Cornell says goodbye to graduates

The Cornell College community said goodbye to 210 seniors on Sunday, May 12, during the college’s 161st Commencement ceremony.

After years of studying and lots of memories with classmates and faculty members, the Class of 2019 gathered in the Richard and Norma Small Multi-Sport Center for an indoor ceremony.

“Today is about you—it is your day,” said President Jonathan Brand during the ceremony. “We recognize and celebrate that, up to four years ago, you set your sights on President Brand hugs a new graduategraduating from college.  And, today, we affirm that you have met the expectations as set by our faculty to become graduates of Cornell College. You are not only graduating from college—from Cornell College—but you are realizing the dreams of your family and friends.”

Jai Shanata ’05, Associate Professor of Chemistry, and Belou Quimby ’19 jointly addressed the audience as the faculty and student speakers. The two have created what Shanta called a “long-term bond,” which he said are common among students and faculty at Cornell. Quimby met Shanta when she was a prospective student, and Shanta was Quimby’s academic advisor during her four years on the Hilltop.

Shanta shared his personal secrets of success with the graduates: A set of superpowers. He says all graduates of Cornell’s block plan have these superpowers.

“The first superpower is to hit the ground running,” Shanta said during the speech. “As I started graduate school, I quickly learned that most of the other first-year graduate students had taken even more science classes than I had. Though these students had memorized more facts and tried more problems, they were often not as creative nor as focused. For every task I was assigned, those around me reported that I appeared to hit the ground sprinting. But as a student of the block plan, this actually felt more like a comfortable walking pace. And these aren’t my experiences alone, we routinely have alumni come back to the Hilltop to tell us that their ability to start and finish a project in days not months has set them apart. Here’s my first piece of advice: Don’t underestimate this superpower.”

Associate Professor of Chemistry Jai Shanata and Belou Quimby '19 on stage during Commencement
Associate Professor of Chemistry Jai Shanata and Belou Quimby ’19

Quimby demonstrated everything she has learned at Cornell through a mock interview on stage with a fictitious future employer. 

“This interview is nothing compared to everything I did at Cornell,” Quimby said during the speech. “Cornell gave me the opportunity to try something new, step out of my comfort zone, and to succeed. Those four years I spent in all those classes were not in vain. I did it. My peers did it! We made it through our undergraduate studies and got a degree. How cool is that? Our involvement on and off this campus catalyzed each of our unique pathways. We are shaped by our extraordinary efforts which made us who we are today, and boy, have we grown since our first year.”   

Images and details can be found on the Commencement webpage and photos can be found on the flickr album.