Class of 2018 reflects ethos of service & entrepreneurship

Elon University welcomed to campus this fall students from around the world whose intellectual curiosity and commitment to their communities made them stand out in a record number of applicants for an incoming class.

They have started their own companies and conducted mission work in developing countries, created foundations to fight cancer, led their high school varsity sports teams to state championships, and competed in international dancing competitions.

They have tamed wild horses. One is the recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship, considered among the most prestigious academic awards in the United States.

The Class of 2018 arrived on campus this year with those whose personal stories already reflect the values that Elon University’s faculty and staff demonstrate each day around the classroom, in the laboratories, on the athletic fields and in the residence halls that incoming students now call home.

More than 10,400 students applied to be a part of Elon University’s Class of 2018, a record number of applicants for any given year. Just over 1,500 first-year students have enrolled, including 15 students in the university’s Gap Semester Program.

“What we’ve seen from applicants, and what Elon values, is their entrepreneurial nature and civic engagement,” Dean of Admissions Lisa Keegan said of first-year students. “They see needs in their communities and respond to them.”

By the numbers, the Class of 2018 is:

Geographically diverse. Incoming students come from 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and more than a dozen nations. The top-10 states represented in the class, by percentage:

North Carolina: 16%
Massachusetts: 11%
New Jersey: 8%
New York: 8%
Connecticut: 7%
Pennsylvania: 7%
Maryland: 7%
Virginia: 6%
Florida: 4%
Georgia: 3%

Of particular note to the Office of Admissions is a growing interest in Elon from particular regions of the United States. California and Illinois are each represented by 27 students in the new class, while 20 new first-year students are from Colorado.

Academically talented. Eighteen percent of the Class of 2018 received Presidential Scholarships in recognition of their superior high school academic performance and potential for success in college. Nearly two-thirds of incoming students attended public high school and, collectively, the class boasts a core GPA of 3.9.

Two hundred are involved in one of Elon University’s seven Fellows programs: Honors, Elon College, Business, Communications, Teaching, International and Leadership.

The top intended majors include are business, biology, psychology, finance, media arts & entertainment, marketing, journalism, exercise science and entrepreneurship.

Demographically diverse. Sixty-one percent of the class is female, and ethnic diversity tops 17 percent. The university continues to see increased interest from applicants who identify as Jewish following the growth of Elon Hillel and a Jewish Studies program, both of which have led to national accolades from Reform Judaism magazine.

Three students in the Class of 2018 come to Elon from Puerto Rico. Six percent of the class claims an international background.

Keegan described the incoming class as a wealth of “smart students with good hearts,” citing Elon University President Leo M. Lambert’s belief about the student body.

None demonstrate this more than the recipient of the university’s top merit scholarship. Bethany Lake of Georgia is Elon’s Kenan Scholar in the Class of 2018 for, among other accolades, taming and training one of the wild mustangs that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the nonprofit Mustang Heritage Foundation removes each year from western ranges.

Horse trainers apply to receive a randomly selected wild mustang to train and then compete in a three-day exposition before the animals are then offered to the public for adoption. Lake eventually adopted her own mustang, which she named “A Little Bit of Pizzazz,” and now takes the animal to Georgia State Special Olympics events and to mentoring programs with foster children.

That experience is on top of Lake’s mission trips to Ecuador where she helped a nonprofit organization build a church and create programs for a local child care center.

Other examples:

Elizabeth Canto, captain of her varsity soccer team and president of her school’s Cultural Diversity Club, interned at the Center for Cardiovascular Prevention, Research & Education at the Watson Clinic, helping to edit a peer-reviewed article on broadening the criteria for diagnosing conditions like heart attacks in women.

David Cocoziello, a certified beekeeper, founded and serves as CEO of a company that produces and sells nearly 100 pounds of honey each year in local stores and farmers markets.

Ashton Jordan, who lettered in two varsity sports, graduated from high school in Georgia after serving his Junior ROTC and is the recipient of more than $1 million in scholarships and grants, including the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship and Army and Navy scholarships.

Sophia Healy, a student with dual American and British citizenship helped found the Be A Star Foundation in honor of a younger sister who battled leukemia. The foundation raises money to support families with children fighting cancer.

Jordane Mink, a professional Irish dancer, recently placed 17th for her performance at a world championship.

And Daniel MacLaury used $75 in seed funding to co-found and help manage a company that hosts servers for web sites, online game servers and other applications. The company now has assets of more than $30,000 with 1,500 active clients in 32 countries.

“We’re seeking good-hearted students that we know will thrive in our engaged learning environment,” Keegan said of the class. “When we see students who have completed ‘Elon experiences’ in high school – things like research and service – all of that is taken into consideration.”

For more information on applying to Elon University for the 2015-16 academic year, visit