BackgroundInterview Date:June 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Biracial: Half-Black and Half-White
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Charlotte, North Carolina with about 250 people in my graduating class. There was not a big culture of going to college, but everyone did something after high school, such as working.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: English – Teacher Licensure
Minor: Professional Writing Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a tour guide, a member of Immigrant Realities, Teaching Fellows, and an Odyssey Scholar.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Being a Teaching Fellow and Odyssey Scholar has given me the financial freedom to explore opportunities at Elon. I’ve gotten lots of tips for internships and jobs that I wouldn’t get if I weren’t part of these extracurricular activities.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
I have readings all the time. Last semester I had school placements and volunteered at the village on campus. This wasn’t mandatory, but I did it because it seemed to be expected. We would occasionally have hands-on projects, such as creating a lesson plan.
Is there anything that you feel the English department does especially well or poorly?
Since the English department is small compared to others, we do a good job of keeping each other together. We see each other every day, and there are events the department will sponsor. I feel welcomed into the major, instead of just going through the motion of taking classes.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s really collaborative because it’s a small major. We are all aware that teaching is a difficult job to have, which comes with emotional baggage by working with so many people. We do a good job at making sure each other is okay, and put our mental health first. I’ve never felt I have to compete with people in the major.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
I love all my classes. One of my favorites would be Teaching Literature.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
I feel bad for saying this because I love the professor, but my British Literature class was awkward because I didn’t know anyone and felt like I couldn’t make jokes.
What made you choose your major and minor? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve known I wanted to be in education for a long time. Neither of my parents went to college, and one didn’t graduate high school. My parents instilled my desire for education and a better life. I have a strong passion for college access, so I want to work with high schoolers where I can teach them life lessons and let them know that college is an option for them. I chose English because I love reading and writing.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
Being an Odyssey scholar put me around other first-generation students, and we knew it would be a rough transition. There were monthly meetings that walked us through things such as Greek rush, or even what a syllabus is. Over the summer, we came to Elon before starting as a freshman, and they put a lot of information in our head about what Elon was like, so we didn’t go in blind.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Colonnades Neighborhood with 1 roommate and 2 suitemates
Sophomore: Colonnades Neighborhood with 1 roommate
How was transitioning from Charlotte to Elon, NC?
I’m surprised it wasn’t more difficult because I came from a big city in North Carolina. I had my car, so I could go home if I needed, but I didn’t feel homesick. Having so much at my fingertips in my city, then coming to Burlington was a shift. I didn’t miss the hustle and bustle, because traffic sucks where I am. I looked on the bright side coming to Elon, and it’s beautiful.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve always felt safe on campus. I don’t really go out that much late at night, but when I do, I like to walk. I’ve never felt uncomfortable or unsafe, and because Elon is so small we aren’t connected to a big city where random people can come in. Outside of Elon, I don’t feel as safe at night, but I’m not sure why.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I would just go home. My room is my safe haven where I can go to be alone and not worry about other people. Other than that, I don’t have a specific place I’ll go.
Pros and cons of being in Elon, NC?
1) We are smack in the middle of North Carolina. We aren’t in a big city, but we are so close to Greensboro, Raleigh, the mountains, and the beach. [Elon to Greensboro is about a 25-minute drive, and to Raleigh is an hour.]
1) How small the area is. There is a lot of stigma with Alamance country in general.
2) You can tell where Elon starts, compared to the local community. We have beautiful and expensive buildings, which doesn’t match the surrounding area.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Elon?
I worked a lot at the Taphouse on campus. I spent late nights hosting the events going on. Other than that, I don’t go to real parties or get dressed up. I’ve always been like that, and when it comes to a lot of people in one space I get uncomfortable. I’ll hang out with friends in a dorm, usually low-key things.
What have been some of your favorite times at Elon?
There is a Tea room that opens up on Tuesday and Thursday night and a professor brings in tea from all over the world. There is music playing, along with puzzles to do. One time the university president came and just hung out. It makes my week. After this, we’ll go to late night dining to eat around 10 PM, then just go to bed.
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change?
The nightlife is great for people who are into going out and partying. That is not my thing, so I’ve been happy going to my friends’ houses to play games or going to bed. I wish there were more advertisement on smaller, more low-key events like an open mic night. We’ve had a few of these, but the advertisement isn’t really there.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Most of them were through Odyssey Scholars or Teaching Fellows. I also met them on Facebook before getting to Elon.
How would you describe the social scene at Elon?
People are very friendly at Elon, which must come from the Southern hospitality, even though everyone is from up North. It can get cliquey, especially with being a Fellow and Odyssey Scholar. If you don’t make friends with certain people immediately, it can seem hard to get to know them at all. [Most of Elon’s undergraduate students are from NC, MA, NJ, NY, CT, & MD.]
How would you describe the student body?
Everyone is always busy. Every student is always running somewhere to do something. This kind of ties into how cliquey it is, because if I’m not in an organization with you, or work with you, it’s hard to get to know you.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think different races don’t mix too much. We have Black Student Union events, and we have our spaces that minorities go. It’s the other way around with partying. There are either the White parties or Black functions, but there isn’t a perfect blend. In terms of sexuality, Elon is very accepting as a whole from what I’ve experienced. [17% of Elon’s class of 2022 are students of color.]
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Elon by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Elon?
By senior year, definitely. Last year I knew a lot of people who transferred because of one thing or another. They didn’t enjoy something particularly, and for some, it was the social scene. I think the people that stay are generally happy.
How did being a first-gen student affect your social transition, if at all?
I don’t think it affected my social transition that much. Being in multiple organizations helped, and when people found out I was a first-generation student I was not looked at differently.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not the alumni network, but the Elon Job Network.
Have you used the career office?
I love the career office so much. I use the professional headshot photo services there and talk about my resume. I’ve made connections so when opportunities come up, they email me to let me know.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally through your coursework?
I do want to take a class on Excel but have not yet.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Elon before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how cliquey Elon is and knew how fast organizations clump together.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I wish Elon could do something where they have students come and stay overnight, to get a taste for the culture.
What is something somebody should know that has not been mentioned?
Elon’s study abroad is such a big part of its culture, but it’s not very accessible for certain students because it’s really expensive depending on the program. We are required to go to New Zealand for my cohort, so I was concerned about coming up with the extra money. [78% of Elon students study abroad.]
Reasons to attend Elon:
1) The experiences you get. I don’t know any other education major that can be put in a classroom as a teaching assistant their first year.
2) How welcoming Elon is with exploring classes outside of your major. It lets you discover things you may not have known you would be passionate about.
3) The staff members are genuinely so nice and want you to succeed.
4) You are in a class size of around 20 people, where the professors enjoy hearing what you talk about. [Elon’s average class size is 20 students.]
Reasons to not attend Elon:
1) How homogenous the population is. People are from the North, White, wealthy, and straight. For some students who are the opposite of most of that can get uncomfortable. Some people transferred because they wanted more diversity. [The median family income of a student from Elon is $208,300.]