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I don’t think I’m bragging when I call myself a moderately accomplished student. I maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school. I was accepted to Elon University. I’m working on undergraduate research and will graduate in May, hopefully cum laude. With luck, I’ll have some kind of job or internship lined up by then. I’ve survived five semesters as a member of The Pendulum staff — no small feat.
It’s been a bad week.
Growing up, my parents asked me the same question at dinner every night: “How was your day?”
Coming into college, many of us were told, “Watch out for the Freshman 15,” those pounds you may or may not pick up after late-night snacks and forgetting to go to the gym for a few weeks in a row.
The pile of dirt outside McEwen Building, affectionately referred to as Mount McEwen, is only one of the latest in a long series of changes Elon University has made in the past few years. Many of these changes have called for extensive construction projects, but the latest adjustments from Residence Life are more low-profile.
Leo fans, prepare yourselves. We’re sorry to have to say this, but “Titanic” is sailing away from Netflix.
The cutest little ring bearer just bore some rings, shattering our hearts in the process. (But really. Tears have been shed.)
Did you notice that new playlist on Spotify this morning? Yeah, we did, too.
MaryClaire Schulz called her mother in tears on a recent Thursday afternoon.
Her mother assumed Schulz had bad news, but the opposite was true: Schulz was calling to tell her mother she had just been awarded the Lumen Prize.
“She said, ‘Stop crying, you should be happy,’” Schulz said. “And then her immediate next question was, ‘So what is your research even on?’”
Schulz and 14 other sophomores at Elon University received emails Thursday, April 6 informing them they had been awarded the Lumen Prize, one of the university’s most prestigious research scholarships.
“It was really exciting,” Schulz said. “It was very much like, my life is going to be very different [whether I win or not].”
Lumen has awarded $15,000 to 15 remarkable sophomores each year since its establishment during the 2007-2008 academic year.
Lumen Scholars spend the last two years of their undergraduate careers working on advanced research projects in their respective fields with the help of a faculty mentor. But, according to program director Ann Cahill, professor of philosophy, Lumen is more than simply a research grant.
“I haven’t seen a lot of prizes like the Lumen Prize at other universities,” Cahill said.
Cahill said Lumen takes a holistic approach to research and funding. Rather than requiring all funds to be devoted exclusively to research, the program allows scholars to use the funds in any matter that forwards the student’s intellectual development.
The 2015 Lumen Scholars have only just joined the Lumen community, but the journey to this point began months ago, when Schulz and her cohort began the process that would lead them to Lumen.
Deciding to apply
Before they could start the application, Schulz and her peers had decisions to make. Each scholar had a different process that lead to him or her deciding to apply, but for most, that began with finding a mentor.
Students must submit a letter of nomination for Lumen from their mentor with their application. Lumen Scholars work closely with their mentors for the two years of their research.
“The first step in the application process is finding a mentor who wants to do this intensive, high-quality work with that student for the next two years,” she said.
Lumen Scholars must find a mentor for more than just a nomination, though.
“It’s the mentor’s job to make sure the scholar is developing and the scholar is learning about themselves as a scholar, is learning about the kinds of contributions they can make to a field,” Cahill said.
Schulz, a strategic communications major, said she hadn’t seriously considered applying for Lumen until she met her mentor, assistant professor of communications Lucinda Austin.
“It really started when I made connections with my mentor,” she said.
Schulz took one of Austin’s classes, where the two began discussing their common interests. They quickly realized they clicked well, and Austin encouraged Schulz to apply for Lumen.
“I always knew I wanted to go into communications,” Schulz said. “Meeting Dr. Austin and starting working on this research definitely solidified those interests.”
But for sophomore Ben Bridges, another 2015 Lumen Scholar, the process began with the decision to apply.
“It’s interesting because, for MaryClaire, she found a mentor then decided she wanted to do Lumen, and I decided I wanted to apply then found a mentor,” Bridges said.
Bridges selected his major, anthropology, in part because he was fascinated by the opportunities for research within that field.
He came to Elon intending to study biology and quickly realized that research in that field did not interest him as much as he thought it would. Bridges spent his freshman year talking to students in different majors and searching for the right major for him.
“Leaving my first year, I knew that I wanted to do social sciences,” he said.
So, when Bridges returned to Elon for his sophomore year, he gave it a try.
“A month and a half into my ‘Intro to Anthropology’ class, I was like, this is definitely where I’m supposed to be,” he said.
Bridges declared his anthropology major in October 2014 and decided to apply to Lumen that same month.
He began the process — which he described as “intellectual courtship” — of finding a mentor in November, and in December he asked professor of anthropology Tom Mould to be his mentor.
Completing an application
Once they found mentors, Schulz and Bridges began developing their projects and working on their applications. This year’s application was due March 18, but both students began working on it over Winter Break and continued throughout Winter Term and the first half of the spring semester.
“Applicants really know that in order to consider the Lumen you need to start on the application some months in advance,” Cahill said.
The extensive application calls for a significant amount of time spent working on it. In addition to the letter of nomination from their mentor, applicants must have a letter from someone else, such as a faculty member, who can speak to the applicant’s accomplishments and potential.
Students must also submit a transcript and a detailed application that includes an abstract, a personal statement, a project description, a feasibility statement and a specific plan for allocating Lumen funds.
Unsurprisingly, Lumen applications are typically polished products.
