Category Archives: Alumni

Women of Distinction nominations due Feb. 1

Nominations are due Wednesday, Feb. 1 for the 2017 Women of Distinction Awards given by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women.

The ECU Women of Distinction Awards are given every two years to recognize the outstanding contributions by women of East Carolina University. Nominees for the awards may include ECU faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni. Ten women will be selected for this prestigious award, one of whom will be chosen to receive the Linda Allred Profiles in Leadership Award.

The 2017 event will be held April 4.

The awards recognize women who have:

  • distinguished themselves in academic work, career, leadership, public service, or any combination thereof through commitment, determination, empowerment and generosity of spirit and time;
  • contributed to the personal growth and success of others, especially women, through education, research, or public or volunteer service, beyond their expected job responsibilities; and
  • created positive social change, increased equality and fairness for all, and built community.

Areas in which nominees demonstrate outstanding contributions may include, but are not limited to, academics/education; professions; research; health care/services; management/administration; politics; social services; volunteer, charity, community outreach organizations; and athletics.

Nomination packets consist of a nomination form and a recommendation letter. Nominators also have the option to include the nominee’s resume or CV along with additional letters of support.

Nomination materials, scanned into one PDF document, should be emailed to Karen Traynor at

For more information, visit


-by Jackie Drake, Eastern AHEC 

EC Scholars provide service, reflect on four-year journey

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, 17 EC Scholars traveled to Charleston, South Carolina where they led a service project at the Ronald McDonald House, connected with East Carolina University alumni and reflected on their four-year journey together.

(Contributed photo)

(Contributed photo)

The annual senior impact trip also included an outing to Fort Sumter to learn more about the history of Charleston.

At the Ronald McDonald House, students cleaned, removed holiday décor, cleaned the food pantry, organized the linen closet and freshened up rooms.

The also painted an elephant face on a pop can tab collector. Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide collect pop tabs as a fundraiser.

The senior class described their time together as “entertaining, meaningful and rejuvenating,” said Dr. Diana Majewski, assistant director of the EC Scholars, who accompanied the students on the trip along with Dr. Todd Fraley, director of EC Scholars.

To view photos from the trip, visit:


-by Crystal Baity

ECU health fitness specialists in high demand

Helping people get healthier is paying off for health fitness specialists who graduate from East Carolina University.

Wendy Mastin ’03 is the director of operations for fitness company Aquila. (Contributed photo)

Wendy Mastin ’03 is the director of operations for fitness company Aquila. (Contributed photo)

Wendy Mastin is a 2003 graduate of the program and the director of operations at Aquila, which is a management and consultant company for corporate fitness and well-being programs. She likes to hire fellow Pirates.

“I know what I had to go through to complete the program; it’s very well rounded,” Mastin said. “You’re not just learning about exercise prescription. You’re also going to learn how to teach class, which is something that a lot of other programs don’t offer. They don’t have that extra leadership component.”

Aquila works with companies and government agencies to help their employees live healthier and happier lives. They have offices across the country including Miami and Los Angeles.

Mastin’s “collection of Pirates”, as she calls them, began when she was in charge of interns at Aquila. At that time, she said, the internship program wasn’t as strong as it could have been, so she went back to her advisors at ECU to get interns.

“That really started to get us traction in terms of having more people specifically from ECU,” said Mastin. “Once these relationships were established, we often received suggested candidates directly from them, or candidates would reach out to us directly.”

Over the past seven years, Mastin estimated they have employed or taken through internship programs 30 ECU graduates. She said they would often hire an intern after their internship, and in some cases, they would have liked to have hired an ECU intern, but there weren’t any openings available at the time.

“In comparison to other team members that we have we worked with from other universities, ECU grads are well equipped to join the health and fitness work force as soon as they graduate,” Mastin said.

Kristin Carbonara ‘10 (left) and Kindal Smith ‘12 are health fitness specialists who once took classes together at ECU and now work together with Aquila in Washington, D.C. (Contributed photo)

Kristin Carbonara ‘10 (left) and Kindal Smith ‘12 are health fitness specialists who once took classes together at ECU and now work together with Aquila in Washington, D.C. (Contributed photo)

Kristin Carbonara ’10 and Kindal Smith ’12 are two ECU graduates who work for Aquila and are based in Washington, D.C. Carbonara is a program coordinator of incentives and personal training, and Smith is the assistant program manager and group exercise coordinator for one of the larger government agencies in the nation’s capitol. While at ECU they had some classes together, and both credit ECU for where they are now.

