[APPLAUSE] ANNOUNCER: The first of the academic procession has arrived. Leading the procession is the university marshal, Professor Poppy McLeod. Following the university marshal is the banner for the class of 2021. The class year banner bearers are Talia Greenberg and Brandon Hoak, class officers. The class marshals are Bailey Landow and Elizabeth Latella.
First to arrive behind the class banner are the PhD candidates of the graduate school. The symbol banner is carried by Christopher Michael Furman. Candidates are led by the dean of the graduate school Kathryn J. Boor. PhD banner bearers are Austin Lee Hickman and Dourong Adeline Yeh. The degree marshals are Anne Teresa Byrne and Eudes Caregosa Parado Lopes.
Once again, the PhD degree candidates from the graduate school.
Next are the master degree candidates of the graduate school. The master banner bearers are Devansh Saraswat and Sripathri Dev Sharma Kopparthy. The degree marshals are Kimberly Fuqua and Sabah Mohammed.
Degree candidates from the Cornell Law School attended a convocation event last week. We wish them good luck as they study for their bar examinations. The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and Cornell Medical College in New York City are participating in separate commencement ceremonies. Included among the graduates who will be conferred today are those who carried out their studies at Cornell Tech in New York City.
Once again, the master degree candidates from the graduate school.
Next are the candidates from the College of Veterinary Medicine led by Dean Lorin Warnick and college banner bearers Jennifer Rodriguez-Diaz and Laine Feller. The degree marshals are Jessica Box and Lindsay Seewald. The symbol banner bearer is Richalice Marie Melendez-Rivera.
Once again, the degree candidates from the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Now entering the stadium are the degree candidates from the College of Human Ecology led by Dean Rachel Dunifon and college banner bearers Isabella Harnick and Emma Jelliffe. Degree marshals are Elizabeth Farkoult and Paul Soden. The symbol of banner bearer is Gianna-Jade de Vecchio.
Once again, the degree candidates from the College of Human Ecology.
Now joining the procession are members of the university faculty led by the dean of the university faculty Charles Van Loan.
At this time, we acknowledge and thank the Cornell University faculty.
Now joining the procession, the university leadership led by provost Michael Kotlikoff and the trustees of the university led by chairman Robert S. Harrison.
At this time, the university marshal Poppy McLeod will escort the mace bearer Professor Bruce Lewenstein and Cornell University's president Martha E. Pollack to their places on the platform.
As our candidates are being seated, we ask that all our guests please take their seats as well. Thank you.
Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogohono, the Cayuga Nation. The Gayogohono are members of the Haudenasaunee 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 Gayogohono dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogohono people, past and present, to these lands and waters.
POPPY MCLEOD: President Pollack, candidates for degrees from Cornell University have gathered for the conferral of degrees to celebrate the commencement of the 153rd graduating class of Cornell University.
Members of the Board of Trustees, the faculty, administrative staff, degree candidates, and guests are in their places. The assembly is hereby called to order. Please rise and join us in the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner."
(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 rockets 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.
Everyone, please be seated.
It is my privilege to introduce Michael Kotlikoff, university provost.
MICHAEL I. KOTLIKOFF: Welcome parents, families, friends, and supporters and most of all the accomplished members of the classes of 2021.
Graduates, this has been an extraordinary year, and you've proven your resilience and your community spirit as well as your academic accomplishments. On behalf of the faculty of Cornell University, indeed on behalf of the entire university, I want to congratulate you for your behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you. You set the standard for the nation.
Cornellians, I wish you success in your careers and look forward to hearing of your future achievements. And now it is my honor to introduce the 14th president of Cornell University, professor of computer science, information science, and linguistics, Martha E. Pollack.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Class of 2021, feels pretty good to be sitting here, right?
So I've been to many, many graduations in my life, and one thing I learned long ago is no matter what the sky looks like, in everybody's heart, graduation day is always a sunny day. So excuse me a moment while I put on my shades.
Now every time I stand here in a Cornell cap and gown, I tell a new class of graduates how great it is to be here, how happy I am to see them, how pride I-- proud I am of everything that they have accomplished. But this year being here with you in person, it's better than great. I am really, really, really happy to see you, and saying that I am proud doesn't even begin to express how it feels to stand here looking out at the Class of 2021 and at the parents, the family, and the friends who have supported you through so much.
So, graduates, before I say anything else, here's what I want you to do. This is a football stadium that hasn't had nearly enough noise this year. In fact, there hasn't been any noise here this year at all, and today is the day we're going to start making up for it.
So follow my directions carefully. First, I want everyone to stand up. Now you know where your family and friends are, turn towards them. Otherwise, just turn in the general direction of the audience. Don't do anything else yet. Don't do anything else yet. Look how well-behaved they are.
On the count of 3, in whatever language it is you speak at home-- English or Spanish or Hindi or Europe or Chinese or Cayuga-- whatever language it is, on the count of 3, I want you to say thank you so loudly that they would hear you in the stands even during a tie breaking touchdown when the Big Red beat Harvard. You ready? 1, 2, 3.
CROWD: Thank you!
