Class of 2020

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Sophia Abbot

Graduate Apprentice for the Center for Engaged Learning

Sophia Abbot is from Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor’s degree in Educational Identity and Empowering Pedagogy. During her time at Bryn Mawr she held various leadership positions including being a Hall Advisor, tour-guide, and a facilitator for the “Students as Learners and Teachers” program while the faculty director was on sabbatical. Her interest in higher education sparked when she became a member of the “Students as Learners and Teachers” program where she got the chance to explore “how to make more space for student participation, maintain student engagement, and rethink our expectations for what a class "should" look like.” Sophia would like to “facilitate students' finding belonging and transformation in their classes. After working in faculty development for three years after graduation, I'm returning to school to expand my understanding of higher ed, and deepen my work in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” She chose to continue her education in Elon’s MHE program because she wanted to “find strong mentorship in my professors and advisors.”

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Alonzo Cee

Graduate Apprentice for the Center for Leadership

Alonzo Cee is from New York, NY. He is a graduate of Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in Statistics. During his undergraduate experience, he held various leadership experiences including Director of Special Events for the Black Student Union, Greek Life Senator for the Student Government Association, Vice-President of his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, and a Student Ambassador for the President’s Inclusive Community Council. His interest in higher education came from talking with other higher education professionals that thought he would be a good fit for the field. He chose to continue his education in Elon’s MHE program because he “wanted a new and invigorating experience from a completely different perspective at Elon.”

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Katie Ciesiulka

Graduate Apprentice for Residence Life (Danieley Neighborhood)

Katie Ciesiulka is from Naperville, IL. She is a graduate of Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in English. During her time at Marquette she held leadership positions as the Co-writer for the English Department newsletter and Student-Teacher for elementary and high school-aged students. She also designed a research study where she “examined methods used to inform college students of the various clubs and co-curricular activities available to them.” Her interest in higher education stems from a passion to make sure students know that they have a place on campus whether that be sports, clubs, etc. Katie wants “to create a space where these students have a mentor to confide in, a place to find the information they need to get involved, and a resource for learning how to navigate their environment.” She chose to continue her education at Elon because of its emphasis on a holistic experience for its students.

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Caroline Dean

Graduate Apprentice for the Office of University Registrar

Caroline Dean is from Morganton, NC. She is a graduate of Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her undergraduate experience she held various leadership positions including being an English Second Language tutor, Co-leader for an Intervarsity, Resident Assistant, and Apartment Manager. Her interest in the field of higher education stems from the impact of her own college experience on her development as a student and individual. She feels that higher education “genuinely altered the course of her life and helped to control the paths she pursued.” Caroline continued her education at Elon in the MHE program because of the school's engaged learning model and the unique opportunity to cultivate the inaugural year of the Master's program as a member of the opening class.

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Jillian Epperson

Graduate Apprentice for Residence Life (Global Neighborhood)

Jillian Epperson is from Burlington, NC. She is a graduate of Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. During her undergraduate experience she held leadership positions as one of the two Lead Mentors with the Elon Academy and a Resident Area Coordinator where she was able to learn about her leadership style. Her interest in higher education resulted from a hard look at her resume while applying to law school. She realized the most impactful experiences were the ones where she was involved in activities on campus. She chose to continue her education in Elon’s MHE program because she found the study abroad and internship components to be extremely valuable.

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Toby Finizio

Graduate Apprentice for International Student and Scholar Services

Toby Finizio is from Newport, NC. He is a graduate of Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services. During his undergraduate experience he held leadership positions in Residence Life as Resident Assistant and Resident Area Coordinator. His interest in higher education comes a passion to “push higher education towards 100% access and experiential education that aims to create lifelong learners and global citizens.” He believes that higher education “is the key to changing the world we live in.” He chose to continue his education in Elon’s MHE program because of its “commitment to ensuring a well-rounded educational experience for students in and out of the classroom.” He is interested in learning how to implement a new curriculum and what that looks like from the student side of things.

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Shannon Finney

Graduate Apprentice for the Gender and LGBTQIA Center

Shannon Finney is from Vienna, VA. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington with a bachelor’s degree in English. During her time at Mary Washington, she held various leadership positions including being the President of the Class of 2018, Executive Board President of Class Council, Orientation Leader and Peer Mentor. Her interest in higher education stems from her involvement in leadership and peer mentoring where she had the opportunity to see the impact of campus resources and support can have on a student. Shannon wants to “be involved in making sure as many students feel like they are at home as possible.” She chose to continue her education at Elon because she “wanted to be somewhere where she would be challenged. She knew coming here meant she would be able to have an entirely new experience in an entirely different space.”

