Messages of Support

Johnny (Johnny-O) Olshewsky

Johnny (Johnny-O) Olshewsky, Faculty/Staff

Denise Melchert '88

Denise Melchert '88, Mount Vernon, IA

Kristin Reimann

Kristin Reimann, Faculty/Staff

I greatly value the strong preparation that I received at Cornell.  I majored in French and Spanish, with plans to become a high school teacher.  I did that for 24 years, and my Cornell preparation in both languages served me well during my teaching career.  However, this preparation had a much greater impact, as I ended up moving from high school teacher to district-level grants administrator.  Although of course I accumulated multiple graduate degrees to support my new position, I am certain that my Cornell background was what made me able to transition so seamlessly from the high school classroom to a position in which I was responsible for several hundred faculty and several million dollars of grant funding.  I am grateful for all my Cornell experiences, as they definitely shaped the course of my professional career."\

Anne Markham Coffman ’79, Oak Forest, IL


Watching Scott Olinger's beautiful projection of the faces of Cornell's graduating class of 2020 reminded me of how many creative people dedicate their talents to our campus community! I would like to thank Amy Gullen for helping me teach online blocks 7 and 8. She was a selfless teacher, coach, guide, trouble-shooter, and inspiration and I wouldn't have made it through without her generous assistance!!!

Catherine Stewart, Faculty/Staff, Iowa City, IA

Dawn Pitts

Dawn Pitts, Faculty/Staff, 
Mount Vernon, IA

Stephanie Parish West ’90

Stephanie Parish West ’90,
Mount Vernon, IA

Sheri Hotz

Sheri Hotz, Faculty/Staff,
Mount Vernon, IA

Congratulations to all the seniors who have recently graduated! I am so proud of you all for continuing to strive and create meaningful, beautiful work throughout the ups and downs of online learning due to COVID-19. Congratulations to all the teachers and staff for your hard work and for stepping up to the plate and refiguring your classes to run smoothly online and that continue to be challenging and rewarding to students. I am proud to call Cornell my alma mater not only for the academic opportunities offered, but for the closeknit community that it provided me. We really are stronger together, and at Cornell, the small class sizes and the connections that students make with teachers and with each other is invaluable, especially at times like this. By supporting one another, we can overcome the difficulties and challenges that inevitably rise up. Here's to you, Cornell, and to the Cornell RAMily.

Carly Pierson ’17, Durango, CO

RJ Leopold-Holmes '99, Eagan, MN

Sam Hebel '12

Sam Hebel '12, Faculty/Staff, 

Sarah Palmer '19

Sarah Palmer '19, Littleton, CO

Sharon Grice

Sharon Grice, Faculty/Staff,


My mentors (John Harp) and Faculty (Gayle Luck, Dick Peters, Phil Lucas) were people who knew me, knew my strengths and helped me build on them and knew my challenges and pushed me to do better. I am so grateful to have had them as teachers and role models both personally and professionally.

Mary Elliott, '98, Colorado

Cornell will always be my second home. My time on the hilltop truly helped shape the woman I am today.  It's important for me to give back because I want to help provide students with the same opportunities I had.

TaSheena Cunningham-Rimmer, ’06, Valparaiso, IN

Julie Bryant '88

As the current President of the Cornell College Alumni Association Board of Directors, I have an opportunity to see the commitment that so many Cornellians continue to have to our alma mater. Through the Alumni Board, I have enjoyed getting to know Cornell grads from the 1950's all the way to recent grads. We all share a love for the Hilltop and we know how important it is to continue to support the college by being active in Cornell-related activities as well as with our financial support.  I am a proud Cornellian!

Julie Bryant '88, Cedar Rapids, IA

Proud of you Lincoln and Blake and everyone in the Cornell Community! Stay strong all!!

Kathryn Hempel, Parent, Oak Park, IL

I think Cornellians can all agree that our time on the hilltop taught us how to learn, find creative solutions and most importantly adapt! The Cornell Community is here for the 2020 graduates and all of its members during this time and always #CornellCares #ColorItPurple

Taylor Kinn, ’12, Evanston, IL

As the year comes to a close I would like to take a moment to congratulate all students, faculty and staff on the perseverance they demonstrated, to meet head on, the challenges the second half of this year presented, and to succeed!  I know that I am not alone in looking forward to a time that it is safe for us all to be together again on campus.    

I would like to express heartfelt thanks to Marty and Lisa Hearne for their kindness and the knowledge they have shared with me over this past year.  Congratulations to both of you on your retirement!  You will be greatly missed.  

Finally, to the entire senior class of 2020, congratulations to each and every one of you!  Well done!  I have had the privilege to work with and get to know a few of you in the Music and Theatre Departments this past year, and I thank you for the opportunity to learn from you and share in your achievements.  To Daniel, Ellie, Giselle, Jasper, Josie, Kelli, Raquel, Ryan, Savhanna, Tray, Ulisses, and Xikun, the squirrels and I will miss you but have no doubt that you will continue to succeed and do great things!  My only piece of advice would be to keep on growing, asking questions, and contributing to the beauty and goodness in the world and developing those unique talents that make you who you are!  Congratulations and best wishes in your future!

