Telling the Elon story

During a recent lunch with a group of student leaders, many of whom were seniors, I asked them if they were getting prepared to take up their roles as active alumni.

After recounting all that entailed—including keeping in touch with mentors and maintaining significant relationships with fellow alumni, joining an alumni chapter in their new home cities, becoming an internship mentor to an Elon undergraduate, accepting an invitation to return to campus to speak in classes and serve on a board or council, and helping to “pay it forward” for a future Elon student by making an annual gift—we spent the vast majority of our time talking about the critical role Elon alumni, parents and friends play in advancing the university by telling the Elon story in powerful and compelling ways.

Elon has burst onto the national scene and is developing important new recruiting markets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and internationally. Prospective students and families in your hometown undoubtedly say frequently to you, “Tell me about Elon.” How well these inquirers come to understand the power of an Elon education depends directly on how well people who know Elon best tell their personal stories in authentic and powerful ways. And even more importantly, the value of an Elon degree will continue to rise as the university’s reputation for excellence and graduates renowned for their exceptional preparation, experiences in the world, strong work ethic and humility, becomes even more widely understood among top employers, leading graduate schools and the general population.

What is your 20-second to two-minute “elevator speech” about Elon?

Many alumni speak about the relationships they formed at Elon that changed their lives, the influence of a powerful and supportive mentor, and the tight-knit community that forges lifetime personal associations of importance and meaning.

Alumni, parents and friends often reference Elon as a globally-engaged place, with students learning all over the United States—from New York to D.C. to LA—to global study experiences around the world. Elon takes the idea of global citizenship seriously, preparing graduates to lead with a true global perspective.

Elon is the national leader in experiential learning. When U.S. News & World Report surveyed college administrators all across the nation about colleges offering exemplary high-impact learning practices (study abroad, internships, undergraduate research, service learning, first-year experiences, senior capstone, residential learning communities and writing across the curriculum), only one institution was cited in all eight categories: Elon.

Many Elon people speak about the campus as a powerful setting that sparks collaboration and innovation. Yes, the campus is beautiful, but much more important is the idea that the excellent facilities have been designed to foster deep human relationships and 24/7 learning.

Every generation speaks of Elon as restless—but in a good way—always seeking to be better and taking on higher goals and challenges.

And my personal favorite message about our university, which I believe with every ounce of conviction in my body and soul, is that Elon prepares the leaders the world needs desperately at this moment. 

I hope after reading this column, you will take up the challenge to thoughtfully examine your own Elon message and be ready to deliver it in a succinct, compelling and authentic manner with a personal example that speaks to how Elon influenced your life. It is one of the most important acts of service to Elon and leadership you can demonstrate.

Leo M. Lambert

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