MARTHA E. POLLACK: We're not quite done yet. Turn around and face me but don't sit down. As thrilled as we were that we were able to let everyone bring two guests, we know that there are a lot of people who would have liked to have been with us this year but aren't. They're cheering from afar.
So what I want now is for everyone to look at my right. I wanna introduce you to someone. This is Paul. Paul, could you wait for a second so they see who you are?
Paul is operating camera number 2, which is one of the cameras bringing the livestream of this commencement to everybody watching it. So everyone you love who you wish were sitting behind you, they're right behind Paul. So again on the count of 3, we're going to yell thank you to all of them. 1, 2, 3.
CROWD: Thank you!
MARTHA E. POLLACK: I think they heard you. You can all sit down.
Before we go any further, I want to pause for just a moment to acknowledge the people who are with us today only in our heart, both the students whose graduation this should have been and everyone we've lost over the past year to COVID-19.
I spent a lot of time over the past months thinking about what I would say when, and frankly, sometimes it felt like if, we finally got to this moment, when we finally all put on our caps and gowns to celebrate your extraordinary achievements at Cornell and especially your extraordinary achievements over this past year. A commencement is a celebration of a milestone. It marks the moment that you crossed the line between student and alum, between one phase of your life and another. This hour here at Schoellkopf is that liminal space. It's where we stand together on that line between what lies behind and what lies ahead, between the familiar past and the unknown future.
But this isn't the first time we've stood there together. 446 days ago, I wrote you all an email that I had never imagined writing. Like all of you, I'd followed the news reports as the coronavirus spread through Asia, through Europe to the West Coast to New York City. On the advice of public health experts and epidemiologists, we had already brought home our study abroad students, and we had limited the size of campus gatherings.
But we soon came to realize that this would not be enough. Yet Cornell in its 155-year history, through two world wars and civil unrest and more than one previous pandemic, Cornell had never closed before. The decision that in retrospect we see as inevitable in that moment felt unthinkable. Making that decision, sending that email meant crossing a line that separated the past we knew and the future we had planned for from a present that seemed to be changing every hour and a future that had no map.
446 days ago, you opened an email that you never imagined you would receive. You were sitting in Mann Library perhaps or the Duffield Atrium. You were getting a snack, or you were heading to a study group meeting. You pulled out your phone to check your email, or maybe you got a text from a friend. And at that moment, the world stood still.
Campus is shutting down. Classes are going online. They're sending all of us home. It seemed for a moment like it might be the end of everything.
But the next moment, you looked around and you saw that Cornell was still there, and you were, too. You figured out what you needed to do next, what to pack, what to store, where you were going, and how to get there, and when you did get there, what you did was finish your semester. On Zoom and on Canvas by text message and FaceTime call, somehow you finished it all. You found new ways to be together to learn and to grow.
When you found yourself in an unmapped future, you adapted your course, and then you adapted it again and again. But every day you moved forward. And today here you are in caps and gowns at commencement where you were meant to be all along.
The world has become a different place since that moment when, as the song from Hamilton goes, the world turned upside down. But if you know that song, you also know something else, that the world has turned upside down before. I very much hope that this will be the last time in your lives that your world will be turned upside down by a pandemic, but I can almost promise you that it will be turned upside down by other things.
The email will come or the text message or the conversation or the news report that will draw a new line between what was and what will be, a past you knew and a future without a map. Or you'll face a decision that whatever path you take is going to change everything for you, for the people closest for you, or for the people that you will be there to lead. And when that happens, the next time your world turns upside down, I want you to remember one thing. Remember that you've been there before. Remember that you got through it. And remember how.
You are here today because for 446 days, you held each other close even when it was impossible to do that physically. You held on to the kindness and support of one another, and you kept moving forward. You are here today because of your commitment and hard work and because all of the people-- your family, your friends, your chosen family, and your community, Cornell faculty, and Cornell staff, all of the people who helped you keep going.
And you made it to where you are right now because all of you chose hour after hour and day after day to keep Cornell going. As hard as it was, you did what you needed to do. You kept your masks on, and you kept your distance. You met your friends outside even in the Ithaca winter, even in the Ithaca spring, even in the Ithaca summer.
You did what you needed to do. You got your vaccines as soon as possible. You showed up for your surveillance tests. Some of you even spent some time in the Statler. You did your daily check, and you checked in on one another.
You chose day after day and hour after hour to put community first, and all of the countless decisions that have kept Cornell safe and kept Cornell healthy and moving forward, of all of the data and all of the expertise that went into these last 446 days, it was your decisions that mattered the most. Nothing I did and Day Hall, no decision, no policy, no investment, nothing could have taken the place of a community willing to work together for its shared well-being.
So of everything that you've learned in your time at Cornell and everything you will take with you as you move from here, that may well be the most important lesson in all. And it's a lesson that in every way is entirely consonant with the ethos and the values of Cornell. A Cornell education has always been designed to do much more than teach the students the knowledge they'll need to succeed in their careers. It's designed to teach you how to live and how to thrive in a changing world.
