Omolayo Ojo ’15 is fascinated by human migration – the complicated matters of refugees and immigration that often become divisive political issues and impact the lives of millions of people around the world. She developed a passion for studying these questions as an Elon undergraduate, entering the university as an Honors Fellow and a Kenan Scholarship recipient. By her junior year, she was fully immersed in interviewing people about their migration experiences with the support of Elon’s Lumen Prize, the university’s top award for undergraduate research. She also received a David L. Boren Scholarship, which provided financial support for her research. That enabled Ojo to study at the African Language Initiative at the University of Florida and then spend a semester doing research in the African nation of Senegal, talking with people in the Wolof and French languages.
“She looked at these issues in the light of transnationalism, a new approach to thinking about globalization,” said her research mentor, Associate Professor Tom Mould in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “She did many of the things a master’s or Ph.D. student would do for their research—learning the local languages, immersing herself in the local culture, making personal connections with the major scholars in the field—and she did it as an undergraduate.”
In addition to her research, Ojo worked in Elon’s Global Education Center, the Office of the President and the Office of Admissions. She also co-founded Elon’s African Society and was a member of the Periclean Scholars, the Sigma Iota Rho international studies honor society and the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honors society. In 2014 she was named a finalist for the prestigious Truman Scholarship.
Following her graduation in spring 2015, Ojo was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and headed to teach at a high school outside of Paris. She was thrilled at the opportunity to continue her studies in Europe. “France, like the United States, has a complicated history with immigrants, but in a very different way,” Ojo says. “I’m hoping to gain a better understanding of this history, how it manifests today and how it affects the individual lives of students in France.” Ojo intends to enter law school and prepare for a career as an advocate for immigrants around the world.
“From the beginning, Omolayo had her sights set on international work, particularly with respect to refugees and migration,” Mould said. “The Fulbright is an excellent stepping stone for her to continue her work in transnationalism and intercultural contact, whether through law, diplomacy, nonprofit work or research. I am endlessly surprised and impressed by the scope, depth and quality of the work Omolayo does.”
What good is spending $5 on a caramel macchiato when your drink grows cold in just a few minutes on the go?
If you’re a coffee aficionado like Elon University senior Madison Tamblyn, you don’t wonder. You innovate. Then you name your creation the “Maddogg Heat Sleeve” and start winning entrepreneurship competitions.
Tamblyn’s product, which she developed over the past year with help from Elon University’s Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Department of Physics, and the campus Maker Hub, won first place in a Silicon Valley start-up competition. Then in April, she took first place at the Charlotte (N.C.) Venture Challenge, a start-up competition that allowed Tamblyn to pitch her idea to angel and venture capital investors.
Tamblyn entered the San Francisco ElevatorPitch event as part of a Winter Term course, “Innovation in America,” taught by faculty member Scott Kelly. The course included visits to Facebook, Dropbox, Kleiner Perkins, Runway Incubator and Stanford University’s d.school.
The San Francisco entrepreneurship competition consisted of 2-minute pitches. Tamblyn outscored nine other participants, including veteran entrepreneurs and professionals. "It was an amazing feeling to pitch my invention to investors and hear such positive feedback,” said Tamblyn, a management major from Cary, NC.
After her win in Charlotte, Tamblyn said, “It was very empowering to speak to a room of professionals who speak the entrepreneurship language and recognized the potential of my product. The praise and interest in my product was overwhelming.”
Tamblyn developed her product concept last summer and designed prototypes throughout the fall semester while studying entrepreneurship with Professor Kevin O’Mara. She utilized Elon University’s Maker Hub to produce prototypes of the sleeve; Associate Professor Benjamin Evans in the Department of Physics then helped her test prototypes using lab equipment. After nine prototypes, she finalized the Maddogg Heat Sleeve in early January.
“Madison had a vision for what she wanted to design, kept plugging away just like true entrepreneurs must do, and was very willing to put her ideas in front of others for view,” O’Mara said. “She personifies what the Doherty Center is building at Elon."
Every great product needs a great website. Check out: maddoggheatsleeve.com
Michael Bodley ’16 entered Elon with a drive to get the most out of his college experience. He certainly did. Energy applied in and out of the classroom led him to earn bylines for his reporting for The Baltimore Sun, Carnegie-Knight News21, The Washington Post, USA Today and NBC News. And the payoff to those efforts was his selection for a post-grad internship at The Boston Globe and the honor of an elite Hearst Journalism Fellowship. After working this summer at the Globe he will enter the two-year post-graduate reporting program with Hearst that includes rotations at two top metro newspapers.
Only four student journalists across the country were selected for this year’s Hearst program.
