Elon University / Today in Elon / Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences honors distinguished alumni


Three outstanding alumni were recognized Thursday by Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences for their contributions to public health, the arts, higher education, and for embodying the core values ​​of the College and Elon.

Sarah Babcock ’09, Kevin Pace ’02 and Drew Van Horn ’82 received the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award at a ceremony and luncheon hosted by College Deans and faculty. Although in different fields, Babcock, Pace and Van Horn have each forged careers of excellence in their fields with a commitment to Elon’s values ​​of integrity, honesty, service and leadership.

The Deans of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, meet the Distinguished Alumni Award winners. From left to right are Associate Dean Kirby Wahl, Kevin Pace ’02, Sarah Babcock ’09, Dean Gabie Smith, Drew Van Horn ’82 and Associate Dean Nancy Harris.

“Seeing the bond between faculty, students and alumni that lasts a lifetime is profound and moving for me. That’s what we see at this event,” said Gabie Smith, Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, welcoming the winners, their families and faculty. “We are very grateful to you and the gifts you have given us. Thank you for being who you are.”

Babcock was recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for her emergency preparedness work with the New Orleans Public Health Department before being asked last year to create the first health department of Jefferson Parish. Pace is a successful and award-winning jazz musician and composer, as well as co-founder of the DC Jazz Composers Collective, a non-profit organization that supports the vitality of improvised music in the capital. Van Horn has served as president of Young Harris College in Georgia since 2017, was previously president of Brevard College in western North Carolina, and has held various administrative positions at Elon and elsewhere.

Thursday’s reception was long overdue. The College annually selects outstanding alumni to be recognized from faculty nominations in each of its three divisions: Arts and Humanities; Natural, mathematical and computational sciences; and social and behavioral sciences. Babcock, Pace and Van Horn were selected as 2020 recipients just before the pandemic hit. The ceremony was postponed until this spring as cases declined across the country.

Sarah Babcock ’09

A graduate in biology, Babcock was deeply involved in public service and leadership before she came to campus. In fact, she chose Elon because of his service-learning opportunities and vibrant learning community. She coordinated a service trip to Cambodia, participated in the Isabella Cannon Leadership Development Program and the Clinton Global Health Initiative.

After earning her Bachelor of Science in Biology, Babcock earned a Masters in Public Health, International Health, and Development from the Tulane School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine.

Babcock is currently the chief administrative assistant at Jefferson Parish, near New Orleans, where she established the parish’s first health department.

Associate Professor of Biology Yuko Miyamoto, left, and Sarah Babcock '09
Associate Professor of Biology Yuko Miyamoto, left, and Sarah Babcock ’09

“You’re looking at the Jefferson Parish Public Health Center,” associate professor of biology Yuko Miyamoto, who named Babcock, said Thursday. “I’m incredibly proud that you’re representing Elon doing things that mean a lot to you and working for the community.”

Previously with the New Orleans Department of Health, she served as Director of Healthy Environments and Communications and received FEMA’s Community Readiness Award in 2015. She received the award at the White House for her work as a as the Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness Officer.

Babcock is also a nurturing and adoptive mother, a role she felt called to as she worked to protect the most vulnerable in her community.

She credits Elon’s instructors and emphasis on broad liberal arts study for her success in solving problems and adapting to rapidly changing public health needs.

“I’m a product of parents who raised me in rural Pennsylvania, so I have that farm work ethic, but I’m also a product of Elon,” Babcock said. “And not just the biology department. It was the Kernodle Center for Service Learning that taught me that my life is to serve, whether in my career where I can serve the most vulnerable, … or in my life as an adoptive parent.

“I’ve had a lot of success since Elon. Part of it is me, but a big part of it is all of you.

Kevin Pace ’02

Pace came to Elon unsure of his education and future, knowing only that he wanted to play music. The relationships he made with Elon coupled with jazz music lessons lit his way.

