Multifaith Scholars at Elon

The Multifaith Scholars program is a two-year, closely mentored, experientially rich, and academically rigorous educational opportunity for juniors and seniors who show great potential as intellectually curious and socially engaged multifaith leaders. Scholarships provide $5000 annually in the junior and senior year to support the personal and academic development of selected students.

Who Should Apply?

Scholarships fund students of any major committed to developing a sophisticated knowledge about religious diversity and multifaith issues, interacting with local and global religious communities, and advancing a public intellectual project. Students apply in their sophomore year and begin the program in their junior year.

What Will Multifaith Scholars Do?

In order to prepare themselves for multifaith leadership on campus and beyond, students in this program undertake both academic course work–including undergraduate research–and co-curricular engagement with local communities that will promote multifaith learning and reflection inspired by religious diversity. Students accepted into the program will complete either a major in Religious Studies or a minor in Interreligious Studies. In the junior year, students will begin working with mentors on their research projects, continue to take classes in the major or minor, and participate in community engagement initiatives with the program director. Juniors will also work closely with their mentors to plan global engagement (e.g., study abroad or study away), internship, and/or more intensive research experiences that deepen and broaden their development, with the aim of engaging every scholar in community engagement and research experiences that advance and complement their development as multifaith leaders. In the senior year, students will assume active campus leadership roles, working with faculty in residential neighborhoods, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, or the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society to organize educational events around issues of religion in a global context.

What Career Opportunities Does the Program Prepare Students For?

Those students who complete the Multifaith Scholars program will possess a uniquely strong foundation to enter multifaith work of many kinds—including through employment in higher education, through positions within the expanding network of interfaith organizations in urban centers across the U.S., through coordinating outreach for communities of faith and non-profits, and in a growing number of governmental and non-governmental positions across the globe fostering relationships across religions and cultures. In addition, the program will train students to productively and creatively address religious diversity in career fields related to their own specific majors, from business to psychology to public health. They will be prepared to enter this work not only with clarity and awareness of their own strengths and promise but also with the skills that will help them proactively pursue leadership and innovation in multifaith work gained through academic inquiry, first-hand experiences, mentoring, and advising.

History of the Multifaith Scholars Program

In 2015, Elon received a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation to build a program dedicated to undergraduate research and community engagement that would foster high-impact, experiential learning about the intersections of religious traditions. The Multifaith Scholars program was established within Elon’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, and its first director, Dr. Amy Allocco, was appointed to implement the program and recruit its first class, which was welcomed in 2017. Following the tremendous success of the MFS program and the high quality research its students produced, Elon assumed full funding of the program at the close of the grant period. MFS have presented widely at academic conferences, published their research in peer-reviewed venues, offered leadership within the campus community and with community partners, and engaged in public scholarship aimed at sharing their knowledge with multiple audiences. Graduates have gone on to competitive graduate programs in international relations and religious studies, US State Department-funded language study, and national and international service fellowships.

2019-2020 Multifaith Scholars

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Anna Daniel

Mentor: Andrew Monteith

Anna Daniel is a Religious Studies and Statistics double major with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from Charlotte North Carolina. Anna is particularly interested in the relationship between race and religion and seeing how religion operates in secular spheres to contribute to the creation of social structures. With her research as a Multifaith Scholar, Anna will be examining the race-religion nexus in the Ku Klux Klan with a specific focus in the NC Piedmont region. She seeks to determine how this organization with religious roots emerged to operate beyond belief to shape secular society and form racial-religious hierarchies. She also hopes to engage in this topic within a more contemporary context, specifically looking at how racially based hate rhetoric germinates in a society, as she believes these processes are mirrored by the Klan’s historical emergence and activity. Anna is looking forward to working under her mentor’s guidance in completing her academic project, as well as inspiring a heightened sensitivity to the surrounding racial climate here at Elon.

