Solid Start: First-year students share about their experiences at Elon

Five Elon first-year students describe their unique Elon experiences since arriving at the university in August.

Getting acclimated during your first year as a college student can be an overwhelming experience. With a wide range of organizations to join and a variety of events to check out, a first-year student could feel lost when faced with a myriad of opportunities.

So how was the first semester for the Class of 2026? Five first-year students offered their thoughts on how they’ve found their way at Elon so far to Today at Elon. They share their favorite places to spend their spare time, the people and groups that have made a new place feel like home, and how, in a few short months, they have grown as people.

Julien and Liam Dupas ’26

Major: Cinema and Television Arts
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Twins Julien Dupas ’26, left, and Liam Dupas ’26, in Snow Atrium.

Campus involvement

Julien: During my first semester at Elon, I joined Fresh TV, a 14-week film program, and Cinelon, the student-run film production company. I’ve already actively participated in both working on and creating numerous short films. I also attended numerous Catholic Campus Ministry events and services while connecting with some of the students involved.

Liam: I’m involved with Fresh TV, Cinelon, Catholic Campus Ministry and a volunteer program offered in my leadership class. By far, Fresh TV has been the most beneficial extracurricular program I have been involved in this academic year because of the connections, experiences and practice it offered. Overall, my campus involvement has directly correlated with my passion and I could not be more thankful for that.

Favorite place on campus?

Julien: The McEwen editing suites because I’m always working on film projects and homework with my friends down there.

Liam: The editing studio in the McEwen basement has been a beneficial space for my academic and extracurricular needs because of the quiet environment and technologically equipped space it provides for all School of Communications students.

Favorite dining option?

Julien: It has to be Lakeside because of their portion size, and they change up the cuisine with a wide range of protein and veggies.

Liam: Lakeside has been my favorite dining so far. I thoroughly enjoy the constant changing of meal options.

Favorite class so far?

Julien: The Fellows Experience class I took over Winter Term. We got to travel to Tampa and Orlando for almost two weeks. That time was filled with many professional and extracurricular experiences ranging from numerous professional company visits to cultural experiences and even a trip to Disney!

Liam: Film history with Assistant Professor Ray Johnson. I can confidently say that I have never learned more about film in my entire life than when I took this class. This was the most enjoyable, most engaging, most interesting and most useful class I have taken so far.

Twins Liam Dupas ’26, left, and Julien Dupas ’26, photographed February 24, 2023, at Snow Atrium for a story on first-year students at Elon University.

How have you grown as a person since coming to Elon?

Julien: Elon has opened so many opportunities for me that I cannot believe I would experience in my freshman year. It was through these opportunities that I found myself growing in my passion of filmmaking, as well as a person.

Liam: I have learned to set priorities that improve my academic, extracurricular, spiritual and social life. By doing so, I can achieve the goals that I have set for myself. Staying consistent as well has been the most beneficial for improving myself as a person and achieving the goals I would like to achieve.

Most memorable Elon moment so far?

Julien: Creating my first short film, “The Muffler,” with my friends. We all were really passionate about the film and had a great time shooting on set and working with a really talented cast and crew.

Liam: Filming the short film, “The Muffler” was by far the most enjoyable experience this semester. My brother, a group of friends and I all shot a short horror film for the final Fresh TV project last semester and that was by far my favorite experience. The hard work that we put into this film was well worth the result we created as a team.

Experience as a Communications Fellow?

Julien: Being a Communications Fellow, I was able to travel to Atlanta and Florida and partake in numerous professional company visits as well as create bonds within my cohort that I can see lasting beyond my time at Elon. I have gained experience that goes beyond learning in a classroom and I am thankful for everyone I have met and everything I have done since being in the Communications Fellows program.

Liam: The Fellows experience has been a favorite because of the professional and extracurricular activities that I’ve had the opportunity to take part in. It’s been an experience I feel as if no other school can offer.

Mimi Economus ’26

Major: Finance and business analytics
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Mimi Economus ’26, a defender on the Elon University women’s lacrosse team, at practice.

Campus involvement

I am a part of the Elon women’s lacrosse team, as well as the Business Fellows program.

Favorite place on campus

Lake Mary Nell.

Favorite dining option?

McEwen, but my favorite restaurant near campus is Tangent. I definitely recommend the truffle tater tots from there!

Favorite class

My favorite class so far was astronomy with Professor Tim Martin because he was so passionate about the class and I learned so many things about our planet and the universe.

Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Josh Hexter jokes with Mimi Economus ’26, a defender on the Elon University team, at practice February 16, 2023.

How have you grown as a person since coming to Elon?

