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Welcome! Elon's Class of 2021 makes itself at home

The Elon community turned out Friday morning to help more than 1,600 new and transfer students move to campus as the 2017-18 academic year prepares to begin. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Move-In Day for the Class of 2021

​With cheers, guidance and a helping hand, the Elon community turned out to offer a warm welcome to the university's newest students as the Class of 2021 converged on campus for Move-In Day. 

Coming from 41 states and 25 countries, more than 1,600 new and transfer students have now arrived at Elon as the 2017-18 academic year prepares to get underway. Lines of cars and SUVs filled the streets around campus as Elon orientation leaders, student volunteers, faculty and staff stood at the ready to help them unload and get settled in their residence halls. 

​"I'm just so excited to be here and am ready to start at Elon," said Elizabeth Wright '21 of Pensacola, Florida, as Elon's "O-Team" loaded up her belongings and helped deliver them to her room in the Global Neighborhood. 

​That Class of 2021, with 1,578 members, is Elon's largest first-year class, and is joined by more than 70 transfer students. That class is made up of 61 percent women, and the top-represented states are North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. According to Greg Zaiser, vice president for enrollment, Elon saw increases this year in the number of first-year students from its home state of North Carolina as well as from Texas. The top-represented countries in this year's cohort of first-year students are China, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, Germany, Honduras and the Netherlands. 

​As in past years, students and their families arrived in three shifts to move in, with those living in first- or fourth-floor rooms kicking off the process at 8 a.m. By noon, the vast majority had their belongings inside their rooms, with the task of settling in before them. 

​Dylan Graybill and his father, Robert, were taking a final load to Dylan's room in the fourth floor of Global after making the six-hour trip down to Elon from Sparks, Maryland. He spent the last few weeks gathering items to customize his room, as well as getting to know other first-year Business Fellows by trading texts and messages. "I was really fascinated by the Business Fellows program, and Elon offered one of the best business programs of all the schools I was interested in," Graybill said. 

​The globally engaged experience that Elon provides made the university particularly attractive to his father, who said in the past three years his own business has gone from being completely domestic to now having a presence on three continents. "It's so important that they have this global mindset and experience in today's world," Robert Graybill said. 

Sean Chamberlain stopped by Fonville Fountain in front of Alamance Building for his parents to take a photo as they toured campus while waiting for a 9:30 a.m. move-in time. A native of Los Angeles, Chamberlain said Elon was a final stop on a swing through Southern colleges and universities, but made the biggest impression. "We toured the campus and I said, 'This is where I'm going to go,'" Chamberlain said. "I love the size, and it's just a gorgeous campus. I'm really looking forward to the people I'll meet, and to adjusting to this new life."

​President Leo M. Lambert, who offered a video overview of the new academic year on Thursday, made his way around to the different neighborhoods teaming with students, their families and those supporting the move-in effort and offers words of welcome and encouragement. ​

"Everybody is so welcoming," said Elizabeth Casey, who arrived at Elon from her home outside Philadelphia. Casey, no stranger to Elon, becomes the third generation to study here, following her mother, Anne Casey '87, and her aunt and uncle. As she unpacked boxes and rearranged items in her room in Virginia Hall, Elizabeth said he remembered looking at baby pictures of relatives clad in Elon gear, and received ample encouragement from relatives to attend. 

"We visited last year for Homecoming, and seeing how people interacted with each other and the campus, that really made me love Elon so much," said Casey, who plans to major in accounting. 

Her mother said she's excited for Elizabeth "to really make Elon her own." As for Move-In Day, Anne Casey was excited to visit her old room in West Hall, Elon's oldest building on campus that this summer underwent an extensive renovation. Soon after commencement, crews began the work of demolishing and reframing the interior of West and upgrading finishes and furniture, as well as replacement windows throughout. A new faculty apartment was also added. 

"I'd love to go see it again," Casey said of her old room. "I walked through the West lobby, and the changes were amazing."

On the first floor of West, Audrey Brown of Flourtown, Pennsylvania, worked with her parents to try to organize the boxes, crates and suitcases that had recently been deposited on her half of the room. Take a moment to take it all in, she lamented that she "probably brought too much stuff."

What led her to Elon from Pennsylvania? It was the words of a close family friend. "I would hear her talk about how much she loved this place, and that really made an impression on me," said Brown, who plans to study communications. "After that, everything just fell into place."

Moving into residence halls is just the first step in orientation for new and transfer students. Friday morning's move-in activities gave way to information sessions for families and students alike later in the day. For the students, NSO 100: Intro to Elon University kicks off a series of classes that help them get settled, learn how to become part of an academic community and offer insight into Elon's culture and values.

On Saturday morning, first-year and transfer students will gather with their families Under the Oaks in front of West Hall for News Student Convocation at 9 a.m. followed by a farewell picnic for students and their families. 

Owen Covington,
8/25/2017 10:40 AM