During Elon University’s Senior Kickoff celebration, Book encouraged students to enjoy their final year, to remember to give back and to reflect on their time at Elon. University President Connie Book said seeing seniors grow throughout their time at Elon is her favorite part of working in higher education. 

Each year, Elon seniors participate in Senior Giving, a tradition that has been in place for over 100 years to pay it forward for future Elon students. On Aug. 30, Book and members of the senior class Student Government Association spoke at the event to both celebrate the beginning of the school year and introduce Senior Giving. 

Joseph Navin | Elon News Network
Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book speaks to members of the class of 2023 during the Senior Kickoff event in Alumni Gym on Aug. 30.

At the event students celebrated with refreshments, a photo booth and free t-shirts. Book set the intention for the evening and had students look back at their time at Elon.

“If you remember the dreams that you had about what you were to become, when you first were in this room at an open house event or some admission event and you were thinking about when was to come and you might have had a certain job or something like that in your head,” Book said. “And now, several years later, you have a lot more seasoned view.”

Book also said the spirit of this event is giving. While Elon gets most of their money through tuition, Book said endowments are also necessary for scholarships and programs within the university. 

“You probably have engaged with alumni in a class or gone to a speaker or used the Elon Job Network or some other aspects of alumni support for all of you,” Book said. “I think that's one of the great things about Elon is a community keeps engaging, even after graduation and thinking about how can we help and … just thinking about how can we help each other realize our dreams, so it is truly a powerful alumni network that you're about to be a member of in 262 days.”

Grace Clift, senior class senator, introduced Book and said that under Book’s leadership Elon has continued to thrive. Clift also said that Senior Kickoff is not just a fun celebration for seniors, but an important one. 

“It helps create a tradition around giving back to the university and kind of rewarding it for all it gives us,” Clift said. “So providing that opportunity for people and years to follow.”

Senior Kaitlyn McKinnon said that she and her friends decided to come to this event mainly to have a chance to celebrate with her friends.

“We decided to come to this event because it was a great way to kind of start our senior year and remember why we came to Elon and have a beginning to the end,” McKinnon said. 

Joseph Navin | Elon News Network
Lilly Kays, the Senior Class President for the Elon Student Government Association speaks to members of the senior class during the Senior Sendoff event on Aug. 30.

Lily Kays, senior class president, opened the event by challenging students to remember why they came to Elon.

“Think about what you've learned in your three years here so far, your biggest accomplishments and mistakes and the challenging moments that shaped you to the person you are today,” Kays said. “Elon has been a wonderful place for each of us to grow and learn from our classes to clubs to every extracurricular activity, and now we have the opportunity to get back. In addition to celebrating our senior year this event kicks off another reason for the long tradition.”

Kays recalled the nontraditional college experience seniors have endured with COVID-19 and encouraged their classmates to make the most of their senior year. They also said that last year’s senior class had a 52% participation in the senior gift, challenging this year’s seniors to top that. 

“For the past 123 years, members of the senior class have had the opportunity to show our appreciation by getting back to the area of campus that has had the biggest impact on us students,” Kays said. “Each of us will give directly to a major, a student organization, or department, a sports team, an ELR experience or scholarship that helps you be the person you are today. The Elon community has given us so much and following the tradition you're asking all of you to give a gift in honor of our graduation year.”