Celebrate Periclean

Once a year, Pericleans and mentors of all classes come together in an event aptly named Celebrate Periclean. It’s a wonderful opportunity for each cohort to share victories, discoveries, advice, and challenges they’ve faced in the past year. The 17’s playfully described the trials and tribulations of the first semester as Pericleans, while the rest of the audience laughed along and empathized with each frustration. The 16’s shared their recent endeavors into appropriately vetting partners and proudly relayed the successes of their recently hosted Periclean in Residence program. Finally, the 15’s, now a seasoned cohort of bright and hardworking students, sympathized with all the road blocks the other classes had faced while still managing to inspire. In their final year, they have come together and recently hosted an amazing week dedicated to raising awareness for their cause in Haiti, human trafficking, known there as Restavek. While the three classes represent three very different stages of the Periclean experience, many of the speeches rang true with similar themes of hard work, frustration, passion, humility, and curiosity.

No one better knew these experiences than Samantha White, our keynote speaker for the evening. A 2006 alumna of both Elon and the Periclean Scholars program, she truly embodies what it means to be a Periclean in the years following graduation as she went on to work for the Global Health Corps and implement amazing projects in Malawi. Now, she works for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in Seattle,  and it was an incredible honor to listen to her charming and personable advice. She shared perhaps her most salient anecdote when she urged us to “find our pig.” This all made sense when she explained that this came from a story about a woman who had a yard full of pigs that she loved and defended no matter the criticism she received from the community. In other words, Samantha reminded us that we need to cling to our passions. It may not always make sense, and there may be others who don’t agree with us, but so long as we pursue that passion, we can do amazing things.

Sam and her pig

Sam and her pig

As a Periclean herself, she must have known how much we needed to hear that message. It can feel at times that every opportunity eventually turns into a dead end, or that our efforts to create a project often stagnate. However, we must remind ourselves that we joined this program due to our passion for service and global citizenship. The 15’s inspired us to know that no matter how tough the middle years may be, we will emerge with an amazing contribution and a mind filled with new, invaluable knowledge. Soon enough, the 17’s will be up on that stage themselves relating their successes to a new and nervous cohort of 19’s.

From all those involved in the Periclean Scholars program, I want to relate a huge thank you to anyone who had a hand in making this a beautiful and successful evening that truly did celebrate Periclean.

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