Presentations and reflections mark end to Elon Academy summer
Alamance County students taking part in the university’s college access and success program on Friday shared personal reflections before attending a ceremony that closed out a summer residential experience.
The seventh summer of the Elon Academy college access and success program ended Friday with an evening ceremony and public presentations that high school students made to their parents about their personal and intellectual growth over the past month.
Featuring words of wisdom from academy staff members and Elon University President Leo M. Lambert, the July 12 ceremony in Whitley Auditorium was both contemplative and, at moments, highly energetic. The academically talented teenagers from Alamance County who take part in the program at times leapt to their feet to applaud the volunteers, faculty and mentors that dedicated their summer to helping the youth set their sights on college.
“I challenge you to carry what you have learned this summer and continue to hold yourself to the highest standards throughout the academic year,” Lambert said. “Aim high. Be fearless. Stay focused on your dreams and keep high expectations for yourselves. And always, always remember that everyone here at Elon University has faith in you. You are part of the Elon Academy because you are intelligent and strong, and because we believe in you.”
Professor Deborah Long, director of the Elon Academy, welcomed scholars and their families to Whitley Auditorium. She acknowledged the sacrifices made by parents to allow their children to attend the academy, and she recognized both the faculty and the Elon University student mentors who worked with the academy scholars in recent weeks.
“George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘Do not see and ask, “why?” Dream and ask “why not?”’ That is what the Elon Academy is all about – providing deserving young people with the opportunity to make their dreams come true through hard work, perseverance, and the support of those in this room today,” Long said. “Scholars, you have met and exceeded our expectations. We are so very proud of you.”
Celina Dimas-Medina, a senior at Cummings High School in Burlington, N.C., and a member of the Epsilon Class, spoke of her family’s story to find a better life in the United States and her pursuit of an education not available to relatives in Mexico. A recent trip to see family there illustrated how the education she receives today betters her chances for a bright future.
After seeing her cousins drop out of school in Mexico because of finances or pregnancy, she also has realized why her father emphasizes that she always try her best at school.
“My father has been my inspiration to strive for success,” Dimas-Medina said. “Because of my culture, my family and my dedication to further my education, my identity, and the identities of all of us in the Elon Academy, I will continue to grow and develop in positive ways. In the Elon Academy we not only want to fulfill our own dreams for higher education, we also hope to be role models for our younger family members and classmates.”
Elon University students Kelly Coble and Patrick Lynn, both lead mentors this summer for the Elon Academy, offered a tribute to an Epsilon Class that had just concluded its final summer on campus.
“The Epsilons have blazed the trail and set a great example for future scholars,” Coble said. “To all scholars, take leadership roles and know that you have worked hard to earn them. In addition, continue to strive for success in all your endeavors. You will encounter stressful times but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
“Your college search may be trying but with the support system you have already built you will not just survive, but thrive.”
Other features of the closing ceremony included a performance by the Elon Academy Step Team; a photo slideshow of images captured by cameras this summer; and concluding remarks by John Pickett, assistant director of scholar support for the academy.
Earlier in the evening, scholars and their families filled Lindner Hall for a series of presentations in which rising high school seniors in the Epsilon Class read drafts of what will ultimately serve as college admissions essays, and rising high school juniors in the Eta Class discussed the ways in which the Elon Academy is already helping them prepare for the admissions process.
Rising high school sophomores in the Theta Class reflected on a skill they’ve learned after reading Sean Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers.” Parents and siblings attended the presentations on both floors of Lindner Hall in the Academic Village, as did university faculty, staff and administrators, including the president.
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.