Worth the Wait

By Danica Fisher ’05, July 9, 2021
Members of the Class of 2020 return to South Hill to celebrate together.

Ithaca College welcomed back the Class of 2020 from June 25 to 27 to celebrate them in style. More than 250 alumni came back to IC for a weekend of activities to commemorate their years at IC and to take part in activities they missed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the iconic jump into Dillingham fountains.

The mood was jovial as students took to the stage at IC Square and joined President Shirley M. Collado for a photo opportunity. Angelee Chen ’20, an environmental studies major, felt welcome and supported during the Class of 2020 Celebration.

“I love being able to relive my experience here with my friends,” she said. “This year in total taught the IC community to take care of themselves and value their time, and that’s exactly what we intend to do today.”

 “Our senior year had an abrupt ending, and this is the closure that a lot of us needed. I think it is amazing that Ithaca College is still continuing to focus on us, think about us, and provide us this opportunity.”

Gabby Picca ’20

Later in the day, alumni enjoyed a picnic lunch on the Campus Center quad. Gabby Picca ’20, an integrated marketing and communications major and Class of 2020 Senior Class President, was grateful to be back on campus with her classmates.

“I think this is what a lot of people needed, and it is really great to see everyone back here to celebrate,” said Picca. “Our senior year had an abrupt ending, and this is the closure that a lot of us needed. I think it is amazing that Ithaca College is still continuing to focus on us, think about us, and provide us this opportunity.”

Hannah Thien ’20, a theatre studies major, added that it was nice to be reminded of the good times she had at IC.

“We spent so much time building a relationship with the community, and to be able to actually celebrate it shows that the school cares to acknowledge all the hard work we put in during our time here,” she said.

As exciting as those events were, Saturday afternoon gave the alumni a chance to take part in one of the signature traditions for any IC student: the Senior Splash.

Missing out on the splash was tough, but being able to do it now makes me feel like my college experience is more complete,” said business major Ryan Buchanan ’20, who is now studying sports law at the University of New Hampshire.

See the Splash

If you missed out on the Class of 2020 celebration, you can still check out the iconic fountain jump.
Watch the fountain jump.

Yemi Afolabi ’20, a computer science major felt he just had to come back to do the splash.

“For some reason it just feels like it’s our birthright to do it after waiting five years,” said Afolabi. “It feels like the best way to honor what we’ve done and show that our achievements still matter.”

“I’m so excited to finally do the senior splash,” added Picca. “I was a junior event chair for senior week, so Ive been anticipating this moment for a very long time. Thank you so much to the alumni, events staff and faculty who made this all possible for us.” 

Catching Up with the Class of 2020

While the end to their college careers wasn’t what they expected, that hasn’t stopped members of the Class of 2020 from making their mark in the world after graduating. Here’s what a few of our outstanding alumni are doing now.

Everton Steele

Steele, who was a member of the men’s track and field team, graduated with a degree in computer science but still calls Ithaca College home — he’s currently an information systems specialist in the college’s finance and human resources information systems department.

After graduation, Steele’s supervisor offered him a position as a temp, and then later hired him full-time. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he credits his in-class and student work with helping him land his current position.

“My background in computer science, paired with my work experience as a student, gave me the tools that I needed to excel and allowed me to progress the way that I did,” he said.

Justina Snyder standing between two bars

Justina Synder has graduated once, but she’s not finished with her IC education. (Photo submitted)

Justina Snyder

Although Snyder is a member of the Class of 2020, her IC education isn’t done yet. She’s getting ready to complete her sixth year in the college’s doctor of physical therapy program and serving her first clinical rotation in an outpatient orthopedic clinic in Manahawkin, New Jersey.

Among other things, in this role Snyder has worked with several coronavirus “long-haulers” who are still dealing with the effects of the illness.

“Being able to apply what I have learned in the classroom and while working in the clinic on campus to the patients I am treating this summer is amazing,” she said. “It feels like all that time on Zoom and in lab is finally paying off.”

With her second graduation a little more than a year away, Snyder is waiting to see what the next chapter holds for her.

“I aspire to work in a hospital treating patients with neurologic conditions,” she said. “My interest in this patient population has only grown since minoring in neuroscience and psychology at IC. I am very excited to see what the future holds.”

Gabby Picca standing in front of a wall

Although she’s standing still here, Gabrielle Picca was constantly on the move as an IC student. (Photo submitted)

Gabrielle Picca

During her time at IC, Picca, an integrated marketing communications major, got involved in nearly evert aspect of campus life.

A Park Scholar and member of the Student Governance Council, she joined the group Students Today Alumni Tomorrow; took part in Habitat for Humanity; and joined the International Association of Business Communicators, Public Relations Student Society of America, and the American Marketing Association.

And Picca didn’t stay confined to South Hill. In 2018, she took part in the college’s London program.

All those experiences — and others — culminated when she was named the senior class president. Now working as an Account Coordinator at a strategic communications firm in New York City, she’s grateful for all the opportunities she participated in.

“From day one, Ithaca College provided endless opportunities to get involved. I think by taking advantage of those opportunities, I was really able to grow myself as not only a professional but an individual,” she said. “The support of faculty, staff, and alumni even after graduating has been unbelievable. I am so beyond grateful for all the help I have received.”

Kelsey Shaffer

Even before coming to Ithaca College, Shaffer, a legal studies major, was interested in becoming a lawyer in order to help others. But her time at IC solidified that decision. She’s now enrolled at Albany Law School and spending her summer working in the Albany district attorney's office. She would like to practice either criminal or health law in the future.

“I had some amazing professors who held discussions about justice, fairness, and philosophy, she said. “The courses I took at IC, as well as my participation on the IC mock trial team for four years really solidified my decision to go to law school.”

Melanie Sadoff
Sadoff, a performance and music education major at IC, is currently the orchestra director at the Nanuet (New York) School District.

“I have always loved learning,” she said in a story for the school’s website, The Knight Times. “To be a teacher is to be a learner. Each day, I learn so much from all of my students …Teaching was, and continues to be, my way of experiencing the world in which we live.”

Before taking on this role, Sadoff taught incoming Ithaca College students all about life as a Bomber. Working for the Office of New Student & Transition Programs, she spent several summers talking with incoming students and guiding them on the start of their IC careers. For that work, she received the Division of student affairs and campus life’s Orientation Appreciation of Service Award.

Leah Aulisio-Sharpe ’22 contributed reporting to this story.