Students relish waning hours of Graduation Weekend

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John Carberry

Joe Wilensky
In their waning minutes as students, seniors from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning exude joy as the line in the Commencement procession begins to move. Click to view University Photography slide show
Alvaro Salas-Castro
Joe Wilensky
Cornell Graduate School banner bearer Alvaro Salas-Castro shows a scarf made for him by his mother, Ingrid Castro. Salas-Castro, of Costa Rica, earned an MPA from the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs and he paid for it by using “crowdfunding” – which consisted of three rock concerts, two fundraising dinners, one art auction and other donations. He begins his doctorate at Syracuse University this fall.
Joe Wilensky
Whether they were using smartphones or tablets, students often stopped to snap a selfie while lining up for the procession at the Arts Quad.
Erin Noonan
Joe Wilensky
A natural resources major, Erin Noonan explains her temperate deciduous biome – featuring cougars, elk and bear – before the Commencement ceremony Sunday May 25.

On a blissfully perfect, cloudless Sunday, Cornell University graduated its 146th class May 25, sending about 6,000 talented men and women into the world. Together on campus for the last time, seniors assembled on the Arts Quad to hug, shed tears, share joy and walk in procession to Schoellkopf Stadium.

Nikki Kimura of Long Island, New York; Reyn Yoshioka of Hawaii; and Elizabeth Sowers, Sunnyvale, Calif., lined up together. Around Kimura’s cap was a Hawaiian “haku lei,” similar to a dense wreath. It was a gift – directly from the Big Island of Hawaii – from Yoshioka’s parents.

Erin Noonan’s mortarboard sported a temperate mini-biome (a community of flora and fauna), replete with cougars, elk, deer, bear and a mountain goat standing atop rock pile. A natural resources major from Syracuse, she will move to Vail, Colorado, to teach about sustainability.

School of Hotel Administration senior Chelsey Garman of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, is excited to begin her career in event and wedding planning. Her classmate Matt Picarillo of Westchester, New York, will move to Florida and to work in real estate. While Caroline Tawney of Portland, Oregon, starts her sales and marketing position at Expedia, in San Francisco, Talia Angelitti of Montreal, crosses the Atlantic to begin her job at Le Duff in France.

Amanda Clark, from Flemington, New Jersey, will embark on a restaurant career in Seattle. Former wines teaching assistant Meaghan Moran, from Mystic, Connecticut, begins her career in beverage distribution in Denver. Her favorite wine: Bordeaux.

Glee Club member Zach Hempstead, of Corning, New York, lined up with fellow crooners Helen Cowan (Cornell Chorus) of Vergennes, Vermont, and Parker Moore, of Rochester. In Saturday night’s Senior Days Glee Club and Chorus concert, singing alumni took to the stage with Hempstead, Cowan, Parker and 100 other singers for Cornell songs. In the “Song of the Classes,” Hempstead – who as a senior sang the freshman part – serenaded his mother, chorus alumna Debra Chesman ’81.

Abraham Francis
Joe Wilensky
Abraham Francis, from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, Hogansburg, New York, studied biological sciences. He explains the symbolic nature of his clothes during the procession lineup on the Arts Quad.

For at least three seniors, it’s déjà vu all over again as they follow in familial footsteps. Maggie Henry’s paternal great-grandfather, Walter B. Shaw, graduated in Cornell’s Class of 1913. Thomas Evangelista is graduating a century after his maternal great-grandfather, Edwin Scott Dawson, a member of the Class of 1914. “We are both engineers; he was mechanical and I am a chemical engineer,” he said. Mary Tapscott was graduated from the College of Engineering’s School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, a department established by her grandfather, Andrew Schultz ’36, Ph.D. ’41, Cornell’s fifth engineering dean from 1963 to 1972. Tapscott will stay at Cornell for her master’s degree in applied operations research.

On Saturday afternoon, Danielle Roberts of Long Island; Pamela Terlizzi of Morristown, New Jersey; and Gabriella DiGiovanni of Hudson Valley, New York, beamed for photos on the sunny Arts Quad at the ice cream social. All had transferred to Cornell, started a Facebook group called “The Class of 14 Transfer Group” and became the best of friends.

Max Chen, a doctoral student in the field of statistics, from Ellicott City, Maryland, ate ice cream and cookies on the Arts Quad with his parents and siblings. Chen enjoyed Ed Helms’ Convocation address: “He delivered a good message – I really appreciated hearing it.”

Sean Page of Bowie, Maryland; Will Bartlett of Bethesda, Maryland; and Jeremy Brewer of Boston savored their waning hours before graduation. Page – a Senior Days organizer, was thrilled with the rave dance, wine tours and paint ball activities, he said as he waited to take a picture with Cornell President David Skorton and his wife, Robin Davisson, Cornell professor of biomedical sciences.

Following graduation, colorfully cloaked senior Chris Adams of Champagne-Urbanna, Illinois, emerged from the crowd to conduct the Cornell Wind Ensemble in a spirited cancan. Adams earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a minor in creative writing from the College of Arts and Sciences, and will teach physics to Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar students.

Nisha Drummond of Sparta, New Jersey, who earned a degree in human development, climbed the Ezra Cornell statue’s base and Ezra’s bronze hand knocked Drummond’s mortarboard off her head. She recovered it and the family snapped the picture.

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