ECU notes: Freshman teaches nutrition|Daily Reflector

Photo by Cliff Hollis/ECU News Services

ECU freshman and EC Scholar Tori Chapman explains how small changes in behavior can lead to overall healthier eating habits during a monthly nutrition education class.

Photo by Cliff Hollis/ECU News Services ECU freshman and EC Scholar Tori Chapman explains how small changes in behavior can lead to overall healthier eating habits during a monthly nutrition education class.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The first thing Lorena Wade will tell you is she wishes her nutrition class, taught by East Carolina University students, met more than once a month.

“My snacking has changed, my portions have changed,” Wade, who has diabetes and lives in Greenville, said. “It’s a motivation, and that’s what I needed.”

Wade is enrolled in a bilingual nutrition class led by East Carolina University freshman and EC Scholar Tori Chapman. Chapman, an intended nutrition major, teaches the class the third Saturday of each month at the Freedom Family Foundation in Greenville.

Chapman met Edilma Miranda, vice president for the non-profit Freedom Family Foundation, through an Honors College service project. The foundation started the monthly nutrition classes and an exercise class as part of its mission to address needs in minority communities through preventative services.

The organization needed a teacher for the class, which is funded through a Vidant Health Foundation grant. Chapman volunteered and initially led the class on her own. She soon realized the demands were too much and recruited other ECU students to help.

Hetal Patel, a junior nutrition major, also teaches. Kirsti Robertson, an intended nutrition major and freshman, helps along with Emma Shirley, a freshman studying neuroscience who is volunteer coordinator and photographer. The students said they are excited to be part of the class and see the impact it is making on people’s lives.

“People are willing to change if you help them,” Patel said.

Chapman reinforces the same message each month: Small changes can have a major impact on health.

“You are your best accountability partner when it comes to health,” Chapman said. “We have to train ourselves to take our needs over our wants. Our body needs water and a well-balanced diet.”

Class topics have ranged from the amount of sugar in soda to grains and carbohydrates and reading nutrition labels.

Participants weigh in on a scale before each class. Chapman starts with a review from the previous lesson, that day’s topic and a healthy recipe with ingredients to try at home. She also issues a challenge to the group each month, which may involve tracking what they eat or drink. The class also has a nutritious snack.

Wade has tried all the recipes she has received, although her husband still likes to eat his favorite foods, healthy or not.

“I’m cooking two different dinners at home. It’s tiresome,” Wade, who is enrolled in the medical assisting program at Pitt Community College, said.

Wade said Chapman is very clear with food demonstrations and answering questions. “The handouts, the binders and recipes, she shows you how to prepare (the recipes) so you know how to do it,” Wade said. “The program is excellent. It’s really been a help to me.”

The class has grown to more than 20 people, including children. Six students speak only Spanish and wear headsets during class to hear simultaneous English-to-Spanish translation by Miranda, the Freedom Family Foundation board member.

Chapman has been inspired since the first class, when a participant told the others to not get discouraged with the changes they were learning to make.

“She said ‘because we’re all here today, we’re taking the first step for our health,’” she said.

“Seeing the emotions and the positive attitudes in the room, I knew it was a lot of work but what I was doing was making an impact,” Chapman, who logged more than 100 service hours in the fall semester, said. She also has created a blog:

Chapman’s ultimate goal is to be a family physician.

“Learning how to communicate with people is a huge part of teaching and being a doctor in the future,” Chapman said. “Nutrition is a vital part of preventative medicine in general and that’s why I’m studying it here.”

Chapman was one of 19 freshmen who entered ECU in August as EC Scholars — the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. Service is integral to the scholars program.

“Tori is a model student in the Honors College in that she is already providing a positive impact in eastern North Carolina. Her contributions of leadership and service reflect the spirit of all honors students as they seek to replicate the generosity of those who have provided critical scholarship dollars to support their education,” Kevin Baxter, associate dean of the Honors College and interim director of admissions at ECU, said.

Growing up in Sylva, a small town in western North Carolina, Chapman said the class, and other service projects, have helped her learn about the needs of the greater ECU community.

Alumni networking breakfast

ECU alumni are invited to a networking breakfast in Greenville on March 11, hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association.

This event is part of a series of networking events to be held across the Pirate Nation this spring. Attendees can tap into the Pirate alumni network and interact with East Carolina professionals who are leaders in their industries and communities.

The featured alumnus will be Mark Garner, vice president of Rivers & Associates, a civil and environmental engineering company in Greenville. A certified planner, Garner graduated from ECU in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning. Garner is a member of the ECU Board of Visitors, the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Pitt County Development Commission.

This event will be held 7:30-9 a.m. at the City Hotel and Bistro at 203 Greenville Blvd. Attire is purple and gold business casual.

Anyone who attended ECU is welcome; membership in the Alumni Association is not required. The cost is $11 for members and $22 for non-members, which includes breakfast food and beverages. Registration is required by Thursday.

Visit or call 800-ECU-GRAD to register. For more information, contact Christy Angle at or 252-328-1958.

Upcoming Events:

  • Wednesday: The School of Art and Design’s Ceramics Guild will host their annual mug sale, 8 a.m.- 2 p.m., Jenkins Fine Arts building.
  • Wednesday: In celebration of International Women’s Day, ECU will host a series of discussions, 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m., Mendenhall Student Center Great Rooms 1 & 2. Schedule available at Event sponsors include the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center and the Office of Equity and Diversity.
  • Thursday: Lifetime and Five-Year Achievement in Research & Creative Activity Awards presentation, 4 p.m., East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. Call 328-9471 with questions.