Honors Program

Thomas Barnett "Breaking Down Barriers" Scholarship

Thomas Barnett was an Honors Fellow and a Presidential Scholar in the Elon University Class of 2007. His honors thesis was in digital art, and through his art he raised awareness about issues on campus for students with disabilities. His parents created the award in his memory, with $1,000 to be awarded annually to one Elon undergraduate who successfully completes a high-quality project on a topic related to improving the university experience of students with disabilities.
Projects must have an academic component, broadly defined and including projects such as websites, creative works and research papers. The research process can include theoretical and/or applied scholarship and can relate to any aspect of the university experience, from the physical environment to academic experiences to social connectivity concerns. The projects can be part of a course or an Elon Experience.

The term “disability” has a variety of meanings, which often differ depending upon the person who uses the word as well as the context in which it is used. Most simply, “a disability is an inability to do something that most people, with typical maturation, opportunity, or instruction, can do” (Hallahan, Kauffman, & Pullen, 2010). It is therefore important for us to recognize that, while most people think of a person using a wheelchair, or a hearing aid, or a service animal as the prototypical person with a disability, the vast majority of persons with disabilities do not fit into those narrow categories. People with learning disabilities, emotional illnesses and other “invisible disabilities” are also included among the disabled.

Hallahan, D., Kauffman, J., & Pullen, P. (2010). Exceptional learners: An introduction to special education. Boston, MA: Pearson

Click here for the application

Past Winners

2014: Bailey Nugent. "Control your diabetes, Don't let it control you!" Experiences of College Students with Type 1 Diabetes. As a student with Type-1 Diabetes, Bailey Nugent has been all too familiar with the confusion and lack of knowledge and understanding of those around her. She found that others sometimes confused Type 1 diabetes with Type 2 diabetes and took liberties in telling her what she should and shouldn’t eat.  She wondered if other college students experienced the same. So Bailey proposed a research project to explore the experiences of college students living with Type 1 Diabetes and to offer recommendations both to those students for managing their illness in college as well as to the general university community to raise awareness and foster better communication and understanding. She interviewed 10 college students living with Type 1 diabetes about their experiences, advice, challenges, and successes. Based on the qualitative analysis of the interviews and her study of the scholarly literature, she developed a pamphlet to be shared with incoming students with diabetes, as well as their roommates. She is currently working with her mentor Dr. Cindy Fair in writing an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.


2013: Emily Steiner, Amy Zemanick and Amelia Maki with Jess McDonald and Katie Atkins. Accessibility@Elon is a student-led activist project completed as part of Dr. Stephen Bloch-Schulman’s Spring 2012 section of the Women’s/Gender studies capstone course, “Current Controversies in Feminism.” The project was informed by a class module on Disability Studies and group members’ personal experiences with disability, as well as conversations with Disability Services Coordinator Susan Wise, other students with disabilities, and professors invested in accessibility issues. The goal of the project was to raise awareness of disability, accessibility, and Disability Services on Elon University's campus. There were many facets to this project including a publicity campaign to promote Disability Services, which included table tents in dining halls, a Pendulum article, and a social media campaign; an assessment and evaluation of Elon’s accessible parking, resulting in new signage; a film showing of Neurotypical, a documentary made from the perspectives of people with autism; letters to administrators notifying them of our concerns related to accessibility on campus; and a “Challenge Ableism” photo and flyer campaign highlighting disability/accessibility issues on campus that was displayed in its entirety in Belk Library, the Center for the Arts, and Lindner Hall, with individual photo also posted around campus.

2012: Jamie AlbrightThe goal of this project is to support the emerging population of young adults living with perinatally acquired HIV (PHIV) in college as they navigate issues of planning for the future, relationships, and reproductive health in the context of a highly stigmatized illness. The primary goal of the project is to create a website that contains information based upon the needs of college aged PHIV identified through a cross-sectional study.