Washington, D.C., alumni share wisdom with Elon College Fellows

Ten alumni met with first-year Elon College Fellows during the program’s annual trip to the nation’s capital to offer guidance for their Elon careers and beyond.

Elon provides many opportunities for students to find belonging, develop skills and gain experience. Ten alumni in the Washington, D.C., area recently met with 64 first-year Elon College Fellows to guide them as they navigate their undergraduate journeys and plan careers.

A woman smiles and laughs with college students
Kristen Burke ’18 meets with Elon College Fellows during an event at The Washington Center on Jan. 14, 2024. Burke is currently the assistant director of development for the Annual Fund at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Among the sage advice they offered current students:

  • Don’t be afraid to change your major or take courses outside your known areas of interest.
  • Get to know your professors during office hours and conversations outside of class. Those relationships bear fruit in research, internship and career opportunities.
  • Take advantage of Elon’s abundant global study programs.
  • Be involved in campus groups and extra-curricular activities but find a balance that allows time for reflection and restoration.

The meet-and-greet happened Sunday, Jan. 14, at The Washington Center during the first-year Elon College Fellows’ annual Winter Term trip to the capital, which is part of the ECF 1110 Paths of Inquiry seminar. Alumni who attended were: Morgan Bassett ’23, Kristen Burke ’18, Scott Christopherson ’12, Brett “Coop” Cooper ’05, Hannah Greenfader ’19, Abigail Krump ’19, Noah Kutner ’20, Catherine Pendry ’19, Maddy Starr ’23 and Jacob Stoken ’22.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do, but the environmental studies faculty made me fall in love with what I studied. That made me who I am today,” Greenfader said, recalling conversations during office hours and outside of class.

A man speaks to 2 women at a reception
Noah Kutner ’20, regional candidate fundraising director at DCCC, speaks with Becca Miller ’27 and Bronwyn Mulvaney ’27 at The Washington Center on Jan. 14, 2024.

Those relationships helped Greenfader identify internship opportunities and following an internship with the World Wildlife Fund, she was hired by the organization where she is now a climate and energy program officer.

“I took advantage of many experiential learning opportunities at Elon and being able to participate in so many things made me a more adept campaign strategist,” said Cooper, a political science major and now a senior vice president with Sway Media. The company provides strategic communications for candidates and campaigns. “Dabbling in a little bit of everything gave me the foundation to be able to relate to almost everyone I meet,” Cooper said.

College Fellows were grateful to hear from alumni about their Elon experiences. Ryan Kershner ’27, a computer science major from Chicago, said they helped him better understand how to plan his time at Elon and prepare for life after college. Lily Donoway ’27, of Durham, North Carolina, plans to double major in art and psychology and was especially interested in learning more about the value of extracurricular opportunities at Elon.

A woman speaks behind a podium as 4 people stand nearby
Associate Professor of English Heather Lindenman welcomes 10 alumni to an Elon College Fellows event at The Washington Center on Jan. 14, 2024.

“Hearing from Hannah (Greenfader) about how she pursued internships and how those led to her career was very helpful for me,” said Myka Thomas ’27, an astronomy major from Annapolis, Maryland. “That’s what I aspire to do, and it showed me where I need to work hard to gain that experience.”

The Elon College Fellows is a four-year academic and professional program that explores the breadth, depth and connections within the arts and sciences. The program includes seminar courses and activities that form a community of learners and culminates in a two-year research project closely mentored by a faculty member in Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences. College Fellows receive annual scholarships, a one-time travel grant to support study abroad and research funding as part of the experience.