Meet Center for Leadership Alumni

Alumna Maya Eaglin ’19, majored in Journalism and minored in African-American Studies and Leadership. At Elon, Maya was the news director for Elon News Network, and was a leading student coordinator at the CREDE, and studied with Semester at Sea. Maya held internships with Widmeyer Communications, WRC-NBC4 in Washington D.C., and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt in New York. Immediately after graduation, she began interning at National Public Radio (NPR) as a digital intern for the music team. There, Maya wrote articles, curated playlists, hosted Facebook headlines with Korva Coleman, created a social series called Tiny Updates @ the Tiny Desk and much more. In September, Maya will be moving to New York City to work at NBCUniversal. She was granted a News Associate position to work with different news programs within the company.

“The Leadership Fellows program gave me a great start to my college career. It provided me with a peer group and social group that helped me acclimate to the Elon environment. I’ve always felt like I was a natural born leader, and the Leadership Fellows program helped me realize that truth, along with academia to support it. From the program, I learned more about myself and friendships. It was hard to let some people who I’d become close with go, but ultimately the people who were supporting my success and growth became some of the most influential people in my life. Fellows connected me with staff members and other resources that helped build my reputation at Elon as well. I would recommend this program for someone who is looking to explore more about their own capabilities and to push them outside of their comfort zone. Some days we were all annoyed with each other, but by the end of our four years, most of us saw the value and supported each other, even if it was from a far.”

Following graduation, Olivia Zayas Ryan ’18 completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, a nine month-long leadership development program that utilizes New York City as a living, breathing classroom. The Coro Fellowship includes intensive leadership and personal development training, as well as the opportunity to work in five different placements over the course of the nine months. Olivia completed her work placements at the New York City Mayor’s Office, La Colmena, Industry City, the Center for Court Innovation, and Kasirer. These experiences allowed her to better understand the public affairs of New York City, and has amplified her passion for public service and government relations. Since completing the Coro Fellowship, she now works as an Communications and Public Affairs Associate at Global Strategy Group, a democratic polling and communications firm. At GSG, Olivia supports clients such as the A Better Way to LGA coalition, Vera Institute of Justice, What Works Cities, and the New York Botanical Garden with media relations, crisis communications, and thought leadership.

“The Leadership Fellows program gave me a foundation of leadership theory and scholarship that I have been able to bring into my work post-grad. The skills and self-awareness I gained as a Fellow has set me apart in my work because I have a unique understanding of my own leadership style, my strengths and opportunities, my non-negotiable values, and how I respond to different types of leaders and groups. This understanding has helped me adapt to workplaces more quickly and effectively and has given me the confidence of knowing my worth and value to a team. In addition to all of this, the Leadership Fellows program inspired me and encouraged me to pursue all of my passions and goals — no matter how far-fetched or off-course they may seem. Because of this, I am a more confident and self-assured person, makes others confident and sure of my abilities too.”

Steven Armendariz '17

Alumnus Steven Armendariz ’17 recently completed his Fulbright Fellowship grant in Spain as part of the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program. He worked in a local secondary school in Madrid teaching diverse disciplines to students and taught a course on international relations and diplomacy through a Model UN simulation. He also volunteered in various competitions such as university debate competitions. Steven is currently working in Washington, D.C. at an international development consulting company providing support in numerous program management facets. He works with federal government agencies to assist in implementing monitoring, evaluation, and learning strategies. As a student, Steven attended the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva as a SAS Student Ambassador and interned in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Commerce in the International Trade Administration and participated in The Washington Center program.

“I am grateful for the knowledge that I gained through my involvement in the Leadership Fellows program. I came to understand where my strengths and weakness lie and how to be an effective leader from this information. The Center for Leadership became an amazing support unit for me along with my group of class Fellows whenever I needed help or advice. This was especially important considering that as a first generation student I was looking for a community and family that would support me during my time at Elon. The CFL taught me about the significance of collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds that would lead to greater end results and a more positive community. My self-confidence and cultural competence grew as a result of the experience I had in the Fellows program through the workshops and courses I took, which motivated me to run for leadership positions on campus, such as Student Government, or apply to certain internships and fellowships. I will utilize the knowledge gained to leave a sustainable positive change in my future endeavors. I hope to apply my holistic understanding of leadership and mentorship to make an improvement in the education of the students I will be teaching abroad, fostering Isabella Cannon’s view of thinking globally and acting locally. Words cannot express the appreciation I have for the CFL and Fellows program for allowing me to grow into the young professional I am today.”

