthusiastic audiences. And in 2012, he helped dedicate the clock in Rhodes Hall, which he designed and funded as a tribute to his parents. A small disk at the top of the clock face lights up each day at solar noon when the sun is at its highest point, and remarkably, it works even here in cloudy Ithaca.
Now, I'm curious, show of hands, how many of you grew up watching his show?
And how many of you saw the video of Bill Nye's appearance on Last Week Tonight on John Oliver a couple of weeks ago?
For those of you who didn't, he lit a globe on fire to drive home the impact of global warming. Bill Nye's job has always been not just to make us laugh, but to make us think. In all of his work he promotes the value of critical thinking, science, and reason in the hopes of creating a better future for all of us. And when he puts on his safety glasses, people pay attention.
He's one of the great science communicators of all time. For all the ways in which he has shared with us the joy of discovery and for all the ways in which he tells us what we need to hear, we are so honored to welcome as our 2019, senior convocation speaker, member of the Cornell class of 1977, Mr. Bill Nye.
BILL NYE: Love that song. Wow, thank you. Thank you all so much. Rendering that song with classical orchestra is a whole new thing for me. It's fabulous. So let's get started. Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished faculty, alumni, parents, boys, girls, kids of all ages, and especially graduates, congratulations.
You made it. Nicely done. You might be thinking those parents and all those other older adults around me, they can't get me now. Well, it's too late people. They already did. Now we want you all out there to go out there, and dare I say it, change the world.
As you may have heard, I was graduating from Cornell 42 years ago. I know. What happened? And look, 42 years ago, and look, I'm fine. Although, I may look pretty old, I wasn't here in 1891. Back then, the classics were considered very important. On the Cornell entrance exam, students like us were expected to know where Syracuse and Ithaca were, while those metropoli along with [INAUDIBLE], Argo, and Alexandria on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Things like that have changed quite a bit.
But seriously, this Cornell was a university like no other. Its charter, education for any person of any sex or any ancestry in any study, this idea has stood the test of time for lo those 154 years. Each of you is a vital part of it all now, so please consider the following.
You have access to more human knowledge, more computing power, and more fun in your electric phone machines than your ancestors could imagine, let alone make use of. And it sure looks like information, transportation, and agricultural technologies are going to get better and better. The future is full of astonishing promise, but our world is changing. There are so many of us living increasingly energy intensive lives and burning ancient plants to get that energy that we are changing the climate of a whole planet.
The only other organism to do this was blue green algae, and I've spoken with those algae, and they take that like they had nothing to do with it. You might say it's gotten to the point where it seems like the globe is on fire. That's a-- I'm sorry, that's a television reference for some of them. These are scary times for everyone on Earth.
And speaking of scary times for everyone on Earth, in the winter of 1941, everyone was terrified. People could see the troubles in Europe and Asia were about to become troubles for everyone on Earth. The first such conflict, the first big war to end all wars, which it didn't, was rekindling. And the US would once again be dragged into the deadliest war ever or maybe just the deadliest war so far, the Second World War.
Then on 7 December 1941, my mother's boyfriend disappeared, captured by the Japanese Navy from Wake Island, a tiny atoll 5,000 nautical miles west of Hawaii. In the spring of 1942, my mother was graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. And she became a cryptanalyst, a code breaker. She and her colleagues went on to have remarkable careers. They helped win the war. But back then, so did everyone. Everyone in the US, along with Allied peoples everywhere went to work to resolve a global conflict, and I mean, win the war and get back to work. And they did.
It was an extraordinary time because everyone was scared, everyone pitched in. And in five short years, they got her done. Now you are not facing a global war, leastways not yet. Instead, you're facing a global change in life itself. Our world is warming, and the living things around us are changing and dying at an unprecedented rate. So you are going to have to make big changes in the way you and your kids live.
At the start of the Industrial Revolution after mechanical engineer James Watt came up with a very practical steam engine, we had about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. Today, we have nearly 415 parts per million. It's changed by a factor of 1 and 1/2 in barely 2 and 1/2 centuries, not two million years, 200 years. The only other times climates have changed this fast are associated with the occasional asteroid impact.
There's never been anything like this in all of human history. And when my grandmother went to see the Wright brothers fly their aeroplane in College Park, Maryland in 1909, were a few more than 1 and 1/2 billion people on Earth. Today, there are almost six times that many. We are breathing and burning an atmosphere that's so thin. How thin is it? It's so thin that if you could drive straight up, you'd be in outer space in an hour. Now for those you came here on Interstate 83, it would be 2 and 1/2, three hours.
