Meet the 2021 Communications Fellows
The School of Communications welcomes its 2021 class of Communications Fellows. Fellows wrote their own mini biographies, which you can read below.
Halle Brennan is from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in the heart of beautiful Bucks County. She graduated summa cum laude from Central Bucks High School East, where she was a member of both the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. Halle was engaged in numerous school and community organizations. Officer of the CB East Orchestra, Halle was a four-year violinist in the full high school orchestra, chamber strings ensemble, and two-year violinist in the Bucks Country Music Educators Association County Orchestra. Halle developed a strong interest in the communications field during her involvement with the Buckingham Township Civic Association as an affiliate board member, where she contributed to marketing and public relations efforts through her work on social media, the Civic Sense community newsletter and the association’s website. In addition, Halle was a committee chair in her high school’s MiniTHON and was responsible for communicating with the student body about the 8-hour dance marathon via announcements, infomercials and flyers. Halle played soccer for 13 years, and she used her passion for the sport and extensive leadership experience to coach children within her community in the Central Bucks Athletic Association Youth Mentoring Program as a junior coach for weekend clinics, indoor practice sessions and summer camps. Halle is beyond excited to be a part of Elon’s School of Communications and is looking forward to her next four years as a Strategic Communications major.
Maggie Brown has lived in North Carolina her whole life and has always had a passion for writing and making a difference. Maggie graduated from Brunswick Early College High School with an associates in arts and all honors. In school, she was vice president of Student Government, a leader in National Honor Society, editor of the literary magazine and a volunteer in the writing lab. She was involved with her local government by working as a Teen Defense Attorney at the Brunswick County Courthouse and volunteering with the Board of Elections. Throughout her high school career, Maggie has had a love for people and community. She has worked on a variety of service projects, helping in Washington, D.C., Jackson Heights, New York, and at an international sports camp. In 2017, she had the opportunity travel to Guatemala and serve the people of Chichicastenango. She is passionate about photography and hopes to tell stories that combine photography and the written word. Maggie plans to study Journalism and is excited to take advantage of all the resources Elon has to offer.
Carrie Carlisle was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, where she graduated magna cum laude from Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School. During high school, Carrie was a member of the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. She was also historian of her school’s Key Club, where she was in charge of their main service project—fundraising for the Anayat house, a medical hospitality home. Carrie was also a leader in the Student Ambassadors program at her high school, in which she worked closely with the director of recruitment & admissions to facilitate Freshman Orientation, Prospective Parents Open House and numerous other events throughout the year. Outside of school, Carrie has been taking dance for 15 years and now has the privilege of assisting in some dance classes, as well. Carrie discovered a passion for social media and writing early in high school, and in her sophomore year she started her own blog called Carrie On Blogs. Through it, she’s had the opportunity to work with different companies, promoting their products and working with their social media teams. Carrie is also the vice president of The Undeniable Life, a global online community that produces content to help girls in all aspects of their lives. Carrie is excited about attending Elon University, and is honored to be a Communications Fellow.
Tyler Chavez is a graduate of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut. There, Tyler earned the titles of AP Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. He also was a member of the Jonathan Law Drama Club in his junior and senior years, performing in “Almost, Maine,” “Seussical the Musical” and Plaza Suite, and serving as assistant director for “Bye Bye Birdie.” He was an MC for pep rallies and an editor for the school newspaper in his senior year. Tyler discovered his passion for filmmaking and production when he took “TV Studio and Production” his junior year, falling in love with directing and working behind the camera. In his senior year, he took “Broadcast Journalism” and helped produce the student news show broadcasted live throughout the school. He was regularly seen as an anchor but also directed and wrote multiple skits for the class of 2017 senior video. Additionally, he produced multiple PSAs and videos for school orientation events. Tyler collected more than 200 hours of community service through the Jonathan Law Key Club, being elected lieutenant governor at the New England district level his junior and senior years. He oversaw multiple Key Clubs in Connecticut and worked with kids from all over New England. Tyler hopes to expand his skills and knowledge as a Cinema & Television Arts major, and he aims to go into directing and producing. He is extremely honored to be a Communications Fellow and cannot wait to start working with other students at Elon.
