Cornell’s newest doctoral graduates have completed one significant milestone, but their journey as scholars is only beginning, President Martha E. Pollack said to nearly 350 candidates waiting to cross the stage and be recognized at the 2023 Ph.D. Recognition Ceremony on May 27 at Barton Hall.
“This isn’t the first time you’ve stood in a cap and gown, with an achievement behind you and new adventures ahead,” she said. “But today you receive the highest degree there is to earn in academia. Today you cross the line from students to scholars.”
Kathryn J. Boor ’80, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education, handed each candidate a certificate as they walked across the stage, signifying the completion of this phase in their journeys.
“Crossing that line doesn’t mean that there’s nothing left to learn; rather, it means all of you have made your own contribution to what there is to learn,” Pollack said.
Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff encouraged graduates to thank the families and friends who offered support throughout their programs, and many of the new Ph.D.s wrote messages during the reception to do just that. As part of its Gratitude Project, the Graduate School offers participants blank postcards and invites them to write a note to someone who helped them on their academic journey, which the Graduate School then mails.
“It has been a lifelong dream to obtain a Ph.D.,” said Jennifer Houtz, Ph.D. ’23, a graduate from the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. “It is such a surreal experience to hit this milestone, especially with my adviser, lab mates and family in the audience. I could not have picked a more supportive and inclusive place to pursue my Ph.D.”
Houtz credits Cornell with helping her become the scientist and teacher she is today. Backed by the encouragement of her advisers and mentors to pursue her passions for outreach and teaching, she will soon be a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution – her dream job.
“I’m grateful for Cornell for providing such a challenging but rewarding experience,” she said.
Katya Hrichak is a communications specialist at the Graduate School.