Odyssey Program luncheon welcomes newest students

Ten freshmen were welcomed into the Odyssey Program at a Sept. 3 luncheon for recipients of five university scholarships that provide academic and social support for talented students whose access to an Elon education would otherwise be limited.

Several university leaders attended the event, including Provost Steven House, vice presidents Smith Jackson and Susan Klopman, and Leon Williams, director of the Multicultural Center.

Now in its second year, Odyssey offers scholarship recipients support services such as peer and faculty/staff mentoring, coaching, campus networking, leadership and service opportunities, and funding for book and computer stipends. Some additional funding minimizes loan burdens while encouraging and supports student participation in engaged learning opportunities like internships and study abroad.

The Odyssey Program is a joint effort of many offices across campus. Admissions and Financial Planning administer the application and selection processes for the Honorable Thad Eure NC Achievement Scholarship, John L Georgeo Scholarship, Margaret Ann Hall Scholarship, Susan Scholarship, and Mac Mahon Family Scholarship.

The Multicultural Center, in concert with other departments on campus, coordinates the orientation, mentoring, educational and social programming, and networking components.

Jalonda Thompson, Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs & Leadership, welcomes Odyssey Program students to the Sept. 3 luncheon.

“Just as the name implies, the Odyssey Program begins an Elon journey for students who might never have been able to consider enrolling here,” said Klopman, who oversees admissions and financial planning at the university. “We are so fortunate to have remarkable students join our community thanks to the scholarships that fund the Odyssey program.

“Diversity is important at Elon, and Odyssey is one example of a program that enriches this community,” Klopman said.

Two students in the Odyssey Program – both recipients of the Susan Scholarship, named in honor of Susan Moseley, wife of Furman Moseley ’56 – said their participation in Odyssey, and the scholarships they receive, have made their Elon studies possible.

“The Odyssey program and the scholarship helped me fit in but also instilled a feeling of wanting to help other people,” said sophomore Zana Milak, who moved to the United States from Bosnia nine years ago and whose family today lives in Burlington, N.C. “So many people have helped me in life, and I want to return the favor for those who don’t have money but want to attend the school and have the ability to do well.”

For sophomore Nicole Morillo, the Susan Scholarship and her involvement in Odyssey have provided service opportunities she hadn’t encountered growing up in Queens, N.Y. Working with Kopper Top Life Learning Center, a local farm that provides therapeutic experiences for people with disabilities, and canvassing neighborhoods for voters in the 2008 election were two such opportunities.

Working with a newly opened refugee center in Greensboro, N.C., convinced Morillo to select a career path.

“That was what led me to declare a major in elementary education,” Morillo said. “I did a little soul searching and felt that I found a purpose because of these different opportunities.”

Now in its second year, Odyssey offers scholarship recipients support services such as mentoring, social and academic support.