The School of Communications welcomes its 2012 class of Communications Fellows. Fellows wrote their own mini biographies, which you can read below.
Rajat Agarwal was born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., and graduated from the Webb School of Knoxville. In his four years there, he was a member of the sports announcing team and enjoyed broadcasting many different sporting events, from football and basketball to baseball and swimming. From a young age, Rajat has always loved playing sports and played five years on the varsity tennis team. In high school, he enjoyed being in many clubs and was captain of the chess team and a member of the pep band. He also loves being in the outdoors and earned his Eagle Scout award. Rajat hopes to participate in all the different clubs Elon has to offer and hopes he can continue his interest in sports media through the School of Communications. Next year, Rajat hopes to contribute to the sports section of the Pendulum and get involved with all the broadcasting opportunities that Elon has to offer.
Grace Ahlering is from St. Louis and is thrilled to be part of the Communications Fellows program. She spent three years as a writer for her school’s newspaper, Tower Talk, and became the photo editor her senior year. Grace was also on the editorial board of her school’s award-winning literary magazine, Villa Ink. She was a student ambassador at her high school, giving presentations and tours to prospective parents and students. All of these experiences culminated to form Grace’s passion for the field of Communications. Her other accomplishments include completing the Girl Scout Gold Award, and being a four-year member of the tennis team and an active member of her school’s campus ministry group. She led retreats for her peers and underclassmen and also served as a mentor for middle school students at her school. The summer after her senior year, Grace interned for the manager of Communications at a not-for-profit called UrbanFUTURE, which pairs underprivileged students with year-round tutors and mentors. Grace is incredibly excited to become part of the Elon community. She cannot wait to nurture her passion for Communications through the Fellows program, The Pendulum and the other exciting and unique opportunities that Elon has to offer.
Aurora Albi-Mercier was born and raised in Santa Clarita, Calif., a suburban city located just outside of Los Angeles. She recently graduated with honors from West Ranch High School, where she held leadership positions in the National Honor Society, Associated Student Body, and journalism. In 2010, Aurora began pursuing her interest in community service and was selected by the City of Santa Clarita to be the city’s teen representative for 2011-2012. During the last two years she has volunteered more than 500 hours with various organizations, including her local hospital. She also helped found the first high school chapter of Stand Up To Cancer. The parent charity is a national organization that is changing the face and nature of cancer research and creating awareness by galvanizing the entertainment industry. With this larger organization, Aurora participated in the production of two national televised public service announcements. After years of dedicated work, she earned an internship with the Stand Up To Cancer Production Department at Sony Studios and hopes to work with them throughout her college career. Aurora is thrilled to be a part of the Communications Fellows program and looks forward to studying Media Arts & Entertainment at Elon. She is also excited to join “Elon Tonight,” Fresh TV and pledge a sorority in January. Aurora is ready to be a Phoenix.
Rachel Baker was born in Massachusetts but has lived the majority of her school years in Chapel Hill, N.C. She attended Chapel Hill High, where she played both varsity lacrosse and field hockey and served as the captain of her field hockey team her senior year. She was a member of the National Honor Society and served on her class council. She was also a peer leader for freshmen and served on the Project Graduation Steering Committee. She first gained an interest in videography in middle school, where she was on a news networking team. Her intrigue grew in high school, where she took a videography class and was the head videographer for her high school yearbook her senior year. Also, she has taken six years of Spanish and participated in a Spanish immersion program in Cadiz, Spain. She is excited to raise her communication skills to a new level at Elon as a Communications Fellow and immerse herself in the many opportunities available.
Michael Bodley is a proud graduate of Mount Saint Joseph High School, located in Baltimore. A lifelong Ravens fan, he first picked up a newspaper at the age of 10 after spotting Ray Lewis on the cover. Every Sunday following, Michael would anxiously wait for his dad to finish pouring over the pages of politics so he could get to what really mattered—the sports section. Over the years, he has reluctantly realized that the price of oil and the unemployment rate matter at least as much as the Orioles box score. Michael plans to build on his experience as an editor of his high school newspaper by joining Elon’s Pendulum. He is honored to be named a Communications fellow and plans to take full advantage of the opportunities awaiting him at Elon.
