Civic Engagment Scholars Graduates

2015 Scholar Graduates

Emily Chandler Grizzard

Emily has a longstanding interest in second language acquisition and teaching English to speakers of other languages. Her connection with Kathy Walker, an ESL teacher at Grove Park Elementary School, began three years ago and led to her CES project. Emily’s project focused on developing a program to bring Elon volunteers to the school to serve as tutors for ESL students. The program includes Elon student leaders, who pair Elon volunteers with ESL student groups in grades K-5 to provide tutoring, using materials targeting key ESL skills.

Laura Koch

Laura’s interest started during her junior year of high school, when she spent the summer volunteering with infants and toddlers with special needs. This newfound passion led her to collaborate with the Harvey Newlin Elementary School Pre-K program. Laura has worked with Newlin Elementary School for over three years. Her project involved connecting Elon 101 faculty and staff with Newlin teachers to identify classroom needs and match them with the skill sets of Elon professors and students. For example, one Elon 101 professor, education faculty member Heidi Hollingsworth, created winter break homework to make sure the Newlin students’ academic progress did not decline.

Laura Beth Sturdivant

Laura’s study abroad experience led to her understanding of the service side of a culture. She believed there needed to be an easier way to connect volunteers with service opportunities in the places she visited. After returning to the United States, she learned that Elon provides its students with technology to help identify service needs within the community. Laura wanted to develop a website that would also assist community members in finding service opportunities within the local area. In collaboration with the United Way, Laura researched websites used by other communities and organizations for that purpose. Additionally, she assisted in updating the United Way’s current database. She hopes her work has provided a foundation for the website she envisioned to be established in the future.

2014 Scholar Graduates

Carling Brooke Andrews

Carling’s interest in social entrepreneurship motivated her to plan a venture focused on holistic health, happiness, and community. Carling initiated her project by exploring current social issues, social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and business/non-profit planning. She then developed a business plan that outlines multiple stages of organizational growth.

Caitlyn (Katie) Antonette Bonarrigo

Katie has a longstanding interest in early childhood development, with particular attention to genetic and environmental influences and inequities based on socioeconomic status. Her connection with the Janice S. Scarborough Head Start program, which began in an academic service-learning class, inspired her CES project. Katie’s project focused on developing a transitional kindergarten program for Head Start students at Harvey Newlin Elementary School. Through the Kindergarten Transition program, incoming kindergarteners toured the school, participated in a class, and ate lunch in the school cafeteria before formal enrollment in kindergarten.

Kristen Ann Bryar

Kristen has long demonstrated a commitment to overcoming cultural stereotypes. She was therefore excited to learn about a project of the Elon PERCS program called Voices of Welfare. This project’s overarching goal is to decrease negative stereotypes of public assistance recipients by gathering data about how narratives shape cultural attitudes toward these individuals. Kristen contributed to the project by conducting research on barriers to and strategies for success among welfare recipients living in Burlington Housing Authority communities. She interviewed residents and BHA staff members and presented her findings to the BHA participants, as well as providing data for the larger Voices of Welfare project.

Frances Hamilton

Frances’ passions for fundraising and service led to her collaboration with the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. Through this partnership she used her skills to raise funds for the Center’s Alternative Breaks Program. In Spring 2013, Frances worked with Kernodle Center staff and the Elon University community to raise $34,168 to help fund Alternative Breaks service trips.

Sarah Brady Harrs

Sarah’s interest in children in third world countries inspired her to travel to Uganda to work in an orphanage, and to maintain a relationship with the orphanage for four years. She founded a nonprofit organization, Heart for People, to support the schools serving the Ugandan children she met. This sustained relationship led her to connect with Harvey Newlin Elementary School, a local high-needs school, to link Newlin students with Ugandan students and put a face on poverty. After the two groups of students met via Skype, the children at Harvey Newlin raised over $1,500 to buy farmland to provide food for children at the Nansana Community Primary School in Uganda. Sarah hopes that through this connection, children in both schools will find inspiration in each other to fight for social justice.

