Elon students receive Leadership Prize grant for community research

Maggie Davis '21 and Allie Hawley '21 have been awarded this year's Leadership Prize for their respective research and solution plans.

Elon has long supported the efforts of students to lead efforts to build our communities and improve the lives of its citizens.

Maggie Davis ’21 and Allie Hawley ’21 have been awarded this year’s Leadership Prize for their research on significant issues in our community and potential solutions to the problems they see.

Starting as a gift from Mayor Isabella Cannon, the Leadership Prize was established in 2015 to fulfill Cannon’s vision of facilitating leadership and change. The Leadership Prize offers a $7,500 award to students to support their study of pressing issues in the local statewide community. The prize supports the combined efforts from the awarded student, their mentor and the surrounding community to address the problem from a new perspective.

Davis, a special education major, is concentrating her research on the impact of transition for children who travel between a school and hospital setting.

Maggie Davis, Class of 2021
Maggie Davis, Class of 2021

“I am looking at the transition from hospital settings to school settings for children with special healthcare needs,” Davis said. “I want to do a symposium for parents that are affected by this transition. I would ask a bunch of different personnel in this transition to have an open conversation about the topic and what is available to parents”

Davis is working with Bud Warner, associate professor and chair of the Department of Human Service Studies, as a mentor.

Also an Elon Teaching Fellow, Davis expressed how the program is helping her keep with a timeline and establish connections in schools and hospitals of the community.

“An awesome opportunity about the Leadership Prize is it allows you to have the opportunity to reach out to real people doing work in the field you’re looking into,” Davis said. “Being able to work in the community can do a lot for your research.”

Hawley has partnered with Associate Professor of Education Scott Morrison for her research that centers on establishing and studying the emotional impact of school gardens.

Allie Hawley, Class of 2021
Allie Hawley, Class of 2021

“Children in Alamance County sometimes struggle to stay focused in classrooms, which is often because material is not relevant to their lives or meeting their needs,” Hawley said. “School gardens are interactive, interdisciplinary spaces for transformative teaching and learning.”

Hawley’s research will be a continuation of Morrison’s own research, and they have already partnered with Elon Elementary and Eastlawn Elementary schools. They hope to continue connecting with independent educators and other elementary schools.

Hawley wants to use school gardens to address topics of food insecurity and immersive, application-based learning.

“There is an endless flow of Elementary students who are in need of our innovative approach to education,” Hawley said. “If we can prove just how beneficial garden-based learning can be, the project can grow exponentially over the next few years.”

As part of this undergraduate research program that spans 3 semesters, the recipients receive leadership development through workshops and mentoring with faculty and the Center for Leadership. The culmination of their work is at the annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) during the university’s Celebrate Week.

The Center for Leadership looks forward to where these students and their mentors will take their research, and how it will impact local change.

The Leadership Prize is awarded yearly, and is open to juniors to apply during fall semester. For more information, visit the Leadership Prize page on the Center for Leadership’s website.