Molly Boyce graduated from Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C., where she was a member of the varsity volleyball team and involved with the prom planning committee. Outside of school, she was involved in several community activities, acting as a member of the Ronald McDonald House Teen Board and the Project Unify movement, promoting inclusion of students with special needs. She became the editor-in-chief of the school's yearbook her senior year, fostering her love for graphic design, journalism and promotion of a publication. Because of this experience, she hopes to pursue strategic communications. She is honored to be among this class of Communications Fellows, and she’s anxious to immerse herself in the opportunities the campus has to offer.
Natalie Brubaker has resided in Lancaster, Pa., her whole life. During her high school career, Natalie participated in track and field hockey and was captain of the varsity field hockey team her senior year. She was a member of National Honor Society, served as editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper for two years and was part of an environmental activist group on campus. Outside of school, Natalie volunteered at the Humane League and dedicated 10 years of piano lessons to earning her high school diploma through the National Piano Guild. At Elon, she plans to double major in Broadcast Journalism and Pre-Law. In addition to the interest she had regarding journalism at an early age, Natalie’s desire to become a broadcast journalist stems from her collective experiences during six mission trips to Zambia. Ultimately, she wants to be a powerful witness by exposing the tragedies that occur on a daily basis and inspiring people to take action. She is excited to take advantage of all the opportunities available to her within the School of Communications and is also looking forward to studying abroad and gaining experience with internships.
Frankie Campisano originally hails from Wayne, N.J., but has come to call North Carolina home for most of his school career. A graduate of Apex High School in Apex, N.C., Frankie was the president of the school’s charity and volunteer-oriented Interact Club and the arts & entertainment editor of the school’s paper, the Apex Legacy. A writer since childhood, Frankie looks forward to being a Communications Fellow and growing as both an artist and a person. Frankie plans to major in Media Arts & Entertainment, with a focus in screenwriting.
Skyler Cowans first took an interest in communications through the media program offered at her high school in Beverly, Mass. Throughout her four years, she produced and hosted several television segments for her city's local cable station, BevCam, including the “Prom Red Carpet” and “BHS Spotlight.” In her senior year, she created, produced and co-hosted a talk show called “Chit-Chat with Sky and Kat,” which included interviews and humorous out-of-studio segments. With this, Sky was certain that she wanted to pursue a career in television broadcasting. In addition, Sky enjoyed playing varsity and club soccer, running track and participating in vocal ensemble and the winter musicals. Her favorite role was Mrs. Meers in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Sky served as vice president of her class for four years through which she organized and hosted fundraisers including “Battle of the Talents” and “Mr. BHS.” Sky cannot wait to indulge in the wonderful opportunities that the Elon Communications Fellows program provides and looks forward to an enriching experience at Elon University.
Kristen DeMaria is a graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C., and couldn’t be more thrilled to be attending Elon as a Communications Fellow. Throughout high school, Kristen was involved in a variety of organizations, from interning with the Durham Bulls baseball team to participating on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts Pines of Carolina Council. Kristen always had an interest in writing but really began to cultivate it upon joining her school’s newspaper staff in her junior year. After spending a year as a staff member, Kristen assumed the role of arts & entertainment editor for her senior year. Kristen looks forward to continuing her work with journalistic writing at The Pendulum, but she also hopes to expand her horizons with other communication outlets. Kristen dreams of one day working at a renowned magazine as an editor and knows that Elon will help her achieve that goal.
Renny Eackelbary, from Southern California, is beyond excited to join the Communications Fellows program. During her high school career, she was a president of her choir, a mentor and tutor for struggling teens, president of four different clubs, and an editor, designer, writer and photographer for her school’s yearbook. She started a charity called ReACT Smart, a program that collects gently used college preparation test books and gives them to students in need. Renny’s love for the communication world sparked after she spent a summer in New York City interning for an advertising agency. While interning, she learned design skills and was able to help work on campaigns for major media companies. Renny hopes to pursue a degree in Strategic Communications with a focus in advertising. At Elon she plans to work with the Habitat for Humanity chapter on campus, be a part of SGA and join Live Oak Communications. She also wants to participate in Elon in LA and study abroad.
