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Elizabeth Saunders
UNCW '10

2010 Tau Sigma National Honor Society Scholarship Recipient

Elizabeth Saunders was one of only four college students nationwide to receive a $2,000 Tau Sigma National Honor Society’s annual scholarship. The UNC Wilmington undergraduate earned the scholarship for achievement both in and outside of the classroom as a transfer student.

Saunders, part of the 2010 graduating class, has spent a little over a year at UNCW, but her contributions to the university span far past the length of her attendance.

She is a veteran of the United States Navy. Although as a high school senior this was not how she envisioned her future, she said that her decision to join the Navy has been one of the best decisions she has ever made. Saunders said that the experience she gained from her service to her country helped her in all aspects of life, including her education at UNCW.

As an anthropology major and president of UNCW’s Anthropology Club, Saunders has used her worldwide travel experience to help others reflect on and better understand other cultures.  She has visited more than 25 countries between her mandated travel for the Navy, her independent studies and humanitarian efforts.  

In November 2009, Saunders presented her short film Ju-Leh! A Himalayan Expedition at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.  The film was the product of her three-week independent summer expedition in the Himalayas of northern India. Saunders spent winter break in Europe conducting interviews for a second independent study on the “Impact of the Internet on Western Zen Buddhism” for which she was awarded the Paul E. Hoiser Undergraduate Research and Creativity Fellowship Award and a CSURF Travel award.

“I want to examine the history of cultures in the current moment,” said Saunders.

Her interest in digital anthropology, which was the basis of her second independent study, has earned her acceptance into the unique and premiere digital anthropology graduate-level program at the world-renowned University College London.  This rigorous one-year program allows students to investigate the digital traces that are currently being left behind in cultural studies, such as the Internet.  The study of digital anthropology is relatively new and Saunders hopes the knowledge she gains from her studies will allow her to push for related academic programs in the U.S.

“I love exposing people to new things,” she said.

At UNCW, Saunders is helping others make and tell their own stories.  In fall 2009, Saunders helped to organize fundraising efforts so that UNCW’s Model United Nations Association could travel to New York City to participate the Columbia University Model United Nations Conference. 

Here, UNCW joined colleges and universities including Harvard and Yale for debates about current issues, United Nations ambassador-style.  At the conference students made speeches, prepared resolutions for mock scenarios and negotiated to resolve conflicts.  Saunders said that her experience in the U.S. armed forces enabled her to excel at this conference and in turn, she received the Outstanding Delegate Award.  Saunders is also part of the UNCW Spanish Cub, where she serves as a tutor for elementary school students, and a photographer for the UNCW student newspaper, The Seahawk.  She has also received the UNCW’s Chancellor’s Achievement Award and the UNCW Department of Anthropology Bookstore Scholarship.

Scott Simmons of the anthropology department describes Saunders as the kind of bright, highly motivated student every teacher justloves to be around.

“Since she has come to UNCW, she has been a model student in every way.  She has taken on leadership responsibilities of the Anthropology Club as president and has been a real pleasure to interact with on a daily basis. She's an extremelyhard worker. All of us in the Department of Anthropology will miss her when she graduates,” said Simmons.

Saunders has also assisted in scholarship fundraising efforts for the anthropology department in hopes that her fellow students can be rewarded for their hard work much like she has. 

“There are a lot of things out there I haven’t learned, I haven’t tried and haven’t experienced,” said Saunders, “I just want to do it all.”

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Photo: Jamie Moncreif / UNCW Marketing and Communications
Article: Joy C. Davis / UNCW Marketing and Communications




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