Class of 2023 Cheered at Convocation

By Dan Verderosa, August 27, 2019
Newest cohort of students welcomed into the Ithaca College family.

One week after they arrived on campus for orientation, members of the Class of 2023 were officially welcomed to Ithaca College at Convocation on Tuesday, August 27, marking the start of the 2019-20 academic year.

Upon entering the Glazer Arena in the Athletics and Events Center, students were greeted by a cheering crowd of faculty and staff, as well as music from the IC Brass Ensemble and a performance by the African Drum and Dance Ensemble.

“It made me feel like the community was welcoming and cared about our success,” Shaila Sookhoo ’23 said of the warm welcome from faculty and staff. “It also made me realize that being a college student is real life, and now is the time to step up.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs La Jerne Terry Cornish convened the Convocation and welcomed the Class of 2023, as well as new faculty, describing IC as a tight-knit community of students, faculty and staff. Referencing IC’s new strategic plan, she said that one of the college’s primary goals is to cultivate an “Ithaca Forever” community, inspired by the power of the IC experience.

People giving high fives

Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado and Provost La Jerne Terry Cornish give high fives to first-year students. (Photo by Dave Burbank Photography/Ithaca College)

“Each member of this community remakes the college in different ways, adding new threads and patterns to the evolving fabric of our college,” Cornish said. “A fabric that we are weaving together from the resources of our diverse experiences, our aspirations and our needs. It is this fabric that makes IC special, and it is this fabric that has the potential to inspire a community committed to ‘Ithaca Forever.’”

Cornish then introduced Dave Lissy ’87, chair of the IC Board of Trustees. Lissy described his experience coming to IC as a first-generation college student filled with excitement, curiosity and some anxiety about what lay ahead. “I strongly urge you to reach out from whatever you consider to be your comfort zone,” he said. “This is the ideal time in your life to explore and engage with all the people and all the resources that make IC special.”

Reflecting on his own IC experience, Lissy honed in on the strong connections he made with faculty, staff and students on campus. “Some of these connections will be lifelong,” he said. “You don’t know it today, but I assure you it will happen.”

Lissy introduced IC President Shirley M. Collado, who welcomed the Class of 2023 into the Ithaca College family. Speaking about the college’s founding as a music conservatory, Collado said that IC is committed to education based on “theory, practice and performance,” where intellectual risks are encouraged, collaboration is prioritized, and knowledge and experience are both used to engage positively with the world.

Collado told the first-year students that their arrival on campus coincides with uncertain times in the world, noting heightened divisions in society and the existential threat posed by climate change. “That is why it is so important that you are here, intentionally and in community with others,” she said. “You chose connection. You chose community. You chose to venture into the unknown, not with your backs to one another, but rather with an ability and a willingness to lean into yourself, to lean into others, and to lean into community.”

Reflecting on IC’s role as a private institution that serves a public good, Collado called the Class of 2023 to action, urging students to use their education to make the world a better place. “During your time on campus — and after you leave — your IC experience will be the foundation from which you show up authentically in the world, and how you contribute meaningfully in powerful ways in your life, hopefully in a life that is much bigger than yourself.”

“Ithaca is a completely different environment than I’ve ever experienced, so what President Collado said resonated with how I was feeling,” said Caleigh Clarke ’23. “I don’t know what I’m doing — I’m an exploratory major, and I’m in a new place. But everyone kind of feels that way, and it’s making us all bond together in this unique class.”

For the second year in a row, an assembly of faculty and staff and trustees joined Collado on the Convocation stage: Chris McNamara, clinical associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy; Jack Dembow ’77, IC Board of Trustees; Sophia Dimkos, Office of Public Safety patrol officer; Ben Hogben, Library Access Services manager; Emily Cromwell, dining services; Holley Westbrook, Registrar’s Office; Cheryl Christopher, Mail Services; Luca Maurer, director of LGBTQ Education, Outreach and Services; and Sean Reilley, Recreational Sports program coordinator.

Young people standing and smiling

The Class of 2023 was all smiles in Glazer Arena. (Photo by Dave Burbank Photography/Ithaca College)

“You have an entire community here who is invested in your success and in your ability to thrive,” Collado said.

At the conclusion of Collado’s remarks, the IC Brass Ensemble performed, and professor Janet Galvan and members of IC’s choral ensembles led the Class of 2023 in a rendition of the college’s alma mater, “Ithaca Forever.”

Student Governance Council President Farwa Shakeel ’20 then addressed the students, advising them to embrace uncertainty in their IC experience. “Do not be afraid of the unexpected,” she said. “Treat these next four years as your very own adventure. What you discover may very well change your life.”

Shakeel then invited the students to put on Class of 2023 pins that they had each been given earlier. Designed by faculty, students and staff, the pins serve as a reminder of the beginning of the students’ journeys at IC.

“I think this is the start of us living our lives how we want to, and deciding where we want to go,” said Luis Rodrigues ’23. “It makes me feel like I made the right decision.”

Meet the Class of 2023

Patrick Bohn ’05, M.S. ’07, and Hannah Fitzpatrick ’21 contributed to this story.