“Obviously, for the Lumen, there’s a high level of self-selection,” Cahill said. “Students who apply for Lumen tend to be excellent students. They tend to have already had a significant degree of academic success in their undergraduate years, so we don’t see a lot [of applications] that are just sloppy.”
Applications are reviewed by a selection committee composed of faculty from a variety of disciplines. Members of the committee change from year to year, though some faculty members remain for several years.
After the committee reviews applications, select applicants are invited to the second stage of the process: an interview.
“The night before the interview, I was as nervous as I was the night before I found out about Lumen,” Bridges said.
Interviews are in front of a panel made up of a committee member and two other faculty or staff members. The panel doesn’t always include a faculty member related to the applicant’s major or project. The committee member is the only one on the panel to have read the entire application, so applicants are often asked to explain their proposed research projects to the other two without using major- or discipline-specific language.
Schulz and Bridges said this process is intended to gauge the applicant’s descriptive ability and to judge his or her passion.
Soon after all interviews have been completed, scholars are informed of their awards.
Lumen Prizes are always limited to 15, and while Cahill was hesitant to share the exact number of applicants, she said that over the course of the program approximately 40 percent of applicants have been awarded a Lumen Prize. She said this number reveals the competitiveness of the program.
Of this year’s Lumen Scholars, 12 are women. They come from a variety of majors from international studies to exercise and dance science, which Cahill said is reflective of Lumen’s support of all disciplines.
Cahill said selection is based on merit and that the committee has the difficult job of comparing excellence across disciplines while making their final decisions.
“We’re really trying to get the 15 applications that show the greatest promise, the greatest intellectual potential,” she said. “We’re looking for scholars that are remarkable and that are well-positioned to make remarkable contributions to their fields. We do not consider disciplinary quotas or anything like that when making our final decisions.”
Of this year’s cohort of Lumen Scholars all but one of the award winners are involved in a Fellows program at Elon.
Cahill said that, while the number of Fellows who won Lumen Prizes is higher this year than it has been in recent years, the status of applicants as Fellows rarely comes into play and is not necessarily seen as an advantage, though Fellows do tend to have a foundation at Elon that supports them as they go through the application process.
“There’s no doubt that Fellows students come into Elon expecting to do undergraduate research, expecting to find a mentor,” she said. “They have great structure to support them in finding really good topics and taking the time to develop really good relationships with their mentors. Students who are in these programs have the opportunity to think about undergraduate research from the very moment they step on campus.”
Schulz and Bridges are both Honors Fellows, and both agreed that Honors requirements prepared them to apply for Lumen. They also said there were older Honors Fellows who had won Lumen who both were able to reach out to during the application process for advice and support.
“Every year, a lot of Fellows get Lumen, so you see the people older than you get Lumen,” Bridges said.
Honors Fellows and Elon College Fellows are also required to do undergraduate research, which Schulz said made information on Lumen more available to her and other Fellows.
“Honors and College Fellows have to do research anyway, so it’s like, why not apply?” Bridges said.
Now that they have been awarded Lumen Prizes, Schulz and Bridges both have big plans, many of which they wouldn’t have been able to do without Lumen’s financial assistance.
Funds don’t have to be used exclusively for research, which Cahill said is one of the things that makes Lumen unique.
“Lumen funds can be used for experiences or other kinds of costs that forward the student’s intellectual development in general,” she said.
Schulz’s project title is “International Corporate Social Responsibility and Female Stakeholder Entrepreneurship: The Case of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Initiative.”
While Schulz will be using some of her funds to present this research and see what others are doing with corporate responsibility, she is also using them to support her own development.
“One thing about Lumen I really appreciate and what differentiates it from other research grants is that they want to invest in you as a person, as someone interested in research but with other pursuits as well,” Schulz said. “It’s not just money for this project you’re going to do and then be done. It’s something you’re involved in for the entirety of your time at Elon and probably after you leave Elon. It’s nice to know they care about you as a person outside your project.”
Cahill said this is one of the goals of the Lumen Prize.
“The program prides itself on saying, ‘We support scholars, not projects,’” she said. “That is, we’re committed to providing a variety of kinds of support to really remarkable scholars so they can fulfill their academic and intellectual potential.”
Bridges, whose project title is “Navigating Globalization through Myth in Quechua Communities of Southern Peru,” is using some of his funds to do his ethnographical research on-site in Peru. He will be studying abroad in Peru fall 2015 and returning to complete his research summer 2015.
Bridges, who wants to pursue a career in academia, said receiving a Lumen Prize validated both his goals and his research. During the application process he downplayed the prestige of the award to his family, but once he found out that he had won, he was excited to explain it to his family.
“I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I was in it,” he said.
Palm trees may not be the first things that come to mind when thinking of Burlington’s Huffman Mill Road, but they’re the first things diners see as they approach The Village Grill.
From the outside, the restaurant — with its teal, peach and seafoam roof and a sign that looks as if it was made using clip art — seems like it would be more appropriate in a beach town or vacation destination. The tropical trees out front certainly don’t match the law firm, the nail salon or any of the other shops in the neighboring Huffman Mill Village strip mall.
But The Village Grill is a Burlington institution, and its light, tropical-esque fare has earned it a spot on the Burlington dining scene.
Established in 1985, The Village Grill has been around long enough for it to gain a loyal following from area residents and Elon University faculty and staff. Elon students don’t visit the restaurant very often, though, according to co-founder Wayne Bunting.
“We see more of them when mom and dad are in town with them,” Bunting said.
