The newest cohort of freshman and transfer students at Ithaca College was invited to engage with and shape the community they now belong to during Monday’s Convocation ceremony.
The annual rite of passage, which officially began the class of 2020’s college career, was held in the Glazer Arena within the Athletics and Events Center.
“Our campus community can be subject to all the tensions and misunderstandings that are characteristic of the wider society of which we are a part,” President Tom Rochon said during his remarks to students.
“But it is also your community. And creating the kind of community that you want to live in is part of your responsibility here. It's also part of your education.”
Student Government Association President Marieme Foote ’18 attested to this responsibility first-hand when she referenced the demonstrations and protests that took place at Ithaca College last academic year over issues of race and bias.
“Over the last year on our campus we saw that when we come together as a community around critical issues that tear at the very fabric of this institution, we can bring about a continually better future and realize our fullest potential as a community and as individuals,” she said.
Later in her remarks, she told the class of 2020, “There’s something to learn from all of our experiences, so please don’t stay silent. We need all of your voices.”
Provost Linda Petrosino echoed the importance of learning together in her remarks. She told students that working as a community toward mutual inclusion and respect would empower each individual.
“Accomplishing this will bring us all together in the educational journey and prepare us for active citizenship in today’s world. Together we have the power to enrich the world,” she said.
“So class of 2020, powerful moments await you: All you have to do is engage with experiences and each other,” she said.
Five faculty members who were honored with the 2015-16 Faculty Excellence Award were recognized during the Convocation ceremony. They are:
• Derek Adams, assistant professor in the Department of English
• Belisa Gonzalez, associate professor and director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity
• Maki Inada, associate professor in the Department of Biology
• Deborah King, professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences
• Patricia Zimmermann, professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies
During his remarks to students, Tom Grape, chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees and a graduate of the class of 1980, reflected on how different IC would be for the class of 2020 compared to his time as a student four decades earlier.
“And yet, I know that if I walked into any classroom, studio, or workshop on this campus, I would recognize the essence of my own IC experience. I would see the same kinds of professors and staff who supported me and pushed me to become my best — not only as a student and a professional, but as a person,” he said.
Students ready to dive in
For their part, students expressed a mix of excitement and nervousness for the year ahead.
“I know Ithaca has so much to offer. I came to learn what I will do with the rest of my life, and I know Ithaca is going to prepare me for that,” Unagh Frank ’20 said.
Pia Rizzo-Wittlin ’20 said she’s been involved with radio and television since high school, and looks forward to expanding those skills and taking them to the next level during her time at IC. “It’s a new beginning, but I feel confident enough to say ‘I got this.’”
The day-to-day rigor is what appealed to Evan D’Amaso ’20. “I’m really excited about the college experience in general. The structure of having classes, and the individual ambition of higher education,” he said.
Malachi Brown, a sophomore transfer student in the School of Music, embraced the demands of his chosen field. “The composition program is very rigorous and has a lot of competition, so I’m really looking forward to that.”
Jordan Juliano ’20 was succinct in describing his feelings, which might safely be applied to his classmates in general. “I’m nervous, but ready,” he said.