President Martha Pollack addresses December graduates in 2018.

Courtesy of Cornell University

President Martha Pollack addresses December graduates in 2018.

December 10, 2019

At December Graduation, Hundreds of Cornellians Choose Speedy Exit Over Pompous Send-Off

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For most students, the end of the fall semester marks a chance to rejuvenate before returning in a month and a half. For around 450 December graduates, though, December is the end of the road, and this year is no different: Next Saturday, capped and gowned students will again walk across the stage.

One of those students is Nick Mui ’19. His grandparents won’t be able to attend his December graduation due to the weather. “It’s cold, and they’re old and not that healthy,” he said.

However, he said he was okay with the abbreviated recognition event.

“I’m kind of sad that it isn’t that big, but it makes sense, not that many people graduate in December.” he said. “I’m not really big on ceremonies, so I’m fine with just like having a quiet walk.”

The December recognition is held in Barton Hall, with speeches by President Martha Pollack and the senior class president. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the School of Hotel Administration and the Dyson School hold breakfasts for graduates and their families before the program, while the ILR school hosts a reception the night before the recognition. December graduation does not feature a senior class convocation with an invited guest speaker.

Another student instead chose to return to walk across the stage in May. Lyana Geng ’19 wants to participate in Senior Days, and said that many of her friends who are graduating early are also choosing to return in the spring for the fun.

“I have the opportunity to go through the whole thing,” she said of graduating in Spring. She told The Sun that sharing the experience with her friends is important to her.

According to the Commencement website, the University offers one ceremony where approximately 450 December graduates cross the stage. In contrast, nearly 5,500 students attend Commencement in May. 10 percent of students entering Cornell in 2012 graduated in less than 4 years, according to Institutional Research and Planning.

“Everyone who is graduating today did things a little bit differently,” Pollack said at last year’s ceremony. “You transferred from another college, or within Cornell. You finished early, or you needed a little extra time. You studied abroad or took a semester away, or you faced challenges – and overcame them. But whatever path brought you to today, it was your own path, your own experiences, your own decisions and your own determination.”

“It feels slightly isolating in the sense that I only have one friend who is also graduating in December. Apart from them, my other friends who are seniors have a whole semester left together whereas this is it for me,” Alonzo Farley ’19 told The Sun. “On the other hand, it is also freeing to know that I am almost done after three and a half years of working towards my goal of graduating.”