The Village Grill is just down the road from Panera Bread and Starbucks, spots Elon students visit regularly. Its unmistakable sign is even visible from the ever-popular Cook Out. But financial factors, not distance or lack of recognition, may be keeping students from the Grill.
With a focus on seafood and poultry, the restaurant may come off as too expensive or formal for the typical college-student dinner. But slightly steeper prices shouldn’t stop true seafood enthusiasts from getting their fishy food fix. While signature dishes such as the “Crab & Shrimp Cakes” or the “Lime Cilantro Salmon” come in at about $18 a plate, the Grill also offers less-pricey dishes like the “Cheeseburger from Paradise.”
Before The Village Grill, Bunting and his co-founder Randy Cox first worked together at The Cutting Board, another Burlington eatery.
The Cutting Board’s menu is centered around red meat, primarily steaks and burgers. When Bunting and Cox started The Village Grill, they took another focus. They made the Village Grill white-meat centric, with the majority of menu items consisting of variations of grilled chicken and fish.
“We wanted to present a healthier side in the interest of the consumers,” Cox said.
The Village Grill isn’t Bunting and Cox’s only collaboration. They also opened Blue Ribbon Diners in Burlington and Mebane in 1990 and 2006, respectively.
The menu at The Grill contains steak dishes now, but when it was founded the focus was on lighter fare. Even today, the most popular item on the menu is the signature “Key West Chicken.”
The restaurant serves the chicken in several different dishes, though the most popular are the “Grilled Chicken Pasta” and the “Key West Chicken Salad.” The Grill’s “Key West Chicken” is marinated in a sweet marinade made with key limes, among other ingredients, that sets it apart from the average grilled chicken.
“We’ve gone through a couple remodelings, but our menu is still focused on Key West Grilled Chicken,” Bunting said. “We’re still doing the same things we did 30 years ago.”
The Grill’s most popular seafood dish is its “Lime Cilantro Salmon,” which is grilled with a soy-lime baste and topped with lime-cilantro butter. All seafood dishes are also served with a choice of house or Caesar salad.
“We do all salad preparation in-house,” Bunting said. “Everything is fresh.”
All the seafood The Village Grill serves is also fresh. In addition to salmon, the menu features tuna, shrimp and tilapia, with other seafood dishes — including mahi mahi — as occasional specials. The menu is seasonal, Bunting said, to ensure all ingredients are fresh.
For diners 21 and over, The Village Grill boasts an extensive wine, beer and drink menu. Regardless of age, The Village Grill has a plate to fit every palate.
Junior Ben Neikirk likes to arrive at his classes 45 minutes to an hour early. He isn’t there to sit behind a desk, though — he’s a Group X instructor, and he’s there to teach.
Correction: The original article referred to a student with the last name "Young." This was a pseudonym — no student with the name "Young" was interviewed for this article. All references of the student have been changed to "the male freshman" or a variation thereof to prevent confusion. The Pendulum regrets the error.
A line of Elon University faculty, staff, students and community members coiled through the Center for the Arts lobby. As they waited for the box office’s two windows to open, they were unaware that most of them wouldn’t receive tickets to Elon’s 2015 Spring Convocation.
At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, tickets to Spring Convocation became available at the box office. They were sold out within 30 minutes.
“They sold out faster than anything else,” said Joan Dawson, program assistant for cultural programs.
One man caused this overwhelming demand for tickets: astrophysicist, author, TV personality and general science superstar Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson will visit Elon Thursday and serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s Spring Convocation: “The Sky is Not the Limit.”
Tyson is well known in the science community, but he also has a wide appeal that compelled faculty and students to fill all of the approximately 2,200 spaces available in Alumni Gym.
“It’s great to see such a broad interest in this guy,” said Tony Crider, associate professor of physics. “Unlike some occasions when you might bring a science speaker to campus, our job isn’t to bring students there — it’s to keep students out.”
The high level of interest didn’t surprise Crider.
“He’s as close as you get to a rockstar in science,” he said. “The day they announced he was coming to campus, people began contacting me immediately asking how they could get tickets.”
Tyson’s latest — and perhaps his most well-known — achievement is hosting “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” on FOX Network in 2014. “Cosmos” was a reboot of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” which ran in the 1980s. Tyson’s 13-episode series was nominated for 13 Emmy Awards.
Tyson studied physics at Harvard University and went on to earn a master’s degree in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. He also completed a Master of Philosophy degree and a Ph.D. in astrophysics at Columbia University.
Currently, he serves as the head of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, where he holds its Frederick P. Rose Directorship and is a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.
He has written 10 books, the latest of which is “Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries,” released in 2014. Many of his books are required reading for “Intro to Astronomy” classes at Elon.
Beyond his academic achievements, Tyson has also made a name for himself in entertainment. He has appeared on shows such as “The Big Bang Theory,” “Conan,” “The Colbert Report,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
His biggest contribution to science may be the attention he brings to it.
“It’s cool that we have such a big name in science coming,” said junior Helen Meskhidze. “It’s somebody that people recognize his name, people know who he is. He’s not just important for what he’s contributed to science — he’s also a science communicator.”
Tyson even has a meme. Known as “the Neil deGrasse Tyson Reaction,” the meme came from a video interview with Tyson by Big Think, an online knowledge forum. The photograph was taken while Tyson was discussing Sir Isaac Newton and is sometimes paired with the phrase, “Watch out guys, we’re dealing with a badass over here.”
“That’s who’s coming to campus,” Crider said. “The host of ‘Cosmos,’ author of several astronomy books students have used in their classes, and the badass.”
