[MUSIC PLAYING] MARIANELLA CASASOLA: Please welcome the faculty of the College of Human Ecology led by Dean Rachel Dunifon.
[MUSIC - EDWARD ELGAR, "POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE"]
The guests are in their places. The faculty are in their places. The graduates are in their places. It is time to begin. Let us begin by making the following land acknowledgment. Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogoho:no the Cayuga Nation. The Gayogoho:no are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land.
The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of the Gayogoho:no dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of the Gayogoho:no people, past and present, to these lands and waters. I am Marianella Casasola, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and the College of Human Ecology. I am so pleased to welcome you to the best college at Cornell University.
Thank you. We didn't even have to practice that, did we? The Human Ecology commencement ceremony, we are hoping-- we hope that you're having an amazing weekend. This is the time for our college community to celebrate the success and future of the graduates and for us to recognize each graduate. A special thanks to the Human Ecology Commencement Committee, who arranged this amazing event.
I want to thank Alina Ferrer, I don't know where Alina is, there she is, and Tracy Thompson, where's Tracy, somewhere over there, who arranged all this to make this possible. I also think the many members of the Human Ecology staff, whoa re here in their red shirts, who have volunteered on a holiday weekend to assist us with this event. We are very grateful for your dedication, time, and energy today. Thank you.
Now, it is my distinct honor to introduce Rachel Dunifon the Rebecca Q and James C Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology. Dean Dunifon is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Jeb E Brooks School of Public Policy. She's a leading scholar on child and family policy. Her research examines the ways in which policies, programs, and family settings influence the development of less advantaged children.
Dean Dunifon has been awarded research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the USDA, the William T Grant Foundation. Prior to becoming Dean, she was a Senior Associate Dean for Research and Outreach in the College. In that role, she oversaw faculty recruitment and development, provided leadership for the college's outreach and extension programs, and coordinated graduate education in the college. The students, faculty, and staff benefit immensely from Dean Dunifon's leadership, enthusiasm, scholarship, and dedication. Please join me in welcoming her to the program.
RACHEL DUNIFON: Thank you, Marianella. It is so wonderful to be here with you today in person to celebrate the fabulous class of 2022.
Right now, it is my great pleasure to introduce our student speaker, Anita On. Anita--
Anita is a Human Development major and a Nutrition and Health minor from Las Vegas, Nevada. Anita is committed to contributing to health nutrition and education equity for underserved youth populations through community engaged research. She has contributed to the development, delivery, and evaluation of youth programs such as Get to Know your Brain Days, the Advanced Cooking Education Program, Act For Change, and Youth Investigators through the Affect and Cognition Lab, the Leak Research Group, and the PRYDE Scholars Program.
Anita is a two-time recipient of the Rice van Buren Public Speaking Award and is the 2022 recipient of our Florence Halpern award. Anita is passionate about helping people reach their potential and supporting them on their journey. And this includes her peers.
She's been a career assistant in the Human Ecology Career Exploration Center and a trainer and mentor in the Empathy, Assistance, and Referral Services program for the past several years. Some of Anita's hobbies include singing, songwriting, and organizing spaces. I love that. After graduation, Anita will be a research associate for the Texas A&M Agrilife Research and Extension Center in Dallas. Congratulations, Anita.
ANITA ON: Grit is defined as the passion and perseverance for long-term goals. All of us graduates here today, alongside our friends, family, mentors, and loved ones who have supported us along the way embody this very concept. Everything that we have achieved did not and will not come without its challenges.
But every time, we found a way to push through and become stronger with the community and the support around us. There's a reason why synonyms of grit include courage, bravery, and small loose particles of sand and stone. I might have gone too far into the thesaurus for that one. But I thought about it and even sand and stone can be shaped into a firmer foundation with the right mindset, resources, and support.
So here's my story. I entered the Cornell community not really convinced that I belonged here. From the moment I stepped on this campus, I felt like I had to work twice as hard even to produce half the work that my peers did. As a first generation college student, thousands of miles away from home, with mounting pressure to do well, but limited guidance from my family, I didn't believe in myself or my abilities.