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Srija Dutta

Mentor: Amanda Tapler

Srija Dutta is a Public Health and International Global Studies (Middle East Concentration) double major with minors in Interreligious Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Atlanta, GA. Srija first became interested in religious studies when working extensively with refugees in Clarkston, GA, and her interest escalated as she completed her Public Health Practicum in a rural village in Jamkhed, Maharashtra. Being the daughter of first-generation immigrants, Srija strives to use her privilege in efforts to study and advance Women's Health outcomes within marginalized populations. Through her exposure to Hindu identities within her family, and her extensive studies of the Islamic faith through her Middle Eastern Studies courses, Srija developed an interest in analyzing and comparing the public health outcomes among religious communities-- bringing together her Public Health and International Studies majors. Being born in Kolkata, Srija made it a priority to conduct her research in a manner that would benefit those from her hometown who did not have the same privilege and opportunity that she did. Srija plans on conducting researchat Hamari Muskan, a nonprofit organization in rural India that focuses on aiding and providing support for women that actively part take in sex work. Through her research, Srija strives to create a sense of empowerment and sustainable health for these vulnerable women while actively conducting research to further her academic interests.

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Madison Gray

Mentor: Brian Pennington

Madison Gray is an Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Adventure Based Learning double major with an Interreligious Studies minor from Richmond, Virginia. She grew up in a secular household, and her interest in multifaith engagement began when transferred to a Catholic high school her sophomore year. Exposure to a new religious community piqued Madison's curiosity, inspiring her to apply for Multifaith Scholars to learn more about interfaith issues and religious diversity. Madison's research plans to incorporate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping in order to explore intersections between religion and environment at the Hindu-Buddhist Angkor Wat group of monuments in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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Sarah Jane McDonald

Mentor: Mussa Idris

Sarah Jane (SJ) McDonald is a Religious Studies and International/Global Studies (Africa concentration) double major with minors in Leadership and Peace/Conflict Studies. Sarah Jane’s interest in religion and the ways faith traditions interact began in high school and has grown throughout her time at Elon through a variety of opportunities. Sarah Jane’s research centers around the role of religion in the lives of East African migrants, specifically refugees in Tanzania and Greensboro. Her project combines her study of Africa with a passion for refugees and will include ethnographic fieldwork while abroad in Tanzania.

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Kylee Smith

Mentor: Sandy Marshall

Kylee Smith is a Policy Studies major and with a double minor in Inter-Religious Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies from Sugar Land, TX. Kylee’s interest in multi-faith work began her senior year in high school when her school's diversity theme for the year was “Healing Islamaphobia.” This sparked her initial interest in gaining a better understanding of other religious traditions and working alongside those facing discrimination. She interned in Refugee Resettlement the Summer of 2018 where her experiences opened her eyes to the stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination refugees in America face simply due to their religion. As a Multi-Faith Scholar, Kylee will conduct qualitative research amongst resettled Muslim migrants to understand what impact relocation to a secular and religiously diverse country has had on their religious views and practices.

2018-2019 Multifaith Scholars

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Marjorie Ann Foster

Mentors: Glenn Scott & Amy Allocco

Marjorie Anne Foster is a Journalism major and an InterReligious Encounters minor from Columbia, South Carolina. Marjorie Anne has always been interest in multi-faith work sense her early years of high school. In 2015, she spent a year traveling abroad and learning with diverse religious communities. Some of her travels included Nepal, India, Thailand, Peru and Swaziland. Through her travels and classroom endeavors, she has developed a deep respect for those of different faiths, particularly those practicing in their youth. Through her academics and personal pursuits, Marjorie Anne has seen the divide between the modern day faith practitioners and the way they are presented in the media. This has fueled her to research more about different faith communities and produce journalistic work that more appropriately reflects their modern-day lives and traditions. Marjorie Anne’s research as a Multi-faith Scholar will be focused on Muslim youths and the systems, structures and struggles they may face while at an American University. Her hope is to create a more accurate portrayal of these students live's in order to build a bridge between different individuals and combat the bias and negative attention these people groups may receive in the press.

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Kathryn Gerry

Mentor: Amy Allocco

Kathryn Gerry is a political science and international global studies (Middle East concentration) double major with minors in inter-religious studies and Asian studies from Boston, Massachusetts. Kathryn’s interest in religious studies emerged from her practice of yoga in high school. At Elon University she was introduced to and became passionate about the field of religion in academia. Through multiple religious studies classes, Kathryn developed an excitement for learning about the interactions of various religions with each other and the globalizing world. Her research as a Multi-Faith Scholar focuses on the phenomena of worker migration in the South Indian state of Kerala. Kathryn’s project will examine the implications of this migration and subsequent flows of ideas, practices, and money on social, religion, and economic landscapes in Kerala.

