The three best speeches I’ve ever heard have been given by presidents: former President George W. Bush’s 2021 address at SMU; former President Barack Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention; and Martha Pollack’s 2023 convocation address.
I have seen twelve-years’ worth of boys-schools’ convocations, which left me with limited expectations on the Sunday after O-Week. As President Pollack began her speech, though, comfortable behind her wooden Cornell University podium, I knew she was confident in her message. As her speech unfolded, I felt myself filled with hope. Hope for my future here. Hope for my classmates’ futures. Hope for the future of the school. And hope in knowing through all of Cornell’s rigid toughness, my classmates and I will make it through.