More than a scientist
Tyson’s background is in science, but for many, his appeal lies in his ability to communicate scientific ideas to the wider, less knowledgeable community.
Meskhidze is the president of Elon’s Society of Physics Students and is double-majoring in physics and philosophy. Her interdisciplinary studies allow her to see how the scientific community relates to and is viewed by the public.
“I think science education and science awareness in the public is really important,” Meskhidze said. “The fact that Neil deGrasse Tyson, with his tweets and other facets of communication, is able to raise awareness of science and promote an interest in science among the public is really cool.”
The popularity of Tyson’s reboot of “Cosmos” proves that the general public is curious about science. The remake was originally shown on Fox and is now available on Hulu and Netflix, demonstrating that viewers want to learn more.
“People really want to see this guy,” Crider said. “It’s not just that he’s famous. There are a large number of people out there that would like to see science and technology and engineering and mathematics not just swept under the rug, not just treated as if it’s only for scientists. It’s for all of us, it’s for our kids. It’s something that you need for a society to move forward.”
For years, Sagan used the original “Cosmos” to explain science to the public and get them excited about it. Since then, many television channels have appeared that claim to be educational or science-based. But, according to Crider, these channels often lack quality science.
“There are too many ghosts and aliens in ‘educational’ television,” Crider said. “People want to see real science.”
Tyson has managed to combine real science and entertainment. In addition to “Cosmos,” which 135 million people across the world watched some part of, he hosts “StarTalk,” a radio show and podcast that combines pop culture and science and has featured guests such as Bill Nye and Seth MacFarlane.
Tyson also speaks at conferences — science-related or otherwise — across the country. He is a Twitter celebrity with more than 3.4 million followers, and his tweets about topics ranging from the New England Patriots’ “deflategate” scandal to information on Pi Day make national news and inspire their own national discussions among individuals.
Meskhidze said many people of older generations became interested in science because of Sagan’s work, and Tyson is trying to parallel his efforts and replicate them using modern methods.
“He’s able to integrate Sagan’s ideas in a modern way,” she said.
And, according to Crider, Tyson has been successful.
“It’s great to see — both at Elon and the county in general — an increased enthusiasm in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math],” Crider said. “I think it’s great for science and STEM in general to have one of its champions visit campus.”
Tyson’s speech isn’t until Thursday afternoon, but Meskhidze and the Society of Physics Students have been preparing for months.
Last spring, Meskhidze organized screenings of “Cosmos” as new episodes premiered. During the last semester, she planned screenings of certain episodes to increase interest in Tyson’s speech.
For the week of convocation — dubbed Space Week — the Society has planned a series of student-run events to raise awareness of who Tyson is and get students excited about his arrival. To organize these events, Meskhidze submitted a proposal to Residence Life and received $1,400 in funds from the Residential Campus Initiative.
“One indication that this is something special is [that] it’s very rare that I’ve seen events leading up to a speaker,” Crider said.
Events began Monday, March 30 with a “Cosmos” viewing in LaRose Digital Theatre. The Physics Club had a table at Tuesday’s College Coffee, and Wednesday evening they are offering stargazing from the gym roof. Thursday, April 2, there will be a Coffee Klatch following Convocation where students and faculty can gather and discuss Tyson’s speech. The week will end Friday, April 3, with a viewing of “Interstellar” at 7 p.m. in McEwen 011. Events are open to all students.
“We’re trying to draw in everybody,” Meskhidze said.
As for the day itself, Crider — one of the astronomy professors who has worked at Elon the longest — has been chosen to escort Tyson around campus. He was contacted before the official announcement was made and asked to clear his schedule.
“I’ve had this on my calendar for a year,” he said.
Bringing Tyson to Elon
Tyson won’t be the first scientific figure to speak at an Elon Convocation. Past visitors include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who spoke at Fall Convocation in 2013; astronaut John Glenn, who spoke at Spring Convocation in 2005; and primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, who spoke at Spring Convocation in 2002.
“He will be one of the more notable science folk that we’ve brought to campus for convocation,” Crider said.
Crider was not involved in selecting Tyson, though he did suggest the name.
Jeff Clark, executive director of cultural and special programs, said it was a group decision to bring Tyson to campus. The group chose him from a list of proposed names, and Clark contacted Tyson’s agent.
“We try to bring in a variety of speakers over the years,” Clark said.
Clark also said that, in early student surveys, Tyson was a very popular choice.
“It was a real coup that we brought him here for spring convocation,” Crider said. “To truly bring someone in their prime is amazing.”
Getting into Convocation
The box office distributed its tickets within 30 minutes, but the majority of tickets were given out through other methods.
Dean’s and President’s List students were given priority tickets for the event. These students received an email Feb. 25 that invited them to march in the procession and offered reserved seats. Their enthusiastic response — combined with that of faculty, of whom all full-time members are invited to march — limited the number of tickets available at the box office.
For anyone who didn’t receive a ticket, the event will have a standby line to fill unclaimed seats.
Spring Convocation: “The Sky is Not the Limit” will begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2 in Alumni Gym.
“There are a lot of chances in your life to see music and sport celebrities,” Crider said. “You could probably count science celebrities on one hand. All the energy that exists for science is focused on a few people, and we’re bringing number one.”