Since coming to Elon, I have grown to be more independent and to have confidence in myself. Going to school over 400 miles away from home was a huge adjustment, but it has taught me that I am capable of so much.

Most memorable Elon moment so far?

My favorite memory at Elon so far was being able to travel to Greece with the Elon women’s lacrosse team and bonding with my teammates. I learned so much about the culture and history there, and I am very fortunate for that opportunity.

Experience as a student-athlete?

My experience as a student-athlete has been extremely rewarding. I have been able to form strong relationships with my teammates and coaches, and I am very grateful to be given this opportunity and to be a part of this team. Playing a sport has taught me how to balance my time efficiently when it comes to lacrosse, school and my friends. I am so excited for our season this spring!

Dillon Stewart ’26

Major: Music production and recording arts
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Dillon Stewart ’26

Campus Involvement

iBelong Male Mentorship program, Odyssey Scholar, African Diaspora Living Learning Community.

Favorite place on campus

The common area on the second floor of Moseley. Or the gym. Nah, the studio!

Favorite dining option?

Lakeside because it has the best hours, it’s the closest to my door and they have Biscuitville, Flatout and Irazu.

Favorite class so far? 

English 1100 with Assistant Professor Heather Lindenman. She gave me so much freedom and confidence as a writer. I also learned important lessons in communication and how to interact with peers in a professional setting.

How have you grown as a person since coming to Elon?

I literally became an adult at Elon — my 18th birthday was Sept. 8. I’ve become more comfortable with myself, more self-aware and honest, and more comfortable with being uncomfortable. So far, my experience has really just been about becoming a man and understanding how to take good care of myself.

I never really understood the significance of my ego until coming to college. Now, I’m more open, understanding and outgoing with people who are different from me.

Most memorable Elon moment so far?

Either the Back to School party at Taphouse or my birthday kickback because it was just so many of my friends in one place it made me feel really welcome and loved.

Experience as an Odyssey Scholar?

I’ve received so much support from my peers and mentors in Odyssey. I would’ve felt so lost and overwhelmed coming into Elon if it weren’t for the people I met in Odyssey.

Plus, I trust Graduate Appreciate for the Odyssey Program Martha Lopez Lavias and Director of the Odyssey Scholars Program Marcus Elliott so much. They’ve never made me feel like I was being judged or that I was unwanted. I genuinely love everyone I know in Odyssey and I want to be closer with everybody!

Huria Tahiry ’26

Major: Environmental studies
Hometown: Kabul, Afghanistan

Environmental Studies major Huria Tahiry ’26, Commitment to Democracy Scholar from Kabul, Afghanistan. photographed October 6, 2022.

Campus Involvement

Elon is a place based on relationships with a friendly environment. Here are a lot of opportunities. I have been involved with Elon Club Climbing, Asian Pacific Student Association, First-Generation Student Support Services and Elon Sustainability volunteers.

Favorite place on campus?

Moseley Center is a great place to hang out with my friends and relax during class breaks. I believe IQ, Belk Library and Global Commons are the best places for studying. Walking around the football grounds or going to the gym is the best way to end a day.

Elon University president Connie Ledoux Book attended the Mardi Gras dinner in Lakeside Dining Hall February 21, 2023, and held a session initiating students in the proper way to eat crayfish.

Favorite dining option?

I like all the dining halls, but Lakeside has international food and various options. Also, it’s located in the center of campus and the hall is pretty and open.

Favorite class so far?

My favorite classes have been Data Science with Assistant Professor Elizabeth von Briesen and Human and Nature with Assistant Professor Kelsey Bitting. The classes were so engaging and the professors were really nice and supportive. They provided me with many crucial academic resources. In addition to the class lessons, I learned about myself and the environment in these classes. I am trying to take more classes with them.

How have you grown as a person since coming to Elon?

Being at Elon, I have grown in multiple ways. I have improved my communication and interpersonal skills by participating in various organizations and interacting with people from different backgrounds. Also, I upgraded my critical thinking skills which helped me to be more confident.

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life’s Festival of Lights and Luminaries, November 29, 2022.

Most memorable Elon moment so far?

Elon is full of unforgettable memories. For me, the Festival of Lights was so entertaining. The lights made the campus much more beautiful, different cultures were exhibited and everyone was happy and busy searching for their luminary. Also, I have watched Elon athletics games which are so fun and exciting.

Experience as an international student?

My experience has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to learn about different cultures and gain a better understanding of the world. I enjoyed the challenge of experiencing a different education system and teaching/learning style. I was surprised by how nice everyone is to each other. I found Elon staff helpful and supportive. Overall, I am grateful for this sweet experience.