Elon University Odyssey scholars gathered alongside university staff and faculty in upstairs Lakeside to celebrate the achievements of the 35 graduating Odyssey scholars on Saturday.
University President Connie Book started the celebration acknowledging the newest cohort of Odyssey scholars. Book said the class of 2027 will have the largest cohort yet, with 57 participants. Book also addressed the university’s plan to continue growing the Odyssey program. She said by 2030 they hope to have 500 odyssey scholars actively involved in the program, which currently has over 200 students across the four cohorts.
Kellcee Batchelor ’18 is an Odyssey alum and gave the ceremony’s keynote address. He asked students to always prioritize their values, impact and purpose — something he referred to as the VIP framework. He told students to stay true to their values and continue moving through life with integrity and passion.
“Without vision, you would disqualify yourself from opportunities because you could only see yourself through a one-dimensional lens,” Batchelor said. “Without vision, you could walk across the stage in a few weeks and even though it’s exciting and cool in the moment, nothing really changes because without vision it is impossible to embody education.”
After Batchelor’s speech, the scholars watched a video which highlighted students from all four Odyssey cohorts and each member of the class of 2023 cohort featuring pictures and videos from throughout their four years at Elon. Following the video, graduating Odyssey scholars received special graduation stoles, as well as a gift bag.
Senior Jaelan Price was one of the 35 graduating members of the Odyssey program. Toward the end of the celebration, she gave an impromptu speech to members of the younger cohorts who were present at the graduation ceremony.
“To be an Odyssey scholar is to be set apart for your efforts and for your hope,” Price told Elon News Network. “None of us got here alone, none of us finished alone.”
Odyssey Program Director Marcus Elliott recently celebrated 10 years with the university and said he is proud to watch students grow through their time at Elon.
“We’re here to celebrate them and challenge them all in the same token,” Elliott said. “It’s one of those that I really don’t take for granted and that I am privileged to be a part of.”
Batchelor told Elon News Network this ceremony was his first time being on campus since he graduated in 2018. He said as an Odyssey alum, he was proud of the students being celebrated. While he did not know any of them personally, he said the shared aspect of their journeys and what it means to be an Odyssey scholar formed a connection between them all.
“In this program, everybody here has been through something, so when they walk across stage they’re just not skipping across because it’s sunny outside, they’re walking across because there is some real hardship and a real story behind where they came from,” Batchelor said. “They are walking across that stage with a weight they finally get to let off.”