Elon honors master’s-level graduates in combined ceremony

Candidates from graduate-level programs in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and School of Communications received their diplomas in a joint ceremony May 18 in Alumni Gym.

For the first time, master’s degree candidates from all six of Elon’s graduate-level programs that conclude in the spring received their diplomas in a single Commencement ceremony Wednesday evening in Alumni Gym.

The ceremony recognized graduates from the Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Management and Master of Business Administration programs in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business; the Master of Arts in Interactive Media program in the School of Communications; and the Master of Arts in Higher Education program in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education. Though they have different professional paths, all of the graduates will embark on the next phase of their journey united in the core tenets of their Elon education.

Kerrie-Jean King G’22 delivered the message of appreciation on behalf of the graduates.

Kerrie-Jean King G’22 of the Interactive Media program, who was selected to deliver the message of appreciation on behalf of her fellow students, highlighted the common threads the graduates share across their areas of study. They are all lifelong learners who chose to continue their education at Elon, and they would all cross the stage to receive their diplomas and hoods because of their hard work, determination and drive.

“Though we have experienced different majors and concentrations, we have all had the privilege to learn and grow in a resource- and relationship-rich environment,” King said. “This is a campus where people who want to learn don’t just learn but thrive because of the resourcefulness, accessibility and inclusiveness that is Elon.”

King encouraged her fellow graduates to carry the lessons they learned both in and outside the classroom with them as they become leaders in their respective professions and to create the same kind of relationship-driven environment they experienced at Elon in their new workspaces.

“My hope for each of you, as we leave Elon, is that you stay curious,” King said. “Continue to seek out learning opportunities and use the tenacity that you have gained in your graduate studies to propel you forward and make the world a better place.”

Carol Cunningham, vice president of consumer insights and business strategy at BET, also focused on the power of education and human connection in her keynote address to the graduates. Cunningham grew up in Miami with a Cuban mother and a Honduran father who held education and helping others in the highest regard. With an unwavering work ethic, they made sure their family had every opportunity to grow and thrive.

Carol Cunningham, vice president of consumer insights and business strategy at BET, delivered the Commencement address.

Her father worked numerous shifts at United Airlines and her mother cleaned several convents and priests’ quarters for the Archdiocese of Miami so Cunningham and her siblings could attend Catholic school at a discount. They made sure an encyclopedia set was always in the house. They sponsored all 14 of her father’s siblings for U.S. citizenship and helped family and friends with finances because they epitomized “a spirit of each one, reach one,” a value Cunningham still carries with her.

“I know my life would not have been the same if my mother and father hadn’t come to this country to pursue their dreams,” she said. “James and Estela reminded us daily of what the United States represented for our family, and they had a love for education that was absolutely relentless.”

Cunningham’s career has been driven by a passion for consumer insights, consumer engagement and business strategy. She is fascinated by what makes people tick – their lifestyles, motivations, beliefs and values. That commitment to understanding people drives every facet of her work and has only grown stronger over time.

“If I learned anything from this pandemic, I learned about being an innovative disruptor, curating and creating content for change and doing good, making a connection with others,” Cunningham said. “… I’m challenging you all to speak up, engage and connect with others in a very real and necessary way.”

For the past 18 months, Cunningham has been working with companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever and McDonald’s to help them understand how to define their own “brand bravery” and voice to more effectively reach consumers. She quickly realized the same blueprint she developed for brand bravery is equally applicable to human bravery.

President Connie Ledoux Book presented the graduates with an oak sapling to symbolize their growth throughout their time in their respective programs.

“Lead with boldness,” Cunningham said. “Be direct in your intention. Operate with transparency and authenticity. Really embrace being transformative. Always be solutions-oriented; this world is riddled with enough problems. Focus on being an agent of cultural change. … Embrace your love truths and find your soul’s force. Walk connected to others by unifying and amplifying your voices so that they’re embodying the spirit of each one, reach one.”

In her charge to the graduates, President Connie Ledoux Book urged them to be resilient and steadfast like the oaks for which Elon is named. The oak, she said, symbolizes Elon’s community strength – a strength that now resides within the graduates as they begin a new chapter.

“I hope that each time you see an acorn or an oak tree … you are reminded of the personal leadership that you have developed during your studies at Elon,” Book said, “strength and skills that I’m counting on you to use to make a difference in our world.”

Candidates for the Master of Science in Accounting Degree

Dean Anthony Anzalone

Jacob Mark Bicknell

John Francis Carro

Carson Prado Jones

Taylor Nicole Kassay

Joshua Kyle Lim

Sarah Jane McCarthy

Kaitlyn Paige Moonsammy

Ciara Therese Mottley

Bennett James O’Brien

Giavanna Lucia Papavero

Nick Stewart

Ryan Stolba

Aisling P. Sullivan

Leah Nicole Traumuller

Candidates for the Master of Science in Business Analytics Degree

Ahmed Alsaba

Suma Amujuri

Wai Yee Irene Chiu

Matthew Jacob Edsall

Maxwell James Ferrari

Kyle Fränkel

Graham Oliver Hutchinson

Frank John Iacobell

Sumera Ingram

Tristan Michael Mazzulli

Israel Jacob Pattison

Alexander Hampton Taylor

Adel Vadkerti

Candidates for the Master of Science in Management

Catherine Christina Parsons

Candidates for the Master of Business Administration

Hunter Alexander Hampton Amos

M. Corey Bell Jr.

Ashley Nicole Capps

Henry T. Carkhuff

Salvatore Catapano

Steven E. Devane

Hannah Doherty

Derrick Durbin

Kengnjisu Fon-Ndikum

Brandon Rayjohn Freeman

Nicole Garcia Jorge

Alisha Brianna Harris

Blaise Andrew Haubert

Rynita Julien

Akinsola A. Kayode

Mark Allen Leath

Rosita Littlejohn

Graham Morris

Mark Edward Morton Jr.

Blanca Iris Padilla

McKenna B. Quinn

Benjamin Taylor Richardson

Charles Robert Rizzo

Eric Paul Roman

Chadbourne Mark Rumley

Nichole Skjerbek

Emily Elizabeth Squicciarini

James Tyrell Stanley Sr.

Michael Tanner Strickland

Victoria Waddell

Erica Walsh

Mary Margaret Welker

Donovan Miles Rivera Williams

Candidates for the Master of Arts in Interactive Media Degree

Diamond Alea Carroll

Zack Benjamin Fertig

Kerrie-Jean King

Savannah Starr Knight

Julia Ann Kocsis

Doo Young Lee

Christina Suzanne Marchand

Ana Luisa Martinez-Valles

Daniela Sanchez Romero

Alyssa Leticia Sandy

Emma Rae Sisk

Tyrell Kelvin Smalls

Ivana Danielle Spurlock

Sophia Jacqueline Theriault

Master of Arts in Interactive Media Class of 2020 Graduates in Attendance

Kwame Amponsah

Rakhia Ardasia Bass

Tabari Jamaal Boykin

William Arthur Brown

Arlette Danielle Hawkins

Michael David Hemstreet

Tehya Rashan Jackson

Victoria Elise Murrell

Candidates for the Master of Arts in Higher Education

Chanece Lenae Bigelow

Nicholas John Boudreau

Casey Madeline Enright

Corinna Marie Fonseca

Jenna Catherine Gibilisco

Allison Elizabeth Mannai

Emilie Phyllis Newman

Norma Edith Rodriguez

Brianna Monique Torres

Mallory Nicole Williams

Jamie Juno Wire

Nelson Rafael Ysabel