I was first introduced to Elon University’s E-Rides program this fall. The transportation program — offered from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Thursdays, and from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays — takes students across campus and to locations within a one-and-a-half mile radius from the Moseley Student Center. It is an extension of the on-campus hospitality program promoted at Elon. 

I first met Mike, an E-Rides driver, on the third day of using the service. He greeted me with a warm smile. We engaged in a simple conversation, as most people do when they first meet. He briefly told me about his family, his love for motorcycles and he inquired about my day. I thanked him for taking me to my place of residence and we parted ways for several days. 

Ever since that early interaction, Mike has become more than a driver to me — he has become an adviser, someone in whom I can confide.  

When I fret about my academic course load, he regularly imparts his wisdom, reassuring me that everything will be fine. His genuine interest in my well-being on campus is something I attribute to the community Elon staff members cultivate. 

I have met several individuals like Mike — Elon staff members who care about students and want us to succeed. With time, they remember our names, take note of our personalities and can sense our mood. They respond to our fatigued and despondent looks with positive and kind eyes. Even though our meetings are brief, the staff members I encounter still manage to leave a lasting impression on my day. 

The first person to take note of my writing for Elon News Network worked in dining services. I received positive feedback from her, which inspired me to continue writing. She only mentioned it once, but I will remember it for a long time. 

These hardworking individuals each share the position of influencing our experiences over four years. The staff make up so many moving parts of the system that is Elon.

The staff take care of our residences, our classrooms. 

They provide meals for us. 

They transport us from place to place. 

They care about us. I care about them, too.

They are like our guardian angels, protectors, so to speak. 

They see us at our lowest moments, and at our proudest moments, too. 

They know us even before we know them.

When we are ready to depart this place, they will have seen our full transformations — from freshman to senior year. 

I wouldn’t know Elon without them. 

To the entire staff, I’d like to extend my sincerest gratitude for all you have done for this community. Without you, Elon would not run as a well-oiled machine. Thank you for taking care of the moving parts so we can continue to grow as individuals eager to learn and try to do good. 

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I encourage the entire student body to pause and thank these guardian angels for their service to our Elon community.