Looking Back: New Student Convocation for the Class of 2023

A look back to the New Student Convocation for Class of 2023 as they prepare to graduate on Friday, May 19.

As Elon University prepares to celebrate the graduating Class of 2023 on Friday, May 19, take a look back at how this group of students began their Elon journeys at New Student Convocation nearly four years ago.

Nearly 1,700 Elon students gathered Under the Oaks on Aug. 24, 2019, nervous yet excited about what lay ahead for them. The convocation for the Class of 2023 coincided with the 50th anniversary of many significant cultural moments, nationally and specific to the university — Woodstock, the beginning of “Sesame Street,” Elon’s first Black graduate Eugene Perry, and the transition into a 4-1-4 semester with a Winter Term.

New Student Convocation for the Class of 2023.

The most significant happening of 1969 was the Apollo 11 moon landing. During the New Student Convocation, President Connie Ledoux Book quoted Neil Armstrong, saying, “Armstrong reminded us that ‘mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of our desire to understand.’ At Elon, we know the power of that wonder and the search for understanding.

“You see, you are our hope, our hope for that smarter, stronger and kinder world. And as Neil Armstrong told us, your job is to embrace that sense of wonder and pursue new levels of understanding.”

The 1,675 students of the Class of 2023 hailed from 43 states and 27 countries, including Ecuador, China and Australia. Ten students started their Elon educations in Dublin, Ireland, as a part of the Global Pathfinders program. Eighty-one students in the Class of 2023 had siblings who are also Elon students or alumni, 28 are the children or grandchildren of alumni, 131 were first-generation students and 70 transferred to Elon from other institutions.

Vice President of Student Jon Dooley explained to the Class of 2023 that their eventual graduation would occur during the 100th anniversary of the fire of 1923.

New Student Convocation for the Class of 2023.

“You occupy a special place in the history and trajectory of this university, which continues its long and steady climb from that difficult moment. You are part of a great university that has quite literally risen from the ashes, and like our namesake, the Phoenix, continues to find itself transformed and reborn with each new generation,” Dooley said.

Following the convocation, students received their acorns — a symbol of their intellectual and personal growth that will take place for the next four years.

On Tuesday, May 16, the Class of 2023 will receive their oak saplings at the Senior Baccalaureate event — a symbol of the growth that has taken place over the last four years.

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The 133rd Undergraduate Commencement for the Class of 2023 is scheduled for Friday, May 19 at 9 a.m. for the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education and Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and 2:30 p.m. for the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and School of Communications. The ceremonies will be held in Schar Center.

A full schedule of events and further details can be found on the Commencement website. Both ceremonies will be available to livestream on personal devices.