New Student Convocation brings together Class of ‘16
Elon University’s newest students were welcomed to the start of their collegiate studies Aug. 25 with advice & wisdom from school leaders.
Elon University administrators, faculty and student leaders welcomed freshmen and their families to campus Saturday morning for New Student Convocation, the first and only time all 1,400-plus students in the Class of 2016 will gather Under the Oaks before they graduate in just under four years.
The Aug. 25 ceremony introduced the freshmen and transfer students to the opportunities, expectations, responsibilities and resources that will be made available as they embark on a journey intended to mold them into global citizens with concern for the common good.
“What I hope for you is that you will graduate from Elon with a sense of passion and a commitment to make a difference in whatever field you choose,” said Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “Here’s the idea. You have arrived at a great banquet. Don’t make yourself a bologna sandwich.”
Lambert outlined six themes as he advised the new students on ways to fully engage with the university.
1.) “Jump in and explore.” Commit to learning another language, he said, and make a difference on campus and in our community. “Practice being a global citizen close to home.”
2.) Find mentors. “I’m a big believer in what I call ‘tap on the shoulder moments,’ when a faculty or staff member helps you discover something important about yourself … or introduces you to a subject that will become your lifelong fascination,” Lambert said.
3.) Appreciate the choice to attend a liberal arts university. Students must be able to speak persuasively and analyze complex data, he said. "We want to help you translate the best of what a liberal arts education offers,” Lambert said, “and put it to good use in a world that desperately needs smart young people who can solve problems.”
4.) Get outside your comfort zone. “Engage difference,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard and awkward. But you’ll be a better person if you try.”
5.) Students – not parent – are now responsible for their own growth in mind, body and spirit. “This is a place of incredible opportunity, and your education here is the privilege of a lifetime,” Lambert said. “Don’t send your life veering off course by harming your life or another person’s life through even one night of recklessness.”
6.) Plug into the Elon network. “There is a big Elon family out there to support you through every stage of your life, and I encourage you to start building that network as students,” Lambert said. “I think you’ll be impressed to learn how much this community will mean to you for the rest of your life."
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 2016 as well as the Elon faculty, and the audience heard remarks from senior Darien Flowers, the Student Government Association’s executive president, and Associate Professor Terry Tomasek from the School of Education.
Flowers greeted students to open the ceremony. He shared some of the university’s many traditions and the “bucket list” of things for students to accomplish during their studies.
“We are here, you and I, because Elon is a remarkable institution, a place where you will be given an opportunity to transform your lives,” Flowers said. “Professors will challenge you to follow your curiosity … and know that the unknown is not unknowable. It’s also a time to have fun and support one another. Elon University is a friendly and open community. We want you to be a part of that community.”
Tomasek outlined the expectations for all students as listed in the Elon University Honor Code: honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect.
“At Elon we ask you to demonstrate responsibility. You must be accountable for your actions and your learning,” Tomasek said. “My advice is simply to make good choices and take advantages of the opportunities that will be extended to you. If honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of our community, than the strength of our community is respect. Respect for self, respect for others and respect for our environment.”
Bigotry and slander are not tolerated, she said. “These negative actions are simply the antithesis of what it means to be a member of this community,” Tomasek said. “We don’t have to agree on every matter, but in this community we do agree to show civility and value the dignity of each person and his or her opinions.”
Following the ceremonies, students processed through lines of faculty and received an acorn, a traditional gift that symbolizes the promise of an Elon education. Several freshmen reflected afterward on what they heard during Convocation. Their remarks included:
“I thought the Elon ‘bucket list’ was helpful. It gave me an overview of what I want to get into … a good reminder from the SGA president.” – Cassidy Stratton ’16, of Chicago
“It seems that all the faculty and staff are interested in our well-being. I knew that before now but it was cemented today, to see them say ‘good morning!’ to us as we walked down the line.” – Hannah Orth ’16, of Granville, Ohio
“I thought it was great to receive these acorns as a symbolic gesture of how we’re going to grow as individuals and a class.” – Jessica Buller ’16, of Madison, Conn.
“What Dr. Lambert said put everything in perspective. He showed us not only how fortunate we are to be here, but it motivated us to work toward making a better global community.” – Nate May ’16, of Eldersburg, Md.
“When (Dr. Lambert) was speaking about percentages of the world’s population, he put into perspective how fortunate we are to get an education, with this faculty and staff, that most people in the world don’t.” – Ryan Bennett ’16, or Sterling, Mass.
“Elon addressed us as individual students, but included our families in these remarks as well.” – Marisa Pareti ’16, of New Jersey
“I like how President Lambert could connect with us. He understands what we go through and what we need as students.” – Sean Barry ’16, of Newtown, Pa.
“This motivated me to do my best and not waste what I have ahead of me.” – Conor Proft ’16 of West Hartford, Conn.