Six new fellows prepare for year of service with Alamance County organizations

Six members of the Class of 2018 participated in a signing ceremony in Clohan Theatre to formalize their participation in two service-year programs offered by Elon in partnership with local organizations. Six fellows who have completed their year of service were also recognized. 

Members for the Class of 2018 participating in service-year programs during the next year are, from left to right, Jared Bishop, Bernadette Cooper, Daniela Cerón, Kelsey Warren, Kacie Lynch and Sally Gordon
A signing ceremony on Wednesday marked the beginning of a year of service for six Elon seniors who will be working in health, wellness and education in Alamance County in partnership with local organizations. 

Four new Elon graduates will serve for a year as Elon-Alamance Health Partners fellows with a focus on the health and wellbeing of Alamance County residents and two new graduates will serve as Kenan Community Impact Fellows working with local students through Alamance Achieves, a nonprofit focused on furthering educational success. It’s the fourth cohort for both initiatives that fall under the umbrella of Elon’s service-year programs. 

The ceremony also offered the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the cohort of fellows who are now completing their year of service at Alamance Regional Medical Center, the Alamance County Health Department, Healthy Alamance, Impact Alamance and Alamance Achieves. These six 2017 Elon alumni offered through about how they have grown during the past year, what they’ve learned about themselves and Alamance County as they have served their organizations and how their relationships with each other have grown. 

“The learning was endless,” said Chloe Donohoe, who worked with the Alamance County Health Department during the past year. 

Also completing their work were Crystal Carroll (Alamance Achieves), Maryn Hayward (Alamance Regional Medical Center), Oscar Miranda (Alamance Achieves), Olise Obi Jr. (Healthy Alamance) and Vashti Shiwmangal (Impact Alamance). Each shared about how their new relationships have changed them and how their work with their respective organizations helps strengthen their passions, develop their leadership skills and prepare them for next steps for their careers in public health, health care, technology and social work. 

“We throw them into real, meaningful and consequential work where there is no one right answer,” said Kathy Colville, director of Community Health for Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone Health, the parent system for Alamance Regional Medical Center. “You’ve given us so much this year.”

Both Elon and its community partners view the fellows programs as successes as they help prepare new Elon graduates for careers in public health and education while providing needed resources for a variety of community organizations. Tom Brinkley, executive director of Elon’s Student Professional Development Center, said that he’s been impressed by the success that participants in the program have seen and the impact they’ve been able to have in the community during the past three years. 

Each of the new fellows will work with one of four Alamance County agencies: Healthy Alamance, Impact Alamance, the Alamance County Health Department and Alamance Regional Medical Center. Elon University and the four partner agencies are funding the program. 

Elon-Alamance Health Partners fellows

Jared Bishop, Healthy Alamance

A public health studies major, Bishop first became involved with Healthy Alamance through a community project as part of his Poverty and Social Justice course. That experience offered him the ability to gain experience in the public health field and experience working with a local organization. With Healthy Alamance, he worked on community gardens at schools as well as on a video to increase awareness about the use of SNAP Benefits at farmer’s markets. 

“Working with community partners seeking to improve health means everything to me,” Bishop said in his application. “My biggest passion in life is to try to improve the quality of life for everyone around me, and in combination with my love and passion for fitness and health care, I can have a great impact on people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses.”

Sally Gordon, Alamance Health Department

From Mendham, New Jersey, Gordon has majored in public health studies at Elon while also spending time working with the Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed, India. That experience offered her different perspectives on how public health is viewed, with the focus in India on the burden of infectious disease while the view os more holistic within the United States. She hopes that her year as an Elon-Alamance Health Partners fellow will provide her more insight into her plans to continue her academic career in graduate school. 

“After studying abroad in India, I have seen the potential impact community-level health work can have, and I would love to be part of something like that in an area I have spent a lot of time in,” Gordon said in her application. “Community-level work allows you to build trust with the people and assess their needs according to what they say. Building relationships within the community is crucial to understanding the actual needs and not what we assume to be the needs.”

Kacie Lynch, Impact Alamance

Lynch has majored in human service studies at Elon, and this year has worked as a marketing and communications intern at the United Way of Greater Greensboro. During 2017, she interned at Western Alamance High School within its counseling department where she recognized a lack of resources to address mental health issues. That falls within Lynch’s desire to enter the policy realm to address the lack of access to affordable mental health care, and she’s looking at her work during the next year with Impact Alamance to help her pursue that career goal. 

“Working with community partners to improve health would be an opportunity and a privilege,” Lynch wrote in her application. “Prior to working with a community partner, a plan must be developed in which goals are created. When working with community partners, rapport must be built and maintained. There has to be a mutual respect and trust that exists.”

Kelsey Warren, Alamance Regional Medical Center

Warren graduates from Elon with a degree in public health studies having focused on the biological aspects of health and wellness. During her time at the university, she has served as a student assistant in the president’s office and has interned at Healthy Alamance, where she assisted with initiatives related to supporting healthy eating and access to healthy food for Alamance County residents. She plans to pursue a career focused on aspects of health and wellness such as community health, epidemiology or health services administration, with the goal of obtaining a master’s degree within the next three years.  

“In reference to community health, each individual plays a role in the overall development and prosperity of the community in which they reside,” Warren wrote in her application. “Therefore, I believe organization, companies and individuals must work together to ensure the well-being of their community.”

Kenan Community Impact Fellows

Daniela Cerón, Alamance Achieves

Cerón has majored in strategic communications and religious studies during her time at Elon, and last fall worked with a team to create and write a strategic plan for Alamance County 911 dispatchers. Over the long term, Cerón hopes to pursue a graduate degree in community development and action or educational leadership and societal change, and she’s looking to her year as a Kenan Community Impact fellow to help her make a positive impact on the local community and gain experience working with local organizations. 

“Working with community partners to improve education means fostering meaningful relationships among organizations in a variety of fields while clearly communicating the needs and gaps that are present in education efforts,” Cerón said in her application. “Having community partners know the ways in which they can contribute to the solution can help community partners feel that they are stakeholders in education issues and can motivate them to take action. When this happens, more can be accomplished and collaborative efforts to work toward a common goal can take place.”

Bernadette Cooper, Alamance Achieves

A psychology major, Cooper has focused her research at Elon on identifying effective role model strategies for black women in STEM careers and has served as an executive intern in the Elon University Center for Access and Success. Passionate about community involvement, she’s interested in working in the field of child and maternal health over the long term and hopes to pursue graduate degrees in social work and public health. 

“Health is defined by the physiological, psychological and social well-being of an individual. Unfortunately, some individuals are more vulnerable to poor health because of their life circumstances, Cooper said in her application. “I believe that dedicated community partners can improve health and affect positive change in the local community.”

Elon Provost Steven House and Alamance Regional Medical Center President Preston Hammock recounted how the idea for the Elon-Alamance Health Partners and Kenan Community Impact service-year programs originated in 2013. Both said the impact — on the lives of the participants and on the broader community — have been outstanding. 

“We dreamed of the work you were going to do,” House said, “and you’ve far exceeded what we dreamed of.”