Elon leaders welcome Watson & Odyssey Scholars to campus

President Leo M. Lambert joined directors from the Center for Access & Success on Tuesday to greet academically gifted and civically engaged scholarship recipients for whom an Elon University education may otherwise have been financially impossible.

Watson & Odyssey Scholars met in the Woods Center of Rhodes Stadium on Sept. 9, 2014, for a reception welcoming them back to campus.
Top administrators met and mingled Tuesday with students in a highly selective campus program for those who would benefit from an Elon University education but whose financial need often makes it cost prohibitive.

Featuring remarks by Elon University President Leo M. Lambert, the Sept. 9, 2014, afternoon reception for Watson & Odyssey Scholars inside Rhodes Stadium served as a formal welcome to first-year students and a “welcome back” for returning students.

“Elon is a university you can help shape and improve during your time here,” Lambert said, describing scholars as “synonymous with excellence” and an important part of the community. “There’s tremendous talent and leadership in this group.”

Lambert implored the scholars to heed three ideas: “Jump in” to college with both feet and don’t remain on the periphery of university life, utilize resources available across campus, and remember that Elon’s reputation in a few short years will be defined by the success of its alumni.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert and Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr, director of the Center for Access and Success
“We’re proud of you and we have every high hope and aspiration for you,” Lambert said. “We hope you feel the loving embrace of this university. … You are our best foot forward.”

One hundred and five students this year are part of the Watson & Odyssey Scholars Program, a component of the university’s Center for Access & Success. Scholarship recipients often are among the first members of their family to attend college, and they have lacked opportunities for enriching educational experiences due to personal circumstances or the socioeconomic climate of their community.

Elon selects scholars each year based on their achievements despite hardships or challenges, and because they have shown the potential of bringing cultural or socioeconomic diversity to campus.

Watson & Odyssey Scholars participate in a first-year summer orientation, take part in annual retreats, attend monthly class meetings, get involved in one-on-one academic and career planning meetings, and maintain an academic and leadership portfolio.

"You are all capable of incredible things," senior physics major Michael Perez told classmates in the Watson & Odyssey Scholars Program.
In addition to Lambert’s remarks, scholars heard briefly from Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr, director of the Center for Access & Success; Esther Freeman, director of the Watson & Odyssey Scholars Program; and Michael Perez, a senior physics major from Miami who served as the program’s student speaker.

Perez told the audience how choosing Elon was the best decision of his life. It provided academic and leadership opportunities he never imagined, he said, and it will do the same for everyone gathered before him.

“You all are capable of incredible things. … And you’re only limited by how much you limit yourself,” Perez said. “There’s nothing you can’t do. There’s nothing you can’t change.”