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Making a Difference: Sophomore discovers the power of giving

A music scholarship opened the door for Brandon Mitchell ’16 to take advantage of everything Elon has to offer.

By Megan McClure

From the time he first learned about Elon from an admissions counselor at a local college fair, Brandon Mitchell ’16 of Clinton, Md., knew the university would be a good fit for him. After a little more research and a visit to campus, he was sold on all that Elon had to offer.

“When I came to tour the campus, that was kind of it,” Mitchell says. “I just got that feeling that this was the place for me.”

Today, he is a proud member of Elon’s Class of 2016. It’s a reality that Mitchell didn’t always think possible, as he’d planned to attend a public university due to the cost of private college tuition.

Fortunately for Mitchell, a scholarship helped put an Elon education within his reach. He is recipient of the Effie Mae Wicker Johnston music scholarship, which is awarded each year to an outstanding music student to help with the cost of tuition. The scholarship was created through an estate gift from Minnie Johnston Wilson ’28, a lifelong educator, in honor of her stepmother.

For Mitchell, the generosity of the scholarship serves as motivation to take full advantage of his time on campus.

“It’s something I’ve been trying to live up to, by just working as hard as I can while I’m here,” the music performance major and percussionist says.

It’s a promise Mitchell has already made good on, joining the marching band and becoming the only first-year student named to the Elon Music Ambassadors last year.

As a member of the select group of music majors, led by faculty member Virginia Novine-Whittaker, Mitchell is part of an ensemble that selects and arranges music for a new theme-based program each semester.

The group performs the show in the Elon community, but their main purpose is performing at high schools around the Southeast to introduce students to the university’s Department of Music. The experience allows Mitchell to hone his performance skills and spread the word about Elon to current high school students, much as an admissions counselor did for him just a few years ago.

“We promote Elon and represent the music department,” says Mitchell, who participated in the Elon Music Ambassadors tour of high schools in northern Virginia last May. “After the shows, we do question and answer sessions so students can ask about the music department or about Elon in general. It’s a good way to teach students about our program.”

The scholarship has also opened the door for Mitchell to capitalize on Elon’s wide range of academic programs. As a double major in music performance and information science, he can imagine two different careers: being an employee working in the technology field or a college professor teaching music courses.

Whichever path he chooses, Mitchell feels Elon is already giving him the tools he needs for success.

“I’ve never been one to sit idle, but coming to Elon has definitely taken that to the next level,” Mitchell says, noting that the campus environment encourages hard work and achievement. “Being at Elon has already made me so much more of a diverse person. I see aspects of different fields, and have learned so much from working with different classmates and professors.”

Soon, Mitchell will participate in another essential Elon experience, as he plans to study abroad with the Department of Music in Italy for a semester. He counts it as one of many opportunities available to him because of the scholarship that first made his Elon education possible.

 “You can’t really ask for a better college experience than this,” he says.

Keren Rivas,
11/14/2013 8:40 AM