Members of Class of 2027 introduced to Elon, broader community through Engage summer experience

Incoming first-year Elon students spent a week with on-campus organizations and community partners to get first-hand experience of service opportunities Elon provides.

The Kernodle Center for Civic Life recently welcomed nine incoming Elon University students for the Engage: Community Engagement in Alamance County First-year Summer Experience.

The Engage program offers students a unique experience as it acclimates students to Elon while introducing them to the broader community outside the “Elon bubble.”

Sarah Clarke ’24, left, and Seth Wolter ’24, lead an orientation for incoming undergraduate students at the Maker Hub in the Colonnades Neighborhood, July 12, 2023.

“It takes away the difficult part of trying to find people to volunteer with and puts them out in the community to explore the partners and opportunities that Alamance County has to offer,” said Abigail Wiatrek, assistant director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life.

Over the week-long experience, students were work with various community partners such as The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Alamance County and Peacehaven Community Farm. The students also participated in a team-building exercise at the Elon ropes course, played putt-putt and took a tour of downtown Burlington.

Elisa Peele’s eagerness to participate in the Engage summer experience was based on the team-building and connecting activities that the week offered. The incoming member of the Class of 2027, along with her roommate, Camila Montoya ’27, both signed up for Engage to make their transition into Elon as seamless as possible.

“It’s been fun … and a great way to learn about Elon,” Peele said. “I thought this would be a great way to get a better feel for campus and meet new people.”

Elise Peele ’27, left, Camila Montoya ’27, right, watch and react as their tower of pasta supporting a marshmallow collapses following an orientation activity for incoming undergraduate students at the Maker Hub in the Colonnades Neighborhood, July 12, 2023.

First-Year Summer Experience (FSE) programs are designed to help incoming students feel confident and prepared as they enroll at Elon. FSE programs embrace the university’s commitment to experiential learning and use this guiding philosophy to help students develop self-awareness, enhance relationships, and define community in preparation for their Elon experience.

Wiatrek hoped the students not just connect with each other during the week, but connect with the surrounding Elon community. The program intentionally provided a variety of potential connections so students realize the best way to make the most of their time at Elon is to get involved early and often.

“This creates the possibility for them to be comfortable when coming back to campus. When they are able to explore past initially coming to Elon, they are able to dig deep into what makes that first year at college so special,” Wiatrek said.