School of Communication

Meet the 2009 Communications Fellows

The School of Communications welcomes its 2009 class of Journalism and Communications Fellows. Fellows wrote their own mini biographies, which you can read below.

Stephanie Alvarez was born and raised by Dominican parents in the Washington, D.C., area. She graduated from The Potomac School in McLean, Va. Her grandfather, who was the editor of one of the most circulated newspapers in the Dominican Republic, inspired her to study communications. As a senior in high school, Stephanie served as assistant to the editor of her school's independently run newspaper, Common Sense, and she took a nonfiction writing course as her English elective. Stephanie is fluent in Spanish, French and English, and she is currently learning Portuguese. As foreigners, her parents have always emphasized the importance of traveling abroad, so she has been able to practice her language skills with native speakers outside of the classroom. Other than the Romantic languages, Stephanie's passion is photography, and she hopes that her future career will involve both of her interests. Stephanie is very intrigued by journalism and corporate communications, but cares most about selecting a major (or double major) that will prepare her for a career as a public relations representative or a translator. Her dream job, though, would be to work for National Geographic, traveling the world, writing about her experiences and taking photographs. Stephanie is ecstatic about attending Elon, and looks forward to taking advantage of all the opportunities being a Journalism and Communications Fellow has to offer.

Will Anderson is from Chapel Hill, N.C. In high school, he participated on the swimming and tennis teams, was treasurer of Student Government and was a member of National Honor Society. In the summer of 2008, Will had the opportunity to produce his school system’s 100th anniversary video, which later won a National School Public Relations Honorable Mention Award. This summer he interned on the television crew for the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team and for a film production company just outside Chapel Hill. Will plans on majoring in communications with a focus on cinema. Will says, “Elon was my top choice because I was impressed by its faculty, facilities, internship opportunities and connections to the industry.”
Read Will Anderson's blog at

Christian Binder is from Charlottesville, Va. He graduated from The Covenant School with High Academic Distinction and as a member of Covenant's Honor Society. Among his activities, he spent two years each on Student Council and Honor Council. He also played trumpet in the symphonic and jazz b for five years, as well as performing in three plays and doing audio/visual work for three more. Christian also plays guitar and sings. After spending five years as the sound technician for the Chapel Music Team at Covenant, he stepped in front of the microphone as the lead singer and guitarist for the team during his senior year. Christian became involved in his school's journalism program during his junior year as a sports writer, covering school sports and professional sports alike. During his senior year, he earned the position of sports editor for Covenant's newspaper, The Swoop. Christian also has experience in cinema. Christian also took an interest in film, when he took an extracurricular class with a local professional filmmaker. Christian is already involved at Elon as a blogger for WSOE and he plans to get involved with several sports talk shows. Christian's true passion is sports and he hopes to one day be an anchor on ESPN's SportsCenter.

Leigh Burgess left the small town of Madison, N.J., to pursue a major in Strategic Communications with a minor in Spanish at Elon. At Madison High School, Leigh was involved in many different activities, most notably “Alembic,” the high school's yearbook. Serving as literary editor and creative director and working with designs and layouts solidified her decision to study communications and made her interested in an advertising design or publication career. Also while in high school, Leigh volunteered as an EMT for Morris Minute Men Emergency Medical Services. Although she is not interested in the medical field, Leigh loves first aid and takes great pride in the kit she has assembled for her dorm in the Communications Learning Community. A lover of music, photography and anything related to pop culture, Leigh hopes to be a part of SUB, FreshTV and a radio program. Aside from the beautiful campus and warm climate, Leigh is looking forward to engaging classes and the hands-on teaching/learning approach professors seem to embrace at Elon. She cannot wait to explore all that Elon has to offer.
Read Leigh Burgess' blog at

Heather Cassano is from Reisterstown, Md., an area just outside of Baltimore. In high school she participated in a number of organizations including field hockey, peer education and her high school's literary magazine. She was also the co-head of the senior prom committee. She's not sure in what area of communications to focus, but she knows she has a passion for photography. Heather also has an interest in people and foreign cultures. She hopes to combine both of her interests to become a photojournalist and realize her dream of working as a photographer for National Geographic. Heather is extremely excited to be a Communications Fellow and wants to take advantage of everything Elon has to offer. She is looking forward to studying abroad, working for the Pendulum, participating in FreshTV and meeting lots of new people.

