Nothing has stopped Elon University’s Class of 2022. So much was thrown in the way of these students, but they kept on going and accomplishing a lot.
And on Friday, May 20, more than 1,500 students from the class of 2022 crossed the stage of the Gymnase des Alumni to receive their diplomas from the hands of President Connie Ledoux Book, unwavering in their determination and resilience. It was a celebratory debut to cap off an unplanned and unprecedented undergraduate experience.
“In this new world, we are less sure. But we are more capable. We are more confident and whatever the world throws at us, we will conquer it,” Book told the graduates. “That’s why I call you the ‘unstoppable class of 2022’. No matter how uncertain the world is, you are strong, you are capable, you are compassionate and you are never alone.
With the launch celebrated at two ceremonies – the Martha & Spencer Love School of Business and School of Communications at 9 a.m., and the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education and Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences at 2 p.m. hours – the excitement lasted all day.
With 43 states and territories and 26 countries represented, the Class of 2022 is one of the most diverse classes in Elon’s history. With 731 students graduating with honors and 136 students graduating Summa Cum Laude, the class of 2022 is also one of the most decorated. Ninety-two of the recent graduates are siblings of current Elon students or alumni, 27 are the children or grandchildren of alumni, and 130 are the first in their families to attend the ‘university.
While at Elon, the Class of 2022 students have been engaged global citizens, conducted innovative undergraduate research, and grown to better understand their community through service learning. Although on Friday their Elon career came to an end, but the lessons learned and the values instilled in them will continue long after they are gone.
In her keynote address to graduates, acclaimed author and speaker Hilary Corna ’07 urged them to chart their own path rather than following in the footsteps of previous generations of students who have not undergone the “most colossal change of the last century”. .”
“The truth is…you are best suited to meet the challenges of this world. You arrive from this university on a blank page. It’s a blank canvas. This world is going to transform because of your leadership,” Corna said. “I believe your greatest ability will be to create a path and an existence so unique that it becomes impossible for anyone else to replicate. This will be your ultimate success.
Corna created her own path, very different from the one she thought was pre-planned for her. As an undergraduate, Corna was a business scholar and earned a double major in International Business and Asia-Pacific Studies with a minor in Japanese – well on her way to the life she thought she was meant to lead. “Get a job at a company, move to Charlotte, and find a husband to settle down with.”
Yet deep down, she knew something bigger was in her future and it was a study abroad trip to Japan during her freshman year that spurred her on. away from the scenario. “That’s how my truly unique path began. I dumped my boyfriend, sold my car and with $2,000 in my pocket bought a one-way ticket to Singapore without a job,” Corna said. I found one, however, at Toyota as the first woman to do kaizen and improve processes in all of Asia.
“Many years later I returned to the United States, wrote a bestselling book, and started speaking at universities around the world because I had no experience with female lecturers on the subject. campus. I started a podcast and now I coach C-suite executives for multi-million dollar companies. This adult thing, it’s not so bad after all,” Corna told the 1,500 members of the class of 2022.
The 2013 Top 10 Under 10 Alumni recipient wrote her first book, “One White Face,” a non-fiction account of her time abroad, in 2011, and her second book, “UNProfessional: A Manifesto,” will be published. this year and takes its name from her Podcast.
As she offered a glimpse of what life for new graduates might look like in the years to come, Corna encouraged the Class of 2022 to be original thinkers. They should not only develop their own ideas and thoughts about the world, but have the courage to share them with the world.
“Admire yourself today – not for what you’ve done but for who you’ve become,” Corna said in closing. “And for whom you will become. Because I see you, we all see you. The story of your life, which has never been told and will never be written again, has only just begun.
During her charge to the graduates, President Book referenced the convocation of new students for the Class of 2022 on a hot Saturday in August 2018 under the oaks which was her first as President of Elon. During each convocation, Book does a “human histogram,” asking students to stand to illustrate how many students have the opportunity to go to college, what type of college, and how many students end up getting. their university degree.
Ultimately, a student from New Student Convocation sitting in the first chair represents the few people in the world who are lucky enough to attend a residential college, like Elon.
“It’s a live event, so we don’t know in advance who will be sitting in that chair. So my notes have a blank line. That morning, as I was reviewing my remarks, I was struggling with that white line. To help me practice, I went ahead and wrote a name in pencil – Jacob,” Book said.
“There you go, incredibly, with hundreds of possibilities, it was Jacob in that first chair on that hot morning.” Four years later, Book asked Jacob Ostria ’22, a project management graduate from Tampa, Florida, to represent himself. This time, she asked everyone – graduates, faculty, staff, families, friends – to stand up if they would lend a hand to Ostria, or any student of Elon, if called upon.
Without hesitation, the thousands of people seated at the Schar Center rose to their feet, showing the vast support system that all members of the Elon community have at their disposal.
“It’s a powerful miracle,” Book said. “We are ‘Elon’ – Hebrew for ‘oak tree.’ Our beautiful oak trees that remind us that we are strong and deeply rooted in the values of honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect.
Class president Liam O’Connor tapped into the twin traditions of the acorn and the sapling of oak in his remarks as he brought his classmates back through all they had been through over the past four years. Elon’s new students receive an acorn on their first days on campus during the New Student Convocation, then four years later receive an oak sapling as senior graduates, a symbol of how they have changed and grown.
For the class of 2022, the four-year college experience went a bit differently than many previous classes, with their years at Elon marred by hurricanes, floods, a mumps outbreak and then a global pandemic that changed their lives. “We didn’t have the college careers advertised in the mail we got in high school,” O’Connor said. “We were baptized by fire and told to grow faster and adapt more than any class before. And now look where we are today.
But through it all, Elon’s “ground” helped nurture their growth, O’Connor said. “As we started to grow, we stretched our roots, … and before we knew it, our roots started to stretch and network – meeting classmates, joining organizations and taking on responsibilities.Our roots were able to thrive in this soil of Elon.
As a cohort that endured, the Class of 2022 are now preparing to leave Elon soil having grown stronger than they ever thought possible, he said. “Save some of that Elon soil and share it wherever you transplant,” O’Connor said. “Remember the roots you grew in that Elon soil. …go mess around and change the world.
Associate University Chaplain Julie Tonnesen ’14 opened both ceremonies with an invocation featuring Alexa Lugo ’22 and Sarah Poythress ’22 performing vocal musical selections. The launch was coordinated by Cultural and Special Programs and made possible by extensive operational support from Facilities Maintenance and Campus Security and Police, as well as volunteers from campus offices, departments and programs. who all worked all day to make the event special.
Commencement ceremonies on Friday capped off a week of gatherings and celebrations for the Class of 2022, including the Numen Lumen: Senior Bachelor’s Reflection held under the oak trees on Tuesday evening, where students received their saplings in oak, and a senior celebration at Rhodes Stadium on Wednesday. On Thursday, Latinx students were recognized at the annual ¡Celebremos! : Graduates Take Flight” and at Donning of the Kente, a ceremony that celebrates the achievements of students who recognize their African heritage. Earlier in May, Gender & LGBTQIA hosted the Lavender Graduation and Awards Celebration to honor student excellence. Campus schools, departments and organizations have also held their own events to applaud these graduating students and all they have accomplished since arriving on campus in 2018.