At 7:20 a.m., Tuesday: the sun had yet to rise over Elon University. In Koury Athletic Center, low acoustic music drifted from Studio 5. Inside, the lights were off. Twenty people lay flat on yoga mats, eyes closed and hands relaxed at their sides in the savasana pose. Senior Bridget Creel moved deftly through the room and laid a lavender-scented towel over each student’s eyes.
Creel — who introduces herself to her students as Bee — is a fitness instructor with Group X, Campus Recreation’s group exercise program. Her “Sunrise” yoga classes begin at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and but Creel doesn’t let the fatigue show.
“I like to work out first thing when I wake up, working out on an empty stomach then having a huge breakfast,” Creel said.
It was Creel’s suggestion that led to the introduction of a morning “Cycle” class at 8 a.m. Wednesdays. Creel teaches all Group X’s morning classes and afternoon “Yoga” at 4:15 p.m. Thursdays.
“She’s brought a new outlook on morning classes,” said sophomore Sarah Alger, another Group X instructor. “We’ve implemented a lot more sunrise and morning classes because of her wanting to do them, and we’ve gotten good feedback so far.”
Creel teaches four exercise classes a week, and some weeks, she subs for more.
As a sister in Alpha Xi Delta sorority, a print and online journalism major, an occasional Elon Local News health reporter and an intern with a Colorado-based yoga magazine, Creel has her hands full. But through it all, she is unceasingly optimistic.
“I think Bee, as an individual on the team, brings the most positivity,” said senior Katie Perez, Group X team leader.
The journey to fitness
Creel came to Elon having never taken a group exercise class. In high school, she danced and played field hockey, but she was never interested in exercising for the sake of being active alone.
“Coming to Elon has been a huge wake-up call for me,” Creel said. “Not that people are so obsessed with body image, but it’s really made me think, because I’m not enthusiastic about the way I look. It’s important to be comfortable in your own skin, not so critical, and I think exercise has really helped me, because I feel strength. I feel like a strong person when I exercise, when I teach, so it’s not so much about, ‘I’d like to change this part of me.’”
Creel began attending “Zumba” classes her freshman year. The following year she applied to the Group X team. Creel originally wanted to be trained to only teach “Zumba,” but Group X certification requires training in strength, mind/body and cardio. This holistic training gives instructors the ability to teach a variety of classes.
“We have the ability to sub for people if we want to, so it’s good to have that versatility,” Creel said.
Group X’s training program introduced Creel to yoga and cycle, her two favorite classes to teach. As a mind/body class, yoga was very different from Zumba, but now Creel does it every day.
“I think it’s important to do yoga every day, whether it be 10 minutes, five minutes, whatever it is,” she said. “The yoga part of me is the wholesome part, the calm part. It’s really where I go to reflect, where I find my stability.”
Creel’s favorite part of yoga is “savasana,” or corpse pose. For her, it’s the most important part of yoga because it allows the yogi to shut everything else out.
“It’s a reminder that you’re in the right place,” she said. “You’re meant to relax. You’re here for a reason.”
Creel also enjoys teaching her “Cycle” classes, where she can get her heart racing and take a break from the mellow, soft songs that provide background music for her yoga classes.
“Not all of our instructors can teach yoga and a high-intensity like cycle, which she does,” Perez said. “She’s always willing to step up. If someone needs a sub, she’s very open-minded and a very versatile instructor.”
A true calling
Creel’s classes — even the ones that start at 6:30 a.m. — are usually full. Many of the attendees are regulars who attend her classes multiple times a week. For Creel, seeing the same faces every week is validating.
“That’s how I know I’m doing something right — when people keep coming back,” she said.
Alger said Creel’s personality keeps people returning week after week.
“She is so down-to-earth, sweet and friendly,” Alger said. “I’m sure anyone who talks to her will say the same thing. She’s so friendly. She genuinely cares about other people, which especially comes across in her classes.”
Instructing exercise classes has rewards for Creel beyond familiar faces.
“It’s amazing what teaching has done for me,” Creel said. “It has definitely been my source of mental clarity. When I’m teaching, I’m in this other world for an hour. Because I’m so focused on the energy of other people, I get back so much.”
Aside from teaching classes, Creel works out on her own, as well. She admits teaching classes detracts from her own workouts, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“The thing about teaching … I’m giving myself wholly to other people,” she said. “Even if I’m doing the workout, which I am, it isn’t at the intensity level as it would be if I were working out on my own, which is probably why I like it more. I’m enjoying my time because I’m putting it toward others. I’m distracted.”
Alger admires Creel’s devotion to teaching.
“When she teaches a class, she wants to make sure that you as an individual are giving your full attention,” Alger said. “You’re getting something from the class. You’re not just there attending. She wants you to be present, and she’s also there to help you.”
Living fully in health and wellness
Creel incorporates health into all aspects of her life.
“I try to work out every day, but I don’t beat myself up,” she said. “It’s such a mental thing for me. On days when I don’t work out, I feel sluggish. I just want to sleep. It just doesn’t make me feel good.”
Creel sees exercising as a way of appreciating the body and its abilities. As an extension of the mind and self, the body also deserves to be appreciated.
“By taking that initiative to work out, you’re showing care to your body and your mind,” Creel said. “That’s very important.”
She extends this perspective to her diet too.
“I love eating healthy, because when I do eat healthy I feel so much better,” Creel said. “It fuels my workouts — it’s just a win-win situation.”
Creel avoids eating for fitness, by which she means the energy drinks and protein bars some exercise enthusiasts swear by. Rather than just fueling her muscles, Creel tries to feed her body natural, wholesome foods that will help it function efficiently.
