Department of Exercise Science recognizes top seniors, students with awards

Students were recognized for academic achievement, undergraduate research, service and other areas.

The Department of Exercise Science celebrated student successes, recognizing outstanding senior scholars and awarding the Trey Halker Memorial Scholarship to four rising seniors, during an awards ceremony Tuesday.

About 85 exercise science majors were recognized with the Chair’s Award for maintaining a GPA above 3.5. Six undergraduates were inducted into Kappa Omicron Nu, the human sciences honor society: Brooke Cresswell ’23, Talya Geller ’22, Bryce Graves ’22, Ryan Mancoll ’22, Kiana Rizzolo ’23, and Gabrielle Rodriguez ’22.

The exercise science department held its annual awards virtually Tuesday.
The exercise science department held its annual awards virtually Tuesday.

In annual awards for research, academic achievement and contributions to the department and community, the department recognized the following seniors:

Emma McCabe ’21 received the Outstanding Major Award.

“We’ve watched her grow as a scholar and grow in her confidence and ability to use her voice,” said Professor Eric Hall, who co-mentored McCabe in Elon’s BrainCARE Research Institute. “She pushed us to think about the work we do with Elon BrainCARE. She took on a significant role this summer in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, forming a book club for students and working with faculty. It’s not just one thing she does, but everyone here has had a positive interaction with Emma at some time.”

Alexandra Smith ’21 was presented with the Outstanding Senior Research Award.

Smith, a Lumen Scholar and Provost’s Scholar, assessed metabolic syndrome risk factors and behaviors among first-year college students. Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Simon Higgins praised Smith’s perseverance during the pandemic and the quality of her research outcomes.

“It was a difficult project, with significant challenges along the way, but Alexandra produced solid research products, was published in the Journal of American College Health and is under review for publication” by an international journal, Higgins said.

Christian Chybrzynski ’21 and Daniel Castillo ’21 received the Outstanding Senior Service Award. Chybrzynski is a cadet in the Air Force ROTC at Elon and developed TikTok videos to help peers break up sedentary behavior during the pandemic. Castillo was recognized for his service in the greater community, where colleagues described his efforts as “above and beyond.”

Lissy Cooperman ’22, Hailey Jurgens ’22, Emily Kibler ’22, and Michaela Neal ’22 received the Trey Halker Memorial Scholarship in honor of the 1996 sports medicine graduate.

“What makes our department so special is that we have so many exceptional students to celebrate year in and year out,” said Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Matthew Wittstein, who organized this year’s virtual event. “Especially in a year like this where it’s difficult to connect with each other, it’s important to celebrate that.”