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Senior Picnic brings together Class of 2013 for fun and reflection

Elon University seniors enjoyed a Wednesday afternoon cookout with the professors and staff that helped define their collegiate experiences.

A balloon archway welcomed students to the Senior Picnic on May 22, 2013.

Hundreds of seniors in Elon University’s Class of 2013 converged Wednesday for a picnic feast outside Moseley Center in what has become an annual Commencement week tradition.

The Office of Alumni Engagement organized the May 22 cookout with additional support provided by the Provost’s Office.

Four hundred and fifty students pre-registered for the picnic with hundreds more claiming tickets Wednesday morning. By 1 p.m., lunch was in full swing as Elon President Leo M. Lambert welcomed seniors, professors offered hugs and handshakes, and Student Life staff mingled throughout the festivities.


“This event sets in the ‘oh my gosh, I’m graduating in three days’ reality,” said Raven Manigault, a psychology major from Southern Maryland with plans to pursue graduate studies. “It’s well put together and I applaud everyone who helped make it successful.”

Manigault's friend Brittney Williams, a biology major from Fayetteville, N.C., nodded in agreement. “I appreciate faculty coming out to this,” said Williams, who begins an athletic trainer internship at N.C. A&T State University after graduation. “It’s good to see faces you may have last seen during freshman year.”

About 450 students pre-registered for the picnic with hundreds more claiming tickets in the hours leading up to the noontime start.

Alex Zito-Wolf, a biology major from Watertown, Mass., intends to study pharmacy by the fall of 2014. Sitting with friends under the shade of a tree, he joked about one last opportunity to enjoy “the sweet taste of ARAMARK” but soon reflect on the sheer size of the crowd. “It surprises me how many people are here and how many you don’t know,” he said.

A few feet away, senior Eric Carroll, a sport and event management major with aspirations of breaking into the music industry in Nashville, Tenn., agreed.

“It was odd when I arrived to see how many people I’ve never met, and that’s a shame!” he said. “But it’s also a good time to spend with friends and others you do already know.”

Event organizers described the picnic as a way to introduce seniors to the Office of Alumni Engagement, which hosts “Welcome to the City” events around the country each summer and fall for new graduates.

Seniors were encouraged at the event to join IGNITE, the university’s young alumni giving program, by making a gift to their alma mater. Cut-out mortarboards dangled from the dining tents with the names of students, parents and grandparents who have contributed to the senior class gift, and a balloon archway welcomed visitors to the event.

The Office of Alumni Engagement organized the picnic with support from the Provost's Office.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the senior class and the Elon experiences they’ve had with the people who helped get them to today, our faculty and staff,” said Colleen Cooper ’08, coordinator of young alumni and student engagement for the university. “And it’s important for seniors to realize that Elon sees their impact on campus over the time they’ve spent here.”

Staff members in the Office of Alumni Engagement hope that seniors realize their relationship to Elon University is in an early stage.

“Being a student is just the beginning,” Cooper said. “You’re a student today and an alum forever. We’ll be with them forever.”

Eric Townsend,
5/22/2013 3:45 PM