Meet Center for Leadership Alumni
Recent alumnus Steven Armendariz ’17 worked as a Trip Leader for a company that gave him the opportunity to lead a community service program abroad in Costa Rica for high school students. Steven taught the importance of being open-minded, culturally competent, and leaving a sustainable impact. Steven is currently pursuing the Fulbright Fellowship to Spain as part of the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program. He works in a local high school in Madrid teaching students in various disciplines and assists students in understanding more about international relations and diplomacy.
Steven shared, “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 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 attened Basic Law Enforcement Training at Guilford Technical Community College. He is now a police officer for the City of Graham.
When thinking back on his time at Elon, Noah said, “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.”
After, Elon, alumna Christine Fortner ’15 lived in Sri Racha, Thailand where she taught English as a Fulbright Scholar. Christine taught over 800 students every week in a community that speaks very little English. She was constantly thrown into new situations and pushed out of her comfort zone on a daily basis. After a year in Thailand, she returned to the United State sand moved to Washington, D.C. where she works at the Education Advisory Board (EAB) as an Accounts Manager. This Fall, she will marry fellow Leadership Fellow and alumni, Greg Zitelli ’14.
When reflecting on her time at Elon, Christine said, “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 is currently working in Washington, DC at the Human Rights Campaign as the HRC Global Coordinator. HRC Global works to strengthen the global equality movement by raising awareness of discrimination and persecutio n faced by LGBT people worldwide, support the efforts of LGBT organizations and advocates abroad, advocate for an LGBT-inclusive US foreign policy, and expose US individuals and organizations who export homophobia and transphobia. In May 2017, Ashley was recognized by Impact Squared as one of their 100 Faces of Impact for 2017.
This position 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 LGBT 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. These positions taught Ashley the value of enabling others to act, while also allowing her to cultivate her own leadership skills. Ashley looks forward to continuing to build on these experiences and competencies in her new position and is incredibly grateful for the opportunities and knowledge that she was afforded at Elon.
Lauren Flood ’11 started her post-Elon career working as a Learning Consultant for HR Talent Management. She then moved into a position at MasterCard working in Human Resources. In May 2014, moved across the country to Calforinia to pursue a dream job with Google and to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. She has continued her Human Resources experiences with Google, both within Global Sales and Employee Relations.
Lauren wrote, “Each step of the way I have tried to carry with me Dr. Isabella Cannon legacy: think globally, act locally. In addition to Dr. Cannon’s legacy, I carry many gifts afforded to me by the CFL: the gift of culture, as I ventured to a new country for four months, not knowing one word of the native tongue; the gift of collaboration and teaming by assuming various leadership and service positions on campus; the gift of feedback thanks to the incredible mentor/mentee relationships that I was able to build and sustain to this day; the gift of knowledge thanks to the incredible faculty, staff, and peers I learned from and with; and the gift of awareness and passion as people took chances on me and allowed me to take risks, even when it meant failing. I will be forever thankful for the Center for Leadership at Elon University. It brought me experiences of a lifetime, exposed me to some of the greatest leaders and mentors I’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing and learning from, and gave me the confidence to pursue my passions. It was at Elon that I learned to take thoughtful risks; ask for forgiveness, not permission; do what you love and love what you do; and give back.”
Alumni? Fill out our Alumni Network Questionnaire to keep us updated on your post-Elon experiences!