Creel loves to cook and tries to make all her meals herself. She will even bag them up and bring them to campus. She tries to stick to a pescatarian diet and eat as few processed foods as possible, though she doesn’t deny herself the occasional cheeseburger.
“I love to show people that, no matter what state they’re in, they can have the happiest life they deserve,” Creel said. “I think that it’s important for people to know how to get to that point, and I think health is the root to all that.”
7:28 a.m., Tuesday: As the final minutes of her “Sunrise” class came to a close, Creel raised the volume of the music and sat on her mat at the front of the room.
“Slowly begin to wiggle your fingers and toes as you return to yourself,” she said. As her students remove the towels from their eyes and sat up, Creel smiled.
“This is the best thing you could have done for your body today,” she said. “As you go through the rest of the day, remember that you’ve done this for yourself today.”
Smith Jackson, vice president for student life, sent an email Jan. 23 about an incident in which two males shouted racial and sexual slurs at a female Elon University student as they drove past her. The university sponsored two events to inspire a campus-wide discussion of racial intolerance.
The lack of tolerance demonstrated by this incident is an issue in its own right, and it fully deserves the attention it has received and will hopefully receive in the future. But there was another component to the incident: the Elon student was also harassed because of her gender.
The incident described above was a case of street harassment — an unwanted interaction in a public space between strangers motivated by a person’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender expression. These interactions can annoy, anger, humiliate and scare the victim and are ultimately a form of sexual harassment that takes place regularly on Elon’s campus.
This type of sexual harassment typically occurs between a man — or, more often, a group of men — in a car and a woman walking on one of Elon’s sidewalks. Sexual harassment happens regardless of what the woman is wearing or the time of day, though of course it happens more frequently on weekend nights.
Men shout anything from “Hey!” to profane sexual comments as they pass. The women are left on the sidewalk, probably giggling nervously to cover their discomfort because they don’t know how else to respond to a shameless act of male aggression.
That’s what this is: men forcing women to accept unwelcome comments and driving away before there can be any backlash. It’s cowardly, and it reveals that these men know what they’re doing is wrong. Safe inside their cars with their five best frat buddies, catcallers feel comfortable enough to say whatever they want because they know there will be no consequences.
There are worse offenses in the world than catcalling, but it is an issue at Elon that no one — including the university administration — seems to have made enough of a priority.
But a lot of people seem to recognize catcalling as a serious issue. According to a study by StopStreetHarassment.org, 99 percent of women have experienced some sort of street harassment.
If 99 percent of women got food poisoning from a bad shipment of meat, grocery stores, food distributors and the appropriate governmental agencies would take drastic action to solve the problem. It would seem that since there is little legislation protecting a woman’s right to walk down the street, 99 percent of women don’t actually need protection.
By not addressing the issue, we’re saying that it’s perfectly acceptable for women to be shouted and leered at. We’re saying that it’s expected. We’re saying that, by stepping outside their homes, women are exposing themselves to unsolicited and distressing comments.
My own experiences with catcalling at Elon range from the ridiculous — “You look like Taylor Swift,” — to the disturbing — “If I run behind you, does that mean I’m chasing you?”
Every incident leaves me feeling uncomfortable in a place where I should feel completely safe. Every incident makes me angry that there are people who think their opinion of my appearance is more important than my right to walk to Acorn without being harassed. I’ve been catcalled more here on my “safe” college campus than I have walking around downtown Atlanta.
Shouting, “Hey, girl” at someone walking down the sidewalk on Williamson Avenue may not feel like an excessively threatening act, but if it’s meant to be a compliment, why do you have to shout it from a passing car? There are correct ways to give compliments, and shouting them from a moving vehicle is not one of them.
Most seniors spend the spring enjoying what is left of college before the real world hits. For Jake Sokoloff, his last year at Elon University has consisted of months of hard work, hours of interviews and hundreds of pages of transcribed notes.
All of this has culminated into a pan-generational performance that puts the spotlight on a marginalized part of society — senior citizens. Sokoloff, an Elon College Fellow, wanted his undergraduate research to look at how music can be more than just entertainment.
“I wanted to look at the human elements of entertainment and how we can reach people on a deeper level,” Sokoloff said.
To do this, he spent hours listening to senior citizens talk. He combined these stories into a performance that allows the seniors to share their lives while being accompanied by the songs they grew
“It’s a collection of stories woven with music from their era,” said Jane Wellford, professor of performing arts and Sokoloff’s research mentor.
The show, titled “They Can’t Take That Away From Me: Stories From an Unforgettable Generation,” is performed entirely by 18 residents of The Village at Brookwood located in Burlington. This senior living retirement community has several different stages of care on site, meaning its residents vary in health and physical ability.
“The group is telling the collective story of their generation,” Sokoloff said. “They have this elevated responsibility to tell their stories to the people in the audience.”
Sokoloff began interviewing the Brookwood residents in spring 2014. In the time since, he has interviewed 12 residents, including his own grandmother, Claire Kaminsky, who inspired the
She lived with Sokoloff’s family while he was growing up, and the two have a very close relationship. Sokoloff said their relationship remained strong after he left for Elon.
“She said she missed me so much because no one listened to her, sat and talked with her,” Sokoloff said. “Everyone should feel like they have an ear when they need it.”
This led Sokoloff to team up with Brookwood, where not all of the residents had someone to lend an ear. For the interviews, he compiled a list of music from the 30s, 40s and 50s that could remind the residents of memories connected to these songs.