Bodley entered Elon as a Communications Fellow and immediately began working to excel as a writer and editor. He rose through the ranks to become editor-in-chief of The Pendulum, Elon’s student newspaper. The paper was awarded the 2015 Associated Collegiate Press Online Pacemaker Award under his leadership. He also won a national first-place Breaking News Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and his work has placed nationally in Hearst reporting competitions.
In reflecting on Bodley’s work at The Pendulum, Colin Donohue, coordinator of student media, recalled the wide range of his stories and his drive to bring about campus change. “Michael thinks critically, analyzes deeply and inquires intently,” Donohue said. “Michael is fair and even-handed, but he’s not afraid to ask difficult questions and pursue challenging stories.”
Bodley’s excellence in journalism course assignments and in his work for The Pendulum opened the doors to a summer internship covering business news for the Baltimore Sun the summer after his sophomore year. Next came Elon’s decision to fund his bid to participate in the Carnegie-Knight News21 Initiative, a summer investigative reporting program hosted at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. There he earned more bylines than any other reporter and his work was published by the Washington Post and NBC News.
As a senior, Bodley was invited to join a documentary journalism team organized by Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center, traveling to Brazil to interview scores of world technology experts at the 2015 Internet Governance Forum, which is organized by the United Nations. He followed that as one of two Elon University journalists funded to do a special reporting project in Ireland during Winter Term 2016 under the auspices of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He also worked as a collegiate correspondent for USA Today.
In recognition of his outstanding work, Bodley was selected by the School of Communications faculty to receive the Outstanding Senior in Journalism award for 2015-16.
“I have spent more than 17 years mentoring students at Elon University and few I have met have the maturity, the drive for journalism and the news reporting capabilities Michael has developed,” said Janna Anderson, professor of communications and director of Imagining the Internet. “We have great hopes for the future of journalism and of democracy with people with his talent and intellect working diligently to serve the public good.”
Elon’s McMichael Science Center labs became a second home for biology major Zachary Fisher ’16. Almost every day he was there working on his Lumen Prize research with Associate Professor of Biology and Japheth E. Rawls Professor Yuko Miyamoto. Since Fisher first started studying the molecular signaling role of fibroblast activation protein in cancer cell migration, Miyamoto was by his side guiding every step of his research journey.
“She has helped me learn to develop focused research questions, experiment with techniques to get successful lab results and most recently present my research story to audiences,” Fisher says. So far, the biology major has been able to verify the presence of the protein on a cell line—taken from a non-affected region of a cancer patient—he purchased for his project. He has also gathered data that indicate the protein is related to signaling in cancer, making it a significant target for future research and cancer therapies.
Fisher was an Elon Honors Fellow and was chosen to present his impressive research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the American Association for Cancer Research conference.
Outside academic conversations, Dr. Miyamoto and Fisher often discuss his non-science interests, which revolve around his passion for service, career and life goals. Having such an ally has been priceless. “Dr. Miyamoto has been a terrific mentor, academically, professionally and personally,” he says. “I feel that I can share all my thoughts and concerns with her, which is an invaluable quality in a mentor. She truly embodies the Elon professor model as a teacher, researcher and mentor.”
During his undergraduate experience, Fisher built an impressive resume of volunteer service, working at the Open Door Clinic of Alamance County, co-directing Elon’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and tutoring refugee children at The Center for New North Carolinians. Following his passion for service, Fisher will spend the next year as a Graduate Fellow working with the Alamance County Health Department through the Elon-Alamance Health Partners program. Following that experience, he’s planning to enter medical school and prepare to work as a physician in North Carolina, with a special interest in public health.
When Kathleen Hupfeld ’16 begins her graduate studies in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Michigan this fall, she will bring along an extensive resume of undergraduate research. Based on her outstanding work over the past four years, Hupfeld was selected to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP), providing three years of financial support.
Hupfeld majored in exercise science with a neuroscience minor. She conducted research on motor control (how the brain controls our abilities to move) and motor learning (how the brain learns new movements) with her mentor, Caroline Ketcham, associate professor and chair of exercise science. Using a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, Hupfeld and Ketcham studied the impact of the stimulation on motor skills, language and cognitive abilities.
“This NSF Graduate Fellowship Award is a testament to Kathleen’s scholarly work and future in motor neuroscience,” Ketcham said. “Her research has led to four publications and several more presentations, and is cutting-edge and extraordinary for an undergraduate student. Kathleen is a student who has found and made the most of every opportunity Elon has to offer. Mentoring a student who finds passion and humility in the process of science and from impacting and being impacted by others is truly rewarding. It has been an honor to work with her and I look forward to having her as a colleague for years to come.”
