Meet the Students

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Elon Professor

Amy Allocco


Professor Amy Allocco has seventeen years of experience in South India, where she traveled first for a semester-long study abroad course as an undergraduate at Colgate University. She holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (2001) and earned her PhD from Emory University’s Program in West & South Asian Religions (2009). She is fluent in Tamil and has carried out extensive research on Hindu women’s rituals in Tamil Nadu. She is currently revising her dissertation, which focused on contemporary snake goddess traditions in southern India, into her first book project. She co-led a similar study abroad course to South India with her husband, Professor Brian Pennington, in 2010, and is excited to have another opportunity to convince him of the inherent superiority of South India over North this January.

Read more about Professor Allocco here:

Professor Allocco in India:

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Elon Students

Miles Camp


Miles is a Computer Science major with minors in Asian Studies and Applied Mathematics from Linwood, NJ.  He is a junior this year and leaving for India will be his first time out of the country.  Miles is most excited about meeting people different from himself.

Callie Hannah


Callie is a junior from Charlotte, NC and is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies.  She is an avid music lover; constantly listening to her ipod, and participating in choral groups since middle school, music always makes her feel better.

Charlie Bowen


Charlie is a sophomore English major from Hampton, VA.  He collects vinyl. He is quiet.

Ling Ling (AKA Szengar AKA Sarah) Lau

Ling Ling

Ling Ling is a Psychology major and Women and Gender Studies minor from Asheville, NC.  This is her third year at Elon.  Her first language is Cantonese.

Allison Hren


Allison is a sophomore from Cary, NC and is majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Sociology.  Her last name means “horseradish” in Slovenian.

Alanna Vagianos


Alanna is from Ridgewood, NJ and the only senior from Elon.  She is an independent major in Women and Gender Studies and minoring in Psychology and Religious Studies.  Alanna studied abroad with Semester at Sea and traveled on a ship for five months and circumnavigated the globe, visiting fourteen countries including India.  She is very happy to go back again this January.

Liz Bargamian


Liz is a sophomore from Elicott City, MD and is studying Psychology and Religious Studies. Liz is one of three Halloween birthdays in this course, and very proud of it.

Sarah Mulligan (Smulligan)

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Sarah is a sophomore from Richmond, VA.  She is majoring in Strategic Communications and minor in Psychology.  Sarah was born in the same hospital as Beyonce’s baby and therefore dressed up as Beyonce for Halloween.  Beyonce is her idol.

Sophia Spach


Sophia is a sophomore from Davidson, NC and one of our photographers for the course.  She is majoring in Human Services Studies and minoring in Photography and Religious Studies.  She has a passion for traveling partly because her “mum” is from England.  She is studying abroad in Costa Rica directly after our trip in India.

Nicole Bleiler


Nicole is a junior Political Science major and Sociology minor from Boston, MA.  She loves traveling and has recently completed a semester abroad in Australia.  Nicole is very excited to experience a new and different culture in India.

Elissa Krapf


Elissa is a junior Elementary Education major from San Antonio, Texas.  Elissa is really looking forward to going to Cochin and visiting the Jewish synagogue there. Since she is Jewish, she is very interested in seeing the way the Cochin Jews integrated Indian culture into their own Jewish traditions.

Virginia (Ginny) Oberle


Ginny is a junior from Winston-Salem, NC.  She is a Psychology major with Neuroscience, Women and Gender Studies, and Public Health minors.  Ginny is proud of being from the birthplace of Krispy Kreme.

Sarah Turner Wells


Sarah is a junior Religious Studies major, Women and Gender Studies minor, and Asian Studies minor, from Charlotte, NC.  She has a six month old corgi named Butters; he is our pre-course mascot.

Maryville College Professor

Prof. Brian Pennington

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Professor Pennington first studied in India as a student in 1993. He has been conducting research on religious change taking place in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, located in the Himalayan mountains of North India, since 2003. He has authored or edited 2 books and numerous articles on Indian religion in the colonial era and religious conflict. He is a big advocate of education abroad, and this is the fifth Maryville College course to South Asia he has helped lead. Although a scholar of the religious traditions of North India, he is married to a specialist on the ritual lives of Hindu women in South India who first introduced him to the south and happens, by chance, to serve as co-leader on this course.

Read more about Professor Pennington here:

Professor Pennington in India:

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Maryville Students

Lucia Capazzoli


Lucia is a senior from Long Island, NY. She is a double major in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies with a minor in Psychology. She has always wanted to travel and couldn’t be more excited about going to India, not only to have fun, but as a learning experience.

Lauren Evans


Lauren is a junior at Maryville College from Clarksville, TN, studying Biology and Chemistry. She loves animals, and her main goal in life is to work with elephants and other exotic species. She is in love with traveling and this trip to India is another country crossed off her list!

Katie Collins


Katie is a junior Psychology major at Maryville College. This will be her first time out of the country and she is very excited to experience India culture.

Mary Cunningham


Mary is a senior from Knoxville, TN with a double major in Art and Religion. She loves
learning about different cultures and watching internet cat videos. Mary is thrilled to be going on this trip with such an excellent group of people.

Shelby O’Brien


Shelby is a senior from Memphis, TN. She is a Biology major with a Chemistry minor. She has always been interested in different religions and cultures. This will be her second time out of the country; her first was camping for two weeks in Botswana, Africa.

Garrett Painter


Garrett is a junior Writing/Communications major with a Political Science minor from Knoxville,TN. He has worked at Starbucks for four-and-a-half years, and he is a fan of classical literature and a self-proclaimed geek. This will be his first time out of the country and he is excited to experience a new culture.

Kelsie Payne


Kelsie is a junior at Maryville College from White House, TN and is studying Psychology with an emphasis on Counseling and Exercise Science. She plays softball at the college and has a mild obsession with cats and watches. She also enjoys wearing mismatched socks and earrings.

Kegan Rinard


Kegan is a junior at Maryville College majoring in Writing/Communications. He loves reading fantasy literature because it awakens the child in him. He cannot wait to immerse himself in the culture of India.

Jay Rutherford


Jay is a rising senior at Maryville College. Jay is majoring in English Literature and currently beginning work on his senior thesis on male gender identity in American literature. He looks forward to going to India and becoming immersed in the complex culture of the country.

Abbey Reach


Abbey is a Sign Language Interpreting and ASL/Deaf Studies double major from Greenville, SC. She traveled abroad as a kid but still has some trepidation about the trip–India is quite a distance! She’s excited and anxious to get her hands dirty in something new and unexpected across the globe.