“I wanted to use [music] as a tool to access memories that had been forgotten,” Sokoloff said. “Music is truly unlike everything else. It affects us in a way nothing else can.”
Wellford said it took more than music to persuade the residents to open up.
“[Sokoloff] had a gift for listening and being at home with these residents during their interviews,” she said. “Jake made them very comfortable with sharing
After the interviews, Sokoloff selected what stood out and split them into major life themes, such as childhood and building a family. He selected up to four stories per theme and incorporated the music of the era into section. The songs include “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland.
“Anyone with a grandparent, living or deceased, will want to see this,” Wellford said.
Sokoloff agreed but said this performance is about more than that.
“It’s about taking time to slow down and remember how important it is to connect with people on a real, physical level,” he said.
The two performances of “They Can’t Take That Away from Me: Stories from an Unforgettable Generation” will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 19-20 at The Village at Brookwood, Village Square, 1860 Brookwood Ave., Burlington.
Tap dancers dressed as Mario and Luigi, an all-female rendition of Fall Out Boy’s “Young Volcanoes,” and a dance choreographed to Matt and Kim’s “Daylight.”
Early in the morning on a cold day in late January, 600-plus eager young women prepared for a process that could change the course of their college careers. Their collective enthusiasm filled the air as they lined up outside the nine sorority houses in Elon University’s Loy Center. Inside, sorority sisters were ready to greet the potential new members and introduce them to their respective organizations.
Elon’s formal Spring Panhellenic Recruitment ran Jan. 28-31. Each day, potential new members learned more about the various sororities and selected which houses they wanted to return to the next day.
Recruitment at Elon operates on a mutual selection process. Women going through recruitment rank the sororities they visited that day and select the ones they would most like to return to the next day. The sororities decide which candidates they would like to invite back. According to the Office of Greek Life’s website, this process is designed to work in favor of new members to give them the best chance of returning to as many houses as possible.
Still, a significant number of women did not receive bids — or invitations to join — from one of the sororities they visited over the four days, either because they chose not to continue the process or because the sororities chose not to invite them back.
“I know a few people [who didn’t complete the recruitment process],” said freshman Zaria Zinn, who just received a bid from Kappa Delta. “I think it’s a combination of the number of people rushing this year, but I also think some people decided that [Greek Life] wasn’t for them, and some people also just decided that Greek Life was maybe for them but there wasn’t an organization on campus that they felt at home at.”
Candidates chose not to complete the recruitment process for a variety of reasons.
“The majority of women who do not receive an invitation withdraw from the process at some point,” the Office of Greek Life’s website says. “Many of those students had their hearts set on a particular organization, and when that chapter is no longer an option for them, they choose to withdraw rather than look at the other organizations. There are also a small number of women who complete this process and do not receive a bid. This is usually because a student did not ‘maximize her options,’ meaning that the student was unwilling to consider membership in one of the sororities that was interested in her.”
Bids are given out on Bid Day, the end of the formal recruitment process, and for 505 women, it was a day of celebration. But Bid Day wasn’t a day to celebrate for many others who left empty-handed
Of the 638 freshmen and sophomores who began the process, 505 received bids. This left 133 women who didn’t receive bids or chose to drop from the process. These women made up 21 percent of the original group, meaning 1-in-5 did not receive a bid.
The number of women registered for recruitment has risen over the last 10 years, since 392 registered in 2005.
Ten years ago, about 44 percent of female freshmen went through recruitment. Of the 928 female freshmen in the class of 2018, 532 — or 57 percent — went through recruitment.
The number of women registering for recruitment has increased at a much faster rate than the general student population. The increase since 2005 in the number of female freshmen going through recruitment is more than double the increase in the size of the freshman class in the same time period: 55 and 21 percent, respectively.
Currently, around 38 percent of Elon’s female undergraduate population is involved in Greek Life. Women going through the recruitment process noticed.
“It was overwhelming,” said freshman Lizzie Conley, who received a bid from Alpha Omicron Pi. “It was a lot.”
Though the number of students going through recruitment has grown, the number that receives bids hasn’t kept pace. Regardless, the large number of girls going through recruitment has effects beyond Elon’s Greek community.
“I was working during the recruitment process,” said unaffiliated senior Alisha Carter, an admissions tour guide. “We give tours out of Moseley, and Moseley was just filled with girls. It kind of overpowered what we were trying to do.”
The effects spread beyond campus. Michaelle Graybeal owns All That JAS, a store that sells primarily Greek wear. Graybeal said, regardless of the number of girls going through recruitment, JAS seems to get the same amount of business.
“Insanity would probably be the best way to describe [this time of year],” Graybeal said. “After Bid Day you have 600-plus girls that have just gotten in, and they’re very excited about being able to be in a sorority and they’re very excited to wear letters. It’s pretty insane for us — in a good way. The day after Bid Day is crazy. They were out the door this morning buying stuff.”
Of the increased number of women going through recruitment, Graybeal said it didn’t affect the final result.
“What I’ve seen is that the groups buy Bid Day packages from us, and numbers have gone up a little but not a lot,” Graybeal said. “I don’t know that they ended up with that many more girls.”
If Elon continues to grow, Greek Life organizations may have to adapt to accommodate increasing numbers of freshmen and sophomores eager to join sororities and fraternities.
Senior reporter Danielle Deavens contributed reporting.
“Welcome, you bunch of despicable, spoiled, minimally talented brats.”