Lauryl Fischer, hailing from the small town of Cary, N.C., is thrilled to be attending Elon as a Communications Fellow. During high school, Lauryl was extremely active in her community and in student life. She was a member of the Honor Society, YMCA-sponsored Youth and Government club, and she founded the Gay-Straight Alliance and Creative Writing Club, to which she was elected president to both her junior and senior years. Outside of school, Lauryl participated in a Red Cross Scholarship program and organized fundraisers through the month of February for the Red Cross, raising more than $1,000 for the organization. Her love for theatre inspired her to act in several plays, stage manage for a community theatre production of "As You Like It," and become inducted into the Thespian Honor Society at her school. But she truly found her niche on the staff of her school newspaper, the Athens Oracle. After working on the staff all four years, Lauryl became editor-in-chief for the Oracle her senior year and realized her passion for the world of communications. Now, she plans to merge her love of acting and her love of writing to study Media Arts & Entertainment, and she cannot wait to get involved with student media at Elon.
Shakori Fletcher, an Atlanta native, dreams of becoming a noteworthy journalist. She hopes to become a journalist based on the pursuit of one goal: to be a trusted source of information whom millions of viewers worldwide can depend on. To prepare herself for this role, Shakori has always sought to engage herself in activities that would bring her one step closer to her dream. Such activities have included participating in the 21st Century Leaders Program, Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience, shadowing in the Turner Broadcasting Public Relations Department, competing on the national level in the Public and Impromptu Speaking events in the Future Business Leaders of America competitions for two consecutive years, serving as the moderator for the 2011 City of Snellville Mayoral Debate and serving as an intern under her assistant principal, with a concentration in school leadership and video broadcasting, which enabled her to produce a series of advisement videos designed to foster student engagement and success. Shakori looks forward to continuing her involvement at Elon, especially in media outlets such as “Elon Local News” and The Pendulum. All in all, Shakori feels blessed to attend the school of her dreams and is incredibly excited to embark upon her collegiate journey as a Communications Fellow at Elon. Go Phoenix.
Zach Hollingsworth graduated from Bexley High School in Columbus, Ohio. In high school, Zach served as a peer tutor to struggling students and volunteered at a local food pantry. Music and cinema have been lifelong passions of Zach's, which he has studied at local colleges in previous years. He has played guitar for seven years and won his high school's "Battle of the Bands" competition as a sophomore, his first time performing on stage. He hopes to continue and to develop these passions as an Elon Communications Fellow. In addition, Zach has become an international traveler, having visited England, Scotland, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Hattie Hoskins first discovered her interest in communications during her years at Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) in Nashville, Tenn. She began as a writer for her school journalism staff her freshman year and worked her way up to module editor, fine arts editor and, finally, editor-in-chief of CPA’s award-winning yearbook her senior year. She was also involved in broadcasting courses and served on Missions Committee and SGA her entire high school career. Her combined passion for communications and service led her to be a writer, photographer and public speaker for the organization Ellie’s Run for Africa that supports education in Kenya. Outside of the communications field, Hattie spent her time horseback riding, leading a discipleship group, volunteering with Daystar Counseling Ministries and traveling on mission trips to Kenya and China. She is thrilled to be a Communications Fellow and to further her knowledge and experience at Elon.
Alexandria Jakaitis grew up in Lake Forest, Ill., a suburb just north of Chicago, and couldn't be more excited to be a part of the School of Communications at Elon. She attended Lake Forest High School, where she was a part of student council, dance team, choral groups and Latin club. Outside of school, she pursued her dance education for 14 years and plays the piano and guitar. She went on her third mission trip to the jungle of Ecuador this summer and was a regular attender and ministry leader with her youth group at Christ Church Lake Forest. She volunteered at a local homeless shelter and a book bank, and she helped form a high school fundraising group for Uganda. Her passions also include working with children with disabilities, and she was very involved in Lake Forest High School's special education program, both in and out of school. A self proclaimed "book worm," she fostered her love for reading and writing from a young age when she would check out as many books from the local library that it would allow. During her time at Elon, she intends to take full advantage of all the opportunities that are available for Elon students and to become a valuable member of a few student media organizations, including The Pendulum and ESTV.
