ELON, N.C. – Madison George of the Elon University women’s track and field team was named one of 15 rising juniors that were selected as the recipients of the 2021 Lumen Prize. The Lumen Prize is Elon’s premier award that comes with a $20,000 scholarship to support and celebrate academic achievements and research proposals.
George is the third Elon student-athlete to win the prestigious award. Nick Ciolkowski ‘19 of men’s cross country received the scholarship in 2017 while volleyball’s Ali Deatsch ’12 earned the scholarship in 2011.
“I am still over the moon about being chosen as a Lumen Scholar,” said George. “There are so many bright and talented students in this year’s group from such wide-ranging disciplines and I am so excited to see where the journey is going to take me. I think the most impactful factor in this whole opportunity is simply the amount of support I have from the faculty and being given this opportunity demonstrates that other people can see value in what I am pursuing and have confidence that I will accomplish what I have set out to do. It’s an incredible feeling.”
George will work closely with her mentors, Scott Wolter and Shefali Christopher, over the next two years to pursue and complete her project: Putting the Right Foot Forward: The First 3D Printed Pole Vault Spikes for Women. During that time, George will be collecting on the differences in foot morphology and force distribution of men versus women while running and jumping and use the information that she’ll gather to help design pole vault spikes specifically for women.
“My project is to design and construct 3D printed women’s pole vault spikes in hopes of preventing injury and fostering gender equality in sports,” said George “The issue I am tackling is that sport-specific shoes tend to be only offered in only men’s or unisex sizing which seldomly account for the shape of a woman’s foot. Being that women’s feet are shaped differently and react differently to impact, having such improper footwear on top of the ill-supportive nature of track spikes increases risk of injury for women.
“As a biomedical engineering major with an exercise science minor, this project hits all the bases for my goal career path and I hope to make a living out of engineering sports equipment,” George added. “I do not intend for this project to end at the defense of this thesis. I hope to utilize this experience to design track spikes for all events that can be custom-made to each individual athlete to provide maximum support and help athletes fulfill their highest potential without injury setbacks. Additionally, I hope to promote gender equality in the realm of athletics and influence companies and leading figures to provide the same opportunities and resources to women as they do men. I am not just trying to change the game of pole vault, I’ll be changing the game of all sports, forever.”
A sophomore pole vaulter from Fountain Hills, Ariz., George has already etched her name into the Phoenix’s record book. During her rookie season, George posted the second-best indoor mark in school history in the pole vault, clearing the bar at a mark of 11’11.75” (3.65m) and qualifying for the ECAC Indoor Championships. This season, she set the second-best mark in school history during the outdoor season, clearing the bar at 12’ 6” (3.81m), which currently sits as the third-best mark in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“Madison is such a hard worker on and off the track and it shows in what she has accomplished so far as a second-year student-athlete,” said Elon Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mark Elliston. “Right from the recruiting process, I was certain that Madison would do amazing things here at Elon and she has not disappointed. She is a very talented and driven individual, who locks in and goes after her interests with a passion. I am sure the Elon community will see many more accomplishments from Madison before she graduates and as she goes out into the world and chases her dreams.”
Rising juniors submit their applications for this highly competitive award during the spring term. Lumen applicants map out their vision for their junior and senior years, developing a plan for coursework, research, creative productions or performances, service projects, travel, summer workshops or institutes and international study or internships. A committee of faculty from across the institution determines its selections based on the intellectual/creative merit, distinction and coherence of the proposal, as well as those qualities of intellectual passion, commitment and experience of the applicant.
The name for the Lumen Prize comes from Elon’s historic motto, “Numen Lumen,” which are Latin words meaning “spiritual light” and “intellectual light.” The words, which are found on the Elon University seal, signify the highest purposes of an Elon education.