Donors change lives by creating 200 Odyssey Scholarships

The generosity of alumni, parents and friends has doubled the number of Odyssey Scholarships during the Elon LEADS Campaign. The Odyssey Program assists outstanding students with high financial need, including first-generation college students.

Elon reached the 200 Odyssey Scholarship mark thanks to gifts and commitments from donors to the $250 million Elon LEADS Campaign. Their generosity has enabled Elon to double the number of endowed scholarships in the program, which is a national model for college access initiatives. Increasing financial support for Odyssey and other scholarships is the top priority of Elon LEADS, the largest campaign in the university’s history.

President Connie Ledoux Book thanked the alumni, parents and friends who made the 200 Odyssey milestone possible. The university is halfway to its long-term goal in the Boldy Elon strategic plan of having 400 Odyssey Scholarships, or 100 scholars per class.

“The scholarships in the Odyssey Program have transformed the lives of hundreds of Elon students and alumni,” Book said. “The Elon community is indebted to all the donors who are creating generations of college graduates the world needs.”

“Reaching the 200 Odyssey Scholarship milestone is the result of inspired philanthropy by families who believe deeply in the power of an Elon education to prepare leaders to guide our future,” said Jim Piatt, vice president for university advancement. “We cannot think of a more important investment.”

The Odyssey Program: A National Model for Success

Established in 2007, the Odyssey Program includes some of Elon’s largest scholarships endowed by more than 25 generous families. Housed in Elon’s Center for Access and Success, Odyssey is a highly selective, four-year program that has become a national model for serving students with significant financial need who are often underrepresented on college and university campuses. Many of these students are the first in their families to attend college and have achieved academically while overcoming adversity.

Students move through the program as a cohort and receive invaluable mentoring by faculty and staff, along with academic support and professional development to inspire personal growth and set them up to succeed. Odyssey has a nearly 100 percent retention rate and 90 percent graduation rate among scholars who become leaders in medicine, healthcare, law, business, education, and engineering among other fields.

“Odyssey scholars are consistently among the top-performing students on Elon’s campus,” said Jean Rattigan-Rohr, vice president for access and success. “This shows that when given the proper resources and support, students from low-income households do, in fact, succeed and go on to impact the world in positive ways.”

Joe Paturzo ’20

Alumni like Joe Paturzo ’20, who received the John L. Georgeo Scholarship, one of several scholarships in the Odyssey Program endowed by Elon alumnus Furman Moseley ’56. Moseley, one of Elon’s most devoted donors, also honored his wife by endowing The Susan Scholarship, which has assisted more than 50 alumni and students since it was established in 2007.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry last May, Paturzo returned to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to continue his work as a research fellow examining hospital billing practices, as well as quality assurance measurements within health care and the epidemiology of COVID-19 in older populations. He plans to pursue medical school this summer. As a physician, he wants to unite public policy with individualized patient care by making primary care and preventative medicine more accessible in vulnerable communities.

“I have nothing but gratitude for my Elon experience and for Furman and Susan Moseley who made it possible,” Paturzo said. “I accomplished everything I set out to do socially, academically and professionally thanks to Elon. These are the people who have helped shape me to be the person I am today and set me up for the next chapter of my life and made it so enjoyable along the way.”

Paturzo is currently serving a two-year term as a youth trustee on Elon’s Board of Trustees.

Briston Whitt ’22

Briston Whitt ’22, a junior from Winston-Salem North Carolina, is a proud recipient of The Honorable Thad Eure North Carolina Achievement Scholarship, which made enrolling at Elon a reality. The scholarship honors North Carolina’s former Secretary of State who served as an Elon trustee for nearly 50 years and whose family has deep ties to Elon. Whitt, who’s majoring in acting with minors in communications and human service studies, is grateful for her rigorous classes and faculty mentors who have challenged her to develop a valuable global perspective.

“They’ve helped me to see life through a totally different lens. It’s knowledge I will carry with me forever,” Whitt said. “I can’t imagine being at any other place that has challenged me personally and academically like Elon has. And to be able to maintain such high academic standards since being here is something I am very proud of. Being here has also shown my siblings that there is no limit to what they can accomplish.”

Each scholarship in the Odyssey Program includes financial assistance that meets a student’s full need. In addition to annual tuition assistance, each scholarship includes a stipend for books and supplies, and a one-time $4,000 global study grant to be used for an approved study abroad or Study USA program

About the Elon LEADS Campaign

With a $250 million goal, Elon LEADS is the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history and will support four main funding priorities: scholarships for graduates the world needs, increase access to engaged learning opportunities such as study abroad, research and internships, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and Elon’s iconic campus. As of April 6, donors had contributed $209 million toward the goal.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, capital, estate and other planned gifts—for any designation counts as a gift to the campaign, which will support students and strengthen Elon for generations to come. To learn more about how you can make an impact, including by participating in A Will to Lead, visit