Corinne James is a graduate from Central Bucks East in Doylestown, Pa., and is honored to be a Communications Fellow and part of the Class of 2016. Throughout high school, Corinne kept busy as a heavily involved leader of Key Club, as well as a volunteer at the Doylestown Hospital and leader in the Spanish Honor Society. Additionally, she enjoyed working as an intern who taught Spanish to elementary students and as a peer tutor. As a high school freshman, Corinne starred as an anchor for her school’s morning news show, cultivating her interest in all media of communications. She hopes to become extremely involved in all that Elon has to offer, realizing that her ambition is best suited for the creative and crazy world of communications. Corinne cannot wait to take advantage of the opportunities to grow at Elon this fall.
Simone Jasper was born in Minneapolis and has always had a passion for writing. She is a proud graduate of Beaumont School, located just outside of Cleveland. During high school, Simone was an honors student, a member of the National Honor Society, president of Spanish Club and president of Females Achieving Minority Excellence. In the past few years, Simone developed and nurtured her keen interest in print journalism as she wrote articles for her school newspaper, attended the 2011 Washington Journalism and Media Conference, interned at a local publication and took a media course at a community college. In the future, Simone hopes to use her natural curiosity and concern for others to write articles that inform people about issues within minority communities around the country. In addition to journalism, Simone is passionate about the Spanish language and the cultures that speak it. She applies her grammar skills to Spanish and has received recognition for her Spanish writing abilities. Simone aspires to integrate journalism and Spanish when she studies abroad. She is eager to be a member of Elon’s class of 2016 as a Communications Fellow.
Matt Lee was born and raised in Singapore until the age of 6, when he moved to the United States. During his school years in West Chester, Pa., Matt developed an interest in student government, media and acting. He was president of his senior class, president of the Unionville High School chapter of the non-profit charity Heifer International and a member of student leadership programs such as LINK and SHOC. Matt was also sports editor of the student newspaper the Indian Post. In addition, Matt participated in the theatre program and acted as a master of ceremony for his high school’s sporting events and assemblies. He further developed his acting skills at the Actor’s Center in Philadelphia. Matt is honored to be a communications fellow at Elon and looks forward to contributing his time and talents to ESTV, especially to “Elon Tonight” and “Elon Local News.” He plans to major in broadcast journalism. His dream is to be on ESPN or “Saturday Night Live.” Through Elon’s engaged learning, he knows he can achieve his dreams.
Shana Moss graduated from Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, Colo., as a National Honor Society Member, competitive hunter/jumper equestrian, active volunteer, lover of culture and aspiring film/photography student. She was first introduced to cinema after working on the Youth Advisory Board for The Boulder International Film Festival, where she had the opportunity to screen incoming works. She then cultivated her interests during the summer of 2011 by filming, editing and producing a marketing video for Global Works Travel after a community service trip to inland Fiji. She is creative and interested in finding ways to share artistically the often-unnoticed beauty in everyday life. Shana plans to study abroad at least once for inspiration, global perspective and the opportunity she knows it will bring to whatever she creates. She is honored and thrilled to have been chosen as a Communications Fellow.
Megan Oliver is from Rockville, Md., and graduated from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. She is excited to be attending Elon University as a Communications Fellow. Megan was a member of the National Honors Society and a Xaverian Leader, and she earned her IB Program diploma. She was also extremely involved in her school’s theater program, working both on- and off-stage in five productions. Her love of acting and promoting the theater program sparked an interest in the field of Communications, which she hopes to explore more deeply at Elon.
Amory Parks grew up in Raleigh, N.C., and graduated from Enloe High School. After discovering her interest in broadcast journalism, Amory anchored her school's live morning television show during her junior and senior years. She also enjoyed writing for her school newspaper in her senior year. Outside of school, Amory was the vice president of Post 5, a program for students interested in broadcast journalism. The opportunity gave her invaluable experience working with and learning from the professionals at WRAL. Her other interests include playing the violin and mentoring. Amory's dream job is to be a reporter for “60 Minutes.” She plans to major in journalism and is excited to become involved in Elon Local News and The Pendulum.