“I definitely remember being in awe of the teachers and how they motivated me to want to do well. They also were willing to help if need be and give extra guidance,” Carbonara said.

“I probably wouldn’t have the job I do now without an ECU connection. I would say it’s pretty important,” Smith said.

Smith’s comment is something that those in the College of Health and Human Performance have heard before. Rhonda Kenny is a teaching instructor and the health fitness specialist program director. She said the health fitness specialist program provides opportunities that set ECU students apart from their peers at other universities, such as incorporating a personal fitness training course and an exercise leadership course.

“When our students leave, they’ve already had an entire semester on how to be an effective personal trainer to really change people’s lives and how to be an effective group exercise leader,” said Kenny.

However, Kenny believes the program’s biggest strength is the faculty’s interaction with students.

“Even though we’re a large program, our faculty is dedicated to helping them improve as professionals,” Kenny said. “We are dedicated to getting to know our students. We are very active in promoting and attending professional conferences with them.”

Becoming a health fitness specialist is a growing industry. Kenny said during the economic downturn a few years back, they did not lose one internship position, even though companies were scaling back. She credited this to it being more cost effective for companies to have healthier employees.

“If you look at the trends over the next 13 years, our job outlook will increase 28 percent,” she said.

If those numbers increase as Kenny projected, Mastin could be collecting even more ECU alumni as the years go on.

“I enjoy and take pride in being able to employ and mentor fellow Pirates,” Mastin said. “From a professional standpoint, when I’m able to work with ECU grads, I know and trust that I am employing a highly qualified solid candidate. On a personal level, I view it as a way to give back to the university and the health and human performance program.”


–by Rich Klindworth 

Adventure trip boosts Vietnam veteran

Article originally published in East Magazine Winter 2017 Edition


After a week of rock climbing, rafting, fly fishing and more, George Kalinowski was most excited about being among fellow veterans who really listened.

Kalinowski, a Vietnam veteran and East Carolina alumnus, was one of 10 participants on a recent trip that allowed combat- wounded veterans to bond and realize new capabilities through adapted outdoor sports. From Aug. 9-14 at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado, Kalinowski and veterans of other conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan were able to build confidence and camaraderie.

“The trip was outstanding. Everybody was opening up. I think they liked having the old guy there,” said Kalinowski, who suffered shrapnel wounds in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart. “No one takes the time to listen to veterans, at any age. With the guys, we opened up more when we realized we’d gone through similar things. They wanted to hear what I had to say. They were really supportive, and I wanted to support them, too.”

The East Carolina Alumni Association Military Alumni Chapter partnered with No Boundaries, a nonprofit that offers trips to veterans from across the country twice a year to bond and realize new capabilities through adapted outdoor sports. (Contributed photo)

The East Carolina Alumni Association Military Alumni Chapter partnered with No Boundaries to offer a unique trip for veterans. (Contributed photo)

Kalinowski was selected for the trip after applying through the East Carolina Alumni Association Military Alumni Chapter. This year, the chapter partnered with No Boundaries, a nonprofit that offers this trip to veterans from across the country twice a year, in the summer and winter, at no cost to veterans.

“My favorite part was the fly fishing, but every activity was great,” he said. “A couple times, I doubted myself and thought some of this stuff was beyond what I could do at my age. But everything went really well.”

Kalinowski grew up in the Washington, D.C., area. His father was an Air Force officer. He came to ECU on the recommendation of one of his high school teachers. He joined a fraternity and studied accounting but was drafted into the Army before he could graduate. He worked in several fields throughout his career, including real estate and as the part-owner of a sign company.

“Life has been good to me. I’ve been fairly well off,” he said. “But being retired, I wasn’t doing much. This trip inspired me to get in shape. My family was worried it would be too much strain. I’ve been a couch potato, but now I’ve got a whole new attitude.”

On the last night of the trip, participants were invited to be guests of honor at a local rodeo. They were brought to the center of the ring as the announcer thanked them for their service.

“The crowd stood up and clapped. I’m not an emotional person, but that got to me,” Kalinowski said. “We were so unwelcome when we came home. I’m so glad the nation is supporting veterans better.”

Kalinowski “overwhelmingly” recommends the trip to other Pirate veterans. “No doubt about it, you won’t be sorry,” he said. “It’s great what these organizations are doing for us.”

