Twenty-one students in the Omicron Elon Academy cohort were celebrated on Tuesday, May 9.
The Omicron cohort of the Elon Academy has been a “shining example of what it means to live the Elon Academy way,” said Assistant Director of College Access Fredrick Evans during the celebration of the Omicron cohort on Tuesday, May 9.
Their time in the program has been shrouded and somewhat stifled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Evans said Elon Academy leaders knew the Omicron cohort was special from the beginning and they have exceeded every expectation. And as they venture to uncharted territories, the values they’ve learned and the people they’ve met through Elon Academy will guide them every step of the way, he said.
“You have weathered many storms along the way but you have persevered because you are committed to your goal of attending college which all of you will do,” Evans said.
“Your families have stood by you and made sacrifices as well and I encourage you to not let today go without making sure you give them a hug and a big thank you for all of their support throughout your journey.”
Elon Academy is the university’s program for academically promising high school students in Alamance County with a financial need and/or no family history of college. The program, part of the Center for Access and Success, consists of three consecutive summer residential experiences before the sophomore, junior and senior years, as well as year-round Saturday programs for students and families.
The May 9 event offered an opportunity to celebrate what these students have accomplished and to look ahead at what they will achieve in the years to come. The 21 students in the Omicron cohort have received 162 college acceptance letters from 41 different schools and have been offered more than $5 million in merit-based scholarships. Six Omicron students will attend Elon as Odyssey Scholars, and several other students received prestigious scholarships and grants from other universities.
“I’m grateful that you as students rose to the occasion. You had to give up some of your summer, some weekends to be with us and to prepare. You kept your future on your horizon,” President Connie Ledoux Book said. “I encourage you not to lose those qualities as you head off to college. They’ll be a big help as you navigate the first year of college.”
Christen McAdoo is a graduating senior at Graham High School and a member of the Omicron cohort. She will enroll in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall and during the Elon Academy celebration, she sent the cohort off with words of encouragement before their respective new beginnings. The three pieces of advice she told her peers were to not let others define them, always love themselves and to enjoy the journey while figuring out their purpose.
“Everything will fall into place and be the way it needs to be. As long as you do your best to take care of yourself and your priorities, everything will be OK,” McAdoo said. “Remember, you hold the keys to your success and everything is in your hands.”
Emmanuel Campos, a graduate of the Elon Academy Mu cohort and a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, spoke with the Omicron students about his college journey. At times, Campos said he felt as though he wasn’t cut out for college.
But through resilience and relying on skills he’s learned in the Elon Academy, he’s made it to where he is today.
“This new environment that you’re entering can seem so daunting and scary at first,” Campos said. “You are not on this journey alone. Look around you. All of you are aiming for something similar. Your EA family has got your back. As you traverse through the struggles of college, remember that you have each other.”
Manuela Espinosa is the mother of Daniel Espinosa, an Omicron scholar from River Mill Academy who will attend UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall. Espinosa said at first she was nervous about speaking but soon realized that she was in a room full of friends experiencing similar emotions as she is.
Somewhere in the room, there was another single parent nervous about their child spreading their wings and entering the world. There was a grandparent proud excited that their grandchild is about to embark on a new journey as an adult. There was a younger sibling inspired by the growth of their older sibling.
“Mostly, I’m looking at a room of full hearts because our kids are getting ready to go and hopefully excel beyond our accomplishments just like we dreamed,” Espinosa said.