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Kiara Hines

Graduate Apprentice for the Student Professional Development Center

Kiara Hines is from Rutherfordton, NC. She is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Psychology. During her time at Western Carolina, she held leadership positions as the Parliamentarian of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, President of the Inspirational Gospel Choir, and Campus Tour Coordinator. Her interest in higher education evolved through her involvement in undergraduate admissions where she was given the opportunity to advise students and help them find their passions. These opportunities, along with presenting research and gaining her first publication at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), led to her realizing just how much she could do in the field of higher education. She chose to continue her education at Elon because she believed they “value student success, challenge the norm, and never settle for ‘good enough’".

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Tim Hussey

Graduate Apprentice for Residence Life (Historic Neighborhood)

Tim Hussey is from Cornelius, NC. He is a graduate of UNC Asheville with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During his time at UNC Asheville he held various leadership positions including being the Student Body President and Board of Trustee member, a Peer Mentor, and a Resident Assistant. His interest in higher education started with his Residence Life experience where he had the chance to work with students and watch their development in their living communities. Tim states, “Getting involved with student life in undergrad gave me the best 4-year experience I could've possibly had and I'm excited to be able to give back to a profession that has given me so much!” He chose to continue his education in Elon’s MHE program because of the emphasis on inclusion and global engagement. He is motivated and excited for the innovative opportunities that come along with the very first cohort.

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Natalie Larson

Graduate Apprentice for Business, Finance, and Technology

Natalie Larson is from Burlington, IA. She is a graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, IA with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology with concentrations in Human Resources and Leadership Education. During her time as an undergrad at Drake University, she held leadership positions as a Summer Orientation Leader, Student Activities Board President, and Admission Fellow. More recently, she has spent her time as an Assistant Director of Admission working with students specifically from the Chicagoland area. Her initial interest in higher education came from her involvement as an undergraduate student and her work in admissions led her to rethink the impact she could have within higher education. Natalie seeks to contribute to the future of higher education, ensuring the opportunity for our future generations remain student-centered in order to continue producing students who have the skills to critically think, work successfully in teams, and find resolution in conflict, who value inclusiveness and strive for cultural competency, and who desire to make a positive impact on the world around them. She chose to continue her education in Elon’s program because of its transformative history and the values of the institution.

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Cameron Shirley

Graduate Apprentice for the President's Office

Cameron Shirley is from Apex, NC. She is a graduate of Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in History Education. Cameron continued her studies at James Madison University earning a Master of Arts in History. After completing her master's degree, Cameron taught high school history in the Wake County Public School System. As a high school teacher, Cameron was able to work with students in an academic setting and outside of the classroom as a basketball coach. Cameron was a leader in her department. She taught AP United States History and served as a professional learning team lead for regular American History courses. Cameron’s interest in higher education came from a shift in focus “to older students who are developing new academic and personal identities as young adults in a college environment.” She chose Elon’s MHE program because of the multiple internship opportunities and high-quality faculty.

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Sierra Smith

Graduate Apprentice for Graduate Admissions and the M.A. in Higher Education

Sierra Smith is from Wake Forest, NC. She is a graduate of Meredith College with a bachelor’s degree in Dance and Communication. During her time at Meredith, she held various leadership positions including Senior Class Secretary, White Iris Circle Tour Guide, Orientation Skit Co-Chair, and Cornhuskin’ Co-Chair. Her interest in higher education stems from her involvement on campus where she had the chance to “supervise and mentor students through their college experiences." She also has an enthusiasm to emulate the strong professionals at her undergraduate institution. Sierra “strongly believes that education is for everyone” and she wants “to work towards providing access to higher education for all students.” She chose to continue her education in Elon’s MHE program because of the opportunity for internships and study abroad.

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Taylor Stuck

Graduate Apprentice for Alumni Engagement

Taylor Stuck is from Elizabeth City, NC. He is a graduate of Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in Project and Business Management. During his undergraduate experience, he held various leadership positions including Student Union Board President, Student Government Programming Senator, and Executive Intern in University Communications. His interest in higher education started when he realized that higher education was not an opportunity that everyone has access to. Taylor believes that everyone should have access to the experiences he had during his undergraduate experience. He chose to continue his education in Elon’s MHE program because of the accessibility to faculty and staff who have been pivotal in the advancement of Elon University.

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Taylor Swan

Graduate Apprentice for Academic Advising

Taylor Swan is from Harrisonburg, VA. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish. During her time at Virginia Tech she held leadership positions as an Orientation Leader, Hokie Camp Leader, and Service Officer for the Chi Delta Alpha Service Sorority. Her interest in higher education stems from her involvement with Orientation and New Student Programs, as well as the office of Family and Alumni Relations. She wants to emulate those she felt were phenomenal leaders of her undergraduate institution. Taylor understands the power of a college education and wants “to be the mentor that changes a student experience, that makes college more accessible, meaningful, and memorable.” She chose to continue her education in Elon’s MHE program because she felt that Elon “truly cared about her as a young professional” and that the program was “extremely intentional” in the classes they were offering and the instructors teaching the courses.