School of Communications’ end-of-year awards celebration goes virtual

During its annual awards ceremony, premiered live on social media and streaming apps on May 14, the school recognized high achievement from students, faculty and staff. It also celebrated the tenure of Paul Parsons, founding communications dean, and David Copeland, founding director of the Interactive Media master’s program.

The School of Communications recognized the achievements of students, faculty and staff during the past academic year at the school’s annual awards celebration on May 14. The end-of-year awards ceremony, which moved online this spring, brought together viewers across several social media platforms and streaming apps. Despite the physical distance, it featured several heartfelt moments – including a few props, anecdotes and inside jokes.

During the School of Communications’ annual awards ceremony, shown online this spring, Lumiere Rostick ’20 was named the recipient of the Outstanding Senior Award for the cinema and television arts major. The award presentation included family, friends, Communications Dean Rochelle Ford and a taped introduction from Professor Naeemah Clark.

“Our faculty and staff agree that our students are some of the best in the nation,” said Communications Dean Rochelle Ford, during her introduction. “If you visit the School of Communications website or follow us on social media, you will often see the local, state, regional, national and international accolades our students, faculty and staff have earned. So tonight, we honor a few of our incredible students, faculty and staff. We honor ElonComm.”

Miss the ceremony? Watch it on the school’s Vimeo page.

Student Achievement

Twenty-one outstanding students were selected from among nearly 1,400 communications majors to be honored for their exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom. Those honored meet the highest academic standards, have been active in on-campus media and student organizations, and have achieved great success in challenging internships.

Outstanding Senior Awards

These six awards recognize outstanding personal and professional achievements by graduating seniors who have demonstrated through consistent performance an extraordinary knowledge and ability in their areas of specialization, and have made significant contributions to the School of Communications and the major.

Lumiere Rostick, Cinema and Television Arts Award. Presented by Naeemah Clark.
Hailey Burkett, Communication Design Award. Presented by Ben Hannam.
Anton L. Delgado, Journalism Award. Presented by Kelly Furnas.
Amy Zheng, Media Analytics Award. Presented by William Moner.
Carter Martin, Sport Management Award. Presented by Mark Cryan.
Brendan Duff, Strategic Communications Award. Presented by John Doorley.

Student Scholarships

Stanley Albright and Grace Lillian Cook Scholarship
Courtney Weiner ’21

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in journalism. Presented by Carolyn DeSalu.

D’Angelo Family Scholarship in Memory of Bill and Kappy Leonard
Jack Norcross ’21

Established by Drs. Lawrence and Dolores D’Angelo P’02, the D’Angelo Scholarship recognizes the achievements of an outstanding rising senior in the field of broadcast communication. The late Bill Leonard, former president of CBS News, was influential in the creation of “60 Minutes,” “CBS Sunday Morning” and a host of other landmark news programs, and Kappy Leonard was the unofficial first lady of the news division. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

Dubois Legacy Scholarship
Grace Terry ’21

This endowed scholarship recognizes students who demonstrate a consistent commitment to academic study, and shows great promise through participation in informational study and internships. The scholarship honors Courtney Dubois Needham ’95, and her family, Charles and Keith Dubois, for the many contributions they have made to Elon and to the field of communications. Presented by Kelly Furnas.

Anthony & Olga Duke Communications Scholarship
Ted Thomas ’22

This scholarship is awarded to a student majoring in communications who has a strong academic record. Presented by Colin Donohue.

Foreman Scholarship
Emery Eisner ’22

This scholarship, awarded to a promising student in television production, is named in memory of James Michael Elzar Foreman, a student in the School of Communications who died in 2007. The scholarship is to be used for an Elon Experience. Presented by Rich Landesberg.

Brad Hamm International Communications Scholarship
Lauren Singles ’23

This scholarship is awarded to a student enrolled in the School of Communications who is either an international student or has demonstrated strong international interest. Presented by Janna Anderson.

