Freshmen and families gather for New Student Convocation
The Class of 2015 gathered together for the first time “Under the Oaks” in front of the West residence hall on Aug. 26 as Elon University administrators, faculty and student leaders welcomed them to the start of their academic journeys during New Student Convocation.
In his afternoon address to the more than 1,400 incoming students and their families, Elon President Leo M. Lambert encouraged the freshmen and transfer students to “savor this special day” even as they deal with the nervous energy and anticipation of embarking on a college education.
“All that surrounds you — these historic buildings, the faculty and staff who will come to know your names and become your mentors and teachers and even friends, your classmates — all of this will become a part of you,” he said. “This school, and your experiences here, will be an important chapter of your life. You will leave Elon someday, but Elon will never leave you.”
Lambert also offered new students advice that he gleaned from asking recent alumni about their own time on campus. Among the alumni suggestions:
1.) ”Carpe diem!” Make the most of the opportunities Elon provides. “Ladies and gentlemen, you have arrived at a great banquet,” Lambert said. “Don’t make yourself a bologna sandwich!”
2.) Get to know the faculty and staff.
3.) Study abroad.
4.) Participate in undergraduate research
5.) Seek out internships.
6.) Be a networker.
7.) Embrace the Elon ethic of service.
“By God's grace, or your parents' hard work, or your hard work, or good luck, or some combination of the four, here you are. You live in the world's wealthiest democracy and enjoy freedoms and liberties that are the envy of billions of others,” Lambert said. “Your presence here places you among the most privileged people on the earth. Today might be a good day to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings in your life that have brought you to this grove of oaks.”
Smith Jackson, vice president for student life and dean of students, and Steven House, provost and vice president of academic affairs, shared information on the Class of 2015 as well as the Elon faculty, and the audience heard remarks from senior Sam Warren, the Student Government Association’s executive president, and associate professor Ayesha Delpish.
Warren offered brief remarks on the death of an incoming Elon student who was killed this summer as she was preparing to begin her own university education.
“Today, you have been asked to wear a coral ribbon. These ribbons are to honor a young woman who should be sitting amongst you today, Lauren Astley,” Warren said. “The loss of Lauren was a great tragedy and we ask you to wear these ribbons to not only show support for those who are still grieving, but also to honor her life.”
He then offered his own words of wisdom to the new students.
“Embrace all of the opportunities Elon can provide to you,” Warren said. “Find something that you’re truly passionate about, study it, and make it your career. Study abroad if you get the opportunity because it’s a great way to truly experience all that the world has to offer.
“Do an internship. It will help you find out if you’re really passionate about what you’re studying. And try as many organizations as you have time for because it’s a great way to help you find place on campus.”
Delpish represented her faculty colleagues when she explained three guidelines for students to follow: Keep an open mind entering the classroom and leave as a critical thinker; adhere to your commitment to follow the Elon Honor Code; and recognize that no two students learn the same way, and that students should not be afraid to ask questions or seek help.
"True learning is an active process that requires engagement," she said. "From this point forward, you and only you are in charge of your learning. ... We will expect your best here, but we will also give you everything you need to achieve it."
Following the ceremonies, students processed through lines of faculty and received an acorn, a traditional gift that symbolizes the promise of an Elon education.