And today perhaps more than ever, our changing world demands much more than any specific set of knowledge. It demands the ability to communicate across difference and to appreciate different points of view, the willingness to tackle big thorny problems and find answers to questions that were never in a textbook, to learn not just what's on the next test, but to learn how to learn throughout a lifetime as the world and what there is to know about it evolves.
The world we live in now is different than it was when you arrived at Cornell, and it will continue to change in the years ahead. And the biggest challenges that we face now as a society and a planet will demand of you everything you've learned here and especially everything you've learned in this last year. They'll demand not just knowledge but a commitment to truth, not just science but the ability to listen to others and to communicate what you know. The world that lies ahead will demand of you everything you learned inside the classroom and outside of them, both the expertise you came here for and the creativity and I dare say the courage and the ability to work together that you gained along the way. And it will demand of all of us the commitment to do exactly what every single one of you has done here at Cornell.
Make the hard decisions that will enable all of us to move forward. Make the personal sacrifices that will enable your community to thrive. And above all be kind. Be kind knowing that doing so could make all the difference in the world to someone else.
This year has taught you the hardest, most important thing, how to stand back up when the world has turned upside down. You do that by reaching out to help each other. I am in expressively proud of every single one of you, of what you've accomplished here as individuals and together, of the way you've brought the ethos and the values of Cornell to life, and the way you've come together to bring us to this point today.
Congratulations, graduates. When the pandemic is over, come back. Come back often, come back soon. I look forward to seeing many of you at reunions to come. Cornell will always be a part of you just as you, the extraordinary Class of 2021 will always be a part of Cornell.
POPPY MCLEOD: We will now proceed to the conferral of degrees.
The first group to be presented to the president for conferral of degrees are those who have fulfilled the requirements for degrees in the Cornell graduate school. Will the dean of the graduate school, Kathryn J. Boor, please come forward.
Will the candidates for-- will the candidates for the doctoral degree please rise and the degree marshals come to the front of the platform.
KATHRYN J. BOOR: President Pollack, I have the honor of presenting these unstoppable candidates who are duly recommended by the faculty of the graduate school, having fulfilled the requirements for the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Science of Law.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you, Dean Boor. Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Cornell University, I hereby confer upon you the doctoral degree appropriate to your advanced study and research with all the rights, privileges honors, and responsibilities thereto.
POPPY MCLEOD: Cornell University welcomes the new doctors of philosophy to the ancient and universal company of scholars. Will the doctors please be seated and the degree marshals returned to their seats.
Will the candidates for the master's degree in studies that have been directed by the graduate school please rise and the degree marshals come to the front of the platform.
KATHRYN J. BOOR: President Pollack, I have the honor of presenting these intrepid candidates who are duly recommended by the faculty of the graduate school, having fulfilled the requirements for the master's degree, be it Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Health Administration, Executive Master of Health Administration, Master of Industrial and Labor Relations--
Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Professional Studies, Master of Public Administration--
Master of Public Health, Master of Regional Planning--
Or Master of Science.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you, Dean Boor. Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the authority vested in me by the trustees of Cornell University, I hereby confer upon each of you the master's degree to which you are entitled with all the rights, privileges, honors, and responsibilities pertaining thereto.
POPPY MCLEOD: Will the masters graduates please be seated and the degree marshals return to their seats.
CROWD: Yeah, yeah!
Will the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine--
Lorin Warnick, please step forward.
Gotta love them. Will the candidates for the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine please rise and the degree marshals come to the front of the platform.
LORIN WARNICK: President Pollack, I have the honor to present these outstanding and exuberant candidates of the College of Veterinary Medicine who have fulfilled the requirements and who are duly recommended by the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine for the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you, Dean Warnick. Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the authority vested in me by the trustees of Cornell University, I hereby confer upon you the most enthusiastic group ever at graduation--
The degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with all the rights, privileges, honors, and responsibilities pertaining thereto.
POPPY MCLEOD: Will the Doctors of Veterinary Medicine please be seated and the degree marshals return to their seats.
Will the two class marshals representing the senior class please come up to the front of the platform.
Will the dean of the College of Human Ecology, Rachel Dunifon, please come forward.
Will the candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Science from the College of Human Ecology please rise and the degree marshals please come to the front of the platform.
RACHEL DUNIFON: President Pollack, it is my honor to present these fabulous candidates who are duly recommended by the faculty of the College of Human Ecology, having fulfilled the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you, dean Dunifon. Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the authority vested in me by the trustees of Cornell University, I hereby confer on each of you the degree of Bachelor of Science with all the rights, privileges, honors, and responsibilities pertaining thereto.
POPPY MCLEOD: Will the graduates please be seated and the class and degree marshals return to their seats.
Will the assembly please rise and join us in the singing of the Cornell alma mater.
(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, 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.
This concludes the commencement ceremony for these degree candidates of the 153rd graduating class of Cornell University. We thank you for joining us today and congratulate our new graduates.
Please remain standing during the recessional and then exit the crescent as directed by the ushers. Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Congratulations, everyone. We ask that students and guests leave the stadium by the same way that they came in and meet guests at designated meeting places and cars. Thank you and have a wonderful day.
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2021 Commencement for the Graduate School, College of Veterinary Medicine, and College of Human Ecology on Saturday morning, May 29.