Leadership Prize recipients continue to impact local community

Madeline Attianese '22 and Gillian Kick '22 have been working to make an impact at Elon and surrounding communities through Leadership Prize research.

Each year, Elon’s Center for Leadership recognizes and rewards outstanding student leaders on campus with the presentation of the Leadership Prize. The award honors undergraduate students from all majors and minors who go above and beyond their academic studies to establish research projects that promote and engage their leadership skills for positive change.

The Leadership Prize supports community-based research projects, focusing on issues like creating more inclusive school environments or finding ways to promote mental wellness on campus and beyond. Prize recipients are encouraged to think locally and act globally by tapping into their passions and activating their leadership skills to benefit Elon University and Alamance County.

Leadership Prize recipients receive $7,500 to support their research goals and work with a faculty mentor to carry out their projects. In addition to the completion of the Leadership Prize research project over three semesters, each recipient participates in the Leadership Development Program. The Leadership Development Program includes workshops, small group discussions, and events that promote the development of leadership skills on and off campus. Recipients also present during their senior year at Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum.

This year, two Elon juniors were awarded the Leadership Prize from a pool of strong applicants. Madeline Attianese ’22, an Honors Fellow and public health studies major, and Gillian Kick ’22, an English literature and creative writing major, have already begun using their research funding to make a positive impact in their community.

Attianese is pursuing a project titled “The Value of Authenticity in Comprehensive Sex Education.” The project examines the Wise Guys comprehensive sex education curriculum and its focus on the responsibility of males in preventing teen pregnancy. Attianese is working with mentor Amanda Tapler, senior lecturer in public health studies.

With the Leadership Prize, Attianese will be able to organize her own conferences to share her research with others across the country. She also hopes to meet with the Wise Guys educators to emphasize the importance of their current curriculum regarding sex education.

Kick is also promoting positive change in her community through her project, “Rewriting Injustice in Alamance County: Fostering youth agency and community engagement through social justice writing,” with her mentor Heather Lindenman, assistant professor of English. From a young age, Kick was told that she had the opportunity to make a difference regarding the injustices happening in her community. Her passion for writing aided her efforts to change the social climate of her hometown, and she encourages others to find ways to do the same. Kick believes that the voices of young people have the power to change the tide of the current social situation and that students should take an active role in spreading awareness, speaking up and writing.

The Leadership Prize will help Kick publish other student works to amplify the voices of rising community leaders, including Alamance County high schoolers. She is collaborating with Leadership Prize alumna Courtney Kobos ’19, who teaches English in the Alamance-Burlington School System at the Early College at Alamance Community College.

If you believe that you have what it takes to make positive social change like Attianese and Kick, visit the Leadership Prize website to learn more about the award and how to apply.