The Graduate School welcomed nearly 70 new Dean’s Scholars at a November event to honor students who were nominated and selected for this distinction for their demonstrated commitment to academic excellence and advancing aspects of diversity, access, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the academy and other communities.
At the ceremony, each scholar received a pin with a gold center containing the Cornell seal, representing the scholars’ achievement, surrounded by an outer ring of silver, representing their persistence.
“One of my most important priorities as Dean of the Graduate School is ensuring that all of our students, but particularly those from backgrounds historically excluded from and underrepresented in academia, feel a part of our Cornell community, feel valued, and find success in their graduate studies and their personal and professional pursuits,” said Kathryn J. Boor, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education, during her remarks.
She continued, “We all benefit when our campus reflects the rich tapestry of human experience and when our students, faculty, and staff can pursue their work and studies in an environment of acceptance and collaboration.”
Newly pinned students join a community of almost 400 current Dean’s Scholars, providing them with the opportunity to establish and maintain connections across graduate fields by engaging in professional and community development events offered through the Graduate School.
“The Dean’s Scholars community is filled with such caring individuals who are here to welcome you, stand by you, and fight for you,” said Gundeep Singh, a doctoral candidate in biophysics and Dean’s Scholar who gave remarks at the event. “I hope you are able to find lifelong supporters and allies through the fellow members of this community.”
Newly pinned Dean’s Scholars look forward to joining this community, as well as contributing to it themselves.
“Being selected as a Dean’s Scholar is a tremendous honor and a responsibility that I am eager to embrace,” said Josh Felton, a doctoral student in plant biology. “I am excited to fill those same shoes as a role model and near-peer mentor to other, more junior Dean’s Scholars as I progress through my Ph.D., making mistakes and learning about myself and the world to then pass along my knowledge to future generations of scholars.”
Cheyenne I. Reuben-Thomas, a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology and member of the Oneida and Seneca Nations, expressed a similar desire to connect with individuals who share lived experiences and have a positive effect on others.
“I am proud to share this space among the many brilliant minds who are actively changing the norms,” she said. “I look forward to making lifelong friendships and celebrating everyone’s accomplishments, big and small. As someone who is passionate about creating diverse spaces in academia, I am also looking forward to mentoring and uplifting future Dean’s Scholars.”
The Graduate School Dean’s Scholars program is led by Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student and Faculty Engagement Sara Xayarath Hernández. Many Dean’s Scholars are recipients of competitive fellowships in support of diversity while others are funded via other internal or external sources.