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2021 Student Speaker

Ali Kelley, president of the Class of 2021, addressed her classmates, sharing thoughts from the past four years.

Ali Kelley

Good morning Class of 2021, family members, honored guests, and President Collado. I am honored and grateful to be speaking to the most resilient group of students I have ever met. As I stand in front of you today, I cannot help but reflect on all that we have been through in the past four years. This class has experienced profound change unique to each of us. We have come together today to recognize our resiliency and appreciate our time at Ithaca College.   

There’s so much worth remembering from our journey at Ithaca College. When we stepped on to South Hill as nervous first-year students, nothing could have prepared us for the campus community that would accept us with open arms. We may not have known it at the time, but late-night Terraces Taco Tuesday would bond many of us as friends for life.  Come November, we all flooded Butterfield stadium to cheer on the Bombers and experienced our first Cortaca win as a class. Rounding out the year, we quickly fell in love with Breakfast, not the food, but the Llama that gave us the love and comfort we during finals week. As our first year drew to a close, we entered summer break learning to be apart from the friends we were inseparable from. After three months away, returning to campus felt like coming home.   

As sophomore and junior year flew by us with exponential speed, walking through campus felt familiar and comfortable. Finding our stride academically took practice, trial and error, and perseverance but ultimately led us one step closer to discovering what truly inspires us. Whether we were filming a historic football game at Metlife stadium, creating personal works of art for the Handwerker Gallery, or exploring the human body in a state-of-the-art lab, our skills were put to the test and we delivered.   

In the middle of some of the most influential moments of our junior year, we received the unexpected news that we would not be returning to campus. During this time, the world changed faster than anyone could have ever thought possible. Emotions ran high and we stretched ourselves to be supportive, from afar. While it seemed like the world was spinning out of control, we managed to remain eager and hopeful that we would find ourselves reunited again. Togetherness shifted from sharing a physical space to instilling a sense of solidarity for each other while finishing our Ithaca journey. As we navigated a new world of distance learning and involvement, we strove to create justice and equality in our own communities.  

Even though senior year wasn’t what any of us expected, we all did the most we could to stay focused, remain connected and importantly to take care of ourselves. While there wasn’t always a clear path forward, we learned to lean on each other and find comfort in this place that we now call home. Standing here alongside my classmates, I realize just how much we’ve all grown.  As we each forge our own path forward, we are reminded of how fortunate we are that our journeys have collided. 

"Our time at Ithaca College has shown us to expect the unexpected, support each other in the hardest moments, and to work hard in the face of adversity. As we move into the next chapter of our lives, it is clear that we will carry Ithaca with us forever. Here’s to us and our unconventional finale, congratulations to the Class of 2021. "