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Special College Coffee honors Elon Academy scholars

Local high school students in the university’s college access and success program moved to campus over the weekend for a month of classes and activities that will help them pursue dreams of a college degree.

Sixty-nine local high school students are on campus for the next four weeks as part of the Elon Academy, an academic enrichment and college access program for exceptionally bright Alamance County teenagers.

The Elon University community gathered Monday for a special College Coffee to welcome to campus local high school students taking part this summer in the Elon Academy, an academic enrichment and college access program for exceptionally bright Alamance County teenagers with no family history of college attendance or with high financial need.

The President’s 7th annual College Coffee in honor of the Elon Academy provided scholars an opportunity to meet and mingle with many of the people with whom they will work in the weeks ahead. Rather than coffee on a hot summer day, the event featured ice cream sundaes for the crowd that gathered outside Alamance building just after noon.

“We want scholars to immediately feel like Elon University students,” Professor Deborah Long, director of the Elon Academy, said of the reception. “And they’ve loved it! Many adults have certain stereotypes about teenagers, but in this environment, scholars are treated as young adults and they feel respected. For them it’s a very empowering experience.”

Members of the Theta Class, the newest cohort in the academy making its first visit to campus, used the time to share their enthusiasm for learning about each other, life on a college campus, and the college application process they’ll soon confront as they begin making plans for life after high school.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert talks with Elon Academy scholars during a special June 17 College Coffee around Fonville Fountain.

And as rising sophomores at high schools in Alamance County, students are already sharing their career and college plans. One wants to be an architect. Another hopes to work with animals. A third Theta Class scholar mentioned an interest in engineering. Another might consider a career in the Air Force with a possible look at the military branch’s service academy in Colorado Springs.

They’re learning as well from older students in the Eta and Epsilon classes back on campus for their second and third summers, respectively. Returning students reflected Monday on their earlier experiences at the Elon Academy and how their lessons from previous years will help them this summer.

It’s advice that resonates with younger scholars.

“I learned how to better approach people and how to make more friends,” said Katie Durham, a rising junior at Southern Alamance High School and a member of the Eta Class. “Some of my best friends are here now.”

The Office of the President sponsored the June 17 ice cream social event, which took place one day after formal opening ceremonies in Whitley Auditorium. On Sunday, scholars heard from Elon President Leo M. Lambert and Diane Evia-Lanevi, founder of The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students, a North Carolina nonprofit that “seeks to make higher education more accessible to talented Hispanic students from low-income families in North Carolina.”

Scholars enjoyed ice cream sundaes as part of College Coffee with the campus community.

“Elon wants to be your partner in helping you get to where you want to go,” Lambert said in his remarks to scholars at the Sunday ceremony. “I hope this summer you'll recharge your batteries at this academy, get motivated, and go out there and achieve your dreams.”

Students will spend a month taking academic courses that include personal finance, philosophy, herpetology, criminology, engineering, creative writing, cognitive science, political science, sustainable food production and trigonometry.

All scholars will participate in college planning classes which include organizational and study skills, SAT preparation, the college application process, and securing financial aid. Evening curricula includes golf, racquetball, dance, swimming, drama, personal defense, art and tennis.

With the new cohort, the Elon Academy is now serving 159 scholars - including members from the program’s first four classes now attending college - and their more than 400 family members.

The Theta class and high school advocates for the Elon Academy include:

Hugh M. Cummings High School
Amore Leath
Jarren Mebane
Manuel Melgoza-Rodriguez
Asia Sellars
Oscar Soto
Grace Spriggs
Kyaira White-Randolph

Advocate: Julia Johns, assistant principal

Graham High School
Josue Alonso Dionocio
Sandra Candelario
Keeley McDonald

Kristina Torain
Advocate: Stacey Frazier, school counselor

Southern Alamance High School
Laci Breen
Tyler Ceparano
AJ Foust
Jose Ramirez
Advocate: Hannah Cobb, assistant principal

Walter M. Williams High School
Dulce Cuevas
Alex Garcia-Reyes
Grant Rogers
Kamara Troxler
Advocate: Carole Workman, teacher

River Mill Academy
Breanna Davis
Sylvia Ellington
Brittany Wilkins
Advocate: Karen Gobel, school counselor

The following scholars join the community this summer from Chinmaya, India:

Namita Sumil
Aravind Kumar
Anirudh Dhar
Sandhya Kalyanaraman
Visiting teacher: Tuney Nandakuman

Launched by Elon University in 2007, the Elon Academy is an intensive college access and success program for local high school students with high financial need or no family history of attending college. It combines a month-long residential program over three successive summers with follow-up experiences during the academic year.

The academy is a multi-year, year round program beginning in the summer after the ninth grade and continuing to and through college.

Eric Townsend,
6/17/2013 2:20 PM