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Elon Academy celebrates Epsilon Class successes

Alamance County students taking part in Elon University's college access and success program gathered May 14, 2014, to hear words of wisdom from academy leaders and alumni as they prepare to graduate high school.

The Elon Academy Epsilon Class with Elon University President Leo M. Lambert and professors Deborah Long (far right) and Terry Tomasek (far left).

Their list of schools is remarkable: Georgetown University, UNC Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University and Elon University, to name just a few. There's a Gates Millennium Scholar in the group, too. All are headed to college.

Members of the fifth graduating class from the Elon Academy, Elon University's college access and success program, on May 14 celebrated their forthcoming high school graduations with a program that featured remarks encouraging scholars to aim high in life and never let self-doubt keep them from pursuing their dreams.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert welcomed scholars and their families to the McKinnon Hall event, and he reminded the young students that they are just as ready for college, if not more qualified, than friends and classmates they will meet on their respective campuses. Lambert also told scholars that asking for help is something everyone must do on occassion - even university presidents, he added - and students should not hesitate to seek guidance in college.

"We are supremely confident in you and look forward with joy and anticipation to the great careers ahead of you after you finish at your university," he said.

Elon Academy scholars received copies of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Win” and “What the Best College Students Do" from Elon's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Professor Deborah Long, interim dean of the School of Education and the academy's outgoing director, thanked parents for trusting the university to foster and support their children's dreams of a higher education. She also thanked everyone whose financial support of the Elon Academy made the program possible, especially Edna '44 and Doug Noiles, who made a gift to fund the first summer of the program in 2007.

Others who spoke included Emeli Marroquin, a Graham High School senior set to attend Wake Forest University; Desmond Harrell '15, an Elon University junior and member of the Elon Academy's Beta Class; and Candace Epperson, mother of River Mill Academy senior Jill Epperson, who this fall plans to attend Elon.

The ceremony concluded with a gift presentation by the North Carolina Eta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Chapter President Glenda Crawford and Secretary/Treasurer Helen Walton handed each scholar copies of the books “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” and “What the Best College Students Do" when their names and intended colleges were read to the audience.

Darris Means '05, associate director of the Elon Academy, receives applause for his dedication to the program since its inception. Means is leaving the academy to begin teaching this fall as an assitant professor at the University of Georgia.

Associate Professor Terry Tomasek, who takes over this summer as director of the Elon Academy, recognized a longtime staff member leaving the program. Darris Means '05 concludes his academy work in July to begin teaching this fall as an assistant professor at the University of Georgia.

Modeled after similar programs at Princeton, Furman and Vanderbilt universities, the Elon Academy is a year-round program for students in the Alamance-Burlington School System who have financial need or have no family history of college attendance. It combines three intensive four-week summer residential experiences at Elon with a variety of academic activities throughout the school year.

Its goal is to inspire and empower students to attend four-year colleges or universities, and go on to assume leadership roles in their communities.

Members of the Epsilon Class have either committed to or are still considering the following colleges and universities:

Alamance Community College
Elon University
Georgetown University
Guilford College
Hawaii Pacific University

Mars Hill University
North Carolina State University
North Carolina Wesleyan College
UNC Chapel Hill
UNC Greensboro
UNC Pembroke
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem State University

Eric Townsend,
5/14/2014 6:45 PM