Samantha Italiano

Sam’s passions for the arts, leadership, and service led to her participation and leadership in developing the Handmade Co-op, an arts cooperative founded over two years ago in Burlington, NC. Through the Co-op Sam connected with the art teacher at Cummings High School. Sam’s CES project established a mentoring program that paired Cummings High School students interested in the arts with Elon University students interested in the arts. The mentoring program resulted in weekly mentor/ mentee meetings and three field trips to museums and Elon cultural events.

Catherine (Katie) Brooks Russell

Katie’s interests in politics, social justice, human rights, and equality issues prompted her collaboration with FaithAction International House, an organization whose goal is “turning strangers into neighbors.” Katie’s CES project focused on spreading awareness and initiating action among the Elon community regarding the need for comprehensive immigration reform. She raised awareness by organizing campus events and inviting speakers from the community, and initiated action by gathering signatures for a petition and delivering it in person to Representative Howard Coble.

Rebecca Lauren Stanley

Rebecca’s commitment to education motivated her to collaborate with the Janice S. Scarborough Head Start program. Head Start serves children ages 3 to 5 years old from low-income families. Rebecca’s CES project focused on establishing communication and building relationships between Head Start and Alamance Burlington School System elementary schools. Rebecca also participated in organizing Kindergarten Transition Day.

2013 Scholar Graduates

Sophie Ann Biggar

Sophie’s longstanding interest in supporting children academically and socially led her and a fellow CES student to meet with administrators at a local high-needs elementary school. Recognizing that the students needed mentors to be engaged in their lives for at least two years, Sophie and fellow CES students matched 19 Elon students with elementary school students who would graduate the same year as the Elon students. The pairs were introduced at a celebration dinner and subsequently met weekly at the elementary school. Three new CES scholars will continue this program in the future.

Sarah Catherine (“Kit”) Connor

Kit’s interest in perceptions of people receiving public assistance developed in a research class on this topic with Tom Mould, associate professor of anthropology. When the class ended Kit continued working with Dr. Mould on research related to perceptions of people receiving public assistance. Using ethnographic research methods, she interviewed Elon student leaders to investigate Elon students’ perceptions of welfare and welfare recipients, while also exploring the media’s depiction of people receiving public assistance.

Frances Anne (“Annie”) Fuller

Annie and another CES student wrote a grant proposal to support the development of a Pay-What-You-Can Kitchen for Sustainable Alamance, a local non-profit organization that helps ex-offenders become reintegrated into society, seeks to reduce recidivism, and strives to change negative stereotypes about ex-offenders. The funding of this grant allowed the organization to purchase much-needed kitchen equipment, increasing employment opportunities for its clients through the group’s catering business and Pay-What-You-Can Kitchen.

Leslie Ada Gilman

Leslie initiated a collaboration between CES students and a local high-needs elementary school that led to identifying a need for a long-term mentoring program. Leslie researched mentoring programs and worked with her CES peers and school administrators to design a program pairing 19 Elon University students with 19 elementary school students based on their interests and graduation year. Mentors and mentees met at a celebration dinner, then continued to meet weekly at the elementary school. Three new CES students will continue the mentoring program in the future.

Arron Jimel Jones-Williams

Arron’s commitment to community organizing in the Cleveland, Ohio area led him to collaborate with Cleveland’s Buckeye Area Development Corporation to create the “Buckeye Youth Outreach Program” to provide opportunities for young people to get involved in their community in positive ways. With Arron’s assistance, a group of high school students submitted a grant proposal to Neighborhood Connections, a community-building program, which was funded for $2,000. The funds will be used to landscape vacant lots, paint abandoned houses, and remove trash from the streets.

Alexander Strauss Lewis

Alex’s longstanding interest in politics and community organizing led him to work with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, a group that fights the establishment of mines near people’s homes and empowers local citizens to advocate against mountaintop removal. By the end of his project Alex had identified 200 community members who were interested in advocating for this cause. This citizens’ group will continue to work with community leaders to protect the environment and advocate against the coal industries’ interests.

Deirdre Anne Loftus

Deirdre is passionate about helping those who confront the effects of negative stereotyping in their daily lives. So when she learned about Sustainable Alamance’s work with ex-offenders, she wanted to support the organization in any way she could. Building on a previous CES student project, Deirdre and another CES student wrote a grant proposal to support Sustainable Alamance’s Pay-What-You-Can Kitchen. Their grant was funded and helped purchase kitchen equipment to assist with the organization’s catering business and Pay-What-You-Can Kitchen.

