The Elon University community welcomed the 1,600 students from the Class of 2025 and nearly 80 transfer students with open arms as these newest Elon students moved into their new homes.
Looking to get back to some sense of normalcy after a most unconventional year, nearly 1,700 new Elon University students made their way to campus on Friday, Aug. 20, to begin a new phase in their lives.
Move-In Day brought 1,600 members of the Class of 2025 and 77 transfer students to campus, some of whom were seeing Elon’s sprawling campus in person for the first time. In the past 18 months, adaptability has become a skill developed by most everyone having to adjust on the fly. As these students arrive from all over the country and the world, they’ll begin the process of becoming acclimated to a new environment and become engaged in pursuing this next phase of their intellectual lives.
“It’s definitely a big adjustment but one of the things I really like about this school is that it seems like everyone’s there to support you,” said Andrea Ragusa ‘25. “So, I feel like it’ll be an easier adjustment and I’ll definitely get more comfortable as time goes on.”
On Friday, hundreds of Elon students, faculty and staff turned out to support the Class of 2025 as they arrived at campus loaded down with bulging suitcases, heavy trunks, TVs, mini fridges and just about anything you could imagine would fit in a dorm room. After an initial stop at Schar Center, the cars, SUVs and vans arriving on campus filtered out into the residential neighborhoods where they were met by members of the university, who helped unload and take their belonging to their rooms.
Ragusa, hailing from Westchester, New York, said the trip to Elon was relatively decent aside from some traffic. Her mother, Deirdre, said the Elon community has been incredibly pleasant.
“We had a lot of traffic yesterday, so it was a long drive. But today, it’s been very welcoming and very pleasant,” Deirdre Ragusa said. “We got a chance to check in and everyone’s been very friendly and very helpful.”
Andrea Ragusa said Elon appeared on her radar based on several recommendations from various people including former high school classmates, who will soon become her college classmates. A few friends of her mother have also had children come to Elon.
However, the most poignant impression of the university came three years ago when her brother was on the college tour. They visited several North Carolina institutions and decided to stop by Elon. Her brother decided to attend Villanova University, but Andrea felt that Elon was the place for her.
“I’m excited about meeting new people and forming new relations,” she said, who will study international business. “Also, studying what I actually want to focus on rather than having general education classes.”
Helping make the new students and their families feel welcome was the Fire of the Carolinas marching band, which moved through campus playing the Elon fight song and other high-energy pieces to help set the tone for the day. WSOE, Elon’s student-run radio station, offered tunes at the various residential neighborhoods to help energize the scene.
For members of the Class of 2025, Move-In Day is the culmination of a journey that can stretch back years to when they first heard of the university. Alan Kornbluth’s journey to Elon is not the usual track. Born in Venezuela, Kornbluth came to the United States to go to high school in Florida on a student visa. Still on his student visa, he made his way to Elon. Although being currently undecided about what he will major in, Kornbluth aspires to join the theater program. It was a recommendation from the director of arts from his high school about Elon’s Department of Performing Arts that caught his eye.
“Then I came and visited the campus, and it was just fantastic and gorgeous,” he said. “I got hooked.”
Kornbluth arrived at Elon on Wednesday with the other international students and said that during the International Student Orientation, he was able to interact and bond with people who can relate to his experience of not being American.
“Everyone was really eager and just meeting people from all over the place, all over the world, was fantastic. I’m hoping I can still talk with them after so many other students come around,” Kornbluth said.
Reflecting Elon’s commitment to cultivating a diverse environment, 19 percent of this new class coming from ethnically diverse backgrounds. The class also represents a 32 percent increase in first-generation students, a 15 percent increase in students with the LGBTQIA community and a 6 percent increase in Black students from the previous class. The incoming class bolstered an average GPA of 4.07 and includes 41 Odyssey Program scholars, 225 Honors Fellows, 46 students in the newly created four-year nursing program, with 15 in the accelerated nursing program.
Elizabeth Reucassel ’25 left Toronto, Ontario, in Canada to come to Elon to study journalism. Elon’s strong emphasis on global engagement and study abroad is part of what attracted Reucassel. Last year, Elon ranked #1 among the nation’s doctoral universities in the percentage of students who study abroad — the 16th time it has achieved that top ranking.
She described the move-in process as “nerve-wracking, but exciting.” The element of campus life she said she’s most anticipating is the social life. “I’m ready to be back in full. I think it’ll be a pretty smooth transition, just because I really want to,” Reucassel said.
Making a far shorter trip to Elon’s campus was Dominic Mazza ’25, who is from Winston-Salem, N.C., about 45 miles to the west. He plans to major in computer science and echoed Reucassel, saying that he is most looking forward to interacting with his future classmates. He said that he will have a little bit of a learning curve trying to balance academic success with a healthy social life.
“I like talking, I like interacting with others,” Mazza said. “With such a small class size, there’s a lot more discussion-based interaction. So, that’s definitely one of the biggest things I’m interested in.”
For Mazza, the beauty of Elon’s campus, which is also a registered botanical garden, was the selling point for him. “If you really want kids to come here, give them a tour of the campus,” he said.
He described the move-in process as incredibly coordinated and efficient. “I wasn’t present during my older sister or older brother’s move-in. But according to my parents, it was a lot more hectic than this was. This was really organized. We pulled in and it was like Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, and you had people flagging us everywhere.”
Summer Williams ’23 volunteered her time to help out with the move-in directing traffic along Haggard Ave. “I enjoy doing this and I like seeing the freshmen,” Williams said. “It’s fun to look at the faces of terror and slight embarrassment,” she said describing one student having to sit on his mother’s lap in the car as they had so much stuff packed.
Demetria Hall ’24 said she became an orientation leader because of the positive experience she had as a freshman with her orientation leader last year.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said she hasn’t been able to make as many connections as she’d like with the general standoffishness that came along with social distancing and mask-wearing. Being an OL is a way for her to build some of those connections that she missed out on last year. “I wanted to make a difference but also be a mentor and a friend to the first years,” Hall said.
Hall said she’ll be looking after 17 first-year students during New Student Orientation and is excited to show them all of her favorite areas throughout campus.
Move-In Day is the start of New Student Orientation for these students, with the next several days filled with a range of gatherings, workshops and social events designed to help them begin to feel at home and to support them as they start at Elon. On Saturday, the Class of 2025 will be surrounded by friends, family and the Elon community as they gather Under the Oaks for New Student Convocation. President Connie Ledoux Book and other campus leaders will offer them insights into what lies ahead for them during their years at Elon.
Each new student will leave the ceremony with an acorn, an acknowledgment of the university’s name – Elon is the Hebrew word for “oak” – and a symbol of the start of a period of personal and intellectual growth.
Visit a full schedule of events and activities during New Student Orientation to see what’s planned for the Class of 2025.