Class of 2017 gathers for New Student Convocation
An annual ceremony in front of West residence hall offered top Elon University administrators, faculty members and student leaders an opportunity to impart words of wisdom to freshmen starting their collegiate studies.
The Elon University community welcomed freshmen and their families to campus Saturday morning for New Student Convocation, the only time all 1,460-plus students in the Class of 2017 will gather Under the Oaks before they graduate in four years.
Remarks shared by President Leo M. Lambert, other administrators, faculty and the Student Government Association executive president offered the class a roadmap for success during their collegiate studies. Speakers also introduced first-year and transfer students to the expectations, responsibilities and resources made available on a journey intended to mold them into global citizens.
It is now up to the Class of 2017 to make the most of its opportunities, they said.
During the Aug. 24 program, Lambert shared seven themes as he advised students on ways to fully engage with the university, emphasizing themes that reflect Elon University’s values and priorities, encouraging students to find mentors, embrace Elon's community, take advantage of a wide range of opportunities and connect with the Elon network of alumni and parents.
Smith Jackson, vice president for student life and dean of students, and Steven House, provost and vice president of academic affairs, shared information on the Class of 2017 as well as the Elon faculty, and the audience heard remarks from senior Welsford Bishopric, the Student Government Association’s executive president, and Terry Tomasek from the School of Education.
Bishopric greeted students to open the ceremony and described meeting some of the freshmen seated before him earlier in the weekend as they moved into the residence halls.
There was an aspiring editor of the Pendulum student newspaper, a Business Fellow eager to delve into finance, and a young political scientist “gunning for my gig as student body president.” What they had in common, he said, was possessing a clear idea of what they hoped to achieve at Elon University.
“This place attracts people who are not only striving to grow as individuals, but who are eager to be part of something larger that is growing around them. That is happening today. That will happen each and every day you spend here," Bishopric said. "Be part of it. Get involved. Start something new, contribute to something you love, learn about a subject that fascinates you, and don’t take other people’s assumptions as your own.”
Tomasek, an associate professor education, represented the faculty in her greetings to students and parents. She emphasized the four tenets of the Elon Honor Code - honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect - while explaining to the crowd how professors are not your “typical” faculty members.
In addition to their field of study, professors are passionate about the students themselves, Tomasek explained. Elon professors initiate direct, personal interactions while engaging students to help solve problems and tackle difficult concepts or materials together.
“Learning happens everywhere at Elon, not just in the classroom and not just on our campus,” Tomasek said. “Please consider this a personal invitation to join this amazing faculty in undergraduate research, study abroad, study away, internships, leadership and service learning.”
Following the convocation ceremy, students processed through lines of faculty and received an acorn, a traditional gift that symbolizes the promise of an Elon education.
A university tradition is to give the gift of a small oak sapling at Commencement in four years as a symbol of the students’ strength and their ability to be a force for good in the world using an Elon education.