But the friends, mentors, and the teachers I've had along the way did. And so the first person in college who took a chance on me and saw my potential was Dr. Eve De Rosa, After taking a leap of faith to ask for a one-on-one meeting with her to learn more about her research, Dr. De Rosa offered me the amazing opportunity to help with a community engaged research project called Get to Know your Brain Days.
As a part of the research team, I had the privilege of designing and teaching a neuroscience curriculum for a K through 4 cohort, alongside a team of five undergrad students, a grad student, and two professors. Still, in the back of my mind, I didn't think that I deserved to be there.
I doubted what I could bring to the team. I doubted my teaching abilities, doubted if I had made the right decision in leaping into this opportunity my first year. However, I leaned into my team for support. That was us day in day out, putting our knowledge together, making these lessons, practicing our delivery, and bonding over the long car rides to Syracuse.
We were in this together. And we were growing and learning together. And at the end of the two years of piloting this project, I finally felt like I belonged in a community. Get to Know Your Brain Days pushed me to pursue more community engaged research. And that's when I applied for the PRYDE Scholars Program.
PRYDE is short for the Program for Research and Youth Development and Engagement. And through PRYDE was actually how I applied to work with Dr. Tashara Leak and her research group. In all honesty, I thought that I had completely failed the interview to join her team. But I didn't think I had a lot of the skills that she was looking for. But I really wanted to be a part of her team. And I had the right mindset.
To my utter surprise, but absolute delight, she took a chance on me and saw the potential in me. So then over the next two years, in PRYDE and in the Leak Research Group, I got to, again, be a part of different communities in and outside of the classroom with my fellow PRYDE scholars, between Ithaca and New York for the Advanced Cooking Education program, or ACE for short, which exposes youth to nutrition, cooking, and careers in those fields.
And for a large portion of those two years, in Zoom rooms, as we all know, where I felt the presence of people even thousands of miles away. And it was alongside these people that I was able to learn and grow so much from their support. In fact, I had learned so much about community engaged research in and out of the classroom that I will be doing it full time after graduation.
So about what I said earlier about the kind of grit that's like sand and stone. With the right mindset, resources, and support, a firmer foundation can be built. And it was a firmer foundation that was built for me to evolve into the person that I am today. High school Anita, who wanted to be a combination of a motivational speaker and a stand-up comedian, still working on the second one, maybe the first one, too, we'll see, high school Anita would be so proud of the Anita standing here today.
And I hope that this resonates with you all, how much you've grown throughout the years. I hope that that resonates with you all. And reaching out for help, learning and practicing new skills, and growing as a person were all important ingredients for the recipe of success. So hey, we might embody grit, courage, honesty, and small loose particles of sand and stone after all.
I realized eventually that I did belong in this community, in the Human Ecology community, and just in the world. And we all have a place and purpose in each of the communities that we become a part of. And in these communities are people who believe in us, even when we don't believe in ourselves. So for the people who believed in me, Dr. De Rosa, Dr. Leak, Deanne, Salim, Navica, Felicia, Dr. Rose, Dr. Burrow, Dr. Elmer, Esther, the entire PRYDE team, my family who's here today, my wonderful partner, Ryan and his family, who's also here today, my wonderful friends, thank you so much for the support throughout the years.
So class of 2022, we've grown through our experiences, overcome obstacles, and rose to every challenge to get to where we are now. But the story doesn't end there. So as you reflect upon your time in this community, who has supported you? And how has that impacted you? With this growth and change that you have experienced in your time here, how can you contribute to the new places you'll go and the new people you encounter?
We are now closing a substantial chapter of our lives. But this is just the beginning. So let's get out there alongside the friends, family, mentors, and loved ones and celebrate all that you have accomplished and all that you will continue to accomplish for many years and decades to come with courage, bravery, grit, and a little bit of sand and stone.
RACHEL DUNIFON: Thank you so much, Anita. I have a little something for you, our very own Human Ecology swag to take with you to Texas. Thank you.
Hello, college of Human Ecology graduates. And congratulations. It is such an honor to celebrate this fantastic milestone with you today. As we reflect on all that you have experienced and accomplished during this time, I know you didn't do it alone. So let's have round of applause for your parents, family members, friends, and all of those who supported you.
I am joined here on stage by our wonderful Human Ecology faculty and staff, whose mentorship, knowledge, patience, and faith in you played a pivotal role in your Human Ecology experience. So let's have round of applause for them as well.
