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Class of 1964 celebrates public service, awards graduating senior

Sarah McMorrow ’24 and Class of 1964 President Ken Kupchak ’64, JD ’71

Alumni from the Class of 1964 gathered to present this year’s Class of 1964 John F. Kennedy Memorial Award at Reunion. The award is given annually to a graduating senior who will pursue a career in public service. This year’s recipient was Sarah McMorrow ’24.

This year also marks a change in how the award recipient is chosen. The Class of ’64 helped establish the JFK Alumni Board, which will take over the responsibility of selecting each years’ awardee, to ensure the award can continue in perpetuity.

Cynthia Wolloch ’64, who has chaired the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award since 2009, passed the baton to the JFK Alumni Board during the ceremony. Cynthia will become the class liaison when the new board officially begins work on July 1.

Made up of former award recipients, the alumni board will take over where the Class of 1964 left off. The Class of 1964 has stewarded the JFK Award for excellent Cornell graduates with a passion for public service for nearly 60 years.

“The important thing for us is that the award continues. We see every reason—there’s every need—to continue this. Everything is in place, and we already have a cadre of committed alumni,” Cynthia said.

When asked what she is most proud of in the legacy of the award of the last six decades, Cyntha chuckled. “We pulled it off!” she said. “That’s something that the class has felt very proud of: stewarding something that would address our interests, as well as the interests of the students, and of the university.”

“Kennedy’s assassination marked a turning point. People kind of woke up to the fact that we had a responsibility to take very seriously the life of the country, because we had been impacted so much by its disruption in November of 1963.”

At the time, that resulted in many graduates her age going to the Peace Corps or becoming involved in civil rights and voter registration in the American South. Award applicants and grantees since then have proven that there are many varied ways to serve the public good in the US and around the world.

“The award adapts itself to changing times,” Cynthia said. “I’m thrilled that I’ve got five wonderful alumni to work with me. We may go away, but this award is not going anywhere.”