There was a kind of mystique surrounding Elon University’s 122nd commencement, held under the oaks Saturday morning. That’s how Trevis Billey, a family member of Class of 2012 graduate LaDonna Davis, described the morning.
Students, family, friends and Elon faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the newest group who will join the ranks of Elon Universiy alumni.
Taylor Martin, president of the Class of 2012, said the occasion brought to memory the mixed emotions of move-in weekend and convocation their freshman year in August 2008, when his mother began to cry as she left him.
“We have all become a family,” Martin said. “The emotions I’m feeling now are the exact same she felt then,” continuing on to describe the changing nature of life but consistency of family.
Stephen Schuckenbrock, Class of 1982, President of Dell Services and 2012 graduation speaker, said he skipped his own college graduation in a hurry to get on with his life, begin work and get married. Being present at this year’s commencement, Schuckenbrock said he would consider himself part of Elon University’s Class of 2012.
Citing the five C’s to help enable the next generation to achieve greatness as convergence, critical thinking, character, conviction and courage, Schuckenbrock reminded the graduates that they are well-prepared to make a difference in life.
“Every once in a while there is a period of great unrest that exists in society,” he said. “Each one of these times brings opportunities for solutions. You’re better equipped to deal with these times than any generation before you.”
Glynis Ewing, a graduating statistics and sociology major, said commencement was a bittersweet reminder that a new phase of life has arrived.
“The end is imminent,” Ewing said. “It’s sad, but at the same time it’s exciting. I’m trying to avoid packing a little longer — who wants to leave this place?”
Christian Hansen, a music performance major and member of the Class of 2012, said the video graduates watched in Jordan Gym before the ceremony, highlights of their time in college, brought home the fact that four years have passed since coming to Elon.
“It’s a little surreal, to be quite honest,” Hansen said. “It makes you realize how much this institution meant to you.”
But for students like Hansen, the realities of post-college life will continue to set in after commencement as he looks for a job. Hansen said he would spend the summer working at a camp and continue the search in the fall.
Schuckenbrock told graduates that as they enter the world, to consider that society has become a different place, and the United States would depend on its “technological prowess and entrepreneurship” to continue to grow in power.
“Today, you are ready,” he said. “A lot more ready than you thought. But we must shift from a society that is responsible for you, to one in which you are responsible for your society.”
Concluding his message to the graduates, Schuckenbrock challenged them to make the most of what they do during their careers and life after departing Elon.
[box]Photo gallery: Elon Commencement 2012[/box]
“Believe it or not, life is short,” Schuckenbrock said. “So don’t waste it doing things you are not proud of.”
President Leo Lambert, in his charge to the graduates, reminded the Class of 2012 of the human bar graph they formed at their new student convocation four years ago. He said that at the end of the illustration, only four students remained standing to represent the proportion of people in the Class of 2012 who would receive a degree from a private college or university.
"Today, you've all grabbed that brass ring," Lambert said. " ... Never be afraid to reach out to others to help them create meaningful and positive change in their lives. This is what your Elon education compels you to do"