James F. Hurley Legacy Scholarship
Mackenzie Wilkes ’22

This scholarship is awarded to a student in journalism or communications who has demonstrated excellence in the field. The scholarship is named in memory of James F. Hurley Sr. and James F. Hurley Jr. and in honor of James F. Hurley III, all of whom served as publishers of The Salisbury Post. Presented by Janna Anderson.

William F. Neff Experience Scholarship
Hannah Otos ’22

This scholarship is awarded to a student within the School of Communications to complete one of the Elon Experiences. Presented by Nicole Triche.

Times-News Scholarship
Kieran Ungemach ’22

This scholarship provides financial aid for a student studying journalism in the School of Communications who has demonstrated leadership, scholarship, service to the community, and exemplary character traits. Presented by Anthony Hatcher.

James Wesley Willard II Memorial Scholarship
Cassidy Beal ’21

This scholarship is named in memory of James Wesley Willard II, a student in the School of Communications who died in 2005. It is awarded to a student in the School of Communications who has a strong academic record. Presented by Amber Moser.

Founding Dean Scholarship
Sarah Johnson ’21

This scholarship was established in 2018 by School of Communications advisory board members, faculty, staff and alumni in recognition of the 17 years of service by the school’s founding dean, Paul Parsons. The scholarship is awarded to a rising senior with a strong academic record in one of the school’s majors. Presented by David Bockino.

Priestley Scholarship
Kyra O’Connor ’23

This scholarship assists a female student who is a rising sophomore, junior or senior majoring in print journalism and who is preparing for a career as a writer for public circulation newspapers and magazines. The scholarship was established by the late Dr. Mary Ellen Priestley, a former professor of English and journalism at Elon and adviser to The Pendulum, and her husband, Gerard. Presented by Colin Donohue.

Don Bolden School of Communications Dean’s Scholarship Fund
Nyah Phengsitthy ’23

This scholarship assists students to understand the links between learning in the classroom and applying that knowledge to explore and report on the world around them. It is named for Don Bolden, a noted historian and community figure in Alamance County, who worked at the Times-News for more than 50 years. Presented by Jenny Jiang.

A.J. Fletcher Award
Maeve Ashbrook ’22 and Brian Rea ’21

This award honors an outstanding student majoring in strategic or broadcast communications who demonstrates a wide-ranging interest in the field, service to the community and leadership in campus or his/her personal life. Presented by Elma Sabo and Alex Luchsinger.

The sport management scholarship honors and awards were presented at the Sport Management Department’s virtual banquet on May 15.

Faculty Achievement

Following the student awards, three faculty members and one staff member in the School of Communications were recognized for their outstanding work this academic year.

Ford presented Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill, Assistant Professor Kathleen Stansberry, Assistant Professor Shaina Dabbs and program assistant Alyssa Donohue with the following awards.

Excellence in Teaching Award
Amanda Sturgill

The award recognizes a faculty member who is outstanding in the classroom, current in the discipline, a quality academic adviser, and committed to student learning at the highest level.

From the dean’s introduction: This year’s teaching award goes to an Amanda Sturgill who teaches across four programs: journalism, media analytics, the communications core and interactive media. Her students describe her as methodical in helping them understand how everything ties into the larger picture of their stories. That she is super knowledgeable and well versed in the field. All of her projects are relevant and she makes an effort to give students portfolio pieces through assignments. And, importantly, she makes learning fun. She has been a leader in shaping and evaluating the curriculum in journalism, iMedia and media analytics. Her advising of undergraduate and graduate students is strong, coaching students in case competitions and more. She also has been a trusted adviser of 21 advisees and sponsor of the Communications Honors Society.

Excellence in Scholarship Award
Kathleen Stansberry

This award recognizes a faculty member whose scholarly and creative work is of high quality and brings distinction to Elon.