But with each passing second, there are four more people born on Earth, with each second. And by the time you all reach your billionth second here on Earth, little halfway into your 31st year, we will have nine, we may have 10 billion people on Earth. We-- by that, I mean you-- are going to have to find a way to feed us all. And you will with technology derived from science and with policies that support innovation and investment in the greater good.
It is no longer a matter of only keeping the air and water clean, curtailing the accidental creation of plastic trash and hoping that we'll be OK somehow. No. Nowadays, we-- by that, I mean you-- are going to have to steer our spaceship, take charge of our Earth. It's no longer a matter of just being good stewards. From now on, we humans will have to deliberately control what we do to our atmosphere, our land, and our seas to ensure that we maintain as much biodiversity as possible, while still taking care of all of us.
And when it comes to changing the world, don't be scared. Don't freak out. When you have to perform, doing anything, be it during a final exam, dressing for a date, winning a World War, or managing an entire planet, you know, you might get nervous. You might get scared. That fear can stop you cold, but don't let it.
As we say in the theater and on television, take that fear and turn it into excitement. You're graduates of Cornell University for crying out loud.
You are among the best in the world at just about anything. It's your time. Make a difference. It's what everyone here wants you to do in every challenge you face. Do not throw away your shot. Turn fear into excitement and change the world. Now if you could in some Harry Potter magic wandical fashion, make one sweeping change to the world to address climate change, it would be this. Raise the standard of living of girls and women worldwide.
Well, I'm glad you're supportive, but it's a provable fact. It's not any other kind of fact. Here is how you're going to do it. You're going to provide these three things for everyone on Earth. First, provide clean water to everybody. With clean water, we can have agriculture, and we can have health. And then provide renewable electricity. When we're talking about electricity, we're talking about energy.
Energy writ large, really nowadays is electricity. Electricity can be used to navigate with satellites. It can be used to run your electric phone machines, and it can be used to make toast. It can do all that stuff. It's very versatile. It's transmittable. And if we can produce it renewably, we'll have it for as long as we want. Electricity is magical.
Third, we want access to the internet for everybody in the world. With that, we can provide education. We can provide education to girls and women. And with that, we can make the world a better place for all of us, because women, when they have a higher quality of life, will have fewer kids. The kids that are born will have more resources, and they, in turn, will get educated, and the world's level of quality will increase for everyone in the world.
I am very optimistic about the future, because you all are going to change it. Now this is as good a moment as any in our time together to talk about some advice, just regular advice. It's a good idea, for example, to always wear shoes in a factory where they make thumb tacks. When crossing a highway in a car or on foot, it's a good idea to look up from your phone once in a while.
And it's a good idea to read the label on a can of paint before you drink it. That's a joke. You don't drink paint. When I was in college and for 20 more years in the workforce, if I wanted to know something like the atomic number of molybdenum, you know, something fun, I would have to look it up. If I wanted to know something important, like the score the Mets game, I would have to look in the newspaper. I'd have to go to a handbook or something. It was a very grim time.
But now, if you want information like that, you can find it in milliseconds from several generally very reliable sources. I mean, it's not that likely that someone is going to create a website in which they deliberately state that molybdenum has 43 protons instead of 42. [LAUGHS] As if-- I mean that would be fun. But we're talking about molybdenum not technetium, everybody.
But there are those, those among us, who do make up a lot of misleading and just plain wrong things and post them on the internet. The skill we all need now is not the ability to acquire information, but the ability to sort it out, what we nowadays call critical thinking, the ability to reason and decide whether or not something is reasonable, and then find a way to check it. Here's something else I hope you'll carry with you as long as you live.
Everyone you ever meet knows something you don't, everyone. Farmers know things about plants that most of us, even botanists, will never know. Bricklayers have an intimate knowledge of what it takes to lay bricks. Cooks know how to use copper bowls to control egg proteins, which I find quite cool. So respect that knowledge, and learn from others. It will bring out the best in them and will bring out the best in you.
Keep in mind that if you couldn't choose where you'd be born on this Earth, but you could choose when, today, now, now would be the time to be born. This is the most exciting time in human history. The opportunities before us now are amazing. No matter what else is going on, everyone, please be optimistic. People who are not optimistic are kind of a drag.
They don't get very much done. They get spun up and worn down by their own self-doubt, and they'll bring you down with them. When my grandparents joined our merry band here on the Earth, no one had any idea of what relativity was or is. They saw the creation of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Your mobile phone uses both special and general relativity, so that not only can you listen to music, but you can tell which side of the street you're standing on.
