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Strong mentors were very important to my own development, especially my Master’s and PhD advisors* Dr. Jim Delehanty and Dr. Matthew D. Turner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although Elon University does not currently offer majors in my areas of specialization (Geography and African Studies), I have mentored Elon students with related interests through the Periclean Scholars program (, Honors Program, and Undergraduate Research Program. Our stories are highlighted below.

My excitement for mentoring exceptional students was awakened by Amy J. Cowen a Visual Anthropology major who graduated magna cum laude from Elon in 2005. Amy had taken my Africa’s People and Environments course and approached me about the possibilityof writing up some of her research on the persecution of Jews, especially the Beit Avraham of Ethiopia, after a semester in Ethiopia and a summer in Israel.  Amy enrolled in 2sh of 499 Independent Research upon which her research entitled ‘The Long Road Home’ was published in: Jewish Quarterly (Spring 2006, No. 201). The text of Amy’s article is available online through but you must view the print version to see her photographs (other than the one which graced the cover of the issue in which she was published).


While co-teaching an Honors Program seminar I met Rachel Rebecca Hewitt a Religious Studies major who graduated summa cum laude in 2007. The summer after taking my course Rebecca signed up to work on research with me through Elon’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. We worked on researching and writing a manuscript entitled ‘Ideologies of Land and Place among Settler Colonist and Gikuyu Women in Central Kenya’ which was published in: Geographical Bulletin (May 2005) Vol. 47, No. 1, pages 14-35. Rebecca presented this research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and with me at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference. She also served as President of our campus chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU), the International Honor Society for Geography.

I met Justine Maisha Davis an International Studies major who graduated magna cum laude in 2008 through my Africa’s People and Environments course. Justine worked with me through the SURE program and our manuscript ‘Ideologies of Land and Place: Memories from Zimbabwe’s War of Liberation’ was published in April 2008 in the South African Geographical Journal, 90(1): 226-235. Justine presented the research at NCUR. Justine had a minor in Geography, was the winner of the campus wide Geography Program Essay Contest, and served as President of GTU after Rebecca graduated.  Justine served as a Teaching Assistant for the Africa’s People and Environments course, was recognized as the Outstanding Student in Geography, and as the Outstanding Senior in both International Studies and African/African American Studies.

Alexander G. Hopkins,an Environmental Studies major who graduated cum laude in 2008 was sent my way by faculty who knew we had shared interest in marine fisheries management. I served as Alex’s Honor’s Thesis mentor for part of his junior and all of his senior year. During this time Alex secured a RAWLS scholarship for his research ‘Fishing Livelihoods and Marine Protected Areas in the United States Virgin Islands:  A Community-Based Approach to Fishery Conservation’ and presented his research at NCUR. Alex’s Honors Thesis is part of Elon’s Belk Library’s permanent collection. We co-authored "Managing Coral Reef Fisheries" published in July 2008 in The Encyclopedia of Earth.

Lauren C. Taylor graduated cum laude in 2010 with an Independent Major in International Women’s Health Services. I met in her first year when she became a Class of 2010, Periclean Scholar. I worked with Lauren on a manuscript over the summer of 2007 entitled ‘Development through Civic Service: the Peace Corps and National Service Programs in Ghana’ which was published in April 2009 in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Development Studies. I also worked with Lauren on her successful applications to become a Lumen Scholar, a Ward Family Learning in Action Scholar, and the lead student author on a $5,200 College of Arts and Science, Fund for Excellence Grant to host a multi-day festival on Africa. We co-presented a paper at the Association of American Geographers conference in spring 2010.

I also mentored Kristine Silvestri, a Political Science major, Lumen Scholar, Periclean Scholar, Truman Award Finalist and summa cum laude 2010 graduate of Elon University. We co-authored a review of Michael Amoah’s 2007, Reconstructing the Nation in Africa: the Politics of Nationalism in Ghana in African Studies Quarterly (Vol. 10, Issue 8, spring 2008), an encyclopedia entry on Popular Culture in The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought (Oxford University Press, 2010), and a peer-reviewed journal article on Togolese and Liberian Refugees in Ghana in Africa Media Review(Volume 17, Number 2, 2009).

Most recently I mentored Anna McCracken, an International Studies major, Elon College Fellow and member of Phi Beta Kappa who studied in Ghana for a semester and graduated from Elon magna cum laude in 2013. We co-presented a paper on China’s Development Initiatives in Ghana, 1961-2011 at the Southeast Division of the Association of American Geographers conference in November 2012. The paper was published in the winter 2012 issue of the Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, 14 (8): 275-286.


I participated in the Preparing Future Faculty program, serving as a mentor for Duke University Environmental Studies students Noella Gray and Bethany Haalboom.


*  = My M.S. and PhD were both in Geography; my dissertation title was ‘Fishers, Parks, and Power: The Socio-Environmental Dimensions of Marine Resource Decline and Protection on the Kenya Coast’ (Dr. James Delehanty and Dr. Matthew D. Turner, Advisors). My Master’s Thesis title was ‘The Masai and the Masai Mara: People, Park, and Policy’ (Dr. James Delehanty, Advisor). Geography was a new field for me after my B.S. from Cornell University in Human Development. 

Heidi G. Frontani
Professor of Geography
Department of History and Geography
Elon University
Dept. of History and Geography
CB 2335; Elon, NC 27244
Phone: 336-278-6462
Fax: 336-278-2855