Hupfeld was a Kenan Scholar, Lumen Scholar and an Elon Honors Fellow. She received the Elon University Powell Scholar award and a Trey Halker Memorial Scholarship. She was a four-time recipient of the GEBA Scholarship Foundation Academic Scholarship and received the Credit Union Foundation of Maryland and DC scholarship for three years.
Hupfeld also served as vice president of Phi Eta Sigma and is a member Phi Beta Kappa, Psi Chi, Kappa Omicron Nu, and Phi Kappa Phi national honor societies. During her career at Elon, she studied abroad for a semester at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, and also studied in India and Ghana.
During her time at Elon, Hupfeld worked as a medical scribe in the neurology department of Burlington’s Kernodle Clinic. She also volunteered her time with the Special Olympics of Alamance County as a swim coach and is a member of Elon Buddies. Her volunteer work with those projects, along with her work with the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center and the Open Door Clinic of Alamance County inspired her interest in how motor control processes differ in the brains of those with disabilities.
Hupfeld intends to earn her doctorate and become a professor, conducting research and teaching young scientists.
Shakori Fletcher ’16 remembers arriving on campus as a first-year student and feeling inspired by the drive, dedication and passion of faculty, staff, students and alumni. “It’s as if college being a time to find yourself takes on a new meaning at Elon,” she says. “There are always incredible stories of how someone perfectly found their niche and is excelling in the perfect marriage of their passions and abilities.”
As a major in broadcast and new media in Elon’s School of Communications, Fletcher also wanted to pick up a broad range of education in other fields. She minored in professional sales in Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and also picked up a statistics minor so she would have the skills to succeed in areas of analytical focus, such as media strategy and business development.
These experiences emboldened Fletcher to combine her passion for business, media and sales and create her own path. She served as a Diversity Ambassador and interned in the Office of Admissions, worked as a writer and editor in the Office of University Communications and served as a sales associ¬ate for The Pendulum, Elon’s student newspaper.
Fletcher turned her passion for success in sales into a competitive sport and joined the Chandler Family Professional Sales Center Team, taking part in many regional and national sales competitions. She took first place in the 2015 BSU Regional Sales Competition at Ball State University and was named first runner-up in the October 2014 University of Wisconsin Great Northwoods Sales Warm-Up Challenge.
“Sales competitions provide a unique opportunity to obtain simulated real-world sales experience while still an undergraduate student, which is incredibly valuable as it allows you to be one step ahead in preparation for a career in sales,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher’s first real-world sales experience came during the summer of 2014 when she served as an Inside Sales Intern for the Boston-based technology company EMC Corporation. In 2015, Fletcher was selected for the prestigious Summer Fellowship by the International Radio and Television Society Foundation, which selects 30 students from across the nation to work with New York-based media corporations. The program included a “media boot camp” with sessions at CBS, The New York Times, Google, Facebook and HBO, among others. Through the program, Fletcher served as an Advertising Sales Intern with NBCUniversal, working on direct response advertisements among all cable properties, including Oxygen, E! Entertainment, Bravo and MSNBC. Networking throughout the Fellowship Program with key players in the media industry also led to the opportunity for Fletcher to serve as an Advertising Sales Intern with Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, GA during the 2016 Winter Term, where she worked with the Entertainment group to facilitate the sales process for TBS and TNT advertisements.
Additionally, Fletcher represented Elon both globally and nationally. She completed a semester abroad in Alicante, Spain, and conducted communications research with the Imagining the Internet Center in Berlin, Germany. She was selected to present that research at the 2014 National Conference of Undergraduate Research. In the local community, Fletcher served as a public speaking coach for a program she created at the Burlington Housing Authority. On campus, she also serves as vice-president of Elon’s circle of the Leadership Honors Society, Omicron Delta Kappa.
Fletcher’s success and campus leadership won the attention of Elon alumni. The Elon Black Alumni Network honored her with its 2013 scholarship award, which annually honors one African-American student for an impact on the Elon community.
“My time at Elon has taught me to focus on doing the things that matter, for reasons that matter,” Fletcher says. “It’s about find¬ing your passions, chasing your passions and diving in headfirst at the sight of things that you truly believe will make a difference.”
Following graduation, Fletcher has accepted a post-graduate internship with the Los Angeles, CA-based Television Academy Foundation, the governing body for the Emmy Awards. She will report directly to HBO Entertainment and serve as an intern within the Business and Legal Affairs department. Fletcher’s career goal is to serve the media industry through executive-level leadership.
Christian Seitz ’16 came to Elon with the will to change the world through scientific discovery. Through multiple undergraduate research projects at Elon, Caltech and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, he has managed to do just that.