From the dean’s introduction: While most students recognize our faculty members’ teaching and mentoring abilities, faculty are also required to be scholars. We have so many deserving faculty who understand the importance of scholarship, and this year’s scholarship award recipient –  Kathleen Stansberry – fits that description. She completed three book chapters and presented her research at several events, including the United Nations-sponsored Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, Germany. She completed sponsored research with one of the most respected research centers in the world: Pew Research Center. She served as the lead author on “Experts Optimistic About the Next 50 Years of Digital Life,” a collaboration with Professor Janna Anderson and Advisory Board member Lee Rainie, which became one of the most cited studies conducted by an Elon University faculty member. Rainie described Stansberry as a promising scholar who brought new energy and perspective to the joint work with Pew and Elon. Not only did this research receive media attention, Stansberry is also a sought-after expert to discuss social media, analytics and disinformation. Her research expertise is shared well beyond the walls of academia and she is often quoted in media outlets.

Excellence in Leadership Award
Shaina Dabbs

The award recognizes a member of the School of Communications who richly contributes to the betterment and reputation of the school and the discipline.

From the dean’s introduction: Elon University has a major commitment to diversity and inclusion, and Shaina Dabbs wanted to ensure that the sport management industry continues to diversify, especially in regards to gender. Women continue to be under-represented in the sport management industry and in the academic programs around the nation. Dabbs decided that Elon should build on its strength in mentoring and its growing alumni base and professional partners to establish a support group for women in the Sport Management Department. Beginning as a subgroup within the Sport Management Society, Women Influencers in Sport (WINS) now has a website, mentoring program, guest speakers and an event bringing internationally known leaders to campus. Dabbs developed the idea, nurtured it, found funding to support it, and has developed a national network to support our female students and alumni and help our male students understand the power and promise of women in sport.

Outstanding Staff Member Award
Alyssa Donohue

The award recognizes a staff member of the School of Communications who contributes to the betterment and reputation of the school and its initiatives.

From the dean’s introduction: This year’s recipient – Alyssa Donohue – was nominated by several people to receive the university’s staff person of the year. Why you ask? She is the go-to person for helping all ElonComm chairs, directors, deans and faculty members. Donohue is the sole academic program assistant for the School of Communications, which has more than 60 faculty and nearly 1,400 students. This year her role has expanded from supporting two departments to five departments. Donohue also supports the communications core program and the media analytics program. Additionally, she supports the honors society and the Communications Fellows, the Sunshine Center and more.

“Alyssa Donohue manages to do this with a kind, helpful attitude,” Ford said. “She is one of the fastest and most efficient team members I have ever worked with in my more than 25 years in the academy.”


At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Ford recognized David Copeland, Elon’s A.J. Fletcher Professor and director of the Interactive Media master’s program, for his tenure leading the accelerated graduate program. In December, Copeland, the program’s founding director, announced his plans to step down after 11 years.

“We are honoring you because of your outstanding service to the School of Communications,” said Ford, during a recorded online conversation with Copeland. “You put this program on the map. We wouldn’t be Elon School of Communications without you.”

Ford commended Copeland for his vision for the iMedia program, his leadership and his recruitment of students. “You made magic,” she said.

Finally, Associate Dean Don Grady provided a fitting farewell for Professor Paul Parsons, who is retiring at the end of the spring semester.

Parsons, who came to Elon in 2001 as a professor and founding dean of the School of Communications, concluded his service as dean at the end of the 2017-18 academic year. At that time, his 17 years in the school’s top leadership position made Parsons the nation’s longest-serving dean of a single communications school or journalism college.

Following a sabbatical, Parsons returned to teach full time in the school, fulfilling a pledge he made to himself to someday return to a professorial role.

Grady, who served on the search committee that hired Parsons nearly two decades ago, outlined the former dean’s many accomplishments, growing the school’s faculty size, facilities and national profile. Grady commended Parsons for his collaborative management style and ability to work with students, faculty and administrators.

“Looking back it seems clear that Paul figured out the expectations (at Elon) quickly and over the next 17 years he transformed a well-established department into the nationally recognized school of communications that it is today,” Grady said.