What I learned in my first year at Elon: Jonathan Martinez ’20

Jonathan Martinez '20, a Numen Lumen Scholar, offers incoming first-year students advice about beginning their journeys at Elon.   

Three years after experiencing their own Move-In Day, the Class of 2020 is beginning its final year at Elon. This is one in a series of articles in which members of the senior class offer words of advice to Elon’s newest students. 

Name: Jonathan Martinez

Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Major: Exercise Science, Pre-medicine

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

Advice: I would like to offer two pieces of advice for incoming first-year students that I failed to recognize but am now starting to see the fruits that they bear. I only wish I had learned them sooner rather than later.

The first thing a first-year should be aware of is that the impossible is possible. Coming onto to Elon’s campus is very daunting, given the reputation the institution bears. I vividly recall hearing about stellar research students with their publications and international presentations, tech and science students with their prestigious internships at world-renowned companies and organizations, upperclassmen with their unbelievable abroad experiences, and amazing life opportunities that alumni found upon graduation.

How could I accomplish such great endeavors when I could barely get through general chemistry? The answer is to keep trying when it gets hard. The student achievements and accolades that Elon prides itself on are possible because Elon helps make it possible for students. If you discover an opportunity that interests you, work toward it. Even if it sounds so far out of reach because the odds are that 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.

Being in college, nobody knows their true purpose or self (no matter how much we would like to think we do). So become a biology major, then switch to music, then political science, then back to biology; I challenge you.

Embrace what you don’t know and build upon what you do know. Try a club sport, board game club or service organization. The autonomy college provides gifts you the ability to design who you want to be. The caveat, however, is to change who you are with intent, not absentmindedness. The only way to change the world around you is to experience change yourself.

Carry those two messages with you; everything else in college that follows is second nature.