The forecast was dreamlike. Low 80′s and sunny, as far as the little forecast icons could stretch across my screen. When has that happened in Ithaca in the month of May? Never, seemed to be the consensus.
Senior week was a glorious period of pre-graduation celebration under the Ithaca sun that allowed us outgoing members of the class of 2010 to enjoy one final week at Cornell, without exams, without obligations, and with our friends. I had made an effort to schedule as little as possible into my senior week because it was an opportunity to not have every moment of the day scheduled. I could join friends at a barbeque if the weather held (which it did, all week long and beyond), or I could head to the top of the clocktower to watch the sunset with friends (see picture above). The plan worked out quite well, but by the end of the week, I was definitely ready for graduation to come along.
Graduation weekend kicked off with Convocation on Saturday, with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivering the convocation address. Cornell’s convocation webpage suggested that attendees dress in business casual attire, and I was more than intrigued by people’s interpretations of such a suggestion. My favorite of the family members entering the stadium? The grandmother in the shiny silver suit. Pelosi’s address was okay, but I thought it was a bit too much like something she’d say while campaigning for votes. Senior Class President (and Daily Sun sex columnist) Jeff Katz delivered a surprisingly touching and humorous address that many considered better than Pelosi’s. Saturday evening brought dinner with my family, which we did at a restaurant on Owasco Lake (the Finger Lake that’s east of Cayuga Lake). We didn’t have to worry about overcrowded restaurants or reservations six months in advance — it was a nice respite from the hectic streets of Ithaca for a few hours.
Sunday was the big day: commencement. I had managed to get pulled into making the programs and slideshows for two graduation receptions that day, and consequently got a hearty 3.5 hours of sleep before I had to get up for a 7:30am breakfast with graduates from my major. After some sustenance and some conversation, it was off to the Arts Quad for the requisite pictures of my dorky self in front of the clocktower and other campus landmarks. Then it was off to find friends for more photos, and then to line up according to college at different points around the Arts Quad. From there, the processional started and we made our way through campus as friends and family looked on, cheering, waving, and holding up signs. Off-duty officers from the Cornell Police Department stood watching us outside of their offices in Barton Hall as the kitchen staff from the Statler hotel stood on the other side. All of Cornell was out to see us make our way to Schoellkopf Stadium, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit overwhelming. That said, nothing prepared me for entering Schoellkopf Stadium and seeing the entire crescent of bleachers filled to capacity. Apparently there were 35,000 people in attendance, all there to watch us graduate. Now that’s a bit overwhelming.
President Skorton’s address was awesome, just as every other speech I’ve seen him deliver has been. He outlined four things for us to remember and managed to connect it all to our collective experiences as Cornellians and didn’t veer off onto any unnecessary tangents. Sitting under the bright, sunny sky in 85 degree weather while wearing a polyester black gown leaves you yearning for shade and those face-numbingly cold winter days that most people usually associate with Ithaca. After jubilating in our new status of Cornell alumni (!?), all of the students dispersed across campus to their major-specific diploma receptions. Mine consisted of my advisor standing behind a folding table in a tent on the Ag Quad. After getting my diploma and taking a few photos, I was off to celebrate.
A nap was definitely necessary that evening after all of the day’s activity; afterwards, I found myself scrubbing every surface in the apartment while packing up all of my belongings with the goal of being out the door by noon the next morning. The goal was achieved, and I was on my way home — for a week, at least. Then it was back to the hill for to work at reunion…
[Photos: Caitlin Strandberg, Mark Hintsa]