Reception honors graduating Elon Academy scholars

Elon University leaders celebrated on May 14 the achievement of every member of the Gamma Class attending college in the fall.


Members of the Elon Academy’s Gamma Class gathered with their families in McKinnon Hall on May 14 for an afternoon reception to celebrate their pending high school graduations and college acceptances for the fall.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert greeted the young scholars and congratulated them on their success, calling the college acceptances a “testimony to your tremendous hard work and your commitment.”

He also extended gratitude to scholars’ parents for the time commitments made by families. “We offer our thanks to your families for sharing you scholars with us over the past three years,” Lambert said.

Elon Academy director Deborah Long spoke as well. Long, who has led the academy since its inception, equated the scholars to being members of her extended family.

“I feel I’m a mother to over 130 students now,” Long said of the total number of Alamance County youth to have taken part in the program over the years. The Gamma Class is made up of 24 students. “We support each other in so many important ways.”

Long expressed her appreciation and gratitude as well to the individuals and community partners whose gifts to the academy have made the program possible. Among those named were Edna ’44 and Doug Noiles, who have contributed more than $1.6 million to the program; LabCorp, a corporate partner that has provided internships to Elon Academy scholars; and the Alamance-Burlington School System for its sustained support of students and their families.

Elon University launched the Elon Academy in 2007 to give students from local high schools the opportunity to embrace education, develop leadership skills and engage in various outreach venues. The academy is welcoming its sixth class of students into the program this summer.

Speakers at the reception included Jonathan Garcia-Penn, a senior at Cummings High School and an incoming member of the Elon University Class of 2016; Kimberly Beale, a senior at Southern Alamance High School and another incoming member of Elon University’s Class of 2016; and Jaime Morin, a current Elon freshman and an Elon Academy mentor.

Tanisha Lea, the mother of Cummings High School senior Xavier Winstead, also offered remarks. Winstead will be attending UNC-Charlotte in the fall.

Modeled after similar programs at Princeton, Furman and Vanderbilt universities, the Academy is a year-round program for students in the Alamance-Burlington School System who have financial need or have no family history of college attendance. It combines three intensive four-week summer residential experiences at Elon with a variety of academic activities throughout the school year.

Its goal is to inspire and empower students to attend four-year colleges or universities, and go on to assume leadership roles in their communities.

College Decisions for Members of the Gamma Class

1.) Appalachian State University
2.) Catawba College
3.) East Carolina University
4.) Elon University
5.) North Carolina A&T State University
6.) N.C. State University
7.) Rutgers University
8.) Spelman College
9.) University of Maryland – Eastern Shore
10.) UNC-Asheville
11.) UNC-Chapel Hill
12.) UNC-Charlotte
13.) UNC-Greensboro
14.) Universal Technical Institute
15.) Wake Forest University