Top 10 Under 10 Awards celebrate the successes of young alumni

The awards program highlights and celebrates alumni who have graduated within the past decade and who are distinguished in their professions and invested in the future of Elon and its community.

{l-r} Back row: Garrett A. Turner ’08, Mitch K. Pittman ’09, Tyler J. Brandt ’06 and J. Parker Turner IV ’06. Front row: Kendra Nickel-Nguy ’08, Justine M. Davis ’08, Amanda Brown Marusiak ’10 and Hallie Kilmer Cornetta ’09.
Elon alumni, family and friends came together April 2 to recognize the professional achievements and personal journeys of 10 extraordinary young alumni as part of the 2016 Top 10 Under 10 Alumni Award program.

In its sixth year, the program highlights and celebrates alumni who have graduated within the past decade and are distinguished in their professions and invested in the future of Elon and its community. This year’s recipients join a cohort of 50 previous winners who are doing great things in their communities, work and life.

Recognized were:

Tyler J. Brandt ’06
Real Estate Acquisition Representative, Murphy Oil USA

Tyler’s childhood was anything but typical. He spent the first eight years of his life in Bougainville, a small island in the South Pacific that makes up the nation of Papua New Guinea. After five years on the island, his family moved to Perth, Australia, before settling in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1998.

It was there he discovered Elon University, graduating in 2006 with a degree in business administration. He later obtained a master’s degree in real estate development from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has worked for several corporations, including CBRE Group, Colliers International and Murphy Oil USA, where he is currently one of six real estate representatives driving the Fortune 200 Company’s land acquisitions and site selections across the United States.

In 2010, Tyler became involved with the Charlotte Alumni Chapter and three years later, he assumed the role of president. He held that position until 2015, when he was elected to serve as president of the UNC-Charlotte Masters of Real Estate Alumni network.

Tyler and his fiancée, Alysa Wayland, live in Charlotte.

Hallie Kilmer Cornetta ’09
Vice President of Human Capital, Red Ventures

A 2009 Elon University corporate communications major and leadership studies minor, Hallie has been a key driver of Red Ventures’ exponential growth and international expansion.

After spending five years in marketing roles within the company, the Davenport, Iowa, native joined the senior leadership team last year where she now leads all things people, including: talent acquisition, talent evaluation, resource allocation, learning and development initiatives and the Community Involvement Program.

Always ready to take on leadership positions at Elon, Hallie served as program coordinator for New Student Orientation, treasurer for Omicron Delta Kappa and chaplain for Alpha Xi Delta. She was also an Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow and a tour guide for the Office of Admissions. At Red Ventures, Hallie is tasked with two primary goals: grow the marketing company’s talent base by at least 25 percent a year while also growing and cultivating the company culture, known to be its key ingredient for success.

Hallie married Sal Cornetta in fall 2015 and is actively engaged in the community and her church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Justine M. Davis ’08
Doctorate Student and Ford Fellow, University of California, Berkeley

Originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Justine graduated from Elon University with a degree in international studies with a concentration in Africa.

After obtaining a dual-language master’s degree in international affairs, conflict resolution and civil society development from the American University of Paris and the Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, she completed a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship in Côte d’Ivoire. There she collaborated with the country’s Ministry of Education on the implementation and evaluation of a newly instated human rights and citizenship education curriculum for elementary and middle school-level students.

With funding from a West Africa Research Association Pre-Dissertation Fellowship and a University of California Human Rights Fellowship, Justine returned to Côte d’Ivoire in the summer of 2015 to conduct a research project on popular perceptions of nongovernmental organizations and electoral preparation for the October presidential elections.

Her doctoral work at Berkeley concentrates primarily on Sub-Saharan Africa. She is interested in examining the role of civil society organizations in shaping citizens’ political behavior in newly democratizing settings.

Clint R. Irwin ’11
Professional Soccer Player, Toronto FC

As a Liverpool FC fan, Clint grew up watching some of the greatest soccer stars in the English Premier League. Little did he know that one day, he would be sharing the pitch with some of them.

Clint graduated from Elon University in 2011 with a degree in political science and a minor in philosophy. He played four years of varsity soccer leading the Phoenix to an undefeated conference record and conference championship in 2008. After spending the past three seasons with the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer team, Clint joined the Toronto FC earlier this year. A headline-maker throughout his professional career, he was named to the 2015 AT&T MLS all-star team in 2015 and won the Colorado Rapids’ Fan Favorite Award in 2013 and 2015.

But Irwin’s accomplishments don’t end after the final whistle blows. As a representative for the MLS Players Union, he took part in the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations that resulted in free agency for the first time in the league’s history and significant salary increases for the players. He also writes for various publications, with works appearing in The Daily Telegraph (United Kingdom), Sports Illustrated and Pacific Standard.

Adam S. Kaplan ’12
Broadway Actor

Adam has found many successes in the performing arts in the few years since graduation, lighting up the stage on Broadway in “Newsies!” and at many regional theatres, and now starring as Charlie Price in the National Tour of “Kinky Boots.”

Originally from Westport, Connecticut, Adam started performing at an early age. In high school, he performed with the prestigious Staples Players. He continued sharpening his skills at Elon, where he had leading roles in many shows including “She Loves Me” and “Hair” before graduating in 2012 with a music theatre degree.

He was a finalist in the 2012 New York Music Theatre Festival’s Next Broadway Sensation competition, and soon after made his Broadway debut in Disney’s “Newsies!,” performing the leading role of Jack Kelly numerous times. He was in the New York Philharmonic’s  “Show Boat,” which was subsequently broadcast as part of PBS’ Live at Lincoln Center series, and has been a part of many concerts and productions across the country, including a recent performance at the White House.