Sarah Dodge is from Holliston, Mass. Throughout high school Sarah was a student producer at her local cable station. Though her roles varied, her favorites included producing, directing and editing her senior class video yearbook, as well as being a teacher's assistant in a communications class during her senior year. Additionally, she was involved in winter and spring varsity track, Model United Nations, National Honor Society, theater tech crew, cycling and chorus. During her years at Elon, Sarah plans on pursuing a variety of activities on campus including student media, service organizations, study abroad and athletics. Sarah says that she “loves the Elon community and all that it has to offer.”
Read Sarah Dodge's blog at

Sean Dolan hails from Wilmington, Del., where he graduated from the Charter School of Wilmington. During his four years in high school, Sean participated in several clubs and organizations, including the school newspaper, Model Un, and Improv Club. Additionally he was an avid swimmer and guitarist. His experience in communications ranges from grade school declamation contests to an award-winning newspaper editorial. He currently is leaning towards broadcast journalism as his major, potentially with a minor or double major in history. In his four years at Elon, Sean hopes to join the club swim team, continue to develop his guitar skills and become and active participant in WSOE, "Phoenix14 News" and ESTV. He eagerly looks forward to the challenges and opportunities he will experience through the Fellows program at Elon.
Read Sean Dolan's blog at

Brent Edwards is from Mount Holly, N.C. His first starring role was as Godzilla, as he terrorized the plastic villagers surrounding his grandma’s Christmas tree while his grandpa captured the magic on a VHS tape. Since that time, he has developed a keen interest in the world of film and plans to major in Media Arts and Entertainment, with a focus in cinema. During high school, Brent was active in the mock trial program and helped his community through the Interact Club. In addition, he was a member of the Beta Club, and he had poetry published in the school’s literary journal. Brent was drawn to Elon after the very first visit. “Everything sort of fell into place,” Brent says. “It was like I was home.” He also enjoys writing, directing, acting in and editing his own short films, and plans to transition into writing and directing feature-length films. Brent is confident he can gain the skills necessary at Elon to attain a career doing something he loves. “Everyone at some point in their lives wishes to see their name in lights. I’d prefer to see it in the credits,” he says.

Dan Enders is from Woodbine, Md., just outside of Baltimore. In high school, Dan was a sports journalist for the Glenelg high newspaper, as well as an active member in the National Honor Society and AP Scholars program. During his senior year of high school, Dan worked as a sports journalist for the Carroll County Times as part of a school-affiliated internship. In his senior year, Dan had more than 15 articles published in the Carroll County Times. With dual interests in sports journalism and video production, Dan plans to become involved with the Pendulum’s sports and arts and entertainment sections. Planning to major in media arts and entertainment, Dan loves to edit video productions. When not editing films and writing sports articles, Dan loves to participate in sports and watch feature films. Through the Fellows program and his involvement around campus, Dan hopes to gain valuable experience as a sports journalist and film editor.
Read Dan Enders' blog at

Blair Foster hails from the culturally rich Lafayette, La. She played four years on her high school’s varsity volleyball team as the middle hitter. Blair holds the record at her high school for number of theatre art classes taken, totaling seven drama classes and an independent study centered on script writing. In the spring semester of her senior year, she directed and produced a full-length play written during her independent study. The summer before her senior year, Blair attended a two week Duke TIP program in Los Angeles that allowed her to create her own short. Because of this experience, she enters Elon confident that film is her field of interest.

Greg Gentile, a native of New Milford, Conn., first arrived in North Carolina when he moved with his family to Clemmons, N.C. His decision to attend Elon was heavily influenced by his older sister, Jaci, who graduated from Elon’s School of Communications in 2009. Although Greg’s high schools did not offer him many opportunities to strengthen his passion for the art of film, Greg found ways to express his cinematic vision in unorthodox ways. In high school, he spearheaded a prom advertising campaign that utilized commercials parodying the movie “300,” and his film work proved to be highly influential in electing the student body president. Greg hopes to become involved in FreshTV and Cinelon, and he looks forward to learning from the Elon faculty and his fellow Phoenix classmates.
Read Greg Gentile's blog at