And while we're thanking people, I want to thank all of you for all that you gave to our Human Ecology community. I and my colleagues here learned and grew so much from working with you. And we really appreciate your engagement with the college. Your class, the class of 2022, will always have a special place in my heart. Because you were the first class that I welcomed to Cornell as Dean.
And that simultaneously seems like just yesterday and ages ago. During your time here, you transformed in important ways. That's what college is all about. Not only did you change, but so did the world around you in ways that we never could have anticipated when you first set foot on this campus several years ago.
And just as you have changed, so has Human Ecology. Our beautiful building, MVR Hall, has been renovated and transformed. And our college continues to grow and evolve. But in the midst of all these changes, we remain true to the core of who we are.
In Human Ecology, we focus on the many factors that influence human health and well-being, ranging from the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the families and neighborhoods in which we live, the buildings in which we spend our time, and the policies and programs that influence our lives. And we know that in order to truly improve human lives, all of these factors must be taken into account.
So what does it mean to be part of Human Ecology? It means that you learn from the top experts in their fields and got to see those same professors at our annual Human Ecology Barbecue. It means being part of a fashion show held outside this year for the first time and showcasing the amazing talents of our students. It means you're part of a community of trailblazers.
During our college's almost 100-year history, our history includes Cornell's first female faculty members, the first African-American woman to receive a PhD at Cornell, and Cornell's first female Dean. Human Ecology means excellence and community, research and impact, science and art. You recognize what Human Ecology has to offer and saw the opportunity for yourselves here many years ago when you were applying to college.
As you now get ready to leave us, knowing that you will be taking your Human Ecology mindset out into the world makes me optimistic about our future. As you begin to navigate your path from here, there are many routes that your journey might take. Looking at the stories of three of our Human Ecology alumni illustrates the winding and varied past that begin here, as well as the relevance of your Human Ecology education as you chart your own course.
Andrea Palm, class of 1994, is the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, putting her second in command of improving the human-- of the health and well-being of our nation. Her role encompasses the COVID pandemic response, the opioid epidemic, improving mental health services, and increasing access to healthcare, a truly Human Ecology approach to improving the health of the entire United States.
There's Jimmy Pitaro, president of ESPN, Human Ecology class of 1991. Jimmy describes how Human Ecology served as an oasis for him within the larger Cornell community, teaching him how to think broadly, be innovative, and take risks. What Jimmy got from his Human Ecology education is nicely summarized by the sign he keeps in his office, quoting the words of one of his mentors, "work hard, and be nice to people." I think that's a great sentiment for you to take away from your time in Human Ecology.
Finally, Gizelle Begler, class of 2008, is the creative director of Haute Hijab. Giselle designed a luxury hijab collection, creating an opportunity for Muslim women who want to be fashionable while showing and expressing their faith. Her collection was the first of its kind. And it has been featured in magazines like Vogue, Elle, and Glamour.
Like these and so many other of our alumni, I have no doubt that you will navigate rewarding, extraordinary, and unpredictable paths for yourselves. And as you do, I'm confident that you will go on to improve human lives in many different ways in your own communities. And in some future graduation address, don't be surprised when we're up here talking about you.
As you chart your next course, I can't resist the opportunity to offer you some unasked for advice. First, think about who or what you want to bring with you as you navigate your path from here. So that you can stay connected to your unique experience in the college.
I graduated from college over 25 years ago. And what I have continued to nurture since that time are my friendships. My college friends and I have managed to get together every year since we graduated with one exception in 2020. At first, it was easy because our lives were flexible, we lived near each other, and had some good excuses to get together, like weddings and baby showers.
Coming together got a lot harder with time. And it would have been really easy to let the years slip by without seeing each other. I'm so glad that we didn't do that, though. And as a result, we've seen each other through all of the ups and downs that take place during adulthood, relationships, losses, jobs, parenthood, and others.
I hope that you are purposeful in bringing whatever it is that you wish to keep with you after leaving Human Ecology. Some of you will stay in touch with your friends. For others, it may be faculty or other mentors. Perhaps it's continuing a research project that you started here or traveling back to a place that's important to you. Whatever it is, take some time to think about who and what you want to hold on to going forward. And make the time to include it in your life.
