I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the CAPS Class of 2020.
Under any other circumstances I would have expressed such a sentiment to you and your families in person, here in Ithaca, most likely under sweltering skies with the promise of thunder in the air, as that is, each year to this one, how we have taken note of the extraordinary accomplishments of those who have completed the CAPS major.
The pandemic has precluded such a ceremony, at least for the time being.
But, it in no way eclipses my appreciation for all that the four of you accomplished during your time here at Cornell.
If anything, the restrictions and limitations that the disease has created, and the shadow it is likely to cast over both the US and China in the coming years, deepens my appreciation of what your class has experienced. It also makes me that much more aware of just how fortunate we all have been in terms of the ease with which we could cross the Pacific, and navigate between two cultures, and political systems.
Think back to the times you spent here on campus, in D.C., and in Beijing.
Consider what you learned in each location, what you saw, and felt.
And, realize how remarkable it was even then, but more so now, that you were able to live and learn in such locations.
CAPS provided you with the opportunity to do these things.
However, each of you distinguished yourselves by taking advantage of this structure, by venturing beyond the usual path of your classmates, by being explorers and travelers.
That appetite for adventure, to engage others, to explore and appreciate difference, is what sets CAPS students apart from their peers, and that makes each of you quite remarkable in your own right.
Kate, the work you have done for CAPS over the last year, has been invaluable to the program. And, your openness in the classroom, and outside it, is an inspiration. It has been a joy to watch you grow and mature over your four years with us.
Emily, the work ethic you have shown to complete ROTC and CAPS is also remarkable. Given the dark turn that US-China relations appears to be taking, it gives me some piece of mind to know that someone with your background and expertise will be serving our country in the coming years.
Ryan, your sense of humor, and commitment to the program has also been most impressive, and, I am especially glad that we were able to reconnect this semester in the capstone seminar. While the course was disrupted by the virus, in some ways I feel that the transition to online learning gave us all an opportunity to get to know each other even better, and your contributions to the class gave me great confidence in your abilities.
Austin, your journey through the CAPS program has also been quite moving to me, especially as it began with real doubts about whether you could complete it, and ended with you being another standout in the capstone seminar. We have had many outstanding students in CAPS over the years, but very few of them have grown and matured as much within it as you.
Thank you to each of you for giving so much to CAPS during your four years at Cornell. And, of course, deep thanks to your families as well for supporting each of you on your journey. I am sure your gratitude to them goes even deeper than mine.
There is much more that could be said, regarding each of you, the program, the University, and the pandemic, but I will stop here for now, and leave these additional comments until we are all able to meet in person to commemorate you, and the class of 2020.
Peace to all of you, and be well.