And speaking of radio physics-- who isn't-- I had a few extraordinary experiences here at Cornell that really changed my life. And I guarantee you have had a few, too. You may not be aware of them yet, but someday you will. When I was here-- wait, I am here. We're all here. I was talking about relativity. I lost track of time.
Sorry, that's a nerd joke, you guys. That's really funny. But seriously, when I was here, I took one class from Carl Sagan, this famous astronomer. It changed my life. He started the Planetary Society in 1980, just as disco was giving way to the important work of Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols. And I joined the Planetary Society. I got a letter in the mail. Sorry, for the young people.
A letter was it was a plant-based information storage. And I responded to it. I joined the Planetary Society. It turns out that his kids watched the show. I was asked to be on the board of directors. I was asked to speak at his memorial service. I spoke with him at my 10th reunion. And he gave me one piece of advice that changed the way I produced The Science Guy show. He said focus on science, not technology. Kids resonate to pure science.
And that shaped everything I did as a television performer and writer and author. And then I left the room at a Planetary Society board meeting, and they took a vote. And now I'm the CEO. And what we do, if you're not familiar with us, is advance space science and exploration, because we don't want the Earth to get hit with an asteroid, which would be a drag. And we want to find life on another world.
When I was at Cornell, Frank Drake was here. And Frank Drake came up with the Drake equation, a means to estimate the likelihood of extraterrestrial life being anywhere out there in space. And his thinking has shaped the space exploration programs of every space agency on Earth. One thing led to another. And now, the Planetary Society is the world's largest independent space interest organization. Check us out at planetary.org.
We're going to launch our second solar sail spacecraft no earlier than 22 June. If you've never been to a launch of a spacecraft, it is amazing. Through my connection with space sciences, even though I was a mechanical engineer, I was asked to join the Mars exploration Rover team in a very, very small way. And we managed to put three sun dials on the surface of Mars. So on the edge of each sundial, it says, "To those who visit here, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery."
My friends, that is the essence of the scientific method, the scientific process is the joy of discovery. As Isaac Asimov said, "Science doesn't begin with a eureka moment. It begins with, oh, that's funny." And so I hope that all of you get that "that's funny" joy of discovery every day the rest of your life. And here's hoping also that one of you or your progeny visits the planet Mars someday soon and makes some astonishing discoveries there.
Also, when I was here-- no kidding, people-- Ultimate, Ultimate Frisbee had just been invented. I played in the very first intercollegiate tournament in 1975. I was a medium player, everybody. I had very throwing skills, but unremarkable speed. But I went on to found the first team in Seattle. And now, I'm still so into Ultimate, I am one of the investors in the American Ultimate Disk League, all because I showed up here and started throwing a disk around. And when I was here, by the way, Hans Bethe delivered the freshmen lecture to us engineers. And unlike many of us here today, he had a Nobel Prize for discovering the process by which stars make the chemical elements of the periodic table.
All the elements that you and I are made of came from stars. We are stardust. That fills me with reverence every time I think about it. When I was at Cornell, we were shown, that we are at least one way that the cosmos knows itself. It gets me every time.
You were all in college when gravitational waves were proven to exist. You were in first grade or so when the universe was shown to not only be expanding, but accelerating outward, and dark matter and dark energy are responsible. And you know what dark matter and dark energy are? Nobody knows. Understanding those currently mysterious forces may lead to everyday technology, like our mobile phones, and it will be in your lifetime.
By the way, I'm predicting right now that gravitons, particles of gravity will be isolated and discovered and figured out, and so-called darkons, particles of dark. I just kind of made that up. Whatever else you can say about them, darkons are going to be dark.
So overall, what I'm saying is troublesome as some of our global problems seem to be, you all are up to the challenges, no matter which college you are being graduated from. You know more physics than Isaac Newton did or Copernicus. You know more about evolutionary biology and genetics than Darwin or Wallace did. And those guys didn't even know there was DNA.
And speaking of biological acronyms, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, CRISPR, is going to change the way we farm, treat diseases, and give birth. In your lifetime, we may discover evidence of life on Mars or the ocean moon of Jupiter, Europa with twice as much sea water as the Earth. The future, your future is going to be extraordinary.
So much of the research that goes on in planetary science starts here at Cornell. As graduates, I imagine more than a few of you are concerned about what's next, what are you going to do for a living, what are you going to do for the rest of your lives after you write that first draft. Well, my advice is just get started, just get going.
As you may know, I worked on a TV show intended to get young viewers excited about science so over the future, we'd have a more scientifically literate society, and of course, more scientists and more engineers. But keep in mind, I am not advocating that everyone become a scientist. I'm certainly not advocating that everyone become an engineer. I mean, the fashion consequences alone would be very troubling.
