Mar 042013




Photo by Cliff Hollis/ECU News ServicesJoshua Epps, an ECU senior and co-founder of the student organization MUVE, supervises and directs J.H. Rose High School soccer players during a recent visit to the high school. Epps and childhood friend LaBarron Burwell founded the group to inspire youth and senior adults through exercise.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

East Carolina University students are reaching out to youth and senior adults through a new student organization called MUVE (Motivating and Uplifting via Exercise).

LaBarron Burwell, a health fitness specialist major in the College of Health and Human Performance, and psychology major Joshua Epps co-founded MUVE in October. The friends were seeking a way to help others through exercise instruction, mentorship and leadership activities.

Now 25 members strong, MUVE meets weekly on campus and conducts outreach programs with community organizations including athletic teams, after-school programs and assisted living centers. At each event, members are paired with a child or a senior adult with a goal of providing activities designed to motivate and inspire.

“At the end of an event, when I know I’ve reached someone, I am satisfied,” he said. “It is my passion.”

Best friends since second grade, Burwell and Epps recalled the critical positive influence of their high school football coaches. They wanted to create an ECU organization that would have a similar effect.

Burwell grew up in a single-parent family, moved around a lot, lived in public housing and was briefly homeless. As a ninth grader, he joined the J.F. Webb High School football team in Oxford. After Burwell played one year in a defensive position, the coaches offered him a quarterback position for the next season.

Surprised, Burwell asked the coaches why they selected him over several seniors who were already playing offense. They said the decision was based on Burwell’s work ethic and history of making good decisions on the field. The coaches said they trusted Burwell to lead the team.

That trust gave Burwell the confidence to take on additional leadership positions, such as senior class president.

“Sports build a bond,” Burwell said, adding that exercise is something everyone needs. He said that MUVE participants benefit from team building exercises, physical conditioning, games, music and fun.

“Our goal is to create an environment where participants feel comfortable and realize their opinion matters,” he said. They are “given a chance to speak, to ask questions without fear of judgment and to discuss goal setting.”

The group’s recent activities include a Valentine’s Day dance and geriatric aerobic exercise at Sterling House Assisted Living Center and an activities program for students at Kenansville Elementary School in Duplin County.

In a visit to James Sprunt Community College, MUVE worked with 125 middle and high school students participating in a program designed to help at-risk students achieve their academic potential. The program’s coordinator, Felita Carr, described MUVE’s visit as an overwhelming success.

“The students are still talking about that day and the experiences they had,” said Carr, who plans to invite the group back for another session this spring.

Community organizations wishing to arrange a visit from MUVE may email a request to


Challenge offered at Leadership Academy

A good leader never debates whether a goal can be achieved, he or she “just goes out and does it,” former N.C. State Board of Education chair Howard N. Lee told a group of ECU faculty and staff on Feb. 20 during a luncheon at the Chancellor’s residence.

“All of us are born with the capacities that make good leaders,” Lee said at the event for members of the Chancellor’s Leadership Academy. “I did not grow up knowing I was a leader. Others saw that potential in me just like that potential has been seen in you.”

Lee, who chaired the State Board of Education from 2003 to 2009 after serving 10 years in the state Senate, offered several insights into leadership for the two dozen academy members attending the luncheon.

“As a leader you cannot let your ego be a part of your decision-making. You have to believe in yourself without being sarcastic. Learn how to criticize your team members without being critical. Always share the credit, and never let them see you sweat.”

Today, Lee is president of the Howard N. Lee Institute for Equity and Opportunity in Education, a Research Triangle Park nonprofit he founded to promote community engagement in support of public schools. His career in public service began in 1969 when he was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, becoming among the first black mayors of a southern city. He said speaking to the academy was a special honor because the late William Friday also had addressed the group.

“Bill Friday and I were close for many years and we only had one spat. That was when Leo Jenkins started pushing for the medical school here. I came out strongly in favor of the idea and I lost many friends over that. Bill Friday opposed it. Later he told me, ‘You were right and I was wrong.’”

That admission by Friday, who led the University of North Carolina system for 30 years, was itself a sign of leadership, Lee said. “A good leader will not be afraid of working with people you disagree with if you see that it’s in your mutual interest.”

Lee, 78, also served as secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development from 1977 to 1981. He said that was when he learned the wisdom of not waiting until all debate has been settled about an important issue before taking action.

“We had this idea then for a mountains-to-the-sea trail. Many of us thought that was a good idea but most said it was just too daunting to get anything done. But I thought I should do what I could, and we made some progress.”

Today, a little over half of the scenic walking trail is complete along its route from Clingmans Dome in far western North Carolina to the Outer Banks.

“As a leader you need to have a vision,” Lee said. “What are you willing to do to help people?”

The Chancellor’s Leadership Academy is a professional development experience for faculty and staff who are ready to expand their capacity for leadership in higher education and enhance their contribution to the university.


Symposium to focus on public service

Responsibilities, dilemmas and the value of public service will be discussed during the Ethics of Public Service Symposium, running from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

The morning keynote speaker is Stephen B. Thomas, director of the Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland. Thomas is the principal investigator of the Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities, funded by the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

The luncheon speaker is KerryAnn O’Meara, associate professor at the University of Maryland. She will talk about the University of Maryland’s ADVANCE Program for Inclusive Excellence.

Participants will include ECU faculty, staff, students, area community colleges and universities and community partners.

Registration is $40 for individuals from N.C. Campus Compact member campuses, including ECU, and $50 for non-members.

For more information, contact Beth Velde at or 737-1377, or Dennis McCunney at or 328-2802.


Upcoming events

Tuesday: Voyages of Discovery: Jarvis Lecture on Christianity and Culture, 7 p.m. in Wright Auditorium. Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School, will present the lecture “Strange Bedfellows: The Bible, American Politics and Homosexuality.” Free and open to the public. More information at or contact John Tucker at 252-328-1028 or

via The Daily Reflector.


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