Photojournalist Al Drago ’15 to deliver Elon’s 2019 undergraduate commencement address

The award-winning photographer covers politics and national news and his work is regularly featured in The New York Times and other national media outlets.

Award-winning photojournalist Al Drago ’15 will return to Elon University this spring to deliver the undergraduate commencement address to the Class of 2019. Elon’s 129 commencement ceremony is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. on Friday, May 24, on Scott Plaza in front of the Alamance Building.

Drago covers the White House, Congress and national politics in Washington, D.C., as a contract press photographer, with his work regularly appearing in The New York Times. His images have also been published by the Wall Street Journal, Paris Match, TIME, Rolling Stone, NBC Nightly News, The New Yorker, ESPN and others.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Elon in 2015, Drago landed a position as a photo intern at CQ Roll Call in the nation’s capital before beginning his work for The New York Times in June 2016. He has covered the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency as well as the presidential transition, inauguration and presidency of Donald Trump. He is among the photographers for The New York Times who follow the president everywhere he goes, whether it’s in the motorcade for a speech in Washington or traveling on Air Force One.

Drago’s work has been recognized by the White House News Photographers Association, the National Press Photographers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the North Carolina Press Photographers Association and the Hearst Journalism Awards.

Originally from Durham, N.C., Drago was deeply involved in student media while at Elon, serving as chief photographer for Elon Local News and photo editor for The Pendulum. While an Elon student, he completed internships at The Baltimore Sun, the (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer, the (Durham, N.C.) Herald-Sun and the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News. Since graduating, he has delivered lectures on photography, journalism and the use of social media at The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Poynter Institute.

Drago was recognized in 2017 for his professional achievements at Elon’s Top 10 Under 10 Alumni Awards ceremony and was profiled that year in a Magazine of Elon feature story. He often returns to the Elon campus to speak to classes and advise student journalists.

Commencement 2019

Elon Commencement 2019 will feature changes to the program to better accommodate students and their families, with the undergraduate ceremonies previously held on Saturday shifted to Friday. Drago will deliver his address during an outdoor ceremony on Scott Plaza in front of Alamance Building that will also include a processional of students, the student speaker and the president’s charge to graduates.

Following this outdoor ceremony, there will be two separate diploma-awarding ceremonies for the Class of 2019 held in Schar Center. Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Education will award diplomas at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony. The Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and the School of Communications will award diplomas at the 3:30 p.m. ceremony. Each ceremony will last about two hours.

For more information about Elon’s Commencement week activities, visit, which will be updated throughout the spring as events and programs are finalized.