Lisa Shulman was born in Mandeville, Jamaica. She then moved to south Florida, where she graduated from Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. She competed in equestrian hunter jumping for 11 years. Her interest in creative writing and persuasive media productions led her to a summer program for Communications. She then chose Elon, where she is looking forward to all it has to offer. Her potential career objective is Advertising and Public Relations.
Camille Smith is from Montgomery County, Md., and she graduated from the International Baccalaureate program at Richard Montgomery High School. She began developing passion for both television and film production in 5th grade, when her class entered an animation contest. From there, she has sought out numerous opportunities to expand her talents. In high school, Camille participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as student government, make-up crew in the drama program, and volunteering and leading a co-ed a cappella group. As an incoming freshman, she looks forward to majoring in Media Arts & Entertainment, as well as continuing her study of Spanish.
Allison Srour is from Potomac, Md., and graduated from Winston Churchill High School. During her high school years, Allison was a competitive swimmer. She was also involved in student government and performing arts. Allison found her love and passion for journalism and communications through the school newspaper, The Observer. She wrote for the newspaper for three years and was selected to be features editor her senior year. Allison is thrilled to be a part of the Elon Communications Fellows program and looks forward to pursuing a major either in strategic communications or print journalism.
Meredith Stutz hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is blessed and honored to join the Elon School of Communications family. She recently graduated from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy with high honors, having garnered numerous academic accolades throughout her high school career. Meredith served as senior class president, student council representative, school ambassador, leader for the Kenya Sponsorship Team and peer adviser for freshmen girls. In addition, she excelled in both athletics and the arts. Meredith lettered in tennis and was varsity captain her senior year. On stage, Meredith’s performances earned her three Cappie nominations, as well as featured vocal and flute distinctions. She enjoys traveling and the opportunity to make a positive difference. She worked on mission teams in New Orleans, rural Tennessee and Kenya. She also has a strong passion for kids and leadership development, which inspired her to co-lead and co-found Kids Character Camp with her mom and also co-lead a middle school girls’ Bible study. Meredith’s love for people, politics and performance lead her to Elon, where she is majoring in Communications with a focus in Broadcasting. She looks forward to exploring her broadcasting dream through opportunities like FreshTV and classes like Comparative Politics and Communications in a Global Age. Meredith is excited to see what is in store both as a Communications Fellow and as an Elon Phoenix.
Brian Szymanski graduated from George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., where he received the IB Diploma. He was captain of the varsity soccer team and was an active member of TOPS soccer, a program through which volunteers help kids with mental disabilities play soccer. His love for journalism began almost accidentally when he signed up for a journalism class at the last minute before his freshman year. He ended up joining the staff of the school newspaper and, after a year of being a reporter and page designer, became sports editor and assistant managing editor. Brian only has experience with print journalism, but he looks forward to exploring film, especially documentary production, at Elon. He is excited that the Communications Fellows program will allow him to pursue all of these interests and to continue to develop other interests in the field.
Mia Watkins is from St. Louis and a 2012 Elon University Communications Fellow. Her interests are journalism, cinema, writing and video production. Mia participated in her school’s journalism team, serving in positions such as reporter, editor and co-founder. She also participated in the Minority Journalism Workshop—a program sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists—where she learned public relations, print journalism, photography and broadcast journalism throughout her four years of high school. In her junior year, she proposed that the school’s newspaper go digital, using cameras to record school events. Mia managed projects by recording and editing footage, writing and doing voice-overs and teaching other students how to do it, as well. She created a YouTube channel for the school newspaper, which now has more than 90 videos. She taught herself how to edit video when she was 13, leading her to direct and produce a fan music video in the summer of 2011. As for writing, Mia is the author of “Eden’s Valley, Land of Life,” a Christian-fiction book she self-published at the age of 16. She appeared on a local TV show, “Great Day St. Louis,” to promote her book. Mia’s high school activities include participating in St. Louis’s Metro Youth Shakespeare Program, being a student ambassador and co-founding her school’s pep squad. In her spare time, she likes to create mash-ups and mixes of her favorite songs. Mia aspires to major in Media Arts & Entertainment. She believes Elon University will instruct her with the tools to create, inspire and succeed.