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By Hillary Creedon
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  • Animal Science
  • Department of Communication
  • Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Digital Agriculture
  • Communication
  • Global Development
  • Cornell AgriTech
With the end of another academic year in sight, we’d like to recognize the CALS class of 2024.

During their time at Cornell, members of this exceptional class has explored the corners of purpose-driven science, made lifelong connections, and adopted Ithaca, New York as their home. Navigating significant obstacles and uncharted territory in remote and hybrid learning environments, these students have exhibited incredible resilience, intellectual growth, determination and flexibility. We are extremely proud to celebrate and honor their achievements, and look forward to all they will accomplish in the future.

In the snapshots below of this year’s graduating class, meet some of our seniors and hear about their most memorable research experiences, what surprised them most during their time in CALS, where are they headed after graduation and more.

CALS Undergraduate Class of 2024

CALS Class of 2024

Taylor Heaton

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Alaska Native, Tlingit People

Major: Earth and atmospheric sciences (geology concentration)

What is your most memorable undergraduate research moment and why? Doing field work at the Cornell University Borehole Observatory to record temperature profile and water samples. It is 3 kilometers deep, so it was tons of rope! Or probably going on the JOIDES Resolution, a deep ocean research rig that brought me and an internationally Indigenous cohort on a research and communication experience from Italy to Amsterdam.

CALS Class of 2024

Jeff Kang'acha

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya

Major: International agriculture and rural development

Minor: Digital agriculture 

What does being a Cornellian mean to you? To be a Cornellian is to be a bridge. Bridges connect. Bridge support. Bridges open up. Much like bridges, to be part of Cornell is to connect with the community and experiences that span across and beyond the horizons of our campus. Much like bridges, Cornell continues to support the flow and exchange of knowledge, culture and service. Much like bridges, Cornell opens up its community to the infinite possibilities of learning, discovery and engagement beyond the bounds of our campus.

CALS Class of 2024

Adele Williams

Hometown: Darnestown, Maryland

Major: Communication

Minor: Indigenous studies, law & society

What surprised you the most about your Cornell CALS experience? I love the variety of courses and majors offered here and everyone’s passion and curiosity for their fields. I will definitely miss the impromptu conversations I’ve had with people from various majors, learning about anything from soil diversity to business pitching! No matter who I meet, I always leave knowing something new.

CALS Class of 2024

Sydney Wan

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Major: Information science 

What surprised you the most about your Cornell CALS experience? Although my major is offered in multiple colleges, CALS has allowed me to explore a variety of classes that I would not have otherwise taken. For instance, I have had the opportunity to take several courses about how plants are used in everyday life as well as medicine. The courses here are welcoming to all skill levels and encourage students to branch out. The breadth of classes offered has allowed me to round out my academic experience and learn how different fields are related.

CALS Class of 2024

Alex Taylor

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

Major: Animal science 

What surprised you the most about your Cornell CALS experience? I did not expect CALS to have such a vibrant community. Transferring to Cornell after a year of online school at home, I had no idea what to expect at such a large college and university. Yet, much to my surprise, everyone I’ve encountered is willing to have a conversation and learn from one another. Events like Ag Day, the Farmers Market, and places like the CALS Zone and the Dairy Bar have truly made CALS a home.

CALS Class of 2024

Griffin Erich

Hometown: Hopewell Junction, New York

Major: Plant sciences

What surprised you the most about your Cornell CALS experience? The accessibility of research opportunities for undergrads stood out to me. I have worked on projects ranging from cell biology to field-level research. Even as a first-year student, I was welcomed into the research scene and never looked back.

CALS Class of 2024

Sammi Lin

Hometown: Queens, New York

Major: International agriculture and rural development

What are your post-grad plans? I will be working as a program associate with the policy and government affairs team at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Washington, D.C. Through this role, I will have the opportunity to strengthen relationships between WWF and key U.S. government partners to advance local, national and international conservation. I will also support proposal management and development as the team works to advocate for and secure funding to continue WWF’s work to conserve wildlife, food and freshwater systems, forests, oceans and the climate, along with eliminating plastic waste in nature around the world.

Taylor Heaton headshot
Jeff Kangacha standing next to a corn field
Adele Williams standing outside next to a blooming tree
Sydney Wan sitting on a blanket in tall grass with mountains in the distance
Alex holding a lamb in a barn.
Griffin Erich standing in an apple orchard
Sammi Lin sitting at a fountain holding a bag of orange

CALS Graduate Class of 2024

CALS Graduate Class of 202

Hayden Bock

Hometown: Morrisdale, Pennsylvania

Major: Entomology

What surprised you most about your Cornell CALS experience? The expanse of people studying the gamut of very basic, fundamental science, the entire way to immediately applicable, practitioner-focused agricultural research is impressive. In other institutions, you often see one or the other, but it is special to have such a cross-cutting group of researchers here.

CALS Graduate Class of 2024

Jess Choi

Hometown: Suwon, South Korea

Major: Plant pathology and plant microbe-biology

What does being Cornellian mean? Being Cornellian means having the opportunity to become a pioneering researcher in your field, a visionary leader, and an individual driven by the betterment of society. Cornell fosters an environment that supports you in exploring your career aspirations and aligning them with your core values.

CALS Graduate Class of 2024

Lidia Komondy

Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Major: Entomology

What is your most memorable CALS research moment? Attending my first grower meeting was a truly memorable experience! I was incredibly fortunate to collaborate with a remarkable group of onion growers in Western New York, tackling an insect-transmitted virus that affects their crops. From our first meeting, they welcomed me to the program, shared their knowledge, and graciously allowed me to conduct applied research projects on their farms. Their support and insights were crucial and greatly improved the outcomes of my research. 

CALS Graduate Class of 2024

Tori Hoyle

Hometown: McDonough County, Illinois 

Major: Plant pathology and plant microbe-biology

What surprised you most about your Cornell CALS experience? What surprised me most was how much I fell in love with the work that I was doing. If you would have asked me on day one where I would be by graduation, I never would have guessed this or wished it differently!

Hayden Bock rides a lawn mower at Cornell AgriTech.
Jess Choi on graduation day.
Lidia Komondy smiles at a local state park.
Tori Hoyle

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