At the end of an unpredictable and unprecedented academic year, faculty, staff and students awoke to an outsized display of positivity on May 14, finding the Arts Quad filled with more than 500 balloons anchored to messages of gratitude from Cornellians to each other. Cornell Lifted students spent hours late into the night arranging the display as a pop-up surprise for the last day of classes.
The student-led initiative invites faculty, staff and students to submit messages of appreciation, with recipients encouraged to find and keep their balloon and message. The project, which takes place annually prior to final exams, began several years ago with a focus on boosting student mental health. Since then, graduating senior students have continued the tradition as a way to inspire their peers and the broader campus community.
Vy Nguyen ’21, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, recalls how touched she was as a first-year student to receive an anonymous Lifted letter — one that she later discovered came from a graduating senior who was part of the initiative. In the years following, she’s been inspired to send letters to peers, including trading messages with her academic advisor, before ultimately deciding to help manage this year’s project.