Elizabeth Courtney Nerich

Elizabeth’s interest in public transportation in Burlington, NC led her to utilize a questionnaire developed by Annie Fuller and Tammy Cobb to survey local citizens on the functionality of the Elon University Downtown/East Burlington bio bus route. She analyzed the survey results and shared them with Tammy Cobb, Assistant Director for Community Partnerships at the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, who subsequently shared them with key stakeholders and participants.

Caroline Rose Taylor

As a volunteer and LINCS coordinator working with disadvantaged high school students living in low-income housing, Caroline established a long-term relationship with the Burlington Housing Authority and Mary Morrison, Director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. Caroline helped to develop programs to increase high school students’ awareness of and interest in attending college. These programs include initiating a book club using Elon’s common reading and engaging students in events on the Elon University campus.

2012 Scholar Graduates

Rebecca Robbins Berube

Becca developed a keen interest in food security issues and developed a relationship with Sustainable Alamance, a local non-profit organization, where she had the opportunity to participate in grant-writing and other activities to support the development of a pay-what-you-can kitchen. One of these grants was recently funded and Sustainable Alamance will be moving forward with next steps in developing this community resource.

Kristin Elizabeth Greene

Kristin became interested in HEART, a student organization at Elon that offers peer support to students who are coping with bereavement and/or the serious illness of a family member or loved one. Her work has focused on strengthening the organization through more active recruitment of members and leaders for the group along with fostering a closer collaboration between HEART and Counseling Services.

Claire Marie Healy

Claire’s work centered around issues of student activism and free speech on private college campuses, especially Elon University. She explored, along with a group of student peers, the ways in which free speech for students at Elon is abridged through policies such as those regulating the use of space and the posting of flyers. Ultimately she and fellow classmates worked to raise awareness around this issue and to provide recommendations on developing a more free speech friendly campus.

Mario F. Martinez

Mario’s long-standing interest in childhood cancer became central to his work in the Civic Engagement Scholars program. He developed a relationship with KidsPath, a program within Hospice of Alamance/Caswell.
At Hospice, Mario completed the volunteer training program and then worked as volunteer, spending time with children who are coping with serious and life-threatening illnesses.

Louisa Myers Sloan

Louisa established a long-term relationship with the English as Second Language (ESL) program at Alamance Community College. As a volunteer, she assisted in an ESL classroom and ultimately developed a project that focused on supporting student attendance in ESL classes through providing incentives and supports and through gathering information regarding the barriers to attendance that the ESL students’ experienced.

2011 Scholar Graduates

Courtney Ann Graham

Courtney, an Exercise Science major with minors in Psychology and Neuroscience, is from Wyckoff, New Jersey. For her Civic Engagement Scholars Senior Project, Courtney worked with Kopper Top Life Learning Center. Kopper Top’s mission is to provide “quality therapeutic services, education, and recreation therapy to individuals with and without disabilities through the use of animals to empower and enhance their quality of life.” Through a grant Courtney secured, the organization was able to expand the training and certification of a long-term volunteer, allowing the organization to significantly increase its services to the community. Courtney’s initial contact with Deborah Meredith from Kopper Top was during her first year at Elon. Regarding her work in the Civic Engagement Scholars, Courtney reports that one of her most significant lessons has been recognizing the value of forming long-term relationships with community partners.

James Alexander Moss

James, a major in Communication Science with a minor in Human Service Studies, is from Raleigh, North Carolina. For his Senior Project in the Civic Engagement Scholars Program, Alex completed an internship with Phil Bowers at Sustainable Alamance. This organization “serves as a focal point for men with criminal histories to . . . be restored to a productive place in our community” and strives to promote “the overall economic health of Alamance County.” As a Civic Engagement Scholars Senior Intern, Alex focused primarily on the organization’s community garden initiative where several of the ex-offenders work. Reflecting on his experience at Sustainable Alamance, Alex says, “I believe all people can change for the better, and I never thought I would become such an advocate for ex-offenders.”