Elon’s LGBTQIA Alumni Network honored alumni’s impact and dedication to Elon and LGTQIA communities with the Community Enrichment Awards.
The LGBTQIA Alumni Network honored four alumni with the Community Enrichment Award at the LGBTQIA Alumni Network Brunch during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend 2023, Saturday, Oct. 21.
Special guests in attendance included President Connie Ledoux Book, Provost Rebecca Kohn, Senior Vice President for University Advancement and External Affairs Jim Piatt, Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley, Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence Randy Williams and Director of Athletics Jenn Strawley.
The LGBTQIA Alumni Network and Community Enrichment Awards were established in 2012 to create opportunities to affirm and acknowledge the work alumni, faculty, and staff have done to uplift LGBTQIA people and causes on campus and in their communities at large. The Community Enrichment Awards recognize those individuals who have made and continue to make a positive impact and for their dedication to Elon and LGBTQIA communities.
In addition, an Elon student was also honored during the ceremony with the Matthew Antonio Bosh Student Award for their positive impact and diligence to the Elon and LGBTQIA communities. The award is named in honor of the former director of Elon’s Gender and LGBTQIA Center (GLC), Matthew Antonio Bosch, for his contributions to and support of the LGBTQIA communities at Elon.
Community Enrichment Award Recipients
Julius John ’97
Julius John (he/him/his) is a prominent figure in higher education with a strong background in acting and a diverse range of expertise in theatrical education. John’s areas of knowledge span from Shakespearean studies and acting methodologies to theater management, production development, historical theater perspectives, musical and multicultural theater, script analysis, and the intricacies of physical movement in theater.
In addition to his contributions to academia, John has a significant presence in the fashion world, serving as the vice president for Fashion News Live. He actively participates in prestigious fashion events like Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, representing RLG Productions with distinction. Throughout his career, John has been a dedicated advocate for diversity and equity in education. He has earned impressive credentials, currently serving as full professor and director of theatre at Bethune-Cookman University. He also serves as co-director of commencement ceremonies and faculty senate chair at the university. He is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., further highlighting his commitment to leadership and service.
Raafe Purnsley ’12
A proud queer black activist, Raafe Purnsley (he/him/his or they/them/theirs) has made it their mission to create safe spaces for the LGBTQ community. After earning a degree in ecological and environmental science from Elon in 2012, Purnsley connected kids to nature in North Carolina’s Triangle area and supported small minority farms by promoting alternative farming practices, offering resources and building rural farming community connections.
As discussions on LGBTQ issues gained prominence in North Carolina and beyond, Purnsley transitioned from an education-focused path to seeking a queer community. They revived the persona of Stormie Daie, initially a local phenomenon at Elon University, turning it into a platform for engaging with the queer community. Over the past decade, Stormie Daie has become an emcee, educator and performer.
Purnsley’s involvement with Elon Spectrum, the LGBTQ student Alliance, was a turning point. They are now known as the first lady of Alamance Pride. Their work embodies activism, education and inclusivity. Purnsley continues to return to Elon for events like Dragstrav, which they once led as a student. When they are not working to change the world or captivating audiences with their performances, Stormie Daie shares life with their partner Joaquin Carcaño. The duo resides in Durham with their three beloved mutts.
Ashley Fowler ’14
A native of Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, Ashley Fowler (she/her/hers) graduated from Elon in 2014 with a degree in political science and international studies. She has demonstrated exceptional skills as a project manager, team leader and a strong advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights.
Fowler’s career has taken her on a global journey, from using virtual reality to educate journalists on digital safety in Bulgaria to supporting queer communities at Baltic Pride in Lithuania. Her various projects reflect her unwavering commitment to human rights.
For the past six years, she has been a crucial figure in the field of Internet Freedom. As the senior manager of internet freedom and resilience programs at Internews, she leads a global team dedicated to providing secure and trustworthy access to credible information for people worldwide, regardless of their identity or profession. During her time at Elon, Fowler was recognized as the Student of the Year at the Lavender Graduation and was honored for her outstanding Lumen Prize project, “Human Rights Norm Change: LGBT Rights in a Wider Europe.” She has remained actively involved with the LGBTQIA+ Alumni Network, including a two-year term as president. After nearly a decade in Washington, DC, she returned to North Carolina, cherishing time with her family and enjoying the rediscovery of her home state alongside her wife.
Daniel Castillo ’21
The son of Costa Rican immigrants, Daniel Castillo (he/him/his), arrived in the United States as a child and was raised in western North Carolina. He graduated from Elon in 2021 with a degree in exercise science. During his time as a student, Castillo played a crucial role in establishing the first Latino fraternity and chapter of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc. He also served as the vice president of this organization for two years and held positions as a diversity ambassador for the Office of Admissions and coordinator for the Center for Race, Ethnicity, & Diversity Education.
Following graduation, Daniel joined Elon’s university advancement team as the coordinator of annual giving. In this role, he builds connections with alumni and current students, encouraging philanthropy and alumni engagement. Castillo is also a strong supporter of the LGBTQIA community at Elon. He leads the LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group and actively participates in GLC events, serving as an advocate and mentor, particularly for the QTPOC community. He aspires to be a cornerstone in his community, where people of color can be their authentic selves. Through his leadership and actions, Castillo is actively working to create a more inclusive and affirming environment at Elon University.
Matthew Antonio Bosch Student Community Enrichment Award Recipient
Jasper Serenity Myers ’24
A member of Elon’s Class of 2024, Jasper Serenity Myers (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs) has demonstrated exceptional dedication in their role as the resident assistant for the Gender & Sexuality Living and Learning Community. Over the span of two years, they have taken charge of organizing engaging community events, nurturing an environment of empathy, and ensuring the safety, inclusion and celebration of LLC residents and members of the Elon LGBTQ+ community.
Their undergraduate research is centered around the portrayal of women-loving-women in Greco-Roman classical antiquity. This involves a meticulous analysis of various elements, including mythology, astrology, Sapphic poetry, erotic spells, and love magic. In astrology, Myers is a Pisces sun, Scorpio moon and Cancer rising, reflecting a multi-faceted and deeply sensitive nature. Their commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive community at Elon University is evident in their extensive contributions and scholarly pursuits.