Ellie Cook hails from Kansas City, Kansas, where she lives with her parents and two younger sisters. She graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School. For two years, Ellie was the co-editor in chief of her school’s nationally acclaimed newspaper, The Harbinger. Her time on the paper allowed her to develop a love of writing and marketing, and it gifted her with some of her closest friends. Aside from the newspaper, Ellie served as president of East’s National Honor Society and co-founder and president of the Young Democrats Club. She was also involved in theater and multiple show choirs, as music is one of her major passions. Ellie loves the outdoors after spending five summers at Cheley Colorado Camps in Rocky Mountain National Park. (And she hopes she’ll be able to break out her hiking boots in North Carolina’s mountains, as well.) Her other interests include fashion and design, traveling and Chipotle. Ellie will be studying Strategic Communications at Elon and hopes to go into a career in advertising. Ellie’s first foray into the field was the week she spent at global advertising agency VML this summer. She plans to feed her curiosity through Elon’s study abroad program and to pursue her interests as a Communications Fellow.
Maggie Cornejo graduated from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, with high honors. Born in Monterey, California, Maggie is an Army brat and moved around much of her young life. Having lived overseas in Italy, she started to love travel as a child. In high school, she embarked on multiple experiences that expanded her worldview. After going on mission trips to Appalachia, West Virginia, and Steubenville, Ohio, Maggie decided she wanted to serve overseas. She applied and was accepted to travel to Banica in the Dominican Republic as a mission team member senior year. That summer, she also traveled as a pilgrim to World Youth Day in Europe, visiting places such as Krakow, Poland, and Vienna, Austria. Some of her favorite volunteer experiences include being a peer mentor for students with intellectual disabilities, tutoring underprivileged children in her area weekly, volunteering at Special Olympics swim meets and facilitating hypothermia shelters. Maggie was a captain of the Paul VI Swim Team, president of Student Ambassador Executive Board, editor in chief of the Panther Press and a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and the Quill and Scroll Journalism Honor Society. Her role as president of Student Ambassadors sparked her interest in public speaking and public relations, helping her to decide to major in Communications. Maggie’s writing has been published by both USA Today High School Sports and by the Arlington Catholic Herald, and she plans to continue writing at Elon. She is honored to be a Communications Fellow and is excited to see what the future holds for her.
Sydney Dye was born in Chicago but grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At an early age, Sydney discovered her passion for storytelling by creating short films with her friends and family. Starting in seventh grade, she began competing in National History Day, an annual competition in which students across the globe create historical research projects relating to a common theme. In her five years of competing in NHD, Sydney had the privilege of entering her documentary films in the regional, state and national competitions. One of her films, “Introducing Americans to America,” won a national first-place NHD award and was selected to screen at other film festivals, including the All-American High School Film Festival and Alice Fest. Throughout high school, Sydney continued to look for opportunities to tell stories. In 2014, she was selected to represent North Carolina in the opening of the “Road to Tokyo” exhibit at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. In 2015, she was one of six high school students selected to serve as a student ambassador to the same museum. Through the ambassadorship, Sydney had the honor of interviewing several WWII veterans. In 2017, Sydney earned a Certificate in Documentary Studies from Duke University. She has also had the joy of being a member of her high school marching band and working backstage and as a musician for several musical theater productions. Sydney is ecstatic to be a Communications Fellow and is excited to begin studying Cinema & Television Arts and technical theatre at Elon.
Brooke Galonek was raised in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Tantasqua Regional High School, where she was involved in many extracurricular activities, including National Honor Society and Student Council. Brooke was passionate about Student Council, and she served as vice president of the Executive Board her junior and senior years. As a member of the Executive Board, she chaired the Community Service Committee, where she was responsible for organizing fundraising events. One of the most successful events she was responsible for was the Powder Puff Football Game that raised money for breast cancer research. Brooke was a four-year varsity lacrosse player and captain during her final season. She greatly enjoyed the media class she took and, because of her interest and efforts in that class, she enrolled in Tantasqua Weekly News. TWN familiarized Brooke with teleprompters, videography and editing. She anchored, shot and produced weekly news segments that were streamed on the school’s website. Outside of school, Brooke volunteered with the local United Way and interned with Allstar Incentive Marketing, which gave her an insight into print media and digital marketing. At Allstar, she worked on various communication campaigns and created a company newsletter. Brooke is honored and excited to be part of the Elon community and the Communications Fellows program.
Natalie Green resided in Long Island, New York, before moving to Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated from Millbrook High School, where she was a part of the inaugural class of Millbrook’s Digital Media Career Academy. By junior year, Natalie held a leadership position as an ambassador for the DMCA and earned a position as a news anchor for Millbrook’s morning news show. Natalie’s passion for helping others extends to her leadership roles and service as president of Interact Club and an active member of the National Honor Society. Natalie began giving back to the Raleigh community as a volunteer for the non-profit organization Education for Successful Parenting her freshman year. For four years, Natalie worked with the non-profit organization by managing booths at local events aimed at informing people about fire/household safety. Her senior year, when Natalie had the opportunity to have a marketing communications internship with ESP, her passion for improving the environments children grow up in was combined with her love of communications. During the internship, Natalie directed two videos for the nonprofit’s various communication platforms. She also edited a pitch deck and an executive summary infographic with the board members for a capital campaign. Natalie plans to major in either Strategic Communications or Journalism. She is excited for the opportunities that lay ahead at Elon University as a Communications Fellow.
