Daniel Bascuñan-Wiley ’21
Human Service Studies
A human service studies major, Daniel is as dedicated to community service as he is to his studies. He interned with Healthy Alamance, an agency dedicated to improving local health, and volunteered at numerous other nonprofit organizations during his four years at Elon. An Honors Fellow, Daniel used his thesis to advance understanding of the 2019 Chilean Awakening and anti-government protests that occurred while he was studying abroad there. He also founded the Food Empowerment Series, a program designed to examine the efficacy of empowerment-based models in site specific programs, at Healthy Alamance. Daniel is one of six members of the Class of 2021 selected as Elon Year of Service Graduate Fellows and will continue his work at Healthy Alamance over the next year. He plans to continue local human service work before pursuing post-graduate education and returning to Alamance County.
Matthew Del Valle ’21
An engineering major with a biomedical concentration and minor in computer science, Matt arrived at Elon eager for hands-on learning experiences and left as a leader in a strong and growing program. A Presidential Scholar, student involvement ambassador and member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Matt spent his senior year collaborating on the development of an optical sensor and imaging system used to monitor water quality and turbidity as part of the Engineering Senior Capstone Design Project. The innovative system uses a digital sensor rather than a lens to visualize and count microscopic particles and organisms in retention ponds and reservoirs. Combined with other sensors developed by the engineering Class of 2021, it would allow scientists to monitor the health of water systems remotely and economically. During Matt’s second summer internship at Wastequip in Charlotte, North Carolina, he redesigned a trash container for efficient manufacturing and shipping. The waste equipment company pursued a patent on that design and offered him a position after graduation. Working at Wastequip, he will also participate in its engineering leadership development program. Matt ultimately wants to pursue entrepreneurship in biomedical technology, designing medical equipment such as artificial organs and prosthetics.
Sophie Erlich ’20
An Elon College Fellow, Sophie parlayed her strong interests in plant science and human health into a biology degree and research into the effects of plant-based medicine on cognition. Over more than two years with her mentor, Associate Professor of Biology Linda Niedzela, she evaluated the biochemical activity of Crassocephalum crepidioides — common name redflower ragweed — and its effects on learning and memory in adult zebrafish. The biology department recognized Sophie as its Outstanding Student of the Year in spring 2021. She was a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship and Reddish-Morgan Biology Scholarship, and a member of the Beta Beta Beta biological honors society. She was just as engaged outside of the classroom and lab, serving as the Biology Club president and for three years as a New Student Orientation coordinator, safely leading in-person orientation experiences during the pandemic. Sophie will enroll at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in fall 2021, pursuing a master’s degree in environmental health.
Grace Feiner ’21
An Elon College Fellow and recipient of the Rawls Endowed Research Grant, Grace plans to use her Elon experiences to launch a career in serving young children with special needs. She majored in psychology and minored in early childhood, researching how the development of motor skills influences problem-solving and social development in infancy. Her project examined babies’ ability to walk with their ability to engage in whole-body problem-solving. Grace is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Psi Chi and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies and earned the Outstanding Psychology Student Award in spring 2021. She served as president of Autism Speaks U and vice president of philanthropy for Sigma Kappa sorority. Grace will attend Vanderbilt University this fall to pursue a master’s degree in special education with specializations in early childhood and applied behavior analysis. She plans to pursue a career as a board-certified behavior analyst, designing and implementing evidence-based interventions for babies, toddlers and children with special needs.
Kamal Lado ’21
Kamal distinguished themself as a performer, director and leader among peers within the Department of Performing Arts and campus community. Earning a B.F.A. in music theatre, they performed featured roles in headlining productions such as Killer Queen in Elon’s 2020 staging of the rock musical “We Will Rock You.” Kamal spent the summer of 2020 producing and directing “The Moment,” the performing arts department’s first all-Black show, in response to police violence against Black Americans and a desire to craft “a love-letter to Blackness.” The cabaret’s songs, dances, monologues and performances were filmed outdoors and streamed online in fall 2021. Kamal received the Excellence in Leadership Award at the 28th Annual Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards in 2021 and earned the Maroon Award in 2019 and Gold Award in 2020 and 2021 for maintaining a high GPA. In 2019, Kamal was recognized as a Breakout Student of the Year at the Lavender Graduation and Awards. They also served on the President’s Student Leadership Advisory Council. After graduation, Kamal performed in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Mary Poppins” at the MUNY in St. Louis before relocating to New York City to pursue a career in theatre and entertainment.
