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Class of 2011 welcomed at New Student Convocation

Incoming freshmen gathered for the first time Saturday morning for New Student Convocation under the oaks of campus, where university officials, a student leader and an Elon parent offered words of wisdom: make the most of the Elon community. Details...

Incoming freshmen gathered for the first time Saturday morning for New Student Convocation under the oaks of campus.

And when it comes to making decisions, both in and out of the classroom, integrity, curiosity and honor matter most.

“It’s really that simple,” said Thomas C. Mould, an assistant professor in the department of sociology and anthropology, who talked about “curiosity killing the cat.”

“At Elon, the reverse is true,” Mould told the nearly 1,300 freshmen and a crowd of more than 2,000 parents, faculty and staff. “Lack of curiosity can kill your college career.”

>>Listen to Mould's full remarks...

Convocation included speeches from Elon President Leo M. Lambert, student government president Robert D. Saunders Jr. and Elon parent M. Lee McAllister, father of Parker McAllister, a student who enrolled at Elon after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005. Parker had first planned to attend Tulane University.

“We were welcomed, supported and loved in a way words cannot describe,” McAllister said. “My challenge to you is to seek out all opportunities to become engaged in living at Elon University.”

President Lambert encouraged students to be ready for what he called a “tap-on-the-shoulder moment.”

“This is a moment of awakening, rare indeed in the course of a lifetime,” he said. “A faculty member may help you discover a love for an academic field that you now know little about … A mentor may help you realize your calling to public service or to living for a time in another nation or culture. Some of you will be inspired to take up a profession such as law, medicine, physical therapy, or the ministry.

“Be ready and awake for the tap on the shoulder that will come your way and you will leave Elon poised for a purposeful and meaningful life.”

Following the ceremonies, students processed through lines of faculty and received an acorn, an Elon traditional gift that symbolizes the promise of an Elon education.

Convocation followed the first night on campus for new Elon students. By day’s end, most parents will have packed the family car for their trips home, leaving many freshman to explore Elon on their own. Emotions were mixed before the ceremony.

“They did a very good job of welcoming us, and he’s very excited about it,” said Carl Lane, father or Lorenzo Lane, a freshman from Georgia with plans to study business. “That keeps us at ease right now.”

Lane’s wife, Sherry, seemed a bit more nervous.

“As a parent in general, you worry that you’re not going to be there if something goes wrong,” she said.

Several students said they are ready for the leap to independence, though they recognize that comes with responsibility.

“You learn to cope with all the freedom,” sad Jeff Szyperski, 18, of Irvington, Va., who lived in boarding school before Elon. Time management, he said, is important. “You have to set a schedule.”

For some parents, moving their sons and daughters to campus was nothing new, not when older children have already gone to college.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s been a long time coming,” said Jeff Silverberg, whose son, Chris Gay, is a freshman. Silverberg then offered a word of advice to other parents. “Just be ready to send cash!”

Dan Anderson,
8/28/2007 8:55 AM