Sarah Johnson, from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, graduated summa cum laude from Ephrata High School. During her time at EHS, Sarah enjoyed her position as the editor-in-chief of Ephrata’s quarterly publication, the Mountaineer Newspaper. While not laying out pages or conducting interviews, Sarah served as the secretary of both the Spanish National Honor Society and the Leo Club, while actively participating in National Honor Society, Link Crew and the field hockey team. Outside of school, Sarah can be found hiking with her Bernese mountain dog, Daisy, spending time with her friends and family, and traveling. (One of the most memorable places she’s been is Indonesia.) One of Sarah’s greatest passions is finding easy ways to make every day a little bit healthier—be that through sneaking some vegetables into cakes and brownies or through spreading the message of healthy living on her Instagram page, @thevegetationnation. At Elon, Sarah looks forward to pursuing a degree in Strategic Communications and Media Analytics with a minor in Spanish. She’s especially excited to get involved with Live Oak Communications and study abroad.
Leah Kallam is a North Carolina native who grew up in Pittsboro, just south of Chapel Hill, where she recently graduated from Northwood High School as an N.C. Academic Scholar. In school, Leah was involved in many programs, though one of her favorites was the National Art Honor Society. As a member, she helped organize events such as “One Home,” an original production dedicated to raising money for her school’s arts department and other education foundations. Outside of school, Leah pursued her passion for dance with Cary Ballet Conservatory’s Studio II division of the Professional Training Program and the Senior Ballet Company. She also worked as a teacher assistant in both ballet and jazz, helping younger dancers train and develop their artistry. Leah spent her summers dancing with the American Ballet Theatre in New York City, Carolina Ballet and the American Dance Festival. Her years in dance training gave her valuable insight and new perspectives for the future. Along with ballet, Leah found her niche in communications through her school’s award-winning student newspaper, The Omniscient, working as a staff writer then opinion editor. Her involvement in the paper led to her participation in the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association’s Summer Institute, where she worked for The Rush Online and later as vice president of newspaper for the institute. These experiences gave her the opportunity to make new connections, share stories and engage in her surrounding community. Leah is thrilled to be a part of Elon’s School of Communications and the Fellows Program. She hopes to study Communication Design, continue to dance and take part in many new adventures along the way.
Andrew Marquis grew up in Simsbury, Connecticut, where he graduated with honors from Simsbury High School. During his high school career, he was actively involved in his community and many school activities. He regularly volunteered at his local television station, where he worked behind the scenes on live broadcasts. He was also involved in his church youth group, which brought him to West Virginia and Louisville, Kentucky, on community aid mission trips. In school, Andrew was the goalie of the varsity ice hockey team for four years and a member of the varsity soccer team in his junior and senior years. Andrew played a big role in his school’s student-run news program, working as a writer and anchor for the show, despite only joining the organization early in his senior year. Andrew plans to major in Cinema & Television Arts and is honored to be a Communications Fellow at Elon.
Brianna Nobles grew up in the small town of Randleman, North Carolina (located in between the larger cities of Asheboro and Greensboro). In high school, she was known for being involved, serving as president of Student Government and documentarian of her high school’s chapter of Beta Club. She also ran track for four years, served as a member of prom committee and was the captain of Randleman Marching Tiger’s color guard. She could also be found volunteering at the Central Boys and Girls Club of Asheboro when she wasn’t at school. During her senior year, Brianna had the opportunity to be a rookie sports anchor with WGHP Fox 8 and cover her school’s homecoming game. It was this experience that made her decide to pursue a career in journalism. Brianna is honored to be a Communications Fellow and looks forward to the next four years at Elon.
Jack Norcross grew up in Reston, Virginia, and graduated from Herndon High School, where he took part in numerous activities including Key Club, three choirs, political science, student announcements, National Honor Society and others. In spring 2017, Jack completed an internship on Capitol Hill with a senior congressman. In seventh grade Jack found his love for broadcasting when he helped start a weekly television program at his middle school called “Primetime @ Powertime.” His passion continued into high school when he started “Herndon Live,” a local news show made for teens by teens that aired live on Herndon Community Television. While under his direction, Jack and his team attended both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rallies during the 2016 presidential election, interviewed Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and many local elected officials. In 2016, Jack was recognized for his work at HCTV when he received the Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award. Jack’s volunteer work with “Herndon Live” led to a paid internship with the station. Outside of the classroom and the television studio, Jack loves to ski, travel and consume anything related to news and politics. Jack looks forward to his next four years at Elon, where he will study journalism and take advantage of the many opportunities the university has to offer.
