Aside from the conferring of almost 1,400 degrees, Elon University's 127th Commencement ceremony yesterday saw two speeches partially spoken in Spanish, a New York Giants balloon strapped to a tassel, and a successful marriage proposal.
It was anything but conventional.
Adrian Williams'17 proposed to his girlfriend, Bria Turner, after he graduated May 20. Video courtesy of Williams.
Headlined by Univision reporter Maity Interiano '07 as the keynote speaker, the Emmy-winning journalist challenged the graduating Class of 2017 to be fearless, take chances, and embrace adversity.
"More than ever we are seeing young people going after their dreams," Interiano said. "Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them."
According to the university, this was the largest graduating class, and the more than 10,000 people who flocked in front of Alamance building to celebrate those draped in maroon gowns reflected that. In her address, Interiano reminisced on the day she almost stood where they stood — her ceremony was Under the Oaks instead — and how Elon alumni always feel a sense of joy toward their alma mater.
"Before you realize it, 10 years from now you may be standing here wishing the graduating class a better future," Interiano said. "You may leave Elon, but Elon will never leave you. I have found that to be true."
Interiano detailed her journey from Elon to becoming one of the most well known on-air talents in Latin America. She said the opportunities Elon presented her, including working with student media, were what propelled her to where she is. Now, as graduates of Elon, she encouraged the Class of 2017 to use the tools they learned at Elon as building blocks toward their future.
“You will probably fall and have to re-evaluate your purpose and professional goals, but that is fine because it will only make you stronger,” Interiano said. “You will continue to make sacrifices, or as I like to think about them, ‘investments into your future.'
"Do what makes you happy, to find your time and purpose in life and take the time to share those with people who love you"
Elon President Leo Lambert reiterated those sentiments. In what may possibly be his last formal address to the Elon community as president, Lambert spoke with passion as he charged the graduating class one final time. In his remarks, he urged the Class of 2017 to use their education for the benefit of others. By doing that, he said they will have lived out a calling that is greater than themselves.
"As you accept Elon’s traditional gift of an oak tree sapling today, I hope you will plant it and watch it grow over the years," Lambert said. "May its growth remind you of how far you have come since receiving your Elon acorn, and how much potential you have, as among the most well educated people on the earth, to be a champion for a child’s brighter future."