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CCU welcomes new group of Dyer Fellows

January 13, 2017
The Dyer Fellows 2017 are, from left, Rachael Houston, Bethany Bebik, Celeste Benson, Maria Karahalios, Ariel Lasher and Maggie Carr.

Six Coastal Carolina University seniors have been named Dyer Fellows 2017 as selected by The Edgar Dyer Institute for Leadership and Public Policy: Bethany Bebik, Celeste Benson, Maggie Carr, Rachel Houston, Ariel Lasher and Maria Karahalios.

During the one-semester fellowship, they will engage in active learning opportunities and gain knowledge in various areas of policy research. These students have diverse fields of interests ranging from public health to countering extreme terrorism.

During the fellowship course, the students will connect academic theory to practice and engage in the process of becoming civic-minded citizens and critical thinkers. Fellows will develop research papers on a public policy topic of their interest and undergo training on how to craft supplemental resources, including policy briefs, survey tools and press releases. Fellows will also participate in group trips to Columbia and Washington, D.C.

“I could not be more impressed with a group of ambitious and motivated students here at Coastal,” said Jacqueline Kurlowski, director of the Dyer Institute. “I hope this fellowship opportunity trains these students to not only think critically about public problems, but to find creative solutions that can make a difference in our communities.”

Bebik, from Spartanburg, studies public health with a minor in women’s and gender studies. As a part of her fellowship with the Dyer Institute, she will study the accessibility of items that promote sexual health on local college campuses.

Benson, from Greensboro, N.C., studies public health and will focus on opioid overdose prevention policies recently adopted throughout the United States. She hopes to assess whether these policies are preventing opioid overdose deaths, while also investigating any modifications that could be made to simultaneously target addiction prevention.

Carr, from Baltimore, Md., studies intelligence and national security and psychology. She plans to investigate the efforts of local government to implement counter-violent extremism programs in order to promote de-radicalization through nonviolent means.

Houston, from Manassas, Va., studies political science and communication and is interested in the intersection of media and politics. As part of her studies, she will research digital privacy rights, including the lack of government regulation regarding digital privacy and how companies are currently exploiting consumers’ digital data for financial gain.

Lasher, from upstate New York, plans to be a public interest attorney. As part of her fellowship, she will research current policies and regulations surrounding access to clean and safe drinking water for Americans. In addition, Lasher will examine court precedent in hopes of concluding whether clean water is a constitutionally protected right.

Karahalios, from Asbury, N.J., studies political science and sustainability; she will focus on successful sustainability initiatives in order to develop a plan specific to the business sector of downtown Conway. Through her research, she plans to give local business owners the tools to strengthen their community economically, ecologically and socially.

The Edgar Dyer Institute for Leadership and Public Policy operates on the belief that individuals across the community, state and nation can improve governance and solve problems by working together on a basis of mutual knowledge and understanding. Its mission is to engage CCU students in active learning opportunities while creating public value, untangling public problems, and finding public solutions that have positive and measurable impacts.

For more information on the Dyer Institute or the Dyer Fellows program, visit coastal.edy/ilpp or contact Kurlowski at 843-349-6952 or