Sophia Ortiz graduated from the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, New Jersey, as an honors student. During her time in high school, Sophia participated in various extracurricular activities, including homeroom representative for Student Council, managing editor for the newspaper and vice president of Girls Rising, a club she and others created in 2014 that spreads awareness about women’s education and social injustices in developing nations. She also prides herself on having led AHA’s 2017 Awareness Day, with the aid of the executive board of Girls Rising, which focused on women’s rights, health and education. Along with her activism and leadership within the AHA community, Sophia also was a member of the Senior Dance Dimensions Competition Team, located in New Milford, New Jersey. There, she spent time working as an assistant to the younger members of her team and performing with her teammates. While pursuing a journalism degree at Elon, she wishes to continue dance, leadership and activism, while exploring new opportunities to learn through her Political Science minor. Lastly, Sophia wishes to take advantage of programs like Elon in Los Angeles, Elon in New York and study abroad. She is honored to join her fellow Communications Fellows at Elon.
Brian Rea is from Franklin, Massachusetts, and graduated from Bishop Feehan High School. Brian knew that a career in journalism was his calling from a young age, when he created the first newspaper ever to circulate his elementary school. Throughout his time in school, his passion for journalism began to deepen and evolve. In high school, he served as a featured writer and co-editor of his school’s newspaper, for which he covered school events to politics to global affairs. Outside of school, Brian writes and manages his own eclectic blog, Palm Trees and Pavement, where he enjoys writing about personal experiences, politics, pop culture and everything in between. In the fall of his senior year, Brian competed ad placed first in a local speech competition in which he spoke about the controversy of political correctness. A substantial part of Brian’s character comes from his time on the stage. He has been performing in plays and musicals since he was 12 years old, most recently playing Cogsworth in “Beauty and the Beast.” He hopes to combine his passions of writing and performing by pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. Brian is also a passionate volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, devoting his time to the annual One Walk and the advocacy program to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes. Brian is deeply honored to be a member of the Elon community and a Communications Fellow. He looks forward to the immense opportunities the next four years present.
Mallory Siegenthaler graduated as a valedictorian from duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky. She became deeply immersed in the world of media while she was a student in Manual’s Journalism and Communication magnet and is thrilled to continue studying her passion for that at Elon. She participated in various extracurricular activities as a two-year lacrosse captain, social media chair for a service club, volunteer for the Kentucky Humane Society, member of the mayor’s Give a Day/WE Day Kentucky youth board, intern at The Louisville Cardinal newspaper and photographer for On The Record, a student-run newsmagazine. While part of the On The Record staff, the magazine received a National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker and Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown. Individually, she received second place for Best News/Feature Photographer from Western Kentucky University’s Mark of Excellence Contest. Mallory is honored to be a Communications Fellow and plans on majoring in Cinema and Television Arts.
Emma Sossamon was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated from Academic Magnet High School after completing a rigorous senior thesis that studied the role of Twitter in the 2016 presidential election by using real-time data collection. This study inspired her passion for the analytics, which is why she will be majoring in Media Analytics at Elon. Throughout her high school career, Emma had a diverse group of interests she hopes to continue to grow at Elon. She studied ballet and taught it to children, and she performed lead roles for local companies. Her love for helping others inspired her to travel to Thailand to take care of elephants and work with local children. She hopes to join a service group at Elon and continue to help her new community.
Claire Thompson is from the Minneapolis area. During high school, Claire was involved in varsity soccer, choir, a cappella and her school’s service intern program. She also served as a junior volunteer at her local hospital and was president of her high school’s Spanish club. After graduating with highest honors from Minnehaha Academy, she took a gap year working and traveling throughout southeast Asia, Central America and Europe. Claire’s interest in communications began at age 10, when she bought her first video camera and fell in love with editing homemade films. She enjoys creating videos that chronicle her travels, and she placed third in the Backroad’s filmmaking contest after a family vacation to France. Claire plans to major in Strategic Communications and is also interested in studying business, psychology and Spanish. She is ecstatic to be a Communications Fellow and is looking forward to everything Elon has to offer.
