AOL co-founder tells UNC-CH grads to be bold

Posted May 12, 2013 4:02 a.m. EDT
Updated May 12, 2013 6:48 p.m. EDT

— The co-founder of America Online told graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Sunday that they should be attackers, not defenders, in order to lead a country that's always been "a startup nation."

Steve Case said attackers are people with bold ideas who disrupt the status quo. He also reminded graduates of the country's oldest public university that they might not only have multiple jobs but also multiple careers.

About 6,000 graduates received undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees from the school Sunday.

Joan Miller Hunter, an 87-year-old mother with six grandchildren and one great-grandchild, was among them.

Just three credits shy of graduating, Hunter had to leave UNC in 1947 when she became sick while six months' pregnant with her oldest child.

Now living in Phoenix, she registered for an online course, "The Study of Elvis," through Arizona State University and finished the semester with an A- on her final exam.

"I'm amazed. I didn't know this was such a big deal until I got here," she said Sunday.

Sunday's commencement also marked the last for Chancellor Holden Thorp who is leaving the university for a job at Washington University in St. Louis.

Case co-founded AOL in 1985 when the Internet was in its infancy and made it the world's largest and most valuable Internet company. Since 2005, he's been involved in an investment firm.