So I got here today because I took a good job in aerospace. I started writing jokes for a local comedy show in Seattle. I left my full time regular engineering job around October 3, 1986 roughly. And I tried to pursue a career in television. I just got started. And one thing led to some pretty good other things. Turn any concern you have, any time you have it about your future, turn that concern into excitement.
Now, wait. There's one more thing that's not really advice, I guess. It's more like a command. Everyone, you have to vote. Vote.
That's how we influence policy makers. That's how we make big changes. Now, if you don't want to vote, would you please just shut up? And let the rest of us get on with changing things for the better. And when it comes to changing things for the better, I remind you that's a process. It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen quickly.
And something that inspires me every day is Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, which refers to the progress of science and useful arts. And I think useful arts really was 18th century way of describing engineering, using science to make things and solve problems. But my claim is that the founders of the Constitution were nerds. They were trying to come up with a system that could change, that could adapt.
And that's the key to the future. As the world is changing, as our global climate is changing, you all are going to have to adapt. So accept and embrace that change is built in. And as Bruno Mars remarked, before we leave, I'd like to tell you a little something. Take a moment, everyone, please and consider what you've accomplished here at Cornell and what you'll be able to accomplish on account of your days here.
Whatever it cost, it's priceless. Your diploma will be worth more tomorrow than it is today. It will be worth even more, far more 10 years from now. Cornell is just an extraordinary institution that teaches you how to think and how to interact with the world. So class of 2019, here's wishing you excitement, optimism, and joy of discovery in everything you do.
Use your knowledge and your abilities to bring out the best in those around you, and let them bring out the best in you. We are all so very excited about your future because you can and you will-- dare I say it-- change the world. This has been an honor. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
CHARLOTTE LEFKOWITZ: Mr. Nye, thank you for offering your words of advice and encouragement. You have the unique ability to unite and inspire the class of 2019 to be curious, informed, hopeful, and empowered agents of positive change. On behalf of the class of 2019, it is my absolute pleasure to present you with the convocation medallion.
BILL NYE: It's red. Wow! Thank you. This is really something. Thank you.
CHARLOTTE LEFKOWITZ: The medallion is our way of recognizing the impact you've had on Cornellians today. You have made this weekend iconic and relevant for us as graduates through your platform of intellectual inquiry and pride in your Cornell education. Having a fixture of our childhood serve as our steward into post-grad life is exciting and feels very full circle. Thank you, again, for your words today and your tireless work to, as you've said, create a better tomorrow for all humankind. It is an honor to present you with our medallion as a humble token of our gratitude. Let's give another round of applause for Bill Nye.
Please join me in welcoming our Vice President of Student and Campus Life, Ryan Lombardi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you, Charlotte and thank you, Mr. Nye, for joining us today and sharing your thoughts with the class of 2019. We know you love being back in Ithaca where everything is red, and we appreciate the good message you've shared with us today and that you live on a daily basis. He is quite a Cornellian, isn't he?
To the class of 2019, as you've heard, you're sitting here on the eve of your commencement from one of the world's truly great universities. You've heard others say you made it. And I want to say we made it, because, class of 2019, for the undergraduates especially who sat here in Schoellkopf four years ago, you've been on campus all of two days. I'd been on campus all of two weeks.
That's right. The last four years, '19, you're my first class to see all the way through. And I will always remember you're 2019. Thank you for everything.
And as you embark on your next endeavor, your endless rough draft or first draft, I want to challenge you to continue to pursue it with the same passion and rigor you experienced here on the Hill. Let your mind continue to grow, and let the pursuit of your dreams be relentless. Most importantly, use what you've gained here to advance the common good of our world please.
I sincerely hope, class, that this adventure has been good to you. But please remember that it's not over. Although you've made it through this chapter, your relationship with Cornell is a lifelong journey. Keep in touch with those that you've met here, the lifelong friendships that you'll have, and come back to visit us frequently. You will always have a home here in Ithaca. Congratulations and thank you, class of 2019.
And now I ask that if you are able to, please rise and join the university Chorus and Glee Club in the singing of our Alma Mater.
CHORUS: (SINGING) Far above Cayuga's waters with its waves of blue, stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee our Alma Mater. Hail, oh hail, Cornell.
Far above the busy humming, of the bustling town, reared against the arch of heaven, looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee our Alma Mater. Hail, oh hail, Cornell.
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William S. Nye ’77 – known to millions as Bill Nye the Science Guy – spoke at Senior Convocation Saturday, May 25, at 12:30 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field during Cornell’s 2019 Graduation Weekend.