David Gwynn is from Raleigh, N.C. He is incredibly excited about being a Journalism and Communications Fellow at Elon. He was never a communications guru in high school but always enjoyed making funny videos with his buddies and informative videos for school projects. An avid actor and singer he is in tune with the creative aspects of communications and, as a long time tennis player, he understands the teamwork aspect of working with a group of people. After having the chance to re-make the introductory video for freshman at his high school, he recognized his growing interest in communications and decided to pursue it in college. Although he doesn't quite know what he wants to concentrate on, he is impressed and excited with what Elon has to offer and can't wait to jump in.
Read David Gwynn's blog at

Melissa Kansky is a proud resident of the Garden State (New Jersey) and extremely excited to be part of Elon’s Journalism and Communications Fellows Program. After taking a journalism class and having the opportunity to work on her high school newspaper, both as a writer and editor-in-chief, she intends to contribute to The Pendulum. While she only has experience with print journalism, she looks forward to exploring various forms of communication. Melissa aims to combine her love of writing with her interest in politics and become a bridge between the politicians and the people.
Read Melissa Kansky's blog at

Tanner Kendall is from San Diego. Beginning his junior year of high school, he joined the multimedia class at his school, working on various projects that included short films, news packages and a video yearbook. He believes that Elon's Communications program is a great way to broaden his talents and obtain valuable experience. His main interest lies in cinema, so Media Arts and Entertainment will be the focal point of his studies. However, he will come in with an open mind for all other aspects of communications. He is looking forward to studying at Elon and is excited about all the opportunities doing so will present.

Daniel Koch is from Grand Rapids, Mich. After spending his first two years of high school in Los Angeles, he moved to Michigan. In L.A., he spent most of his time immersed in the film industry, learning the trade. When he wasn't making movies, he was on stage performing in every school production. In Grand Rapids, Dan has continued to pursue both film and theatre. He also gained an interest in photography and photojournalism. As of now, he plans to be a cinema major, but things may change. Dan is very excited to get involved and get his hands dirty. There are so many great opportunities to learn and explore, and he can't wait to start preparing for his future.

Luke LeSourd is from Purcellville, Va., just outside Washington, D.C. His interest in Communications was sparked in his junior year when his article about a nationally ranked high school basketball team was published in a major local newspaper. He began writing his own sports blog and in his senior year, he became the sports columnist for his school newspaper. He plans to concentrate in Media Arts and Entertainment and to get involved with “One on One Sports” and FreshTV. Luke has a knack for retaining random sports trivia, such as every Super Bowl MVP, and a fierce passion for sports, so he hopes to graduate from Elon with the skills needed to pursue a career as an NFL analyst for a major network like ESPN.

Kaiti McGill is from Atlanta. During her seven years at Pace Academy, she was involved in many school activities including service, choral ensembles, theater production and acting. She hopes to become very involved with different facets of the Communications program at Elon including the Pendulum and FreshTV, as well as becoming involved with student organizations and study abroad. She is planning on focusing on Strategic Communications, hoping to work in public relations or marketing once she graduates.
Read Kaiti McGill's blog at

Julie Morse comes to Elon University from Columbia, Md. She is proud to have gone to high school in Maryland and is an avid Baltimore Ravens fan. Julie has also lived in Naples, Fla., Emerson, N.J., and Weston, Fla. She intends on completing a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. In high school, Julie was managing editor of her high school newspaper and vice president of her senior class. She looks forward to all the opportunities that the JCM Fellows program and Elon University have to offer. She would like to become a part of FreshTV, “One on One Sports” and “Phoenix14News.” Julie’s ultimate dream is to become the next Katie Couric or a future White House Press Secretary.
Read Julie Morse's blog at

Hannah Nelson is from Silver Spring, Md. In high school, Hannah was the executive director of public relations for her school’s student television studio, Blair Network Communications. Within that studio, she also served as producer of “InfoFlow,” the school’s daily television morning show, and “Rapid Fire,” a monthly game show that aired live to cable television. Motivated by her projects and research in her high school's Media Literary class, Hannah wishes to pursue a degree in Strategic Communications with a focus on advertising. Visiting Elon University’s School of Communication persuaded her to apply and attend because of its advanced editing bays and opportunities to get hands on right away with the many programs and organizations. During her time at Elon, she hopes to study abroad in Australia and is considering a minor in marketing.