Emily Lange ’21
Philosophy and English
An Honors Fellow and Lumen Scholar, Emily pushed boundaries of existing research in her study of speculative fiction. Focused on the representation of intersectional identities in contemporary science fiction and fantasy — particularly intersections of gender, age, disability and race — Emily approached literature with the belief that speculative fiction helps us realize new possibilities off the page. That research was published in three academic journals her senior year. She is adapting a portion of her thesis as a forthcoming book chapter. A philosophy and English double major, Emily also researched inclusive pedagogy and social epistemology. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa, among other honor societies, and served as a member of the English department’s Pandemic Engaged Teaching and Learning Committee and the Honors Advisory Committee, where she helped evaluate diversity education in the Honors Program. She contributed research to the university’s Committee on Elon History and Memory, which released its report in Fall 2020. In her senior year, she received the Omicron Delta Kappa John W. Barney Memorial Award and the English Scholar Award. She will continue her studies at Miami University in Ohio and plans to become a professor of philosophy.
Emma McCabe ’21
An exercise science major with minors in neuroscience and biology, Emma was deeply engaged in research with the Department of Exercise Science. She was also a walk-on member of the varsity softball team her first two years at Elon and continued as captain and vice president of club softball through her senior year. Under the mentorship of Professor of Exercise Science Caroline Ketcham and Professor of Exercise Science Eric Hall, she participated in research around concussive injuries in sports with the Elon BrainCARE Research Institute. Emma participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience for two summers, completing projects on the relationship between nutrition and mental health. She presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in spring 2021 and is preparing a manuscript from that work. Additional research involved athletes’ perceptions of mental health stigmas. She was recognized as a Colonial Athletic Association Scholar Athlete in 2019 and earned the 2021 Outstanding Major in Exercise Science Award. In June, she began a position at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the Laboratory on Human Psychology, researching genetic, environmental and behavioral risk factors for alcoholism through the NIH Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Program. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience or exercise science.
Sarah Jane McDonald ’21
Religious Studies and International & Global Studies
A Leadership Fellow and Multifaith Scholar, Sarah Jane (“SJ”) immersed herself in studies around refugee resettlement and humanitarian aid. A religious studies and international and global studies double major, she studied abroad in Iringa, Tanzania, where she interned with a refugee resettlement program and traveled to El Paso, Texas, four times to learn about the experiences of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Anthropology Mussa Idris, she researched the impact of religion on resettled East and Central African refugee integration in Greensboro, North Carolina, interviewing refugees to learn their stories. In addition to her studies, she served as president and vice president of Students for Peace and Social Justice. SJ is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa national honor society for religious studies and theology, an Omicron Delta Kappa Ella Brunk Smith Award recipient and winner of the Anne Cassebaum Outstanding Student Award for Commitment to Social Justice and Activism. SJ received the U.S. State Department’s Critical Languages Scholarship and is studying Swahili in summer 2021 to assist in aiding East African refugees. Afterward, she will work with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in Baltimore.
Julia Towner ’21
Music Performance and Independent Major in German Studies
Julia took advantage of opportunities at Elon to follow her love of singing and interest in her German heritage to a double major in music performance and German studies, an independent major she created with the assistance of faculty. Towner was the Department of Music’s 2020-21 Presser Scholar, a recipient of the Marsilius von Inghen Award for Excellence in German Studies and a member of Delta Phi Alpha German honor society. She helped lead the music department’s third annual Leading Women in Audio Conference in 2021. She completed undergraduate research on Franz Schubert’s “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen,” mentored by Senior Lecturer in Music Polly Cornelius and Associate Professor of German Scott Windham. She presented her interdisciplinary research at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum and sang the difficult piece for her senior recital. Julia will attend Belmont University for her master’s in music performance and church music and hopes to forge a career in Germany as an opera singer or music minister.
Chandler Vaughan ’21
A Leadership Fellow and policy studies major with minors in poverty and social justice and leadership studies, Chandler used her Elon experience to explore educational and community solutions for marginalized youth. She dedicated her undergraduate research to education policy at juvenile correctional facilities. Under the mentorship of Assistant Professor of Political Science Aaron Sparks and Associate Professor of Education Scott Morrison, Chandler surveyed educators and administrators across 16 states to reveal outcomes of policies and educational practices in youth detention centers. In addition to this research, a virtual internship through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium led her to rally a network of peers to mail activity and project materials to incarcerated youth held in solitary rooms 23 hours a day due to the pandemic. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma honor society and was a Fulbright Program participant and Rawls Research Grant recipient. She was awarded the Outstanding Policy Studies Student Award in 2021 and received the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Phoenix Award for a GPA of 3.8-4.0 all four years. One of six 2021 Elon Year of Service Graduate Fellows, she will spend the next year working as a project manager in the City of Burlington Economic Development Department. Chandler plans to pursue a doctorate in community research and action and work to bridge gaps between governmental agencies and communities to advance outcomes for marginalized youth.