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Katie Hooker

Mentors: Brian Pennington & Amy Allocco

Katie Hooker is a Strategic Communications major and an Interreligious Studies minor from Medfield, MA. Katie's interest in interfaith work began in an introductory religion class at Elon and grew as she started to think about coursework through a personal lens. Katie's research as a Multifaith Scholar will focus on the impact of Christian Missionaries on indigenous religions in Haiti, such as Haitian Vodou. Before passing away in 2016, Katie's aunt travelled to Haiti over twenty times to build an orphanage and provide humanitarian aid alongside her church group. Katie is interested in how people of different religious backgrounds interact in the context of charity and missionary work and is excited to combine academic research with a personal interest.

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Hannah Thorpe

Mentor: Geoffrey Claussen

Hannah Thorpe is a junior from Annapolis, MD with majors in Religious Studies and Psychology and a minor in Political Science. Hannah has always been interested in the way religion quietly influenced our everyday lives, and especially the way people of different religious backgrounds interact. Hannah is interested in how prejudice plays a role in and among people who come from different traditions and how each tradition situates itself around inter religious encounters. This drove her to her Religious Studies major and to applying to the MultiFaith Scholars program at Elon. Her research centers around Jewish responses to NeoNazi movements in the United States.

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Sonya Walker

Mentors: Colin Donahue & Ariela Marcus-Sells

Sonya Walker is a religious studies and journalism double major from Church Creek, Maryland. She came to Elon with a dream of becoming a journalist but quickly was interested in multi-faith issues, especially surrounding Islam and its position within the world of journalism. Sonya’s research surrounds Islamophobia in the America airline industry with a focus on the intersections and representations of different religious traditions including Sikhism. Sonya looks forward to bringing together her interests in journalism and ethnography in this project and hopes to produce both scholarly and journalistic final pieces.

2017-2018 Multifaith Scholars

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Kristina Meyer

Mentor: Toddie Peters

Kristina Meyer is a religious studies and mathematics double major from Richmond, V.A. Kristina’s interest in multi-faith work began in high school when she began to befriend people who came from diverse religious backgrounds. In these interactions with her new friends, Kristina learned to appreciate what made her and her friends both similar and different from one another. This fueled her interest to be involved in various interfaith organizations and programs upon coming to Elon. Her involvement in these organizations has caused her to examine the difference between programmatic dialogue and actively addressing actual social issues. Kristina’s research as a Multi-faith Scholar will be focused on considering how justice-oriented interfaith organizations interact with faith communities to promote participation in social justice work for their participants and congregations.

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Styrling Rohr

Mentor: Amy Allocco

Styrling Rohr is a religious studies and anthropology double major from Cincinnati, O.H. Styrling was inspired to further her understanding of the world’s religions, particularly in Hinduism, after feeling like she had more to learn after her experience with religious studies in high school. Styrling is fascinated by the sometimes blurred lines that can exist between religious traditions and has further delved into this interest in religious diversity through her involvement in Periclean Scholars. In her work with Periclean Scholars, Styrling and her cohort have been working to push for inter-faith work and reconciliation efforts with a community partner on the ground in Sri Lanka. In her work as a Multi-faith Scholar, Styrling plans to analyze the ways in which South Asian musical and performance traditions may cross religious boundaries among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

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Sophie Zinn

Mentor: Brian Pennington

Sophie Zinn is an international studies and political science double major from Indianapolis, I.N. Sophie became most interested in multi-faith engagement during her time in a Jesuit high school. As a Jewish woman, Sophie felt inspired by the diverse representation of religious backgrounds around her and leaned in to learning more about the world’s religions. One of her courses, “Social Justice and Decision Making,” furthered her interest in religious studies and after discovering many of the injustices of the world, Sophie became a strong advocate for universal human rights. As a Multi-faith Scholar, Sophie plans on investigating religion and secularism in the public sphere through research on migrant populations from Middle Eastern countries in Europe.