By Wyatt Crosher, Assistant Director of Communications for Student Affairs
Morgan Owings, Nikki Westlake and Jayesh Jain were chosen as the bell ringers for UNC Charlotte’s 2023 Fall Commencement, which takes place on Friday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 16.
The bell ringer performs the longstanding tradition of ringing the Charlotte "victory bell", which was gifted to Ms. Bonnie Cone in 1961 when Charlotte College moved from its old site at Central High School to the current UNC Charlotte location. Students chosen as bell ringers have demonstrated exemplary 49er spirit within organizations, volunteerism and/or service to others.
Morgan Owings — 10 a.m., Dec. 15
Owings is graduating from the Belk College of Business as a finance major with a concentration in real estate.
She has been active throughout her time at Charlotte, becoming vice president of the Charlotte Business Club and secretary of the Charlotte Consulting and Advisory Club. Owings has also volunteered for the Haunted Union and presented at the Student Organization Leadership Development (SOLD) Institute.
This was all done in a shorter span than many University students. Owings transferred into Charlotte in the middle of her undergraduate career, but has still found a way to make a major impact during her tenure.
“As a transfer student, I have only been at UNC Charlotte for two and a half years, but I'm proud of everything I got to accomplish and the organizations I was involved with in my short time here,” Owings said in her bell ringer application. “I am endlessly thankful for the opportunities I've had at UNC Charlotte, and I hope I can share this pride and thankfulness through the bell ringer position.”
Owings said this graduation, and becoming a bell ringer, will mean even more considering it will be unlike anything she experienced when graduating high school.
“Having graduated high school in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, I've never participated in a conventional graduation ceremony where you walk across a stage and more importantly my family, the people I look up to the most, never got to experience that day with me,” she said. “Because of this, it would be an honor to be a part of the ceremony in a special way.”
Nikki Westlake — 3 p.m., Dec. 15
Westlake is graduating Charlotte from the College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences as a communications major with a concentration in publications, and minors in sociology and writing, rhetoric and digital studies.
Coming into the University as a first-generation student, Westlake got involved through Transition & Success Initiatives (TSI), where she worked as a transition student coordinator. She is also a member of the Executive Leadership Program and is on the social media team for the Popp Martin Student Union and Cone University Center.
Westlake wrote in her bell ringer application about the growth she has experienced at the University.
“I have grown tremendously since applying to UNC Charlotte. I am more confident in myself and my abilities as a student and individual,” Westlake said. “I still have a lot to learn that will come with time and experience, but I can proudly say that UNC Charlotte has positively shaped who I am today.”
Westlake also emphasized how much she feels she learned during her time at Charlotte, both in the classroom and about herself.
“By putting myself in new situations I've grown to become more willing to do things that make me nervous. While I planned to be involved during my time here, I didn't account for the time management skills I would need to acquire to be successful,” Westlake said. “Being selected as the bell ringer at commencement would represent the culmination of the progress I've made at Charlotte and the success I've achieved for myself academically and personally.”
Jayesh Jain — 10 a.m., Dec. 16
Jain is a graduate student, leaving the University with a master of science in mathematical finance, with a concentration in risk management.
During his time at Charlotte, Jain joined a variety of programs both inside and outside of the University. He participated in TRUIST Bank’s Immersive Learning Experience, worked as a graduate research and teaching assistant, and is the equities portfolio head for Charlotte’s Investment Club.
“Throughout my time at UNC Charlotte, I've actively sought diverse and enriching experiences beyond the classroom,” Jain said. “As a bell ringer, I aspire to symbolize the spirit of exploration, lifelong learning and making a meaningful impact within and beyond the academic realm, inspiring fellow graduates to do the same.”
Jain also emphasized the wide range of skill sets he was able to gain from his time at Charlotte, as well as what he was able to give back to the University.
“I believe my diverse experiences, unwavering commitment to academic excellence, community building and school spirit, as well as my leadership roles within academic and extracurricular activities, uniquely qualify me to be a bell ringer at our commencement ceremony,” Jain said.