Ward Family in Learning Award 2008 winner

The Ward Family Learning in Action Award was established in 2007 through a gift from the Ward family-Dorothy Mears Ward GP’05 and ‘08, Tom and Beth Ward P’05 and ‘08, A.T. Ward ’05, Christopher Ward ’08 and Chase Ward.

This award annually recognizes one rising sophomore, junior or senior and their experiential learning project. The projects may include, but are not limited to, international study, undergraduate research, internships, service and leadership experiences. Thirty-seven applications were submitted for the Ward Family Learning in Action Award this year.

All the applications were outstanding and the projects were truly amazing. It was obvious that there was a great amount of time, effort and energy put forth from each applicant and the committee and the Ward Family had a difficult time determining a recipient.

Below is a brief synopsis of the winning project plus the top four projects.

The Ward Family Learning in Action Award for 2008 was given to Lauren Taylor.

Project: Examine the role that traditional birth attendants play in the care of HIV-infected pregnant women in South Africa.

This project explores the effect of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) on satisfaction with prenatal care among HIV-infected pregnant women in South Africa. It is hypothesized that the presence of TBAs during prenatal care will increase satisfaction with care and decrease maternal depression, pre-term delivery, hypertension, and low weight gain.” While Lauren is in South Africa in spring 2010, she will intern with a local expert in the field. Her research will be both qualitative and quantitative, consisting of informal interviews and surveys with participants. She plans to write an article about her study and submit it to a peer-reviewed journal. She also hopes to present her findings at national conferences such as the International AIDS Conference. She will also write a reflective article for Elon’s Black Oaks E-journal and teach a winter term “Burst the Bubble” course on women’s international health.

Elizabeth Sise
Project: Operation Crossroads Africa for the summer of 2008

Elizabeth believes that “if our country is to produce open minded and progressive citizens then it is crucial that the teachers of our country possess these same standards.” She has been accepted into the Operations Crossroads Africa program for summer 2008. This program’s goal is to foster intercultural understanding and acceptance by sending young North Americans to work on grassroots projects in Africa with young Africans. Based on Elizabeth’s qualifications, she has been assigned to work in francophone Niger where she will participate in training projects that include early childhood education and teaching English as a second language. She will work with children using her French language skills while simultaneously learning hands-on about the culture and history of Niger and Africa. She has already formed a local area school outreach committee to educate local Burlington/Alamance schools about the culture of schools in Ghana. She looks forward to continuing her research on education in Niger and incorporating her summer experiences to supplement her presentations to area schools. After completing further research, she plans to submit a research paper on education in Africa to the National African studies conference in March 2009. If her paper is accepted, she will present her studies at the annual conference in New Orleans in November 2009.

Katie Meyer
Project: Spotlight on the World’s ‘Invisible Children’-video documentary

Invisible Children is a national organization/movement with the mission to change perceptions in the Western world, raise international awareness, and bring greater aid and more permanent change to war-affected regions in Africa. Katie has started a chapter of Invisible Children at Elon which is aimed at educating individuals about the effects of tribal conflict on the children of Northern Uganda. Her video documentary will be focused on the specific human rights violations of children in selected regions of Africa. The documentary will serve both as promotional video for the Elon chapter and as an educational video for the entire campus. The video will include still images, video interviews, voice-overs, reflections, and footage of different African regions. “This two year video will be showcased in Spring 2009 during SURF, and will serve as a record of my progress, knowledge, development and awareness of Africa’s ‘invisible children.’”
Jennifer Burns
Project: Building a Playground and a Future for Children

“Elon is a thriving, prestigious university that promotes an atmosphere of intellectual excellence, a motivation to succeed and the inspiration to realize individual hopes and dreams. However, less than 10 miles from our beautiful and thriving campus is a five mile square area designated by the U.S. Justice Department as a high crime, high poverty area that requires additional resources in community policing and development through a Weed and Seed Program that focuses on reducing issues faced by high-crime neighborhoods. Children ages 17 or younger make up approximately 26% of this population and the area does not have a playground.” Jennifer writes in her project description. Jennifer’s proposal is to construct a playground in the Beaumont area. There is already a plot of land that can be used and a local church that has agreed to help maintain the playground for up to 10 years. Jennifer’s proposal included recruiting organizations from Elon and local community to assist with the construction. “This single award could make a significant impact on so many lives that truly ask for so little. Not only is this an opportunity to be able to bring students together to recognize the realities of dramatic disparities but also providing a means in which both students and the community can become empowered through a collaborative effort.”

Shane Morris
Project: Summer internship working with Habitat for Humanity in Amman, Jordan.

Morris is tasked to develop a system to plant low-water-use plants and trees around constructed Habitat for Humanity homes and then he will study abroad during fall semester in Accra, Ghana.
To succeed with this project, Shane will “research regionally appropriate low-water-use plants, visit homes to learn more about the planting sites, and work through fundraising and other means to obtain the funds necessary to make such a planting possible. He will also develop a plan that incorporates volunteer labor in the planting process and subsequently implement this volunteerism plan.” Once in Ghana, Shane will be taking classes and immersing himself in the culture of Ghana. He also plans to “pursue an internship working for a nonprofit in the surrounding community when he gets into the country.”