Claire Przybocki ‘24 takes Elon research international

With the support of Elon donors, Przybocki embarked on an international research journey she hopes to continue after graduation.

Claire Przybocki ’24 didn’t expect to continue the Hindu Traditions course she took as a first-year student at Elon, but she quickly became invested in the coursework and decided to stick with it. This one decision changed her entire Elon trajectory.

Exploring different disciplines allowed Przybocki to find the mentorship that initially drew her to Elon and the funding Przybocki received as a Leadership Fellow and Multifaith Scholar has ensured that she can explore what she is most passionate about without limits.

Przybocki presents her research at a poster session
Przybocki presents her research at the 2023 SURE poster session.

Przybocki believes that these research opportunities are unique to Elon. She applied to be a Multifaith Scholar as a sophomore and presented her research on Catholic nationalism and Muslim migrants in Poland at the 2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

SURE is an undergraduate research opportunity where students receive a stipend to dedicate eight weeks to full-time research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The program aims to enrich student learning by fostering collaborative research experiences.

Przybocki also applied for additional research funding, receiving the Rawls Grants and the Center for Global Engagement Grant. But her multifaith research project on the 2021 humanitarian crisis at the Poland-Belarus border is the highlight of her studies at Elon.

Her research examines religion and migration, specifically Catholic nationalism and the exclusion of Muslim migrants on Poland’s eastern border. Through the funding Przybocki received, she was able to travel to Poland for five weeks and conduct 45 semi-structured interviews she had been planning to do since her first year at Elon.

She also attended the International Migration Research Network Conference in Warsaw which was a great networking experience. Her experience in Poland taught Przybocki she can do anything she sets her mind to with the right resources.

Przybocki and two others pose together on a dune
Przybocki and two others pose together on a dune.

Przybocki intends to synthesize her multifaith research with the common good project required of all Leadership Fellows. The Leadership Fellowship also allowed Przybocki to engage with the It Takes a Village Project, an Elon initiatives through which Elon students tutor students in local elementary schools. This is her favorite part of the fellowship program, and part of her commitment to leaving Elon better than she found it.

Przybocki’s research would not have been possible without Elon’s student-to-faculty ratio, she notes. Przybocki was one of two students in her Arabic course. This encouraged her to become the vice president of the Arabic Language Organization on campus.

For Przybocki, who has been studying Arabic since she set foot on Elon’s campus, it was meaningful to be able to use Arabic in real-time when she studied abroad in Morocco in the fall of 2022. Morocco allowed Przybocki to explore her Middle Eastern concentration, interacting with practitioners of Islam and taking an Arabic immersion course, as well as studying human rights.

Przybocki believes in Elon’s mission statement that encourages students to achieve a greater sense of global awareness. She felt her experience in Morocco brought that to life, expanding her understanding of global consciousness.

Now a senior finishing up her double major in international and global studies and economics, Przybocki believes Elon has allowed her to become a better leader. She has applied for the Fulbright Program hoping to have the opportunity to continue her research in Poland. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school for global security and border studies. Her goal is to work for a non-governmental organization (NGO) or a global institution such as UNICEF in the future.

Przybocki on a camel in Morocco
Przybocki on a camel in Morocco.

Przybocki thanks Elon’s donors for their loyalty and commitment to students which has allowed her to pursue research that truly excites her. The funding she received showed Przybocki the faith Elon has in its undergraduates to conduct meaningful research. This trust gives her the utmost confidence in her abilities, motivating her growth throughout her time here at Elon.

Przybocki would like to shout out to her mentors, Elon faculty members Brian Pennington and Amy Allocco, who have helped her idea come to life. She also thanks the Religious Studies Department for giving her a leg up in research exposure through the SURE program and the research instruction pod.