Elon University Board of Trustees Chair Dave Porter and Jen Porter P’11 P’19 generously sponsored a visit for 15 students who expanded their professional contacts, toured major organizations in the area and connected with Boston-based alumni.
Several rising Elon seniors recently closed out their summer break with a five-day experience in Boston that included stops at the Massachusetts State House, the international headquarters of Fidelity Investments and even Fenway Park.
Their networking visit was sponsored by Elon parents Dave and Jen Porter P’11 P’19, who also hosted the students at Baystate Financial, where Dave Porter is the owner and managing partner. In addition, the Porters tapped members of their local Boston network to set up tours at additional organizations.
“This networking trip genuinely changed the trajectory of my career path,” said Sophia Templeton ’23. “I had no idea so many options were out there in the corporate world. Dave Porter and the other wonderful leaders we met helped me realize that I can belong in a corporate setting despite my family’s non-corporate background. I have so much gratitude for the understanding, kindness and inspiration they provided for me and the rest of my cohort, and I hope future Odyssey Scholars get the chance to share this experience with their peers as well.”
During the visit, students met with Governor Charlie Baker and Representative Russell E. Holmes at the Massachusetts State House, toured the robotics demo lab and connected with Chief Operating Officer John Hassett at Analog Devices, and made visits to First Republic Bank, MassMutual and Fidelity.
“I couldn’t be more impressed by these accomplished students,” said Dave Porter, who heard similar positive feedback about the students’ visits from Governor Charlie Baker and the president of First Republic Bank. “I’m always excited to tell people I’m affiliated with Elon.”
Throughout their itinerary, the students also participated in more casual networking events, including a Boston Red Sox game and a dinner with Emily Bourke ’16, Kristin Chan ’21, Joe Incorvia ’15, Odyssey Program alumna Ashley Jutras ’20, Max Orrock ’19 and Emily Sanderson ’22.
“As a senior, starting my final year of my undergraduate career is daunting. We’re getting ready to say farewell to a community that prioritizes our personal and academic success,” said Isaias Reyes-Martinez. “This trip has kept me motivated and empowered to finish my last year here at Elon because I now have an expanded list of individuals to reach out to for insight. The way that Dave Porter has mentored us and used his connections and resources is a pure example of what an advocate should do to empower and elevate students.”
The impact of Dave and Jen Porter’s philanthropy can be seen and felt across the entire Elon campus. In 2011, the couple made a leadership gift to establish the Porter Family Professional Development Center in the Love School of Business, which provides resources to assist students in preparing for and acquiring internships, full-time employment or graduate school placement after graduation. Since then, they’ve made additional major gifts to support the construction of The Inn at Elon and Numen Lumen Pavilion, in addition to supporting scholarships, the Phoenix Club and the School of Law.
“Dave and Jen Porter are among Elon’s biggest champions, and we are deeply grateful for their ongoing and generous support,” said Jim Piatt, vice president of university advancement. “Going to Boston and making valuable professional connections adds tremendous value for the students who participated, and it’s the kind of experience that helps make the Odyssey Program so transformative. This is philanthropy at work.”
The Odyssey Program, which is part of Elon’s Center for Access and Success, is a highly selective merit-based program serving academically strong students who will benefit from an Elon education and demonstrate financial need. Many Odyssey Program students are the first in their families to attend college, and the program has become a national model for increasing access to higher education.
The program has seen tremendous support and growth through the generosity of donors to the Elon LEADS Campaign, which calls for increased support for scholarships as its top fundraising priority. To date, donors have endowed more than 200 scholarships in the program, doubling the number of Odyssey scholarships since the launch of the Elon LEADS Campaign in 2019. The university is now halfway to the long-term goal set forth in the university’s 10-year strategic plan, Boldly Elon, which calls for reaching 100 Odyssey scholarships per class for a total of 400 Odyssey students overall.
“The impact of the Odyssey Program centers on a series of transformative experiences that our scholars often reflect upon as enlightening moments which provide a sense of clarity and understanding. In Boston, the ability for our group of seniors to hear from executives, mid-level managers and entry-level team members was crucial in learning more about the culture and values of each organization,” said Marcus Elliott, director of the Odyssey Program.
“As a society, it is tough to find programs that focus on the transition from college into the professional/corporate setting. This networking trip clearly demonstrates a commitment to providing exposure for our scholars to a variety of position offerings across disciplines and majors. Experiences such as these would not be possible without the support of Dave Porter and his valuable network of influential leaders in the Boston area,” Elliott added.
The following Odyssey Program students traveled to Boston:
- Alexis Alston
- Jahmai Bruce
- Karen Cruz-Ruiz
- Yuzu Do
- Brittney Hope
- Kiara Hunter
- Hector Lopez
- Jennifer Morales
- Raheem Murphy
- Sreyrath Poeun
- Isaias Reyes-Martinez
- Citlalli Salazar
- Eduardo Sanchez
- Sophia Templeton
- Rebecca Emerson Wells
In addition to Dave and Jen Porter P’11 P’19, special thanks goes to Maureen Wholey at Baystate Financial for her efforts to coordinate the visit and to Liz Foster of First Republic Bank, Ryan McKee of Fidelity Investments and John Rogan of MassMutual for hosting site visits.