What I learned in my first year at Elon: Louisa Sholar '20

Louisa Sholar '20, Student Government Association executive vice president, 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: Louisa Sholar

Hometown: Mooresville, N.C.

Major: International & Global Studies 

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

Advice: I think the biggest lesson I learned as a first-year was that more opportunities were readily available to me than I had thought, and that the freedom to try new things came with great learning experiences. That has remained true throughout my college career, but a couple of key events in my first year helped shape where I am today. 

I remember trying out Model UN after our International Relations class participated in their student-run simulation and loved it. I had never done anything like it before. My high school did not have a club, and I’d never participated in anything remotely political.

I ended up winning an award and joining for the next semester, then applied to compete at a conference and had a fantastic time. I remember thinking it was a pretty spontaneous choice and a little outside of my comfort zone, but it ended up being an enriching experience that made me even more confident to try new things. 

Then, toward the end of my first year, I responded to a Facebook call asking for applications for senator positions on the Academic Council of SGA. I didn’t expect to hear back because I thought I wasn’t qualified enough, but I did. Answering that call and letting myself be supported by the people in the organization has been one of the most impactful decisions I have ever made. 

Long story short, 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.