May You Never Stop Reaching, Stumbling, Exploring, and Learning

By Jenny Barnett, December 12, 2022
December graduates celebrated.

“It’s very bittersweet,” said television-radio major Jade Rynar, who is planning on moving to Los Angeles next summer. “I feel proud of myself. But also, sad. I loved college—my classes, ICTV, my professors, my friends. I liked being involved and getting to know people. I’ll miss making new school friends and the first day of classes.” 

Rynar was waiting, along with around 100 other Ithaca College bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates, to walk into Glazer Arena for IC’s second full winter commencement ceremony, on Sunday, December 11.  

Family members and friends had come to support Rynar, including her mother, Shari.  

“I know that she was at the right school for what she wanted to do,” said Shari.  “She took advantage of every opportunity she had here.” 

students walking

Students processing into Glazer Arena for December Commencement. (Photo Credit: Dave Burbank '82)

Roommates Erika Perkins, Emma Iceman, and Victoria Wojt were celebrating together, having known each other since freshman year. 

David Chun, a psychology major, was looking forward to a gap year and gaining some work experience before likely going to grad school.  

International student Siddhartha Pardhan would be returning to his native Nepal after graduating.  

“It's kind of sad, leaving friends behind,” he said. “Yet at the same time, I’m excited for the future.” 

For Myah Frank, whose family members had driven up from Missouri for the event, emotions were also mixed. The flute performance and music and education major was excited and apprehensive but looking forward to her next chapter.  

Prior to the procession, thank-you messages from grads and their families flashed across the screen; flags from 14 countries honoring international students from around the world displayed the diversity of the college community. 

Thank You Messages Displayed Before Graduation

Wren Andújar “Thank you to my parents, brother, friends, Jay Williamson and Luca Maurer. I will be forever grateful for all of you and your support. ¡Si se pudo!”  

Braden Christopher Bova: “I would like to thank my family and friends for their support. College has been quite the journey and I’m looking forward to what’s next. Go Bills!” 

Brittney Cheyenne Cooper: “Thank you to the friends who have supported me through the semesters. A special thank you to my mother, and an extra thank you to my partner, Autumn.” 

Hannah Marie DeChalais: “Thank you to my mom, who pushes me to fulfill my dreams, and to my family and friends who will support me no matter what.” 

Alyssa Lauren Diaz: “Thank you to my family for believing in me when times were tough. I appreciate the support. I love you!” 

Katharine Grace DiDona: “Thank you to my friends and family for always supporting me.” 

Dominic Hirschkind Hidalgo: “Ithaca College is my favorite place in the world. It will always be in the deepest part of me. I cannot give thanks enough for this experience.” 

Andrew Thomas Kennedy: “I would like to thank my mother, father, grandparents, Donald Beachier, Margo Slaughter, Kevin Redfield, Thomas Kennedy, Kristine Bell, and Mary Sorci.” 

Caroline M Kiefer: “Thank you to my family and friends for helping me succeed! Love you!” 

Gillian Kroll: “Thank you to my family, friends, peers, and mentors for all the support!” 

Victory Burke Miller: “My academic success would not be possible if not for the Integrative Studies department and my advisor, professor Karin Breuer.” 

Donna Morgovsky: “Thank you to my family for supporting me and believing in me!” 

Thomas Frank Mumau: “Thank you to my family, friends, and professors for all of your support throughout the last four years.” 

Brianna Ruth Mutsindashyaka: “I am forever grateful for the experiences gained and the connections made here at IC. Thank you to all who supported me on this journey!” 

Delaney Maude Rutun: “Thank you for everything, IC!” 


Provost Melanie Stein congratulating graduating students. (Photo Credit: Dave Burbank '82)

Winter’s Pathway,” a fanfare composed for the occasion by Joseph Mignosa ’23, marked the opening of the celebrations. Led by associate professor Barbara Adams—IC’s college marshal and longest-serving current faculty member—faculty, trustees, members of the president’s cabinet, senior class officers, graduate chairs, and deans entered the arena, followed by the December class of 2022. 