Since then he has appeared on more than 30 professional recordings, composed the music for a film and won the Mid-Atlantic Song-Writing Competition. Pace’s debut album, “First Steps”, was selected by Capitol Bop magazine as one of the top five recordings of the year. He co-founded the DC Jazz Composers Collective, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the perpetuation of improvised music.

Professor Emeritus of Music Jon Metzger, left, and Kevin Pace '02.
Professor Emeritus of Music Jon Metzger, left, and Kevin Pace ’02

Pace earned a degree in music after receiving the Billy Crocker Jazz Award in 2001 – the music department’s highest honor for jazz studies – as well as the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for service. He then earned his Masters of Music from the University of Maryland, College Park.

In addition to traveling the world and performing at some of the world’s most prestigious venues for the performing arts, Pace has taught at several colleges and universities and is currently on the faculty at Shepherd University.

“His students adore him and cherish his mentorship. Already, Kevin has led many of his students to become among the best players in their respective fields,” said music teacher emeritus Jon Metzger. “Kevin is by far the most requested guest artist among our current students here at Elon. He connects so well with our students here on his return visits, identifies so well with them and is able to reach them with He is also a regular guest at our department’s Seniors Day at the Student Professional Development Center, offering helpful advice and encouragement to our graduating seniors.

Pace regularly teaches masterclasses and visits students in the music program, helping them chart their own career paths and offering them ideas as a professional musician.

“Everyone talked today about passion and direction and purpose,” Pace said. “Elon’s teachers made the difference for me. It was the first time I really saw passion in teaching.

“When I became a teacher, I made it a point to work very hard to bring out the love of music in my students,” he continued, describing a current student who started on the sidelines of the curriculum. Jazz and Music from Shepherd University. “He is now the heart and soul of the jazz program. I like to think his journey started here in Elon.

Drew Van Horn ’82

Van Horn has spent his career in higher education working to instill the commitment to student-centered teaching that he first encountered in Elon at other liberal arts institutions.

Van Horn has held administrative positions at Elon — as director of student activities, alumni and parent relations, then development and major gifts — as well as at Gardner-Webb University, University Lenoir-Rhyne, at Iowa Wesleyan University and at Brevard College, where he served as president for nine years. Since 2017, he has served as president of Young Harris College in northwest Georgia. He is also a former executive director of the Independent College Fund for North Carolina.

Associate Professor of Social Work Studies Bud Warner, left, and Drew Van Horn '82
Associate Professor of Social Work Studies Bud Warner, left, and Drew Van Horn ’82

“Drew demonstrated unique leadership skills and abilities and put his knowledge to good use,” said Associate Professor of Social Work Studies Bud Warner. “During his inauguration as President of Young Harris College, Dr. Van Horn noted that the college’s mission is to make a difference in the lives of its students and to make a difference in the life of the community in which it serves. resides. To me, that sounds like how someone might describe Drew Van Horn.

Van Horn graduated from Elon cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Human Service Studies, earning numerous awards and accolades, including induction into Alpha Chi and Omicron Delta Kappa and selection as a two-time recipient of the Academic Award All American and COSIDA (GTE) Academic All American Award in basketball. He was inducted into the Elon University Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

He earned his Masters in Counseling from Campbell University. After grad school, he returned to Elon as Director of Student Activities. He left that position to become assistant state director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, before returning to Elon to lead advancement efforts.

In addition to his success in higher education, Van Horn founded his own consulting firm, Decision-Matters LLC, focusing on leadership training, development and coaching. Beyond his professional roles, he has worked extensively with social service organizations in the various communities he has lived in, helping them develop strategic plans and fundraising plans. His excellence in leadership has been recognized nationally by his selection as a Thrivent Leadership Program Fellow, one of 12 selected in the United States.

“Elon was where I found my wings and my voice,” Van Horn said Thursday. “My Elon upbringing prepared me to do a lot of things. Everything I learned here prepared me to know how people think, how people care, and to realize that my job was to be their servant.


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