After his first semester, Seitz was invited to enroll in Chemistry 112, a special course for the top 15 first-year chemistry students. He dove into research and was awarded the Lumen Prize, Elon’s top award for undergraduate research and creative achievement, along with a Glen Raven scholarship for undergraduate research. His two-year research project explored enolate anions, important molecules in organic chemistry containing oxygen and carbon.
During his research, he learned why other molecules are more attracted to the oxygen molecule in the enolate anion than the carbon molecule in the enolate anion. His work could allow future researchers to improve paints and plastics, make cheaper rubber and reduce greenhouse gases.
Seitz was one of 400 students selected out of 5,000 applicants for the 2015 Amgen Scholarship program. Organized by top faculty at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, the program facilitates undergraduate research at esteemed universities across the nation. Seitz conducted research at the California Institute of Technology, one of the world’s leading chemistry research institutions, where he studied the 3D structure of molecular bases within the human nose that allow humans to detect scent.
“The fact that I went to what’s easily regarded as one of the top chemistry universities in the world is something that’s still very hard to believe,” he said. “This program immersed me with some of the brightest minds around, stimulating my own intellectual curiosity and motivating me to do whatever it takes to become a top chemist.”
Seitz applied lessons learned at Elon to his research at Caltech. “His project built off of prior knowledge and experience that he gained while here, both in his coursework and in his research with me conducting computational chemistry studies,” said associate professor Joel Karty, Seitz’s Lumen Prize mentor.
Seitz also spent a summer conducting research at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, where he performed polymer syntheses to improve cancer treatment with a team of graduate students studying interactive materials. He has presented his research twice at both the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research and the American Chemical Society national meeting.
In addition to his passion for chemistry, Seitz identifies himself as “Elon’s only French-speaking superstar chemistry tutor and violin virtuoso.” He was inducted into Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honor Society, and was an alternate for a Fulbright Scholar award.
Seitz will enroll this fall in a doctoral program in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Diego, working to design drugs for rare diseases.
Taylor Glenn ’16 freely admits it. She’s ultra competitive. So it wasn’t enough for the biochemistry major to be admitted to one medical school. She was accepted at three, with the admissions committees at those schools no doubt impressed that this student attacked her academics with the same intensity that she brought to competition as a varsity soccer athlete.
Glenn is that special student-athlete who could manage the demands of a Division I program along with an intense research focus in her academic work. She entered Elon as an Honors Fellow and as recipient of the Jane Macon Baird Scholarship, which supports pre-med students at Elon. By the summer of her sophomore year she was in the lab beginning research on an organic chemistry project as part of her honors thesis. For two and a half years, she studied the reactions between an enzyme, estrogen hormones and DNA, which are known to cause breast cancer.
“Before scientists can find a cure, they need to understand why these reactions take place. And before that, we have to understand how they happen,” Glenn says in describing the molecular science she is conducting. Working on research titled, “Investigating the Oxidation of Β-Estradiol By Lactoperoxidase and its Effects on DNA Nucleotides,” Glenn made presentations on her findings at two Student Undergraduate Research Forums and at the conference of the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS).
Glenn’s research was guided by her faculty mentor, Kathryn Matera, associate professor of chemistry. “Taylor has always wanted to be a doctor, and she has approached that goal with focus, determination and hard work,” Matera says. “She managed to juggle her many commitments as a biochemistry major and varsity athlete while also working on a Honors thesis and studying abroad twice. She is truly an example of an Elon student who has done it all!”
Glenn has always been interested in medicine, and she has had an equal passion throughout her life for athletics. Her father, who is a physician, was a soccer player in college and continued in the sport as a coach for his five children. Taylor is the oldest and decided to join the Phoenix team as a walk-on her freshman year. By her senior year, she was named team captain and had competed in a total of 74 matches over four years of play.
“Taylor was one of the more driven players I’ve seen at the college level,” says Chris Neal, head women’s soccer coach. “Her work ethic, both during and outside of regular practices, was inspirational. She inspired her teammates with her love of the game.”
Glenn’s love of athletics, and the competitive spirit that is inherent in sports, helped form her career goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Although she is open to all opportunities, her dream job would be as a physician for a professional sports team. “I love working with athletes,” Glenn says. “After an injury, their determination to get healthy again is incomparable. I love the operating room – it’s my new soccer field. Every time you walk in for surgery, it’s game day.”
It’s hard to believe that Glenn had time for anything beyond research and athletics, but at Elon, there’s always room for more. She studied abroad during two winter terms, traveling to Peru and Greece, then joined her soccer teammates for a study abroad course in Costa Rica. Glenn served as co-editor of a book the team published on their experience in that country.
The Medical College of Georgia, one of the nation’s top 10 largest medical schools, is Glenn’s next destination as she pursues her goal of becoming an influential physician.