Elon College students thrive on collaborations with faculty mentors both in and out of the classroom. Immersive experiences in research, global study, internships, service and leadership deepen classroom lessons and prepare students to become ethical and ambitious leaders in their chosen fields.
Jack Amend ’20
Computer Science and Applied Mathematics
Jack completed a variety of research projects while at Elon, presenting a paper at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fall 2019 about how to create less biased artificial intelligence. Beginning in his sophomore year and through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, he researched unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) with Associate Professor of Mathematics Chad Awtrey. In his junior year, he developed an algorithm to draw non-gerrymandered and politically neutral Congressional districts in North Carolina. Under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Computer Science Scott Spurlock, he used census data and machine learning to produce districts of equal populations and varied demographic characteristics. Between his junior and senior years, he completed the Research Experience for Undergraduates at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts using municipal data to create a web app for service requests. He and a classmate resurrected Elon’s undergraduate computing club, the Elon Society of Computing, for students to learn more about the computer science field. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, Jack is attending Temple University this fall in pursuit of a doctorate in computer and information science.
Jordan DeVries ’20
A Lumen Scholar and Elon College Fellow, Jordan successfully translated her personal experiences into psychological research on how teens and young adults cope with anxiety. Working closely with mentor and Assistant Professor of Psychology CJ Fleming, Jordan focused on high school and college students and how their peers and parents help them with stress. Her project, “Young, Anxious, and Feeling Alone: An examination of the role of social influences in help-seeking for young adults with anxiety,” initially included surveys and interviews with 46 young adults and their parents, showing miscommunication around issues of mental health. Her Lumen Prize funding allowed her to expand the survey nationally to include 400 individuals, and in October 2019 earned her the Youth Empowerment Award from the North Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Jordan is attending Auburn University this fall to pursue a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis on a path to earning her doctorate in psychology.
Matt Foster ’20
Matt’s strong performance in and out of the classroom earned him many accolades during his time at Elon. The Colonial Athletic Association named the senior tight end its Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2019. Matt transitioned from a physics major to the four-year engineering program to become one of the program’s first three graduates this spring. Matt modeled successful scholar-athlete attributes for incoming players and mentored them about the importance of sacrificing for academic and athletic excellence. In the summer of his junior year he participated in research with Assistant Professor of Engineering Rich Blackmon into optical coherence tomography’s use in breast cancer treatment, building a high-definition medical imaging device and coding the software to control it. Together with Michael Borucki ’20, a physics major and fellow student-athlete with the Phoenix baseball team, he devised a new system of transdermal drug delivery that earned a provisional U.S. Patent in 2019. Testing the device, which could have applications in addiction and pain treatment, was the four-year engineering program’s first Senior Capstone Project. Matt is pursuing employment as an engineer and after receiving positive feedback from recruiters plans to continue tryouts for the National Football League.
Taylor Garner ’20
International and Global Studies
An Honors Fellow, Rawls Scholar and Fulbright Award winner, Taylor studied abroad in Argentina and Palestine while conducting research into women’s intergenerational memories of political violence in each of the countries. Her scholarship under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Geography Sandy Marshall was recognized by the Forum on Education Abroad, which bestowed Taylor with the 2019 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. She was one of only two national recipients of the award, and the first Elon student to win the award. Taylor also won a Center for Research on Global Engagement research grant and the Heidi Frontani Memorial Study Abroad Essay Contest, which supported her research abroad. Taylor also was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department to study Arabic in Jordan in the summer of 2020. While at Elon, Taylor completed the Peace Corps Prep Program. She will next teach English in Colombia through the Fulbright Program and then plans to attend graduate school with a focus on international development. She hopes to eventually become a foreign service officer.
