Leaders at Elon were asked to share their advice for the Class of 2012 as they prepare to enter life outside of the bubble. Here are their words of wisdom:

Alison Morrison-Shetlar
Dean, Elon College, The College of Arts and Sciences

Elon graduates earn a degree in making a difference in this world. They make a difference with humor, humility, passion and respect.

While at Elon, students discover their passions and their pathway to the future. I know that you will all use that passion and share the values you have learned at Elon wherever you find yourself.

Think back on what and how you have learned at Elon and do not forget those that are coming behind you — you are their role models and mentors for their future.

Jeffrey Coker Director, General Studies

Set up an environmentally and financially sustainable life for yourself after college. If you live efficiently, you’ll have a less stressful life, accumulate wealth and have less environmental impact.

Once you’ve bought the oversized house far from your workplace and the new car, you’ve locked yourself in to a life of debt and commuting.

Kirstin Ringelberg Director, LGBTQ Office

Don’t worry if you don’t know where you’re headed in “life.” This actually gives you the opportunity to try things that might seem impossible later or things that sound “crazy” but may actually lead somewhere great.

Fulfillment doesn’t necessarily come from certainty or comfort — for me it has come from challenging myself to take risks, try new things and meet people who are not like the people I already know.

Glenda Crawford Director, Teaching Fellows

Embrace life’s experiences and share your talents with others. Don’t hesitate to take risks for the betterment of society. Travel the world and reach across cultural boundaries.

Invest your energies into making our schools and classrooms warm and welcoming environments for student learning. Follow your fondest dreams and know a small part of you will always be in my heart.

Shana Plasters Director, Greek Life

Don’t be afraid of a non-linear career path. Some of life’s most rewarding work comes your way when you’re not looking for a promotion or a pay raise.



Susan Klopman Vice President, Admissions and Financial Planning

Consider how powerful it is to be able to make a choice. Most of life’s big events are beyond our control — to whom we are born, whom we fall in love with or when our life is over. But we can control how we react to life. We can always choose our attitude, how we respond.

So the most important question I have found in life is a simple one: How do you want this (situation, experience, etc.) to end? It has caused me to frame choices not only that I can live with, but that I am enriched by.

Paul Parsons Dean, School of Communications

I’ve always enjoyed the sayings of Benjamin Franklin, so I repeat a few here for Elon’s 2012 graduates. “One today is worth two tomorrows.” “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” “Speak little, do much.”

“You may delay, but time will not.” “Well done is better than well said.” My own advice? The key to a rich life is doing something meaningful with it. Pursue meaning.

Paula Patch Director, College Writing

Refuse to be motivated by fear. Instead, be motivated by love — for people, places and ideas (but not necessarily for material things). Acting out of love will make you brave in the face of fear.

You will need to be brave; life gets scarier — it also gets better. Be willing to cut your losses and abandon bad or dead-end situations: relationships, jobs and, again, ideas. Always be ready and able to move on to something better.


Rex Waters Associate Dean of Students

I have been asked to share words of wisdom as you leave Elon. So here goes: Be sure to imagine, laugh and love — lots; cultivate healthy relationships, create and sustain habits of excellence; continue to discover and nourish your passions; live a robust life — it is a contact sport — participate fully; be patiently persistent as life will throw you “curve balls; ” and perhaps more importantly, stay true to your core values and take care of your health. Congratulations!


Ross Wade Assistant Director, Career Services, School of Communications 

Think of life as being the ultimate mix tape — a compilation of life experiences grounded in an overarching theme. Your values will guide you to your life’s purpose, and that purpose will be your mix’s theme — all you have to do is authentically live each song, surround yourself with good people and rock it out. Don’t mind the haters or what other mix tapes are playing. Keep your ears and heart on your own songs.


Smith Jackson Vice President and Dean of Student Life

“Whatever you are, be a good one” (Abraham Lincoln) “...and the right people will notice.” (Smith Jackson)

Michelle Kusel Assistant Director, Leadership
Be sensible, but not so sensible that it stops you from taking action. Remember: Things work out the way they are supposed to.

Take time to reflect on what is important to you and don’t feel bad about your answers or answer the way you think you are “supposed” to.  Be real with yourself and let this guide you through the next chapter.


[box] Have your own words of wisdom for the Class of 2012? Email your thoughts (in 75 words or less) to pendulum@elon.edu and we'll add your input! [/box]