Noah Sakin '16.Noah Sakin ’16 came to Elon and after graduating stayed in the Alamance County community, a part of his Elon experience that was so crucial to his development. After graduation, Noah worked part-time at the Graham Police Department. He then attended Basic Law Enforcement Training at Guilford Technical Community College. In January 2017, Noah was sworn in as an officer in the Graham Police Department. In December 2018, he was promoted to Detective, where he investigates serious crimes and felonies. In February 2018 he was awarded the DWI Enforcement Award and in July 2019 he was awarded his second Life Saving Award.

“I often think about the cohort of Leadership Fellows that I was a member of. The people I connected with in this program are phenomenal, and the lessons learned through researching my own leadership style remain useful to me every day. One of the best memories that I have from the Leadership Fellows program is the Civil Rights trip that we took to Alabama. While it was incredibly fun to be traveling with the group of fellows, the trip itself was also more meaningful than I had ever imagined. While I had a basic understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, I realized during this trip that my understanding was lacking in one major component. Actively seeing and interacting with both sites and people who were involved with the movement. Visiting Martin Luther King Jr.’s home, speaking with folks who were marching for justice, and reflecting on these experiences with my fellows cohort is what made this experience special to me, and made it something that I will never forget. The Leadership Fellows Program as a whole is designed to create this kind of experience, one where students are not only in the classroom learning about things, but also going and experiencing those things for themselves. This approach challenged me to not only be the best student I could be, but also to grow and develop so that I could utilize the leadership skills taught to me in this program.?

Christine Fortner '15.After Elon, alumna Christine Fortner Zitelli ’15 lived in Sri Racha, Thailand where she taught English as a Fulbright Scholar. She lived and taught in a remote community where she was constantly thrown into new situations and pushed out of her comfort zone. After a year in Thailand, she returned to the United States and moved to Washington, D.C. where she works at the Education Advisory Board (EAB) as an Accounts Manager. In this role, Christine works with Superintendents and school districts from across the country to help solve their biggest challenges through best practice research. In November 2017, she married fellow Leadership Fellow and alumni, Greg Zitelli ’14.

“I look back and am thankful for what I learned through the Center for Leadership everyday during this experience. Each day I have to set realistic goals for myself and constantly self-reflect on my identity and purpose in my school and in my community. The CFL taught me the importance of recognizing and understanding differences in people. Being the only foreigner in my town, I am often asked questions about American culture and beliefs. Through the CFL I was prepared for conversations about stereotypes, race, and diversities in people and beliefs. The CFL helped me to become more culturally competent and to understand how to ask and answer difficult questions. The CFL also showed me to challenge the process and to always be looking for new opportunities. Through this mind set I have been teaching new content in my classes, starting clubs, and tutoring every evening. I have made relationships with people who do not speak the same language as me and have become comfortable in a place that is completely different from what I know. I am so thankful for the opportunities given to me at Elon, especially through the Center for Leadership, and use the skills I learned there every day while living abroad.”

Ashley Fowler '14.Ashley Fowler ’14 is currently working in Washington, D.C. at Internews Network as a Technical Program Officer on the Global Technology team. In this role, Ashley works with digital security trainers, design experts, and tool developers to ensure that open source privacy and security tools are meeting the needs of at-risk users. Additionally, she focuses on organizational security and improving digital security awareness and capacity within queer communities. Prior to joining Internews, Ashley worked with global LGBTQI+ communities for six years. She has conducted extensive research on LGBTQI+ communities in Central and Eastern Europe and served for three years on the HRC Global team at the Human Rights Campaign. Her current work directly correlates with Ashley’s experience at Elon, particularly her work within the Center for Leadership (CFL). The summer after her first year at Elon, Ashley traveled with the CFL to Vilnius, Lithuania for a summer human rights academy. It was during this summer that Ashley fell in love with Eastern Europe and began to develop an interest in international LGBTQIA rights, which eventually became the subject of her Lumen project. During her remaining three years at Elon, Ashley served as a student director within the CFL.

“My CFL positions taught me the value of enabling others to act, while also allowing me to cultivate my own leadership skills. I look forward to continuing to build on these experiences and competencies in my current position and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and knowledge that I was afforded at Elon.”

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