Elon MBA program graduates Class of 2013
In a keynote address to students and their families, a top executive with one of North Carolina’s largest health care providers encourages students to “lead with honor” and be engaged.
“Lead with honor. Be engaged and present. And have fun.”
The senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer for Rex Healthcare, a household name for medical services in the Triangle region of North Carolina, delivered a focused message Friday evening for the men and women in the Master of Business Administration program at Elon University.
Bernadette M. Spong ‘78 G’07, a history major as an Elon undergraduate and later an alumna of the very same program seated before her, infused her remarks with lessons gleaned from her tenure at a company lauded as one of the top 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare magazine in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
As graduates continue in their careers, Spong said, they should be mindful of the values instilled by Elon University faculty even if those principles aren't cherished in parts of the corporate world.
“During your time at Elon, you walked into various classrooms, sat down, looked up and saw the Elon Honor Code. That code and pledge states that as students you will uphold the values of Elon University: honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect,” Spong said. “I doubt you see similar signage in the workplace, but I would argue that honor and integrity are equally as important - even more important - in your career.”
Spong has directed Rex's financial operations and guided the organization's strategic planning since joining the organization as CFO in 2005. She serves on the Elon University Love School of Business Board of Advisors and the board of the North Carolina Community Care Networks. She also chairs the Coastal Pines of Carolina Girl Scout Board, serves as treasurer of the Wake County Interact Board, is a member of the North State Bank West Advisory Committee and volunteers with the United Way of the Greater Triangle Women's Leadership Council Steering Committee.
In short, Spong lives her life in the very manner she encouraged graduates to consider. “When you have the time,” she said, “maybe not now, but in the future, I encourage you to give back to your community.”
Spong described a habit her boss, Rex Healthcare President David Strong, formed in writing notes of appreciation to employees in a company with more than 5,000 workers.
“Don't underestimate the power of a note of recognition to a colleague doing a good job, having a tough time, or even celebrating a birthday,” she said. “I can not tell you the number of times I’ve walked through departments to see those notes proudly displayed by recipients.”
The Commencement program also featured remarks from Robert Guerry, selected by his classmates to speak on behalf of the graduates. Guerry encouraged his peers to find their “currency,” or what’s important to them in life, then make a plan to achieve it. He reminded his audience that lives on earth are “meant to be about journeys, not about destinations.”
“We’ve paid a pretty steep price to get here. It cost us a lot,” Guerry said. “We will set our goals high and we won’t be afraid. We’ll let no one rob us of our future. … And as we leave, we will right the wrongs that we faced to get where we are and make the world a better place for those who come behind us.”
The degrees conferred by Elon University President Leo M. Lambert were presented by Elon Provost Steven House and by professor Bill Burpitt, associate dean for graduate and executive programs in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business. In his charge to graduates, Lambert called on the new alumni to use character when making life decisions, citing the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
“‘Character is destiny,’” Lambert said. “As we have seen too often of late in every sphere of public life - government, religion, business, entertainment, sports - bright, accomplished people can create a world of chaos when they are no longer guided by their ethical and spiritual bearings.”
He noted that each candidate would receive after the ceremony an oak sapling, a symbol of strength found in an Elon University education, and implored the graduates to use their knowledge in a manner reflected in the university motto of “Numen Lumen,” Latin for “spiritual light” and “intellectual light.”
“You are charged to carry one light into the word with you—Lumen and Numen—fused, inseparable. Knowledge and character, fused. Shining intellect and strong guiding ethical and moral codes, seamlessly connected. Intellectual light and spiritual light for a world requiring your leadership.
“So go forth and shine! Long live Elon!”
Candidates for the Master of Business Administration in the Class of 2013:
Torin Hendricks Apple
Javier Gonzalo Arispe
Mary Elizabeth Garvin Ballard
Candace Leah Hrozencik Delaney
Jessica Leigh Derr
Ashley Lauren DeVane
Michael Scott Elks
Zachary S. Giles
Udayan Narendra Godbole
Shane Michael Goodenough
Robert Wayne Guerry
Andrew Harry Hadsell
Shaun Alan Hill
Drew Thomas Hockenbrocht
Kala Adrian Hockenbrocht
Robert Blakeley Humphrey Jr.
Tisha Rochelle Jefferson
Sara Harris Johnson
Sarang Ram Kayande
Michael Andrew Kopczynski
Jon Michael Lundin
Ryne Neil McCall
Paul Michael McDonald
Daniel Kevin Newby
Ronald Christopher Oldham
William Scott Parrish
Saroj K. Patnaik
Jacob Henry Pope
Anthony Vincent Real
Keith Spalding Robbins
Heather Ann Scheel
Jeffrey Mark Scheible
Karen Lynn Schnell
Daphna Elizabeth Smith Schwartz
Bishesh Krishna Shrestha
David Mark Shuttleworth
Kristina Marie Utter
Chase Tyler Waterhouse
Julia Katherine Williams