Smiles, selfies and ice cream fill Graduation Weekend 2017

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John Carberry
piggy back ride
Joe Wilensky/Cornell Chronicle
Graduating art majors from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning gather in front of Tjaden Hall as the Class of 2017 assembled on the Arts Quad Sunday morning of Commencement Weekend.

Cornell’s newest graduates, along with their families and friends, wore smiles, grins and pride throughout Cornell’s 149th Graduation Weekend. They now share a collective memory of 6,000 deft men and women striding into the future.

Among the new alumni, Danica Davis ’17, who received her bachelor’s degree in architecture, aims to create the feeling of home in her residential work, while classmate Christine Ansalone ’17 wants to build a little bit of everything.

Artists Chan Seth ’17, Veronica Constable ’17 and Yuxi Xiao ’17 were ecstatic to line up for the procession. Seth, who specializes in portraiture and the abstract, plans to attend music festivals, spend time in the mountains, then backpack in India this summer. Constable, who was born in Russia and grew up in Philadelphia, creates life-size color-pencil portraits of her sisters. Xiao double majored in art and plant sciences.

Lauren Chan ’17, human development, said she had “received more than I expected from Cornell – in the most positive way.” Geyanne Lui ’17, human biology, health and society, was appreciative of her experience with faculty.

decorated mortar board
Robert Barker/University Photography
Many graduates personalized their mortarboards for Commencement.

Mario Velado ’17, human biology, health and society, wore a unique lei at Commencement that featured artistically folded dollar bills in the shape of orchid leaves. As Velado proceeded toward the stadium, he paraphrased one of his professors: “From freshman year to senior year, it goes from how much you don’t know you don’t know, to you now know how much you didn’t know.”

While Cornell’s graduating veterinarians typically wave inflated, shoulder-length examination gloves at Commencement, the seniors at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences did not throw in the towel. Instead, they waved them. Jessica Nino de Rivera ’17 and Claudia Mimosa ’17, both biological sciences majors, and Jiaming Huang ’17, animal science, and Kevin Chou ’17, applied economics and management, picked their towels out early.

McGraw and grads
Joe Wilensky/Cornell Chronicle
A few members of the Class of 2017 take a break between posing for photos with McGraw Tower visible behind them before heading to the Arts Quad for the procession Sunday morning.

Miquela Lee Hanselman ’17, animal science, shares a special connection with her great-grandfather, Ernest S. Smith. She graduated from Cornell 100 years after he did. Smith’s graduation was held June 27, 1917, at Bailey Hall, when Cornell President Jacob Gould Schurman gave the Commencement address. That 1917 senior class procession formed in front of Goldwin Smith Hall, yards from where she lined up a century later.

As the procession started precisely at 10 a.m. on the Arts Quad, Todd Drucker ’17, architecture, kept it light and jokingly asked his classmates, “Do we have to make two laps?”

At Convocation the day before, Schoellkopf Stadium was packed to capacity as nearly 30,000 people heard former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sweta Boban ’17, human biology, health and society, enjoyed a front-row seat with her family at the Schoellkopf Stadium crescent for the Biden Convocation speech. Her parents, Lisa Francis and Mathew Boban, flew in from Bismarck, North Dakota, while her brother; Mathew Boban ’13, visited Cornell from his graduate work at the University of Michigan.

David Sim ’17, regional planning, along with his friends in the Cornell Chorus and Cornell Glee Club, performed at Convocation. Biden stopped to chat with the student singers, and he bade the seniors good luck. The next day, as Sim lined up on the Arts Quad for Commencement, he said, “I don’t want to leave now.”

grad and dog
Jason Koski/University Photography
A graduate and a guide dog-in-training make their way to Schoellkopf Field for Commencement.

After Convocation, thousands of Cornellians, their families and friends headed to the Arts Quad for the midafternoon ice cream reception. The vanilla chocolate chip ice cream – named in honor of Biden, “Big Red, White & Biden” – proved so popular, there was only enough for the first half-hour of the party.

Wesley Dixon ’17, engineering, enjoyed time with his family at the ice cream reception. His sister and twin, Whitney Dixon, graduated a few weeks ago from the University of Georgia.

Taking pictures at the Ezra Cornell statue was popular; Ye Yang, M. Eng. ’17, and Jia Yu Dong, M.Eng. ’17, both took shots there. The students’ parents flew in from China days earlier.


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Blaine Friedlander