Coming from 23 countries, Elon welcomed the Class of 2026 international students with a breakfast in McKinnon Hall on Thursday.
One of the many goals of the Boldly Elon strategic plan is to double international student enrollment at the university. Having students from a diversity of backgrounds who bring to campus their own unique perspectives benefits any university, and the same is true of Elon.
“You bring your cultures, your history, your language and it is such an important part of our classrooms,” said President Connie Ledoux Book welcoming international students during the International Student Orientation welcome breakfast on Thursday morning.
Those students in the Class of 2026 join an Elon student body composed of students from more than 50 countries.
During the International Student Orientation, students explored the surrounding area, did some shopping and heard about how to adjust to life at Elon. They spent time learning about important topics such as health insurance, banking and visa regulations.
“We are so grateful for you,” said Hebe Fuller, associate dean and director of international admissions. “You will see that there’s a great deal of support from all of us in the GEC … and the entire staff and faculty of the university.”
Originally from Colombia, Paula Diaz ’26 said the global experience Elon offers was what attracted her to the school.
“I’m majoring in international studies, so that’s important to me. Studying abroad was another reason why I picked Elon because they have an amazing program and you can go almost anywhere in the world,” Diaz said.
Léa Andrieu ’26, a business major from France, plans to get involved with various club sports while also focusing on sustainability efforts on campus and in the community.
“I really wanted to be in the U.S., and I’ve never been in the eastern part of the U.S. I looked at the university and I really enjoyed it. I thought that everyone looks really close,” Andrieu said.
Although jet-lagged, Keopagnapech Ngoun ’26 was still enthusiastic to start her Elon career. Having heard about Elon from an alumnus as a high schooler in Cambodia, Ngoun decided to apply and will seek her engineering degree for the next four years.
“I arrived yesterday at five, so I’m a bit tired but everyone has been very warm and welcoming here,” Ngoun said.
The transition to college comes with many hurdles, and it can be more difficult for international students to overcome those hurdles. But Nick Gozik, dean of global education at Elon, advised the students to allow themselves some grace as they adjust to a new country and way of life without their support systems in immediate reach.
“I want you to take some time to let yourself adapt to this new place,” Gozik told the students. “There are times that that adaptation is really smooth … and other times when it’s not so smooth. Give yourself the patience and realize that this is going to be a little bit different.”