Lastly, while I know that you will go on to do an experience great things, I'm not going to wish for you smooth sailing. That's not how life is. And you do not need me to tell you that. I hope you all find and are able to navigate meaningful paths for yourselves. And I'm confident that you'll be able to do so.
However, there will be bumps in the road. That's true for everyone. The goal is not to avoid the challenges, but to embrace them and find out what they're trying to tell you. Again, looking back at where I was over 25 years ago, I faced bumps right after graduating. I started a graduate program right after college and immediately realized it was not a good fit for me.
Despite a very strong temptation to just stay the course, I dropped out, worked at a bookstore, and took some time to think about what I really wanted to do. That was a humbling, but transformative decision. Because it allowed me to follow the path that eventually led me to a job that I've been honored to have as a faculty member in the College of Human Ecology. I encourage you to give yourself the space to make a few mistakes, change direction, and to be kind to yourself and those around you when that happens.
Being part of the College of Human Ecology means that you have a wonderful set of tools and perspectives to take with you as you navigate your own paths from here. Please be sure to stay in touch with us. Join our Alumni Association. Take part in Cornell activities. And come back to visit, so that we can enjoy with you as you navigate your wonderful, bumpy, and winding paths from here. Again, congratulations.
MARIANELLA CASASOLA: We will now proceed with the presentation of the graduates. First, we will present the students receiving graduate degrees grouped by degree and department. Next, we will present the students receiving bachelor's degrees, who will be grouped by major. After I introduce each student, the graduate will cross the stage and be greeted by a faculty member from their program. Then Dean Dunifon will congratulate them.
A professional photographer will take a picture of each graduate as they are greeted by the Dean. Graduates will receive a congratulatory certificate. Note, the actual diplomas will be mailed. The Dean will be available in the lobby outside this area for individual photos after the ceremony.
If you're taking additional photographs, please do not impede the work of the professional photographer or the flow of students in the aisle. Please follow the guidance of our staff so everyone can proceed smoothly and safely.
Before I begin reading the names, I extend special congratulations to those graduates whom I have gotten to through our work in class, research, or college activities. Because my job here is to read the names and keep the flow of graduates moving, I will save my personal hugs and greetings for after the ceremony. But please come find me after the ceremony. I would love to say-- be able to meet your families. As I call your name, please note that you have my warmest congratulations and best wishes.
All right, here we go, onto presenting to you, the class of 2022.
Coming to greet the graduate degrees for the Department of Psychology in the major of Human Development, actually, is Felix Thoemmes, department chair. That was just a practice run, right?
We will now award graduate degrees for the Department of Human Centered Design. Greeting degree recipients in the majors of Design and Environmental Analysis and Fiber Design and Pro Design is Yasser Gowayed, department chair. Congratulations.
We will now award graduate degrees from the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Greeting degree recipients in the major Nutritional Science is Pat Cassano, director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
We will now award undergraduate degrees. From the Brooks School of Policy Analysis and Management Majors Greet degree recipients in the majors of Healthcare Policy and Policy Analysis and Management is Sharon Sassler, Director of Undergraduate Studies.
We will now award undergraduate degrees from the Department of Human Centered Design. Greeting degree recipients in the majors of Design and Environmental Analysis and Fiber Science and Apparel Design is Yasser Gowayed department chair.
We will now award undergraduate degrees from the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Greeting the degree recipients in the majors of Global and Public Health, Human Biology Health and Society, and Nutritional Sciences is Pat Cassano, Director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
We will now award undergraduate degrees from the Department of Psychology. Greeting degree recipients in the major of Human Development is Felix Thoemmes, department chair.
Congratulations, class of 2022.
Thank you for the enthusiasm. They really deserve it. Before we close our ceremony with the Alma Mater, I want to thank you all for coming to our celebration. I wish you a wonderful weekend and smooth, safe travels to our graduates. Congratulations, best wishes, and most of all, keep in touch.
As we conclude our program, we have-- or we have graduates, [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] will lead us in singing of the Cornell Alma Mater. The words are located in the back of your program.
CHOIR: 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, all 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, all hail, Cornell.
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College of Human Ecology Recognition Ceremony 2022