The next No Boundaries trip will be March 7-12. Applications will be due Jan. 24. ECU alumni or students who are combat-wounded veterans are encouraged to apply.

The Military Alumni Chapter hosts various programs throughout the year and is open to any ECU alumni with current or past military service. To find more information, get involved or support the chapter, visit


-by Jackie Drake



Chicago Cubs head athletic trainer and ECU alum reflects on career

As head athletic trainer for the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, East Carolina University alumnus PJ Mainville ’97 recommends that students understand the value of service.

“I am always looking for something new or different to help the players,” Mainville said. “Athletic training is a perfect blend of athletics and the medical field.”

In his fifth season with the Cubs, Mainville is responsible for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries for the team, where he oversees 23 staff members in athletic training and strength and conditioning. He said establishing relationships with his team and players is the best part of his job.

Chicago Cubs head athletic trainer examines a baseball player’s elbow. (Photo by David Durochik)

Chicago Cubs head athletic trainer examines a baseball player’s elbow. (Photo by David Durochik)

The Warrenton, Virginia native wanted to attend college out of state and said his visit to ECU sold him. “The people were welcoming and I settled into the community well,” Mainville said.

Head athletic trainer for the Chicago Cubs holds the 2016 World Series Trophy. (Contributed photo)

Head athletic trainer for the Chicago Cubs holds the 2016 World Series Trophy. (Contributed photo)

Although the athletic training degree had not been established, the curriculum to prepare students for the Board of Certification exam to become nationally certified was offered through the exercise and sport science degree, which is the path Mainville chose.

“The expectations of the curriculum that Dr. Katie Flanagan developed helped prepare students for the real world,” he said.

Now that Mainville has reached his goal of being a head athletic trainer, he said his perspective has changed. And he eventually wants to teach in a university setting once his time is finished in baseball.

“I am helping to prepare those under me to take my job one day,” he said.

Mainville worked more than 13 years in the minor leagues with the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks while entering his seventh season in major league baseball.  He earned a master’s degree in 2005 in performance enhancement from California University of Pennsylvania.


–Kathy Muse

Season of giving benefits ECU students

Giving Tuesday continues to bring out the generosity of the Pirate Nation. The 2016 day to donate to educational and non-profit organizations brought in $136,736 to East Carolina University. In the three years that ECU has been participating in Giving Tuesday, the university has raised $463,279.

Giving Tuesday 2016
“Thank you Pirate Nation, your generosity is very much appreciated,” said Chris Dyba, vice chancellor for university advancement. “Your donations are an investment in what we are doing here at ECU with our vision to enhance student success, serve the public and transform the region.”

The support for Giving Tuesday came from all across the country, with people donating in amounts ranging from $10 to more than $30,000. There were 24 states represented — North Carolina residents donated the majority with California coming in second. The gifts were spread throughout the university with Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences receiving the largest portion at $47,341. Rounding out the top five supported programs were the Honors College, College of Business, Pirate Club and School of Dental Medicine.

“With these gifts, we will move closer to achieving one of our major goals — doubling the number of students who study abroad each year,” said Dr. William Downs, dean of Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “We firmly believe that ECU students should graduate with more global competence and more global competitiveness than ever before, and scholarship dollars are essential to making this ambition a reality.”


On top of that, Downs said the funding by alumni and friends helped sustain the Voyages of Discovery, which has brought more than 24,000 students, faculty and community members to campus to hear from the world’s foremost authorities in the sciences, the arts and the humanities.

Glenn Woodard is a 1958 graduate of ECU and is a member of the advancement council for Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. He was one of the 170 people who donated to the university on Giving Tuesday. He said he donated to Voyages of Discovery because he loves ECU and credits it for making him who he is today.

“I think ECU is a terrific asset for eastern North Carolina. It has a great reputation for service and has produced dynamic graduates,” Woodard added.

“People might not realize how important these donations are day to day. With the money being allocated to priority funds, those dollars make a direct impact on specific program budgets. This funding will enhance our students’ education as well as our faculty’s access to technology,” Dyba said.

Following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday has become a new tradition for people to give back in the form of charitable gifts in the beginning of the holiday shopping season. If you would like to donate to East Carolina University or for more information, visit
–Rich Klindworth

Four honored at annual BAC awards event during Homecoming

The Black Alumni Chapter of the East Carolina Alumni Association marked East Carolina University’s Homecoming with its second annual Awards Banquet and Gala.

