Welcome to Elon, Class of 2026! I want to be one of the first to welcome you to Elon and wish you a smooth transition. As you have stepped onto campus, you are planting so many seeds of growth for your time here. And the idea of that can be both exciting and nerve racking. 

Being a first-year in college is a unique experience, and I personally will not forget my first year. This is a big step, and I can relate to those worrisome feelings. I was quick to find out that my expectations of college were quite different from the reality of being at Elon. I envisioned myself being in an episode of A Different World, with a lot of new friends and close knit community.

But instead I was nervous, struggled to find friendships and I thought I was failing at “doing college.” I truly felt like I was on a different planet all alone. With patience and stepping out of my comfort zone, I began to blossom and open up. I danced to my own beat and made my path at Elon. This time it was all about me being in the moment and accepting instead of focusing on who I thought I should be. Happily, I made connections with my peers, formed great friendships and found a place with people that I could relate to in the Black Student Union, CREDE and the African Diaspora LLC.

My experience was different from my roommate, people in my class and my friends from home. And your experience is likely to be different from mine. We are coming all from different backgrounds and have found ourselves in the same place, so always remind yourself that you are never alone. Carve your own path, be daring, patient and don’t forget that you have so many people around you to serve as your support system. 

So please, enjoy yourself, get involved and take some time to connect with others! The connections I have made in my years at Elon have been the most impactful. Take up space, don’t be afraid to walk into rooms for events, wave on your walks from class and just be yourself. You are going to be amazing. Welcome and good luck!