Caitlin O’Donnell, originally from Virginia, now lives in Charleston, S.C. As a student at Fort Dorchester High School, she restructured the school’s newspaper, The Patriot Word, and served as senior editor for two years. Caitlin, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate program, also served as vice president of the National Honor Society, coordinated the school’s quarterly Red Cross Blood Drives and volunteered at a local hospital. An avid reader and writer, Caitlin has grown up with a love for the written word and has always aspired to be an effective communicator in our complex world. Hoping to one day work for “National Geographic” or The Boston Globe, she believes in the power of language and hopes that, though she is just one person, her words can have a global resonance and impact. She plans to double major in history and communications, with a focus on print and photojournalism, and is eager to become an active part of Elon’s campus and groups, particularly The Pendulum, the Baptist Student Union and the study abroad program. She was first attracted to Elon by not only its beautiful campus but also its exceptional School of Communications. Caitlin feels honored to have been chosen as a JCM Fellow and is confident that the program will help her successfully achieve her goals for the future.
Read Caitlin O'Donnell's blot at

Crista O’Neal, a native of Davidson, N.C., is very excited that she was picked as a JCM Fellow. She attended Mooresville Senior High School and was involved in Colorguard/Dance team, band and youth choir. She’s planning on majoring in broadcast journalism and hopes to become a news anchor. She chose Elon because of its outstanding communications program, and it was one of the main reasons she considered the school. Even though she has not had much experience, she feels that Elon will give her some great opportunities in order to better understand the field.

Samantha Parker is a small town girl from Fishersville, Va. While at Wilson Memorial High School, Sam was captain of the softball team, editor of the yearbook, and the first-ever broadcasting anchor for Wilson News. After writing millions of papers and editing hundreds of pages, Sam’s interest in communications has sky-rocketed, pushing her to pursue a career in journalism. She is excited to experience all that Elon’s programs have to offer through The Pendulum, SGA and study-abroad. Sam is excited to begin her journey at Elon as a Journalism and Communications Fellow and eagerly awaits what is to come.
Read Samantha Parker's blog at

Lauren Ramsdell is a Raleigh, N.C., native and graduate of Sanderson High School. She has been interested in a journalism career since elementary school, when she wrote a weekly “newspaper” for her cul-de-sac. In high school she worked for the student newspaper, The Sandscript, and held the positions of circulation manager, business manager and photo editor before her three-year tenure ended. Lauren is honored to have been named a Journalism and Communications Fellow and is excited for all the opportunities it will bring. She is also practically chomping at the bit to join The Pendulum staff in the fall. Other than writing, Lauren enjoys studying German, life sciences and dancing, three interests she plans to pursue at Elon. Lauren would like to double-major in Print/Online Journalism (focus on Photojournalism) and Environmental Studies, with a possible minor in German Studies.
Read Lauren Ramsdell's blog at

Michael Soucy graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis. In high school, Michael was editor-in-chief of both the newspaper and yearbook. During his junior year he co-founded his school’s daily television station. His interest in communications began in middle school when he participated in his school’s weekly video group. During his time in the group he produced a series of short comedy skits. In high school he also participated in all aspects of technical theater and played varsity tennis. During high school Michael interned at LiveFeed a not-for-profit agency based in St. Louis that engages the entertainment industry to help end local hunger. Michael is planning to major in Media Arts and Entertainment with a concentration in Broadcast and New Media. At Elon he hopes to participate in FreshTV and ESTV. Michael plans to double major in Business Marketing with the hope of working in the media production industry.

Rachel Southmayd is from Ocean View, Del. She attended Sussex Technical High School as a student in the Media Broadcasting technical area. Her activities included working on her school’s television show, “The Raven Report,” being editor of her school’s yearbook, honor society, Student Government Association, choir, Odyssey of the Mind, and dancing. She is planning on majoring in Journalism, with minors in Dance and Theatre Arts, in pursuit of her career as a theatre reviewer. On campus, she hopes to become involved with the Pendulum and Elon’s performing arts productions.
Read Rachel Southmayd's blog at

