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Elon holds 116th Commencement exercises

Elon University awarded 1,035 degrees during its 116th Commencement exercises, held Under the Oaks on campus May 20. Details…

Although rain showers moved the traditional Commencement breakfast inside the Moseley Center, the skies cleared just in time for the Class of 2006 to walk across the stage in front of West Hall and take their seats.

Chaplain Richard McBride was undaunted by the unpredictable weather.

“We are blessed, you and I, to have extraordinary natural beauty surrounding us on this campus,” he said. “The whole earth deserves to be treated with the respect and care that we give this campus.”

Jason Pressberg, senior class president, thanked families on behalf of his fellow graduates. “Most of us would not be here without the help of our parents,” he said. Pressberg also thanked seniors and their parents for raising a record $27,155 for the Senior Class Scholarship Fund.

>>LISTEN TO PRESSBERG'S REMARKS



Former baseball manager Jack McKeon, who at age 72 led the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship, delivered the Commencement address.

McKeon, a 1963 Elon alumnus, told the graduating class to stay focused in order to make their dreams come true. He said that a positive attitude was a must, “whether in athletics or in the game of life.”

Persistence, hard work, prayer and risk-taking are all essential to success, McKeon said. During the 2003 World Series, he took a risk of his own by playing a pitcher who had been rested for three days, a move that was widely criticized. But the risk paid off, he said, as McKeon’s Marlins beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.

“You must challenge yourself every day,” he said. “No risk, no reward.”

McKeon said it was a special honor to be selected as Elon’s Commencement speaker.

“We’re all proud of our 2006 graduates. We know that you will certainly bring honor and recognition to our great university,” he said.

>>LISTEN TO MCKEON'S ADDRESS


After his address, McKeon was presented with the first “Elon’s Rising Phoenix” by Elon President Leo M. Lambert. The original work of art was created by award-winning glass artist Duncan McClellan of Tampa, Fla. The round, red-glass disk is etched and ornamented with gold leaf in a design evoking flames and phoenix wings. It is displayed in a bronze frame.

The threat of rain did little to dampen the spirits of parents who came to see their children receive diplomas.

Chuck and Carolyn Potter, sitting in seats on the center aisle about halfway back in the sea of 10,000 chairs, came from Saco, Maine, to see their only child, Jake, graduate with a bachelor of arts degree.

“We’re very excited and very proud,” said Chuck, of their son who was a Journalism and Communications Fellow. Jake has already secured a job with a Burlington radio station owned by Curtis Media Group, where he will be a sports announcer and produce a talk show.

The family of graduate Elizabeth Laney, who majored in athletic training, didn’t have to travel far from Waxhaw, N.C. Mother Bebe, Aunt Faye, Aunt Terri, Uncle Tom and Cousin Angie had all staked out seats early in the second row. They reported that Elizabeth would be pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy.

Tadd and Janis Hansen of Beachwood, N.J., were sitting with their son’s girlfriend, Dianne Cook, also an Elon student, and some family friends. Erik, the oldest of their three children, graduated with a business administration degree and has been accepted into a management training program with Sherwin Williams in Greensboro.

Commencement concluded with the traditional charge to graduates from Elon President Leo M. Lambert. "Commencement is a day on which Elon makes a beautiful gift to the wider world by sending forth her daughters and sons to do good," Lambert said. "I have every conviction that the world will be enriched as you use your Elon education in extraordinary ways: for healing, for justice, for peace, for understanding, for discovery, for democracy, for creativity, for service."

>>LISTEN TO PRESIDENT LAMBERT'S CHARGE TO THE GRADUATES


Mandy Byrd and Cathy Hefferin,
Staff
5/22/2006 2:45 PM