Reflections from the Class of 2020

By: Hana Aghababian & Sarah Epplin,  Classics
June 12, 2020

Ten students graduated this May with degrees from the Department of Classics - one with her PhD and nine with their Bachelor’s. They share their research, reflections on their time at Cornell, and plans for the future. Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

Jennifer Carrington defended her dissertation in Fall 2019 and is receiving her PhD in Classics, concentrating on Classical Archaeology. She worked with Professor Sturt Manning to analyze the networks of Ptolemaic pottery, aiming to demonstrate “how particular features materialized in everyday pots in different places and at different times in Ptolemaic Egypt.” She currently works in museums and hopes to continue her work in educational outreach “in a way that can draw on all of archaeology’s strengths as a discipline: object-oriented, connective, contextual, and bridging social and natural sciences.” She writes, “Thinking about networks only made it all the more obvious that my project owed as much to its connections as its center - without the support and insights of my committee, associated faculty, fellow grad students, and colleagues, I would never have been able to advance.” 

John Kolesar is a double major in Mathematics and Classics, concentrating in Computer Science and Latin with additional minors in Computer Science and Philosophy. He will be continuing his work in Computer Science in the PhD program at Yale University. He thanks Professors Athena Kirk and Fred Ahl for being his advisors, and he also thanks Professors Courtney Roby and Dan Gallagher “for teaching some of the best courses I took at Cornell.” 

Sydnie Chavez is a Classics major focusing on Greek poetry. Her Honors Thesis dealt with the relationship between female persuasion and agency in Homer, and she looks forward to continuing her work on female and other marginalized voices in Greek literature. She will be attending Yale University in the fall, pursuing a PhD in Classical Philology. She writes, “I want to especially thank the department for being so adaptable and helpful during the transition to remote learning this year, and I want to thank all of the professors in the department for making my time at Cornell one that was full of constant learning, excitement, and support. I am especially grateful to Hayden Pelliccia for being an inspiring teacher and advisor, and to Fred Ahl for putting on the plays every year—participating in them was a defining aspect of my Cornell experience.”

Isis Encinas is a Classics major focusing on Latin, with career goals in the field of Psychology. She plans on working in a clinical psychology lab in New York City after graduating, and later hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She writes, “While my professional goals are not in the field of Classics, I hope to always keep Classics as a part of my life. I did the Classics major to stay connected to the ancient languages I fell in love with, and I’ve loved my time with Cornell Classics.” She offers “a huge thank you” to the Department of Classics for their support during her time at Cornell, and for providing her with a scholarship to study in Rome. She adds, “Thank you to Hayden Pelliccia (my advisor), Daniel Gallagher, Verity Platt, and so many more. These professors and many others have really supported me during my time here and I am so grateful for their willingness to go beyond their roles as professors to work to help me feel included (as a Latina in a field with very little representation of my people) as well as reaching out when my mental health struggled and going out of their way to help me...I am so grateful for my time with this department and for all of the ways the people in it have worked to support me.”

Sophia Evans is a triple major in Classics, Linguistics, and Spanish. She will be attending law school at the University of Virginia in the Fall which, she notes excitedly, also “has an excellent Classics program.” She thanks the entire department “for helping me to not just learn Latin, but how to love it as well.” She adds her thanks to the administrative staff for their invaluable support in everything “from helping with costume ordering for a Latin play I participated in to aiding me in applying for scholarships and fellowships”, to Professors Hayden Pelliccia and Dan Gallagher “for always letting me crash their office hours with my many questions as well as introducing me to some of my favorite authors such as Propertius and Ovid,” and to her Honors Thesis advisor Professor Michael Fontaine “for everything he’s taught me these past four years.”

Jiayi (Jenny) Guo is a Classics major with interests in Greek literature, historiography, and the material culture of Greek society. In the fall, she will be attending law school and plans to focus on family laws, gender violence, and women’s rights. She is thankful to all of the Classics professors but adds, “I am especially thankful to Professor Annetta Alexandridis, who taught me both Greek and Roman art history and kindly agreed to be my major advisor, Professor Alan Nussbaum, who taught me introduction to Greek (and his focus on historical linguistics really makes the memorization process easier and more fun), and Professor Charles Brittain, who is very inspired and points out ‘the many beautiful things’ of Plato.”

Henry Klausner, a Classics major, extends his gratitude to Professors Hayden Pelliccia, Athena Kirk, and Courtney Roby. He writes, “I would not have become the scholar I am today without their attention, intelligence, and kindness.” He also thanks the other members of the Class of 2020 for their four years together and for making his time at Cornell more enjoyable. 

Dimitrios Sparis, Marisa Gerard, and Meghan Flanigen also graduated in May 2020 with Bachelor’s degrees in Classics.

Reflections from the Class of 2020