More than 1,600 incoming students will be welcomed into the Elon community to celebrate the beginning of their university academic careers at New Student Convocation on Aug. 21. 

As students sit under the oaks, they will hear from university speakers, including Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley and University Chaplain Rev. Kirstin Boswell. 

New Student Convocation represents the beginning of a new academic term, and this year it is a time to recognize the resilience of incoming students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Boswell. 

Boswell said speaking in front of a large audience in person is something she has not done very often due to the pandemic. She said she prepared for her speech by trying to immerse herself in the intended audience and gain an understanding of the listeners. 

“My preparation involves sitting and being still and centering and thinking. And then, looking at various readings that I would find inspirational,” Boswell said. 

Freshman Nicole Hill said New Student Convocation is a time for incoming students to meet and feel a sense of community amid being in a new environment. 

“I think it’s a really great thing that Elon does this because I know that at a lot of other schools they just kind of throw you in, but with Elon you definitely get the sense of community right from the start,” Hill said. 

During the ceremony, students will receive an acorn. Emily Krechel, director of New Student and Transitions Programs, said giving incoming students acorns is one of her favorite Elon traditions and represents the growth of a student over the course of their time at Elon. 

“Throughout their Elon journey, it’s like a seed that is going to plant and grow into a mighty Oak,” Krechel said. 

Students receiving an acorn is also significant due to Elon being the Hebrew word for oak, according to Krechel. This tradition continues at commencement when students will receive an oak sapling when they graduate. 

Students at New Student Convocation will be required by the university to wear masks during the ceremony due to the rise of Delta cases. Freshman Ari Turobiner said wearing a mask during the ceremony will help to keep students, faculty and staff safe. 

“I completely get it,” Turobiner said. “Again, I’m also worried about COVID and I want everyone to be safe.” 

Boswell is hopeful this annual university event will remind incoming students to be present in moments around them and bring a sense of unity among the class of 2025. 

“This is going to be unlike any other academic period they have embarked on prior to this,” Boswell said. “And so really wanting them to be present as they go through it, not just kind of go through in a blur, but really try to be present and realize it’s important and also celebration.”