Jo Sedlacek-Harman, Faculty/Staff/Parent, Mount Vernon, IA

Loren Nydegger

Loren Nydegger, Faculty/Staff

Melanie Lucero '92

Melanie Lucero '95, Mt. Vernon, IA

Megan Hicks

Megan Hicks, Faculty/Staff


Though we are going through challenging times, we are a family. The thing I love most about Cornell is our collective commitment to one another. My hope and prayer for our graduating seniors, students and incoming freshman is that you all KNOW how much we love, appreciate and are here for you. We will persevere and in that, build an even stronger Cornell character.

Sunny Holub, Faculty/Staff

Jane Sidewell '69

My Cornell education has inspired, traveled with, and enhanced my life and opportunities in immeasurable ways  throughout the last 50 years, since graduation in 1969! From Cornell I learned the art and science of "critical thinking," became a devoted and curious life-long learner, with focus on living in "community," and "giving back" in a variety of ways.  Campus life, classroom learning, lifelong community of friends--my Cornell experience!

Jane Welgos Sidewell '69, Beaufort, SC

Congratulations, students and graduates! Well done, everyone!

Maxwell Love, Faculty/Staff

Sharon Grice, Faculty/Staff

As I listened to all of the names of Cornell's newest Graduates being read on Sunday, I was reminded of the difficult stories that I had heard from them, or their parents during their time at Cornell.  As the Director of Financial Aid,  I was so proud of them and the perseverance and sacrifice  that so many of them have shown.  They couldn't have achieved their goals without the scholarships and grants they received from Cornell.  Thank you for supporting Cornell students and helping to make their dreams come true!

Pam Perry, Faculty/Staff

I would like to send a special shout out to all of our EDU students, faculty and alumni. Thank you for your commitment to K-12 education all over the globe. Your impact preparing the next generation of Cornellians is felt beyond measure...THANK YOU!

Jason Napoli, Faculty/Staff

Jason Napoli
Jodi Enger Marquith '91 and family

So proud to announce we are part of the Color It Purple campaign providing a matching gift. Huge shout out to my fellow Class of ‘91 classmates to send a gift to be matched. Doesn’t matter how big or small it all counts. These are unprecedented times and really encouraged by the amazing job the staff leadership and our President have done to keep Cornell not only surviving but thriving. Let’s keep this going for future generations.

Jodi Enger Marquith '91, Leesburg, VA

As I stood staring blankly at the whiteboard during intermediate microeconomics, I remember feeling both nervous and hopeless. Professor Santhi recognized I was struggling and with an encouraging pat on the back said "One day at a time, Justin. You can do it."

It is interesting how a person's words can be so simple but yet so powerful. I have repeated this line to myself countless times since my graduation in 2016. I believe this positive thinking and confidence is key to be able to "thrive in suffering." 

What is your struggle? What is your challenge? In the world of uncertainty that currently surrounds us with COVID 19, I admit there have been times I felt nervous and hopeless. Nervous for my grandparents' health and hopeless as people I love are laid off work. However, it is in these moments when it is important to focus and be present in the now. This keeps our minds from wandering down a rabbit hole and changes the narrative to "What can I do about it today?" 

Graduates, what can you do today?  Can you connect with alumni in your desired field or city who are more than willing to help you on your job search? Alumni, what can you do today? Can you give, share your story, or connect with recent graduates?”

Justin Futrell '16, Cedar Rapids, IA

John Gilliland ’89, Van Meter, IA

I'm in awe of the supportive and encouraging nature of the Cornell Community everyday, and particularly during times like these.  Thank you to every member that makes the Hilltop the wonderful place that it is.

Michael Geneser, Faculty/Staff

I am incredibly appreciative of the staff and faculty that worked so hard to make Virtual Commencement a success! It was such a fun event to watch and a great way to welcome the Class of 2020 to the alumni community!

Zoe Russell, Faculty/Staff

Rev. Catherine Quehl-Engel ’89, Chaplain of the College

Thank you to my Cornell colleagues. I am so inspired by your commitment, your resilience, and your tenacity. Now, more than ever, I know that Cornell faculty and staff ROCK!

Lisa White, Faculty/Staff

Cornell certainly prepared me for an unpredictable world.  My BA degree (history/political science majors) helped me move on to “trade school” (law school) but I never lost my love for history.

John Guthmann, '76

Jodi Schafer

Jodi Schafer, Faculty/Staff, 
Berry Career Institute

Jen Light and Rory Light '23

Jen Light, Faculty/Staff,
and Rory Light '23

Jessica Budlong '20

Jessica Budlong '20


I graduated from Cornell right as the country entered the great recession. It was really challenging to find meaningful employment for a few years, but that time allowed me to learn more about myself, what I did and didn't want in a job, and gave me flexibility to try different things on for size. And even while working jobs that I might have really disliked, I still learned vital skills that will continue to serve me for the rest of my life. And best of all, my Cornell experience taught me to learn quickly, work efficiently, and pivot my focus regularly so that I was extremely adaptable in whatever environment I found myself in. You may face similar challenges, but things WILL get better and you WILL excel. Cornell has prepared you for whatever path you find yourself on and you will SHINE!

Gabrielle Read-Hess '07, Faculty/Staff