Besides performing, Adam teaches frequently in New York City and across the country, serving as a mentor for young people who want to pursue professional theater.

Amanda Brown Marusiak ’10
Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Control Program Coordinator, ExxonMobil Corporation

Amanda was always good at math and passionate about service, but it wasn’t until she came to Elon that her interests and skills collided, guiding her to a career in a field she didn’t even know existed.

Her interest in global development led her to become a Periclean Scholar. Her cohort’s project was to sustainably support the construction of a health center in rural Ghana, which inspired her undergraduate research in mathematically modeling the spread of malaria. Thanks to faculty mentors, study abroad and research experiences, as well as the Periclean and Lumen Scholars programs, she found her calling in public health.

After graduation, Amanda obtained a master’s degree in epidemiology at the University of Texas at Houston, and for the past five years, she has worked to prevent infectious disease illness and outbreaks from affecting ExxonMobil workers through data-driven public health programs. Focusing on malaria, tuberculosis and infectious disease outbreaks like avian flu and Ebola, her team provides public health support to the company’s global operations. She returned to Texas in 2015 after spending two years in South Korea, where she worked with the recent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.

Kendra Nickel-Nguy ’08
Associate Attorney, K&L Gates LLP and Board President, AWAKE

An accomplished attorney, Kendra is a founding board member of AWAKE: Alliance of Women Achieving Knowledge and Excellence, a Washington nonprofit that provides educational programming and support to professional women.

After graduating from Elon University in 2008 with a degree in corporate communications, Kendra served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Helena, Montana, before pursuing a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a master’s degree in social policy from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. She was a law clerk to the Hon. Chief Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington before joining K&L Gates LLP in Seattle.There she engages in litigating cases and advising clients on matters involving intellectual property law, data privacy and security, social media, commercial disputes and municipal law, among other areas.

Always passionate about service and leadership, Kendra often volunteers with Seattle-area charities and serves on committees. She maintains an active pro bono practice and also represents clients through the K&L Gates Cyber Civil Rights Project. At Elon, she was recognized in 2008 with the North Carolina Campus Compact Community Impact Student Award for her significant, innovative contributions to campus-based efforts to address community needs.

Mitch K. Pittman ’09
Reporter, KOMO-TV

There are reporters who just cover stories. Then, there are reporters like Mitch, who invite viewers into the stories to help them better understand the issues.

After graduating from Elon University in 2009 with a communications degree, Mitch joined WFFF/Fox 44 Local News in Burlington, Vermont. After working there for two years, he made the jump to Minneapolis’ KSTP, the 15th largest market in the country. While there, his quality multimedia reporting earned him three Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Awards. For the past two years, Mitch has worked as a photographer and reporter at KOMO-TV in Seattle, where he has won a fourth regional Emmy. In addition to those honors, he has received two national awards from the National Press Photographer’s Association.

An avid outdoorsman, Mitch has reached major mountain summits in Washington, including Mount Rainier. Combining his passions of the outdoors and visual storytelling, he has become a social media influencer within the outdoor community. He is also active in the Elon Alumni Chapter in Seattle and often mentors broadcast students and critiques their work. As an expert in his field, Mitch was recently asked to help write a chapter of a journalism book that will help educate broadcast students at universities across the country.

Garrett A. Turner ’08
Vice President of Global Strategy, Liberty Port, LLC

Garrett’s professional career at Liberty Port, LCC, has yielded impressive results for one of the country’s most prominent telecommunications firms.

Soon after joining the company in 2008 as a marketing and sales associate, he instituted a national rebranding campaign in conjunction with NASCAR to help generate brand awareness within rural telecom markets throughout the United States. This market exposure allowed Liberty Port to develop a new sales division dedicated to hardware asset recovery and resale. The following year, Garrett joined Liberty Port’s Technical Services Division to spearhead the implementation of a $6-million end-to-end long-haul transmission project in the Middle East, which provided users with high-speed Internet and data services. In 2012, he co-founded LP NETCOM, a systems integration and telecommunications resale firm that has earned more than $5 million in sales revenue within the enterprise and IT telecom sector.

In 2014, he founded The Garrett A. Turner Foundation, which is dedicated to addressing the financial needs of various nonprofit organizations through the allocation of funds and volunteer resources. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $250,000 within the fields of higher education, childhood development, animal conservation and medical research. For his philanthropic endeavors, Garrett has been recognized by the Baltimore Business Journal and Art Center Sarasota.

J. Parker Turner IV ’06
President, Liberty Port, LLC, and Managing Partner, Roundtree Valley Enterprises

A natural-born leader, Parker oversees Liberty Port, LLC, one of the country’s most prominent telecommunications firms.

Shortly after graduating from Elon University in 2006 with a degree in political science, Parker joined the company as director of strategic projects. He spent several years leading a company expansion abroad, primarily in the Middle East. In 2008, he was charged with establishing a new corporate division dedicated to training and engineering services. The paramount feature was a multi-million dollar datacenter, lab and training facility based in Sarasota, Florida, which today serves as Liberty Port’s international headquarters. Parker led further expansion into five additional U.S. states and three foreign countries.

Parker was appointed president of Liberty Port in 2012 and is responsible for instituting corporate strategy and implementation across all business divisions with oversight to human resources, finance, vendor relations, supply chain/logistics, operations and legal processes. He is also a managing partner in Roundtree Valley Enterprises, a real estate investment firm he co-founded in 2013. Parker received his MBA from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. He serves on the board of trustees at Maryland’s Saint James School and the Elon President’s Young Leadership Council.