With that inspired greeting, Tina Fey kicked off the 72nd Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 11. Fey and her co-host, fellow comedian and SNL alumna Amy Poehler, hosted the show for their third and final year. The duo has been praised for its brilliant hosting and unfiltered commentary, and whomever the Hollywood Foreign Press Association taps to host next year’s show will be hard-pressed to match their success.
This year’s Golden Globes upheld its tradition of edgy decisions and semi-intoxicated celebrity attendees. Benedict Cumberbatch, beloved of the Internet, literally jumped out of his seat at the opportunity to present the award for Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture with Jennifer Aniston. J.K. Simmons won the award for his role in “Whiplash.” Comedian Ricky Gervais, who hosted the show from 2009 to 2011, giggled tipsily throughout his presentation of the Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical award, which was given to Amy Adams for her role in “Big Eyes.”
The night’s big winners were “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson’s latest film, and “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater’s epic 12-year project. They took the awards for Best Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical and Best Motion Picture — Drama, respectively. Linklater also won the award for Director.
George Clooney was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award bestowed for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” Past honorees include Walt Disney, Elizabeth Taylor and Harrison Ford. Clooney gamely put up with teasing from the show’s hosts regarding his recent marriage to successful human rights lawyer Amal Ramzi Alamuddin Clooney. He delivered a swoon-worthy acceptance speech in which he thanked his wife, saying, “Amal, whatever alchemy it is that brought us together, I couldn’t be more proud to be your husband.”
These winners deserved their awards, but they were ultimately safe bets. “Boyhood” won the 2015 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Picture, which “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was also nominated for, and Linklater won a second award for his direction of the film. The two films and Linklater received Oscar nominations, as well.
The Golden Globes’ major film awards were unsurprising, but the winners for television certainly made up for them. “Transparent,” the Amazon Studios-produced story of a transgender woman and her family that is streamed online by Amazon Instant Video, won Best TV Comedy or Musical. It was the first Best Series win by a streaming service, but, more importantly, the award recognized a provocative, diverse and progressive series. Jeffrey Tambor won the award for Lead Actor — TV Comedy for his sensitive and respectful portrayal of Maura, the show’s transgender protagonist.
In another unexpected decision, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave the award for Lead Actress — TV Comedy or Musical to Gina Rodriguez, star of The CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” Rodriguez was the only non-white actor or actress to be honored during the show, and it was The CW’s first-ever win. These historic wins may not reflect an industry-wide trend yet, but they’re steps in the right direction. Hopefully, in the next few years the other awards shows will follow suit.
This Winter Term, Elon University’s Performing Arts Department has taken on a new challenge: remaking a classic.
Sophocles wrote “Antigone” around 440 BC, and the tragedy has been the definition of a true classic for the nearly 2,500 years that have passed since. A show with such a lengthy history may have already undergone countless interpretations, but Elon’s Fred Rubeck and Karl Green are doing their best to present “Antigone” in an entirely new light.
Rubeck and Green, chair of the Department of Performing Arts and assistant professor of performing arts, respectively, have given the true classic a contemporary update.
Rubeck’s goal was to adapt the script so it appealed to a more modern audience.
“I was really trying to preserve the impact of the historic work but make it more palatable to modern audiences,” Rubeck said. “The story and issues are the same, but the manner in which we tell it, from the script through the design, is new.”
“Antigone” takes place in the city of Thebes in ancient Greece. The title character is the daughter of Oedipus and his mother, Jocasta. Unfortunate circumstances force Antigone — played by senior Gabrielle Toledo — to choose between what she thinks is right and what authority says is right.
Rubeck said this conflict will appeal to a college audience.
“This is really a young person’s play,” he said. “It pits authority against conviction, duty to self and family versus rules and laws.”
While Rubeck updated the script, Green focused on giving the show a new vision.
Charged with producing costumes for a show with a limited budget and a relatively short production time, Green was hard-pressed to create a style that presented the show’s original themes while reflecting Rubeck’s new script.
Green, who has a background in fashion, said it fell into place. “I knew I wanted to do Bauhaus,” he said. “A mix of Bauhaus and high fashion.”
Bauhaus is a German school of art that combine crafts and the fine arts. Pieces in this style are blocky with sharp edges and different geometric shapes. By mixing geometric elements of Bauhaus with the luxury and elegance of high fashion, Green created a unique blend of styles that he calls “sculptural avant-garde.”
“I’m a fashion person, and this was an opportunity to do what I want,” he said. “I have free reign in costume direction. I’m at my most creative right now.”
Green also had to establish a connection between his timeless, eye-catching costumes and the themes of the show.
“Tragedy can happen at any time, in any place,” he said. “I wanted to create a timeless style that reflects that. It’s very interesting to create a world that doesn’t exist.”
In Green’s world, clothing is colorless. The 24-person chorus is dressed in shades of light gray, with the four royal characters set apart in black and silver garments. The costumes are designed to stand out against the traditional Greek set.
“[Green’s visual approach] is striking and creative,” Rubeck said. “I think it will help the audience see the characters and their situations in fresh ways. They should not expect some old-fashioned production with ancient costumes and poetry they cannot understand.”
“The audience should make their own interpretations,” he said. We don’t want to tell them how to react to this show,” he added.
Performances of “Antigone” are Friday, Jan. 23 through Monday, Jan. 26 and Wednesday, Feb. 4 through Saturday, Feb. 7. Weeknight showings are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday showings are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday showing is at 2 p.m. All performances are in Roberts Theatre in Scott Studios.