I picked up my parents at the Ithaca airport Saturday morning.  My brother Robert and I walked to Schoellkopf to attend Convocation, where David Plouffe, senior campaign manager for Barack Obama, commended the graduating class for shaping the election and promoting change for the future.  Plouffe also gave a shoutout to my friend CJ, who served as Convocation Chair, and his recent unsuccessful foray with Introduction to Wines.  In other words, he didn’t pass (sorry, CJ).  The Lins then set off on a full day of receptions and get togethers.  The weather was sunny and humid.  “I didn’t expect Ithaca to be this warm,” my mom remarked, as she trailed 25 feet behind Robert and I.  Apparently her solution to the heat is walking at a snail-slow pace while holding her handbag over her face to block the sun: an interesting sight.

Rise and shine!  Drowsy from the red-eye flight…

…cleaned up at the Johnson Museum

Sunday was a whirlwind of caps, gowns, diplomas, flowers, and balloons.  All the graduates assembled on the Arts Quad before the procession started around 10AM.  With overcast skies, I was glad that it was cooler, since sitting in a black robe that doubles as a compact sauna is not an ideal situation for anyone.  During the procession, my heart dropped when we walked through the Day Hall parking lot.  There, professors flanked both sides in their Harry Potter-esque cap and gown regalia, clapping and congratulating us on this special occasion.  It really put our achievement–graduation from a university–on a much more meaningful scale.  It was a bittersweet sendoff as we progressed to the stadium.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Schoellkopf packed (it apparently has a capacity of 40,000), but it was teeming with family and friends Sunday morning:

Meanwhile, on the other side, Robert reported that the scene at Schoellkopf resembled the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.  “And now…the College of Arts and Sciences!”

President David Skorton addressed the graduates, asking us to take charge and embrace change.  With our liberal arts foundation and Cornell support, we have the skills and moral character that’ll ensure success in the future.  Then, one by one, the degrees were conferred.  Most notable in show were the Vet grads, who cleverly blew up arm-long plastic gloves to double as those thunder sticks you get at basketball games.  When Skorton mentioned “swine flu,” the flurry of blow-up arms drew a huge laugh.  We sang the Alma Mater as an entire class (I teared up a little bit), and before I knew it, it was over.

It still hasn’t hit me yet.  In a few months, I’ll be moving into an apartment in Manhattan and working in finance, a response which drew a lot of “get us out of this mess” and “finance…oh, I see” comments this past week.  I will be returning to JPMorgan this August, working in their Sales and Trading division, undoubtedly entering a field that thrives on high stress and quick thinking.  This show-no-mercy masochistic environment gets me going, and while I may be hitting the floor early in the morning, working hard every second until evening, I know it’ll be a fun ride.

I have many people to thank in this last (and rather long) blog entry.  First, to my family.  It was my dad who pushed for me to apply to Cornell in the first place.  Although we are separated for most of the year, the support my parents have given me over my 22 years, their respect for the “college experience” and their personal American Dreams have shaped me into the optimistic and direct Cornellian I am today.  To Robert, for becoming a new close friend instead of the pesky brother that makes fun of me…oh, wait…

Next, to friends old and new.  Special shoutout to my 219 Linden roommates (Katy, Hannah, Cath, Court, Michelle, Jill, Kara), some SHpecial friends, my KDs, fellow tour guides, and while it looks like I’m pulling names from a baby book, in no specific order: Jen, Danny, Frankel, Dave, Paz, Schneida, Steve, Scott M., Alex, Ryan, Bryant, Ray, Krebs, James, Jess, Sarah, and I’m missing about 50 other names–please forgive me, and the really nice coffee lady at CTB who always gets my medium hazelnut coffee…apparently her name is Paula.  To friends that I met from the first week of freshman year, and others I met this past year, with so little time left.  Regardless of duration, the bonds are rock solid and long term.  I’m talking about us ladies sitting in rockers knitting together when we’re grandmothers.  Not to ride on any stereotypes, but the guys, well, I don’t foresee us knitting, but perhaps playing golf or something else.  You all have changed my perspective on life and taught me to see things differently.  I’ll cherish our fun nights out, the relaxed nights in, the impromptu discussions, and heart-to-hearts.   While I’ll be able to see a lot of you next year in NYC, to everyone else spreading out in the states (or even going overseas), we are the generation of GChat, email, Facebook, and Skype, and by George, I hope we stay in touch.

Thanks to my elder mentors.  To my professors, who have instilled the importance of learning and curiosity. To Lisa, who got me this blogging job and put up with my antics: you probably think I’m crazy.  To Hilary, my rowing coach for 3 years: thank you for taking a doe-eyed freshman under your wing and giving me knowledge, faith, and the challenge of the sport of rowing, which I look on as one of my most memorable experiences.  To Taiya and Peggy, my tour guiding supervisors, I will definitely miss the hubbub in Day Hall.  Even to my finance gurus at my upcoming job (Rita, DBD, and others, all Cornell grads!), I appreciate your mentoring and look forward to August.

To my readers (Matt, Drew, this is for you):  Thank you for your continued support and comments.  While I was sure that the banality of my routine college lifestyle would be as boring as watching summer TV reruns, I’m glad there was something in my blog that willed the faithful few to keep up with my life.  Maybe it was the pictures…

And finally, thank you, Cornell, for the most amazing 4 years of my life.  Leisurely, I will miss Stella’s half-off burgers, late night pizza from Sindbad’s, Cornell Dairy ice cream, pitchers at CTB, fun nights at Rulloffs and the Palms, Olin Cafe, runs through the Plantations, Cayuga Inlet, the chimes, muffins and soup from Temple of Zeus, the driving range, and of course, Wegmans.  Let’s not forget the prelims, problem sets, papers, the bitter wind, and the hills.  You have challenged me, excited me, and given me hope and opportunity.  I leave the Hill with a sweet taste in my mouth and an enthusiastic smile.  I’ll be back, but for now, I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.