by Laura Smith,
To view a slideshow from commencement click HERE.
Saturday marked the 119th commencement in Elon University history and despite initial fears of a chance of rain earlier in the week, the sun stayed high in the sky for graduates Under the Oaks.
Preparations for the ceremony began months ago and faculty and staff began setting up as early as 5 Saturday morning.
This graduation is unique since Elon’s 30,000th diploma was given to music education major Susan Fetch.
In total there were 1271 degrees given out: 107 law, 44 MBA and 1,120 BA/BFA/BS. There were 28 students who graduated with Suma Cum Laude honors (3.9-4.0 GPA), 130 with Magna Cum Laude (3.7-3.89) and 185 with Cum Laude (3.5-3.69).
The ceremony was also marked by Rev. Richard McBride, university chaplain emeritus, as he addressed the seniors, concluding their time at Elon as well as his own as he will be retiring next year.
Before McBride’s address, Walter C. Tims, 2000 Elon graduate and former Youth Alumni Council president, encouraged the graduating seniors to remember Elon and stay involved within the university community.
“It is important where you start, but it is more important where you finish,” he said. “Take Elon with you.”
Next, senior class president, Danielle Durst, gave a message of appreciation.
“Elon has been a catalyst to all of our endeavors,” she said. “This institution has given us the skills to achieve… it has empowered us to make our passions a reality.”
After an introduction by President Leo Lambert, McBride issued his address to the seniors, entitled “Colors and Shapes, Letters and Numbers.”
“You’ve come a long way from (learning about) colors, shapes, letters and numbers,” he told the graduates. “Don’t ever forget where you started.”
He then proceeded to lead the graduates, family, faculty and friends in the ABC song, stressing the importance of celebrating ones fundamental learning and to continue in the mystery of learning, he said.
He also explained the importance of following ones passions.
“Follow your passion and honor your parents … follow your passions and serve the community where you live,” he said.
McBride also said an Elon education does not mean the graduate has learned all they can.
“Have you reached the pinnacle of your education” he asked. “No … to reach that is to become fully human, which is a lifelong project. You don’t not get to skip it by being intelligent.”
Having gotten to know many of Saturday’s graduating seniors over the years, McBride left them with words of encouragement for the future.
“My hope for you is that you don’t think these years have been the best years of your life,” he said. “But think of your time at Elon as the best is yet to be.”
After the diplomas were handed out to students, Lambert left the graduates with two charges.
First, he told students to remember the meaning of the human graph they formed during their convocation ceremony four years ago on Aug. 27, 2005. At this ceremony, the students stood up to represent those who live with AIDS, those who live in poverty, those who do not attend college and more.
“Take a stand for someone else,” Lambert said.
His second charge was to keep Elon strong for succeeding generations. ”It is our (Lambert and colleagues) conviction that the world needs Elon graduates,” he said. “Tend the lamp to love this university so it will always be shining brightly awaiting your children.”