More than 750 students, staff and alumni flocked to Washington, D.C. this weekend for the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference, a weekend of seminars, workshops and networking opportunities hosted by the University’s Office of Alumni Affairs every year.
Nearly 40 educational sessions were offered on topics ranging from Greek life to social media, according to the University’s schedule of events. Cornell alumni from a variety of professions spoke at the conference.
“Overall, it was a great experience because I feel that as Cornell students, you don’t often get to interact that closely with alumni,” said John Rhee ’12, co-president of the 2012 Senior Class Campaign. “But through the event, you can really see how much the alumni really love Cornell and how much they’d be willing to do to really help the University grow.”
Rhee said that the majority of the approximately 60 students who attended the conference are part of the Senior Class Campaign.
“I think it’s special that the Senior Class Campaign go in our entirety because we’re in a very special stage where we’re transferring from being students to being alums,” said Dan Freshman ’12, former IFC president. “It was great seeing the people who were in the positions that we’re currently in on campus, but up to 50 years. From my end, I met Panhellenic and IFC presidents from years past.”
Adam Nicoletti ’12, S.A. vice president for finance, attended a program at the conference on leadership and stress management led by Risa Mish ’85, director of the Leadership Skills Program at the Johnson School.
“I found it really interesting because I was in a crowd of people who were from the 1950s [who] graduated from Cornell, and yet we all had something to learn from her talk,” Nicoletti said. “It showed me that there’s always more learning to be done no matter how old you are.”
On Friday night, notable alumni such as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn ’81 and columnist and political pundit S.E. Cupp ’00, served as panelists at an event called “The Value of Leadership in the 21st Century.” At the event, they answered questions on media ethics, politics and current events, according to Rhee.
President David Skorton made an appearance at the conference on Saturday afternoon to speak about the University’s sesquicentennial — marking 150 years since Cornell was founded — coming up in 2015, and the recently won Cornell tech campus in New York City.
“Mostly, he talked about the tech campus — about how it’s going to generate a lot of jobs in New York City,” Rhee said. “He was thanking the alumni for their support.”
For some, the highlight of the weekend was the opportunity to meet Cornell alumni in person.
“You hear a lot about the alumni network at Cornell, and it’s always touted that we have people from all over the world and all different industries,” Nicoletti said. “It really hammers the point home that our alumni base is extremely impressive when you see a thousand of them at a conference all in the same place and all committed to Cornell.”
Nicoletti added that he aspired to become one of those dedicated alumni in the future.
“It really makes you proud to be a Cornellian when you see the level of interest, excitement and enthusiasm from alumni that are 50 or 60 years out,” he said.