Letter to Elon’s Class of 2017

To the class of 2017:

As you embark on this journey we call college, you are most likely filled with all sorts of emotions. You might feel happiness, excitement, eagerness, and maybe even a little fear. You may already think you know what the “college experience” is all about, both inside and outside the classroom. Whether you plan on majoring in business, joining a particular sorority, or playing club lacrosse, Elon University offers plenty of classes and activities to keep you occupied during your time here. But between cramming for exams and managing your social life, I want to challenge you to make the most of your time here at Elon. And I don’t mean by joining the most clubs or having the best GPA. College is a time of learning and growing, taking risks and discovering who you are. During this time you will learn to be independent, form your own opinions, and truly develop into your own person. As a student that has already spent a fair amount of time here, I ask that you enter Elon with an open mind and with one expectation: to grow, transform, and challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible. Use this knowledge so that you can leave Elon as an engaged, informed, and humble citizen of the world.

Elon’s mission statement is as follows: “We integrate learning across the disciplines and put knowledge into practice, thus preparing students to be global citizens and informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good.” To truly embrace this mission, we must learn to overcome our own personal biases and opinions. Do not let your own personal beliefs overshadow the brilliant ideas shared at this university. College is not just a time to listen and absorb information, it is a time to experiment and challenge preconceived ideas. Please do not take this unique experience for granted, because this kind of opportunity will teach you how to be an engaged learner for the rest of your life.

To truly fulfill Elon’s mission statement, I also ask that you use your time here to develop critical thinking and analytical skills that will make you both a better leader and global citizen. Not all the information you are presented is true, and hardly any of that information comes without some sort of bias. Looking past these biases to reveal the truth is a difficult but necessary task for a global citizen. Therefore, critically examine everything you learn about, not only at Elon, but in all facets of your life. In this way, you will become a more informed member of society.

And lastly, I challenge you to recognize the importance of humility during your time at Elon. This university is home to some of the most privileged people in the entire world. And as future leaders in this country, we have the power to continue an attitude of arrogance, or show others how to have an open mind to different cultures and ways of thinking.  Do not assume your way is the “best” way. Approach all new ideas with a sense of humility.

I believe that if you enter Elon with this kind of attitude, your experience here will be life changing.  You will leave this school with not only a degree, but as a global citizen ready to take on any challenge the future may hold.

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