Students cheerfully donned blue and white caps and gowns in celebration after a long academic year alongside family, faculty and staff for the Class of 2022 Commencement Ceremonies.
Two in-person commencement ceremonies were held; one at 9 a.m. and the other at 3 p.m. May 22 at the Glazer Arena in the Athletics and Events Center. The event honored students receiving their bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degrees, along with the 54 faculty members who earned tenure or a promotion during the last two academic years. Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty and David Prunty, executive director of auxiliary services, were awarded the Presidential Medal for their service to the college community.
David Lissy ’87, chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, gave the welcoming remarks. As his advice to the graduating class, Lissy said students should remember how it feels to graduate.
“I encourage you all to lean in and soak in the moment,” Lissy said. “Have confidence that your time here at IC has prepared you for the journey that lies ahead in whatever your next step may be and beyond.”
Lissy expressed his own fear and excitement when he graduated college and started the next chapter of his life, but said he hopes the graduating class will continue to think of the college as a home.
“I hope that you will find, as I did, having been the first in my immediate family to earn a four-year degree, that Ithaca will always be a second home for you, not in the sense of a physical shelter, but rather a place that will forever hold a special place in your hearts and your minds in your life,” Lissy said.
President La Jerne Cornish began her remarks by commending the Class of 2022 for overcoming difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Class of 2022, we have weathered the unknown, and we have weathered it together,” Cornish said. “You have served as models for our community by demonstrating compassion, grace and persistence. You have endured much and you have excelled greatly.”
Each graduate wore a medallion inscribed with a quote chosen by the college’s president — a tradition beginning in 1992. The quote this year was by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be, until you are what you ought to be.” Cornish said she chose the quote to serve as a reminder of one’s shared responsibility to demonstrate compassion and grace toward one another.
“As each of you begins your next chapter, it is my sincere hope that you continue to think critically, creatively and analytically, that you practice compassion, that you let grace be your guide and that you remain optimistic about humanity’s potential for progress,” Cornish said. “These past few years have changed you, but know more change will come. Know also that after living through this pandemic, there is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. Which is why you are sitting here today.”
The college recognized two honorary degree recipients during the ceremony; Amy Goodman, founder of Democracy Now!, and Jeff White ’98, visual effects supervisor and creative director for the Vancouver Studio of Industrial Light and Magic.
White congratulated the graduating class and encouraged them to tackle the problems facing democracy with the skills and life lessons they have learned in college.
“Confronting these epic challenges will take all of the energy and talents that you possess as proud Ithaca College graduates and global citizens,” White said. “Go forth, celebrate and throughout your lives, hold your time here in Ithaca, this beautiful campus and city, close to your heart.”
Goodman encouraged the Class of 2022 to remember the friends they have made throughout their time in college.
“Beyond what you’ve learned here academically, the skills you have built, making friendships, working together and learning how to understand and empathize with one another will take you anywhere you want to go,” Goodman said.
Sheila Katz ’05, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, delivered the commencement address. Drawing on the lessons of Hillel the Elder, a Jewish religious leader, Katz reminded the graduating class to show up for themselves and for others.
“So first, take a break, take a nap, go for a walk by the gorgeous gorges — you’ve earned it,” Katz said. “Once you’re ready though, I want you to start asking yourselves if you are not for yourself, who will be for you? If you are only for yourself, what are you, and if not now, when? Maybe we all have the courage to take those steps to show up for ourselves, for the people in our communities and for the world, one small action at a time.”
Graduating senior Letícia Guibunda gave the student address. Guibunda likened her college experience to rapadura, a candy that comes from unrefined whole cane sugar and is prominent in Central and Latin America.
“Similar to the rapadura that I’ve told you about, our time here has been comprised of sweet moments as well as extremely hard times,” Guibunda said. “But it’s the combination of both those things and everything in between that has allowed us to grow into the people we are today, and you should all be proud of that.”
Once speeches were over, each graduate walked across the stage — hugging and bumping fists with Cornish. As the graduates turned their tassels from the right to the left, and as blue and white confetti shot up into the air, the Class of 2022’s journey at Ithaca College came to a close.