The degree candidates from each of the five schools—including the first graduates of the recently created School of Music, Theatre, and Dance (MTD)—were recognized before the audience stood for “Ithaca Forever,” sung by students from MTD, and the national anthem, performed by Kam’ren Spence ’23. 

In her opening address, Ithaca College President La Jerne Terry Cornish told the graduates how privileged she felt to be celebrating their accomplishments and how honored she was to have been a part of their lives for the past four years. She commended the students for way they coped with the uncertainty, disruption, and loss brought on by the pandemic.  

“I congratulate you, and share my immense gratitude with you, for representing our institution with such distinction during a precarious moment in modern history,” she said. “For even under the steadiest of circumstances, it takes focus, dedication, and balance, in the framework of theory, practice, and performance, to obtain excellence in an academic field.” 

Provost Melanie Stein began her remarks by offering special thanks to the parents, guardians, friends, and families of the graduating class. After also thanking faculty and staff, Stein spoke of the richness an IC education brings—study and exploration, extracurricular interests, lifetime friendships, challenges, and the opportunity to learn from mistakes.  

“This process—which we call learning—is a lifelong process,” she said. “As we send you out into the world, my wish for you is that you carry the lessons of these years with you and never stop reaching, stumbling, exploring, and learning.  

“With that approach to life, you will find fulfillment and can help change the world,” Stein continued. “I also hope that you have fallen in love with this magical place, that you will stay connected to us. I look forward to continuing to see you in the years ahead as engaged members of the IC alumni community.”    

Anna Schmandt

Anna Schmandt ’23, theatre studies major and senior class vice president, congratulating her classmates. (Photo Credit: Dave Burbank '82)

As with last year’s December commencement ceremony, the keynote address was shared by representatives of staff and faculty. 

Angélica Carrington, director of the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Social Change, urged the graduates to take the lessons they’d learned at IC—from both their successes and their failures—and use them to become agents of social change.  

“It is our responsibility to learn more about how we can be better advocates, lean into that discomfort, and to amplify marginalized voices that are sometimes silenced or ignored,” Carrington said. 

Faculty speaker Gavin Mayer, assistant professor of theatre and dance performance, reflected on the uniqueness of Ithaca itself—“Five square miles surrounded by reality,” as a hallway poster reads—and its impact on the student experience.  

“There is a quirky, almost escapist quality about this beautiful place,” said Mayer. “But now, dear graduates, the time has come for you to step into the reality that surrounds us—and you are ready.” 

He called on class to “Dream big; dream bigger than anyone in this room could possibly dream and believe, without any doubt or hesitation that those dreams will come true.  

“As you pack up your lives and move on from this odd little place that we all love so much, know that you are ready for reality,” he said. “Your ideas are bold—and they need to be. The world needs change—and it needs you.” 

The student speaker, theatre studies major and senior class vice president Anna Schmandt ’23, congratulated her classmates on their achievements before asking them to take a moment to look back on their favorite memories from their time at Ithaca College and encouraging them to embrace the unexpected and keep moving forward.  

“Life is not meant to move in one straight line. For some of you, this idea may scare you, but I am asking you to lean into the twists and turns that life offers us,” Schmandt said.  “Embrace the changes and just keep going!” 

president and student

President La Jerne Terry Cornish congratulating a student on her graduation. (Photo Credit: Dave Burbank '82)

After crossing the stage to receive individual recognition, the newly minted IC alumni flipped their mortarboard tassels to the left, to signify joining a community of more than 70,000 Bombers across the country and around the world. 

Finance major Spencer Klumpp was looking forward to staying in touch after graduating. He was grateful for the support he’d received from alumni during his time at IC.  

“Plenty of alumni would reach back out to us and work with students on projects and networking,” he said. “I plan to do that as well.”