Dive Into Life As Never Before

As prepared.

I am thrilled to be here with all of you, to welcome Ithaca College’s Class of 2022!

This ceremony, for me, is a moment of pure excitement and positive energy. I hope you felt that when you came in today, the warmth of the welcome offered by our faculty and staff, the beauty of the voices that serenaded you outside. Convocation is a time when our campus community opens its arms to not only a new class of scholars, but to new members of our Ithaca College family. We are elated that you are here.

The next four years of your lives will require a lot of you. Your IC experience will ask you to explore the capabilities of your intellect, the potential of your mind. It will push you to take risks. To embrace people who are different than you. To find the bravery to express yourself in an authentic way and show up fully for the difficult moments that may arise when you do. The next four years will require you to dive in to your life as you have never done before.

All of you have a bright voice, a gleaming perspective. At Ithaca College, you will learn how to shine.

You will do this within the context of our unique learning community, one that exists at the intersection of a strong tradition of academic excellence and the exhilaration of self-discovery. To get the most out of your experience here, you must embrace each with equal ferocity. When you begin to quench the thirst of your mind, you will find that doors open to ways of being that you had never imagined.

This is both a revelation—and a responsibility. Your IC experience does more than deliver an opportunity for an education. It empowers you to use your knowledge to drive forward the promise of our society and the necessity of centering our shared humanity in a world that can be deeply inhumane.

Ithaca College’s roots are planted within our founding as a music conservatory, a place where the most talented artists traveled to receive a best-in-class music education. We are still known for this.

Because of this genesis, the academic enterprise at Ithaca College revolves around three pillars: theory, practice, and performance. These are foundational principles that we embrace today through our identity as an institution that is embedded deeply in the liberal arts and honors the importance and urgency of professional practice.

We live our approach to theory through critical and innovative intellectual inquiry. In our practice, we call upon our curiosity and our commitment to honoring different ways of knowing. We interpret performance as sharing, as a powerful expression of self, as a mechanism to celebrate the beauty of life and our unique contributions to the world. All of you have a bright voice, a gleaming perspective. At Ithaca College, you will learn how to shine.

Students, take a moment to look around. There are new faces here, a new environment. You are among 1,655 first-year students, 80 of whom transferred to Ithaca College from 62 other institutions. There are 280 first-generation college students in the Class of 2022—students who, like me, are the first in their families to attend college. Notice the 28 flags that hang around this stage; they represent the countries and territories of origin for 43 students in your class. And 32 of you come to IC from right here in Ithaca.

The next four years will require you to dive in to your life as you have never done before.

Your success at Ithaca College relies on your ability to adapt, to collaboratively create the future. Today you start this collaborative creation, and you build it through relationships with your peers, with our faculty, with our staff, and with me. And as with any new relationship, introductions can often be the most difficult part.

I asked 10 people to join me today on stage, representatives from 10 different areas of our college community. These 10 people represent almost 100 years of service to Ithaca College. Students, please meet:

  • Mayra Colon, public safety patrol officer. Mayra is also a combat medic in the U.S. Army Reserves;
  • Angela Copeland, a facilities attendant in the campus center, who's celebrating 30 years with her husband and is a proud grandmother of four;
  • Michelle Doucette, who works in our IT department and has an adventurous spirit when it comes to visual, performing, and culinary arts;
  • Rebecca Evans, our Sustainability Coordinator, who says the best part about her job is witnessing the passion and tenacity of our students around environmental issues;
  • John Haefner, a senior cook in the Towers who’s given IC 27 years of service. John also moonlights as a trombone player;
  • Dr. Nia Nunn, assistant professor in the Department of Education. Dr. Nunn is from Ithaca, and feels passionately about helping students engage with the local community;
  • Kristina Shanton, our music librarian and a member of the class of 1990. Kristina describes IC students as “inquisitive and enthusiastic”;
  • Mary Taylor, a nurse in the Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness, who spends her college breaks in Haiti or Malawi helping out in medical clinics;
  • Karen Walls, assistant to the vice president of student affairs and campus life. Karen has a wicked sense of humor, and says the best part of her job is interacting with students and staff; and
  • Dr. Luvelle Brown, superintendent of Ithaca City School District and one of our newest members of the college’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Brown is a mentor to many IC students, and described our students overall as having “intellectual swagger.”

This morning, I’ve introduced you to 10 people who represent an entire college community that looks forward to helping you have the experience of a lifetime at Ithaca College. A community willing to not only support you as you adapt and create, but to help you succeed – on our campus and throughout your lives.

Thank you.