Kacey Stark, a native of Franklin, Tenn., graduated from Ravenwood High School where she served as senior class president. This leadership role, along with her experience as a varsity cheerleader, news anchor during the inaugural year of RHS-TV, pageant titleholder and speaker for Teens in Touch, has inspired her to pursue her career goal as a network news anchor. She aspires to convey political information to her audience from the desk of Fox News, or to enlighten sports fans from the sidelines as a reporter for ESPN. She was also actively involved in the National Honor Society, Ravenwood Business Academy, Young Life, Brentwood Baptist Church and Ravenwood Girl's Cotillion during her high school career. Kacey plans to continue volunteer service work, and is looking forward to being involved in FreshTV and “Phoenix14News.”
Read Kacey Stark's blog at

Jenna Strucko is a native of Cary, N.C. She recently graduated from Middle Creek High School, where she was a highly active leader in her Student Government Association, an officer in National Honor Society, a member of the varsity cheerleading and track teams, the 2008 Homecoming queen and a section editor for Middle Creek's monthly newspaper, The Hoof Print. Jenna also recently interned for the General Management of the North Carolina State Fair, focusing on communications. In addition to being a Journalism and Communications Fellow, she will be cheering for the Elon all-girl cheerleading squad this year. Jenna plans to double-major in Strategic Communications and Psychology, both of which are fields that interest her greatly. Jenna is also a music enthusiast and hopes to one day incorporate that passion into a career in public relations.
Read Jenna Strucko's blog at

Alexa Sykes is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. In high school, Alexa was the editor in chief of The Shakerite, her school's nationally award-winning newspaper. Alexa remained active in her journalistic endeavors by attending a summer journalism workshop for African-American high school students, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation during the summers before and after her senior year. She had the opportunity to report, produce and be the lead anchor of a news broadcast delivered at KDKA-TV News in Pittsburgh and to work with professional print and broadcast journalists around the country. Alexa chose Elon University because of their notorious School of Communications, and the hands-on opportunities she saw there. She hopes to get involved with “Phoenix14 News” and The Pendulum, and play an active role in the Journalism and Communications Fellows program.

Gabriela Szewcow has spent the first 18 years of her life in Pittsburgh and cannot wait to join the Elon community. In high school, Gabriela devoted a great deal of her time to working on and improving her school’s newspaper and yearbook. She was editor-in-chief of both publications her senior year. It was a big time commitment that taught her how to lead a group of people toward a common goal. She looks forward to writing for The Pendulum and studying journalism at Elon. Her goal is to become an editor. While print journalism is the area in which she wishes to study, Gabriela is eager to experiment with other news mediums and to see where they lead her.
Read Gabriela Szewcow's blog at

Asha Michelle Wilson graduated from Centreville High School in Clifton, Va. In her senior year, she was editor of the school newspaper and school yearbook, along with being a member of the theatre department and a drama club officer. She volunteered often with her local public access station by writing and directing shows, and she started an online video channel with her friends, in which she wrote a lot of the material used in the skits. She is very excited to be attending Elon University, because of its great Communications program, study abroad opportunities and everything it has to offer her. She plans to major in cinema and hopes to one day be a screenwriter. Her dream is to become the next Tina Fey.

Kaitlyn Winston is from Richmond, Va., and is excited to be a part of the fellows program. A graduate of Godwin High School, where she was a manager for her school's wrestling team, president of the art club, prom chair and a member of both the National Honor Society and the National French Honor Society. A self-proclaimed filmmaker, she has created a series of independent documentaries following her swim team, as well as multiple scientific pieces. Additionally, Kaitlyn has pursued the art of screenwriting but hopes to hone her skills with the help of Elon's outstanding professors. While pursuing a major in Media Arts and Entertainment with a focus in Cinema, Kaitlyn aspires to minor in Middle Eastern Studies and/or French. She wants to obtain a profession in directing, screenwriting and editing.
Read Kaitlyn Winston's blog at

Katherine Wise is from Fairfax, Va. She is very excited about being at Elon University and can’t wait to try out all it has to offer. She is planning to major in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations, but she also wants to explore other areas of communications. Katherine is prepared to be an Elon Journalism and Communications Fellows thanks to a television production course she took at Fairfax High School her senior year, where she explored many aspects of the field, from broadcast to editing to producing short films. Katherine can’t wait to get involved in activities such as ESTV, FreshTV, Club Swim, Campus Catholic Ministry and various community service groups. She also loves the study abroad opportunities waiting at Elon. “I know that with a combination of majors and all the opportunities at Elon University, I can pursue my dreams of helping others by bringing to light issues that need to be solved,” Katherine says.