Updated as of Aug. 21, 2021 at 11:48 a.m. to include video from the event.

Students passed by the old Main Bell in the Alamance building as they made their way to New Student Convocation. Over 1,600 freshmen and 70 transfer students from 43 states and 23 countries sat in the rows of chairs, Under the Oaks, where convocation took place for the first time since 2019. 

In the crowd, 85 members of the class of 2025 are siblings of current or former Elon University students. Twenty two students are children or grandchildren of alumni. In the class of 2025, 155 students will be the first in their family to go to college and 34 are members of the inaugural cohort of nursing students. 

“Each one of the new students seated before us today arrives with significant accomplishments and abilities,” said Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley to the crowd before him.

Jack Corby welcomes students

As he prepared to address nearly 1,700 freshmen and transfer students, Student Government Association President Jack Corby said he struggled to find the words to welcome the class of 2025 to Elon University. 

“I looked at poems to read, movies to quote, and thought to myself, what can I even say for this class that would help them? What could I even offer them as guidance?” Corby said. 

Corby settled on a quote from author J.M. Barie’s beloved character, Peter Pan.

“Peter Pan once said, ‘to live would be an awfully big adventure,’” Corby said.

Student Government Association, Student body President Jack Corby, waving to the crowd before his speech at New Student Convocation, Aug 2021

Many of the students in the crowd finished their high school careers during the pandemic, amid online school and virtual graduation ceremonies. While students are entering the classroom this fall with masks for the first two weeks — all students, faculty, staff and visitors were required to wear masks for New Student Convocation, many in the crowd did not — Corby spoke to overcoming the challenges in the last 18 months and moving forward throughout their four years at Elon.

“Appreciate your college journey. Enjoy the time you have here in the moment,” Corby said. “And never stop living — it is a great adventure.”

President Connie Book Speaks to Class of 2025

When President Connie Book took the stage to welcome the class of 2025, she glanced at them and said “you are our hope.”

Book spoke about the importance of education and students expanding their knowledge during the course of their academic careers at Elon. To do this, she said the class of 2025 should “grow deep roots and reach high.”

Book also addressed parents and families of the class of 2025, discussing the significance of changing seasons. She compared the incoming class starting their academic careers at Elon to a “bittersweet” changing season.

“While each season brings new guests, on days like today, the changing of the season can feel bittersweet class of 2025,” Book said.

Kyra O'Connor | Elon News Network
President Connie Book stands with her eyes closed as Rev. Kristin Boswell prays at new student convocation on Aug. 21, 2021.

She addressed the importance of giving awareness to sexual violence on college campuses and said “Elon is not immune.” She said the community, including students, faculty and staff, need to work together to stop sexual violence and the university “will not tolerate it.”

Book lastly challenged incoming students to think about the “what” questions. She carried the weight of “wait, what,” “now, what” and “what is,” throughout her speech. 

“Questioning and seeking to understand the knowledge on the other side of the word ‘what’ is the beginning of the rest of the world,” Book said.

Randy Williams highlights three members of the Class of 2025

Randy Wiliams, vice president and associate provost for inclusive excellence, introduced three members of the class of 2025, highlighting each students’ past achievements and experiences

“The class of 2025 is an incredibly diverse, well rounded, talented and compassionate group of students,” Williams said. 

Freshman Katherine Scott from Villanova, Pennsylvania comes to Elon as the only female EMT volunteer in her community. 

Williams said Scott, who plans to major in philosophy, “finds joy in helping others.”

Scott has also aided those transitioning out of homelessness working with Project HOPE and has served as a student leader, promoting healthy conversations surrounding mental health and physical wellness with SpeakUp! 

Joseph Navin | Elon News Network

Randy Williams, the Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence spoke at new student convocation on Aug 21. 

Freshman Luke Alessi comes to Elon from New York City and plans to major in entrepreneurship. Williams highlighted Alessi’s work investigating the negative impact of e-cigarettes on youth. 

Williams called Alessi “a change maker in his community.” 

Alessi founded SAVe: Students Against Vaping E-cigarettes and met with the mayor of NYC who signed legislation to ban flavored e cigarettes that same day. 

“Luke’s efforts will have lasting impacts,” Williams said. 

Williams also highlighted Belle Sousa from Providence, Rhode Island who plans to join Elon’s inaugural nursing degree cohort and nursing scholars program

Sousa has won gymnastic state championships and played varsity tennis, but Williams said her passion didn’t end there. 

“She rounded off her time following another passion of hers, healthcare, holding multiple leadership positions in various state and national health organizations,” Williams said. 

Sousa has led conversations surrounding mental health and substance abuse in her community, and was selected to represent her high school in Washington D.C. at the Community Anti-Drug Coalition to receive leadership training for substance misuse prevention.