Emmanuel Tobe was born in Durham, North Carolina, and graduated summa cum laude from Riverside High School. Emmanuel has two years of experience as a writer and editor for the Pirate’s Hook, Riverside’s award-winning school newspaper. His written work also has been published in the Durham Herald Sun. Emmanuel has significant experience with video production, doing camera work for “HighschoolOT” on WRAL.com and interning with the Durham Bulls. Emmanuel also had an internship with WUNC National Public Radio, where he had the opportunity to write, direct, record and edit two radio stories that were published on “Morning Edition.” He was also featured on a segment of “The State of Things with Frank Stasio,” which airs on WUNC. He was also a part of a youth radio podcast on iTunes that discussed the definition of news and how people find it. Journalism is clearly a passion for Emmanuel, and he has consistently sought opportunities to develop as a journalist and producer. This fall at Riverside High School, Emmanuel and a group of his peers worked together to create a Black Student Union. The group holds weekly meetings in which students engage in open discussion on topics about race. Emmanuel is well informed on political issues and was nominated for most opinionated at Riverside. Emmanuel is enthusiastic and eager for the next chapter of his life at Elon.
Victoria Traxler grew up in Oakton, Virginia, where she graduated from James Madison High School with an advanced diploma and two AP Scholar awards. She was a member of the English Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and literary arts magazine. Additionally, she was the president of the Acapella Club and further indulged her love of music through 14 years of classical piano training and performing with the School of Rock music program. Her avid love of reading and writing was prominent throughout her developing years, solidifying during her sophomore year while taking an additional online writing course provided by the county. Victoria explored her love of writing via her blog Wanderlust, in which she describes her experiences traveling locally and internationally. She is excited to participate in writing opportunities on campus such as The Pendulum and The Edge. Her aim is to combine her coursework in the School of Communications with Elon’s study abroad opportunities to develop the skills necessary to explore and report on a changing and diverse world.
Junieth Vargas, who goes by Junie, graduated from the American Nicaraguan School in Nicaragua. She was born in Managua and moved to Miami, Florida, when she was 2. After 10 years, Junie moved back to Nicaragua, where she experienced the many differences between the two countries. These vast differences prompted her to make a change in her society and connect with the unfortunate. She joined clubs and volunteered for programs that allowed her to meet new people and broaden her perspective of the world. One of these clubs was the National Honor Society, which taught English to a local school every Saturday. Feeling the need to do more, she started a chapter of Manna Project International in her school with the purpose of funding and implementing various projects in local communities to improve their quality of living. Apart from community service, Junie was also a member of her school’s swim team all throughout. She helped the team win first place in her junior and senior years in a Central American competition, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in her school for more than 13 years. Because of her hard work and dedication, she was chosen as team captain her senior year and was able to place on Nicaragua’s national team. Junie intends to use her School of Communications degree to help her country break the cycle of ignorance in Nicaraguan society. She is honored to be a part of the Communications Fellows program and cannot wait for the opportunities Elon has to offer.
Courtney Weiner was raised in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and graduated from Stoughton High School. There, Courtney served as community service coordinator in National Honor Society and class representative to Student Council. She also participated in DECA and Journalism Club. She was active in Stoughton High School’s media department, where she became a head anchor for her school’s daily newscast, “Knightline,” conducted and edited interviews for major school events, filmed footage for the 2017 Video Yearbook, and produced and created content for a seasonal show called “SHS This Month” during her senior year. Outside school, Courtney volunteered at Stoughton’s local news channel, where she conducted interviews with notable community members and participated in a Jewish youth group, serving on the chapter board for three years as vice president of communications, vice president of programming and ultimately president in her senior year. Courtney was a cheerleader for 12 years, becoming a senior captain in her final season. She spent eight summers at Camp JORI as a camper and counselor and has worked at her local YMCA as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the past two years. Courtney plans on majoring in journalism and is thrilled to become involved in the Elon Community as a Communications Fellow.
Cameron Wolfslayer graduated from Deep Run High School in Richmond, Virginia. While attending Deep Run, Cameron kept a busy schedule that included running cross country, acting in the school plays and serving on the boards of multiple clubs, such as SCA and Key Club. It was through trying these new activities that she discovered a common denominator among them all: video. She loved creating videos for the school morning announcements that advertised upcoming events. In fact, the local TV station aired her work in order to inform the community of events occurring at the local high schools within the county. One of her favorite experiences was attending the National Youth Leadership Forum for Media, Film, and Journalism that took place in New York. There, she was able to enhance her editing skills, while also learning new techniques used in print media, as well. To top it all off, she was honored to compete in the 48 Hour Film Festival twice. Cameron loves learning new things and cannot wait to attend Elon and continue her education in the field of communications.