In their own words: 'What I learned in my first year at Elon'

The Class of 2020 reflects on its first year at Elon and gives advice to the incoming group of first-year students.

Four years after stepping onto campus at Elon for the very first time, the Class of 2020 is preparing for its final year under the Oaks. Before they leave, the class of seniors is passing on advice to incoming first-year students. Below, they discuss the lessons they learned in their first year at Elon. 

Name: Jack Johnson

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, California

Major: Finance and Policy Studies

Campus Involement: Student Body President, Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Cooking Club

"College always appeared scripted before I arrived. “Say goodbye to parents, attend class, check out a party, cheer at a football game, etc.” This was a tried and true formula concocted to deliver “the best days of my life” that every older person I knew had been yapping about for 18 years. Yet, after three years, I’m here to tell you that the formula doesn’t exist! Your first year alone will offer a million different paths to choose from, and each day is a chance to pick a different one if you want to change it up. Trusting yourself enough to pave your own journey is challenging, but doing so is what college and especially Elon is all about."

Read more from Jack here. 




Name: Mikisha Davis

Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina 

Major: Political Science

Campus Involvement: Diversity Ambassador for Inman Admissions; Office Assistant in the Danieley Neighborhood Center office; surveyor for the Elon Poll; office assistant in the Center for Access and Success; member of Student Conduct Board

"…The first thing I wish I had known during my first year was: do not burn yourself out trying to fit in… I was constantly fatigued but never said no to an event because I wanted to get as much of a college experience as I could. News flash: You have four years to experience college, do not try to do it all in one year!… The second thing I wish I had known during my first year was to take advantage of the resources that have been presented to you. There is an enormous cohort of faculty, staff and students here on campus who are here for you – use them! 

Read more from Mikisha here. 


Name: Jonathan Martinez

Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Major: Exercise Science, PreMed

Campus Involvement: Honors and Numen Lumen Research Fellow; assistant to BioLab manager

"The first thing a first-year student should be aware of is that the impossible is possible… If you discover an opportunity that interests you, work toward it. Even if it sounds so far out of reach because –odds are – it’s in the palm of your hand… The second thing is accepting change; it will occur whether or not you are ready for it…The only way to change the world around you is to experience change yourself."

Read more from Jonathan here. 


Name: Louisa Sholar

Hometown: Mooresville, NC

Major: International & Global Studies 

Campus Involvement: Student Government Association Executive Vice President, Honors Fellow and Member of ElonVotes 

"I think the biggest lesson I learned as a first-year was that more opportunities were readily available to me than I thought, and that the freedom to try new things came with great learning experiences… You can do a lot on campus when you first enter. Don’t feel that there are strict rules about seniority or needing a ton of experience in order to start something. Allow yourself to build and grow. Doing so with attention to detail, leaning on mentors and friends, and investing in the things that challenge and engage you is a good mindset with which to start your Elon experience." 

Read more from Louisa here. 


Name: Grace Carter

Hometown: Washington, DC

Major: Biology

Campus Involvement: Numen Lumen Scholar, Shirley Tempos A Cappella, Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity

"The biggest lesson I learned during my first year at Elon was to say yes more. Say yes to that dinner with new friends you don’t know very well, say yes to opportunities to meet faculty both in and out of your field, and say yes to that cultural event your friend is trying to drag you to fulfill her class requirement. College life gets busy quick, and it’s easy to fall into the routine of class, Lakeside, more class and Netflix in bed. But, some of your favorite memories and most valuable learning experiences at Elon will be made when you step out of your comfort zone and say yes to something instead of hitting play on the next episode of The Office. Good luck, Class of 2023!"