It started in 2007 with a few coins. Three years later, apples appeared. Since then, there have been notes, flowers and various fruits left at the statue of Minerva, all serving as offerings intended to bring good fortune and even better grades.

Now, for the first time in UNCG history, alumni are getting involved. This week, students won’t have to bring their own apples to the statue in hopes of acing their exams. Instead, the UNCG Alumni Association has donated more than 100 apples for students to offer to Minerva, many of which include a note of encouragement or sage words of advice from GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) alumni.

Apples will be placed in a basket beside the statue, and students are invited to offer an apple and take a note for good luck.

“Relax. Reflect. Remind yourself that you are an extension of all you have learned,” said one note written by an anonymous alumnus.

Another letter of encouragement quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt: “When you get to the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

“We wanted to send our love and well wishes to students, and this seemed like a great way to do it,” said Sarah Kathryn Coley, associate director of annual giving and alumni engagement. “We know how stressful it can be to prepare for exams – we’ve all been there before. We want students to know that the UNCG Alumni Association supports them.”

While apples, apple juice, coins and other items can be spotted at the statue throughout the year, students take the tradition even more seriously during exams. In December of 2013, a whopping 130 apples surrounded the base of the statue.

The history of Minerva on campus dates back to 1892, when founder Dr. Charles Duncan McIver decided that the Roman goddess of wisdom and women’s arts would be an appropriate symbol for the school. Beginning with the first diploma in 1893, the head of Minerva has appeared on every diploma awarded by the institution. Today’s Minerva statue, sculpted by artist James Barnhill in 2003 after the old statue became damaged beyond repair, sits in the east courtyard of the Elliott University Center.


Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations
Photography by Morgan Glover, University Relations