Traditions Tuesdays: Elon University Graduation

My feelings upon writing this post are so mixed. I am proud, sentimental, and excited about the fact that I graduated from Elon University this past Saturday. This place has been my home for the past four years, not just the place where I received my great education. It is where I have made the closest of friends, learned from the most engaging of teachers, held valuable leadership positions, and created memories that I will never forget. Since I hold Elon so near and dear to my heart, I took a large number of pictures this weekend, so prepare for this to be a long post! Grad Party 3

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My sorority, Sigma Kappa, has created the tradition of hosting a graduation party for all of our sisters and family members the day before graduation at one of our local bars, West End. This is one of the places we frequent, and it was cool to have my family members here with me at a place where I've spent much of my time with friends. It was also nice to have all of our seniors gathered together for a party, since much of the rest of the weekend was spent either with family or in smaller groups of friends. The pictures above are of me with my mom and with one of my best friends and old roommates from sophomore year, Sam.

Friday was great. After the Sigma Kappa party, I took my mom and uncle to our bookstore (which holds the only elevator in all of Alamance county!) and bought a new Elon tank, t-shirt, pinny, and quarter zip. I was definitely feeling sentimental at that point! Once we were finished there, we went back to my apartment and ate a homemade meal prepared by my mom. Since one of my younger cousins was visiting, they decided to leave after dinner since she was getting tired. Luckily, my big in my sorority as well as a few more friends from the class of 2012 came to visit that night, and I got to spend my evening hanging out with them. Then, it was time for bed because we all had an extremely early wake-up time of 5:45 to prepare for graduation!

Bagels + Beer

Saturday morning, West End Bar has a tradition of hosting Bagels and Beer for all graduating seniors at 6:50 AM before the other graduation festivities begin. Sam and I arrived around 7 AM, and realized that the line for bagels and/or beer was far too long to attempt, so we just hung out with our friends before we headed to the gym to line up for graduation. If you are wondering why we are both wearing cords around our necks, each cord symbolizes a different honor society to which we belong.

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While I was finding my place in line at the gym, my family was finding their seats under the oaks. Elon always holds our graduation ceremonies in a location that we call "Under the Oaks" because it is under a multitude of large oak trees, and holds large significance to our university. When we were freshmen, we had our first Convocation ceremony in this same location. We listened to a speech given by our President, Leo Lambert, and were each handed a small acorn to represent the beginning of our time at Elon. When it came time for graduation, our ceremony was held under the same oak trees, and each graduate was given an oak tree sapling to represent the growth we have had throughout our four years and the potential for us to grow in the future. 

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I am so thankful that I had such a large number of family members attend my graduation. I was surrounded by my parents, brother, sister, grandparents, one of my uncles, and one of his adorable little daughters, Francesca. I also love that Elon makes custom stickers for each family member, ranging from parent to cousin to fiance, for those who are engaged. It really shows how personal Elon is and the commitment my school has to its students and their families.

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Photo Credit: Brian Williams

Our ceremony began, and we heard speeches from our President, a recent alumna, our class president, and our commencement speaker, Brian Williams. Not only is Brian Williams the renowned anchor of NBC Nightly News, but he is the father to one of my classmates, Doug Williams. It was great to hear him deliver a speech that came from the perspective of not only a world-travelled, well spoken professional, but also from that of a parent. During the middle of his speech, Mr. Williams took a panoramic view of our graduation from his iPhone, which is pictured above.

Grad 6After the speeches finished, the reading of the names began. Students were divided into groups based on their degree, and their names were called as they walked across the stage, shook the hand of President Lambert, and received their diploma. Although it was a lengthy process, it was one that I was glad to be a part of. It once again spoke to Elon's value of engagement among students, professors, and leaders. This is a picture of me walking across stage before receiving my diploma!

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Once graduation was over, it was time to celebrate with friends and family and take pictures! Above are pictures of me with my big, Kelly; my big and one of my g-littles, Emily; my big's boyfriend, Chris; one of my best friends, Caroline; and another one of my best friends, Emily.

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Next, it was time for pictures with family! I took pictures with my mom; my parents, my parents and my siblings, Nick and Julia; my Uncle Joe and his daughter Francesca; my grandparents; my cousin Francesca once again; and a final picture with my mom while I am holding my oak tree sapling and an "I'm a proud Elon alumni" sticker.

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I also had the chance to take a picture with Sam and our academic advisor and professor, Dr. Walker. He has seen us through our journey at Elon and has taught us some of our Sport and Event Management classes. My parents loved talking to him!

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Elon always has an ice sculpture of the year of the graduating class, so of course I had to take a picture in front of it! How crazy is that? I love my school.

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Photo Credit: Taylor Pewitt

And finally, here is a picture taken of some of my favorite people: my Sigma Kappa pledge class. I love y'all and will never forget you and the memories we've made together! Hats off to us : )