Newly minted graduates from the College of Veterinary Medicine wave their long gloves to celebrate on Saturday.

Face-to-face: Families celebrate the newest Cornell grads

When Denise Knox got an email on April 30 notifying her that she and her husband, Robert, would get two tickets to Commencement to see their son Morrison Knox ’21 graduate, she recalled, “I was ecstatic.”

The family – including their other son Ryan Knox – arrived from Bowie, Maryland on May 28. Straightaway, and despite the unseasonably cold weather, they celebrated in a tried-and-true spot: the Cornell Dairy Bar.

With tickets for two in hand, families of undergraduate seniors and graduate school candidates poured into Ithaca for the first in-person graduation since December 2019.

New graduates embrace on Schoellkopf Field. This was the first in person graduation since December 2019.

Four Commencement ceremonies were held May 29-30, spaced out to de-densify Commencement weekend to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines. Though the sidewalks, streets – and the Dairy Bar – were less crowded than during pre-pandemic Commencement weekends, the mood was warm and celebratory. Students lined up on Hoy Field, instead of the Arts Quad, making for a fast trip into the stadium.

The first two ceremonies marked the first time Cornell’s May Commencement was held on a Saturday since 1968, said Corey Ryan Earle, instructor of The First American University, a history course about Cornell.

Like many graduates and their families after the ceremony, new alumni Alexia Kim ’21, from San Jose, California, and Seldoen Oshoe ’21, from Ithaca, both graduates of the College of Human Ecology, said their goodbyes and took lots of pictures outside the stadium.

Just outside of Schoellkopf Field, several newly minted veterinary doctors from the College of Veterinary Medicine greeted a beagle named Poppy – adorned with a canine cap and gown – who gladly wagged his tail. Poppy’s human, Zoe Daniels, D.V.M. ’21, was quite proud of the rescue dog. Daniels, from Long Island, will soon be on rotating veterinary internships in New York City.

Calista-Rae Campbell ’21, from Hawaii, lines up at Hoy Field with other soon-to-be graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences on Sunday morning, prior to the procession. She was wearing a traditional Hawaiian kīhei, a body cloth worn for special occasions.

For special occasions, Hawaiians wear a kīhei, which is a body cloth hung over the shoulder. Calista-Rae Campbell ’21, a psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, wore a kīhei made by her mother Keala Campbell and her father Terry Campbell – a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is now a master’s degree candidate in biological and environmental engineering.

Calista-Rae Campbell started at Cornell in 2017 and the rest of the family followed her to Ithaca in 2019.

Charles Recaido, of Kealakekua, Hawaii, Calista-Rae’s grandfather, tied the cloth before the Sunday morning ceremony.

“Mahalo Piha (thank you very much) for bringing much joy into my life and for the privilege of witnessing the amazing, ongoing journey of your life,” Charles Recaido wrote on Calista-Rae Campbell’s academic stole, placed over the kīhei cloth. “You are an example to us all. Love you always, Papa.”

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Abby Kozlowski