Special ceremony honors one Elon graduate
It just didn’t seem right that Ashlee Crewe had to forfeit her college graduation to join teammates in Georgia this weekend for the NCAA softball tournament. So in front of family and friends, Crewe received her diploma Wednesday evening from Elon President Leo M. Lambert in a ceremony honoring the only senior on the Southern Conference championship team.
At 6 p.m., Lambert and Crewe, both in full academic regalia, walked down an aisle between rows of folding chairs set up just inside the entrance to the Woods Center in Rhodes Stadium.
They stopped and turned when they reached the podium. “OK, the procession is now over!” Lambert said with a grin, the room filling with laughter. “This is the smallest Commencement in Elon history. One graduate!”
He turned to Crewe and offered her an opportunity – to give a Commencement address. The leisure and sport management major from Angier, N.C., smiled and accepted the offer.
“Most of the people in this room are the people who helped me become the person that I am,” she said. “To all my teammates, you’re my heart. You’re my family away from home. Every one of you has touched me in some way.
“To my family, you guys have helped me no matter what. You’ve been with me through everything I’ve ever battled. I can’t say enough to thank all my family here.
“Everyone in this room will be with me forever. I love you guys.”
After her remarks, Lambert handed Crewe her diploma. She opened the embossed holder containing the document. “It’s my real diploma!”
Lambert smiled. He told Crewe that while the diploma was real, the university would not confer it until Saturday. That didn’t bother the newly minted Elon University alumna.
“Nobody else gets this graduation!” Crewe said to flashing cameras and cheering teammates, who seconds later hummed “Pomp and Circumstance” as she returned down the aisle.
At only one other moment in school history has Elon graduated a single student in a dedicated ceremony. Irene Johnson was the first woman to receive an Elon degree when, in 1892, she represented the entire graduating class.
The Phoenix will take on the host Georgia Bulldogs, who earned the sixth national seed, at 5 p.m. on Friday evening. Elon earned the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Championship with a win over UNC Greensboro last week.