Updated as of 12:29 a.m. on May 23 to include additional photos.

If a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle progressed at the rate of technology today, the car could drive a million miles per hour, Andre Valcour, the graduate commencement address speaker, said. Valcour said because of how quickly technology is progressing, the only way to keep up is to continue aspiring to learn.

Held on May 22, the commencement ceremony recognized graduates of Elon’s six graduate programs — masters of science in accounting and in business analytics, master of business administration, masters of arts in interactive media and higher education and master of education. 

Valcour serves as the vice president and laboratory director for the center for esoteric testing and discipline director of allergy, coagulation and endocrinology at Labcorp. Valcour graduated with an MBA from Elon’s business school in 2014, and before he went to Elon, he reached out to the CEO at esoteric testing for advice.

Erin Martin | Elon News Network
Elon School of Communications Dean Kenn Gaither presents master's student Andrew Dryfoos, who graduated with a Master of Arts in Interactive Media, with his hood at the graduate commencement ceremony on the evening of May 22.

“I believe one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done in my life is get my MBA at Elon University,” Valcour said during the event. “I hope you feel similarly. I would not have reached this milestone had it not been for taking a risk and reaching out to someone I didn't know that I admired for advice and support.”

With the rate of change, it is no longer appropriate to ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, he said — referencing Thomas Friedman, a political commentator and author. Instead, Vaclour said people should be asking how they want to be. 

“Will you have an agile adult learning mindset?” Valcour said during the event. “Will you be inspired to lifelong learning?”

Valcour charged the graduates to effect positive change and most importantly — to not lose their moral compasses.

“My father-in-law, rest his soul, used to say, ‘People can take your car, they can take your home. They cannot take your integrity from you; to lose it you have to give it away,’” Valcour said during the event.

Chazz Harley graduated with a master of science in business analytics. Harley said graduating with a master’s degree after completing his undergraduate degree at Elon the year before meant a lot to him.

“Completing my masters has helped me a lot in the job force and when I’m looking for jobs,” Harley said. “It’s a big moment for me today.”

Steven Gyan G’24 was the first in his family to travel to the United States from Ghana and receive a higher degree. The highest education both of his parents received was at a middle school level, leaving Gyan to figure out his academics on his own, he said. 

Moving to a new country without familial help presented some challenges. Gyan did not know about the lack of public transportation in Elon, faced differences in weather and food — and when he first booked his flight to Burlington, he ended up accidentally booking a flight to Burlington, Vermont.

“My time at Elon has broadened my horizon,” Gyan said during the event. “Allowed me to learn about the world vastly different from my own, professionally grown and in ways across both the U.S. and the African continent.”

Gyan challenged the graduates to embrace their own, possibly unknown, future. Drawing inspiration from the small steps that are known can create clarity, he said. 

“This initial, perhaps naive, concept of the future has instilled in me a commitment to continuous learning, constantly seeking mentorship and advice from friends, family and colleagues,” Gyan said during the event. “Most importantly, it has empowered me with a freedom to act proactively.”

With this freedom, graduates can overcome imposter syndrome and become willing to experiment, Gyan said. 

“We are on the verge of creating our futures,” Gyan said during the event. “We are all having the opportunity to shape the world that we will inherit.”