Ashley Jutras ’20
Human Service Studies and Public Health Studies
An Odyssey Program scholar, Ashley used her Elon experience to gain skills to improve global quality of life. She spent a semester abroad studying in Amman, Jordan, and in the summer of 2019 was selected for the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program to study Arabic in Morocco at the Arab American Language Institute. While at Elon, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies and was one of 16 undergraduates to complete the Peace Corps Prep program in 2020. Her undergraduate research involved anxiety management in young adults with Assistant Professor of Human Service Studies Carmen Monico and perinatally acquired HIV’s effects on parent-child relationships with Professor of Public Health Studies Cindy Fair. Her internship and practicum experiences within her majors led to a full-time position at Triad Health Project in Greensboro, N.C., working as a case manager for clients living with HIV. Ashley plans to pursue graduate degrees in public health and social work.
Taylor McFadden ’20
Taylor received the Academic Achievement and Outstanding Experiential Learning awards from the mathematics and statistics department for the Class of 2020. With a team of undergraduate researchers, Taylor researched factors associated with U.S. suicide rates and used regression analysis techniques to explore predictors associated with suicide data. She presented the research at the Conference for African American Researchers in the Mathematical Sciences. Chosen as a Joint Program in Survey Methodology Junior Fellow with the American Statistical Association, Taylor completed work with the National Center for Education Statistics in Washington, D.C., to analyze national test data and identify educational deficiencies across states. At Elon, she completed an internship as a data analyst at the Center for Organizational Analytics, was recognized numerous times by the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards in the Phoenix Group (3.8-4.0 GPA), was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi and presented at the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education’s 2019 Intersect Conference. Taylor plans to pursue a graduate degree in data analytics and is confident her skills will inform decision-making that improves our way of life.
Tara Patterson ’20
Theatrical Design and Technology and Arts Administration
As part of the team of students and faculty responsible for staging nine productions each year with the Department of Performing Arts, Tara left Elon this spring prepared to pursue a career as a freelance stage manager. She was named the Outstanding Senior in Theatrical and Technical Design for the Class of 2020. She pursued undergraduate research with Assistant Professor of Arts Administration David McGraw to complete the 2019 Stage Manager Survey Report — with 1,746 responses by American stage managers, the largest survey of stage managers in the world. The survey data tracks trends in theater, opera and dance around production practices, working conditions and education/training and compares them to prior years since McGraw began the surveys in 2006. Patterson also participated in Elon in New York, making professional and educational connections and interviewing 10 stage managers for qualitative data to add to the national survey report. She was the 2019 president of Alpha Psi Omega, Lambda Omicron, the theater honors fraternity at Elon, and presented her stage designs and technical skills at the Broadway Stage Management Symposium and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.
Natalie Sakoi ’20
Music Production and Recording Arts
Natalie arrived at Elon from Rancho Cordova, California, with a deep love of music stemming from a childhood of singing showtunes with her mother and avidly consuming pop music. Elon revealed career options available offstage and behind the curtain — sound engineering, mixing, management and licensing. Natalie became a leader in the studio, working her way up to president of Limelight — Elon’s record label — in her senior year. Through Elon in L.A., she interned at Supe Troop, a music supervision company in Los Angeles. Natalie earned the music department’s Outstanding Service Award in 2020 for her work as a department assistant. She was on the steering committee of the inaugural Leading Women in Audio Conference in 2018-19 and co-chaired that committee her senior year, creating and coordinating a two-day conference led by female music production professionals from across the U.S. She concentrated a semester of undergraduate research around the demographic reach and impact of the conference with Lecturer in Music Fred Johnson. Natalie is pursuing a career in music licensing for film and television, music production and music management in California.
Sydney Simmons ’20
An Odyssey Program scholar, Sydney is spending the next year working with Impact Alamance to further education and health in Alamance County as an Elon Service-Year Graduate Fellow. She was a recipient of the George McClendon Community Service Award and the Student Leadership and Community Development Award. She participated in the Semester at Sea program, was a resident adviser for the Examining Disparities in Educational Access Living Learning Community and served as a mentor for the Odyssey Program and Elon Academy. She was recognized by the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards as a Phoenix Group Awardee with a GPA of 3.8-4.0. She was the Wilhelmina Boyd Outstanding Student in African & African-American Studies for the Class of 2020. While working with Impact Alamance, she plans to explore career paths that advance quality of life, community well-being, education and social justice.