The event, which had a theme of “Empowering our Future,” was held Oct. 29 at the Greenville Hilton and included entertainment by ECU’s own Carroll Dashiell & Company. ECU graduate Dr. Anthony Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools, served as the master of ceremonies.

The keynote address was presented by ECU Board of Trustees member Danny Scott of Swansea, Illinois.

Sheridan Barnes, Black Alumni Chapter president, left, and Dr. Anthony Jackson, BAC president-elect, congratulate Linda Thompson Thomas on receiving the Laura Marie Leary Elliott Courageous Leader award.

Sheridan Barnes, Black Alumni Chapter president, left, and Dr. Anthony Jackson, BAC president-elect, congratulate Linda Thompson Thomas on receiving the Laura Marie Leary Elliott Courageous Leader award. (Contributed photos by Bryant Tyson)

Scott called on all of those attending to get involved, stay engaged or become active in ECU – whether it’s serving as a mentor or on a university board, providing an internship to an ECU student, or donating to a university scholarship fund or other area of personal interest.

“Now it’s more important than ever to be involved and engaged with our alma mater,” Scott said. “We need your talents, expertise, knowledge, leadership and courage.”

Taunya Stevens-Johnson received the 2016 Laura Marie Leary Elliott Scholarship.

Elliott was the first African-American undergraduate student to receive a degree from ECU. The Laura Marie Leary Elliott Memorial Scholarship Fund honors her and assists students pursuing careers in fields that are historically underrepresented by minority populations. This may include fields related to science, mathematics, engineering, technology or any other field that applicants can demonstrate as being historically underrepresented by minority students.

Taunya Stevens-Johnson received the 2016 Laura Marie Leary Elliott Scholarship.

Taunya Stevens-Johnson received the 2016 Laura Marie Leary Elliott Scholarship.

Elliott’s sister, Ruth Asbury, presented the scholarship award to Stevens-Johnson, who is double-majoring in secondary education and mathematics and plans to teach high school math.

A senior from Barberton, Ohio, Stevens-Johnson works as a student worker in the Department of Mathematics and as a tutor in the ECU C.A.V.E. (College Algebra Virtual Environment), a learning lab in Joyner Library. She is also a Hattie M. Strong Foundation scholar.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth Hammond received the Dr. Andrew Best Trailblazer Award. He is senior pastor at Union Baptist Church in Durham, which has more than 7,000 members.

Hammond earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and a master’s degree in education from ECU and his doctor of divinity degree from Shaw University. During his years at ECU, he was the first African-American elected senior class president.

Linda Thompson Thomas of Charlotte received the Laura Marie Leary Elliott Courageous Leader award. After retiring from Duke Energy in 2015 as director of Human Resources Business Partners, Thomas continued her involvement on campus including serving as a board member to the Student Affairs Advancement Council and as a member of the Board of Visitors and the East Carolina Alumni Association Board.

Dr. Virginia Hardy laughs after being surprised by receiving the Ledonia Wright Outstanding Faculty-Staff Award. With her is Sheridan Barnes, Black Alumni Chapter president, left, and Dr. Anthony Jackson, BAC president-elect.

Dr. Virginia Hardy laughs after being surprised by receiving the Ledonia Wright Outstanding Faculty-Staff Award. With her is Sheridan Barnes, Black Alumni Chapter president, left, and Dr. Anthony Jackson, BAC president-elect.

And Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for Student Affairs at ECU, received the Ledonia Wright Outstanding Faculty-Staff Award, which honors a current or past ECU employee who has made outstanding contributions to the university community and to educating ECU students.

In the community, Hardy has served on the boards of Greenville Utilities and Pitt Community College and as chair of the Oakwood School’s Horizon Project Board.

In announcing Hardy, 1980 ECU graduate Karen Evans of Washington, D.C., who served as the chair of the awards committee, said, “Dr. Hardy strives to utilize every available ‘pulpit’ in her efforts to enhance student success, student learning, leadership development and the overall quality of life for ECU students inside and outside of the classroom. … (She) is committed to educating the next generation of leaders who will be prepared to serve locally as well as globally.”

–ECU News Services

Chancellor’s Roadshow visits the Queen City

The East Carolina University Chancellor’s Roadshow pulled into Charlotte Oct. 18 to visit alumni and university supporters. About 50 people came out to the Duke Energy Center to meet Dr. Cecil Staton and hear firsthand his vision for ECU’s future.


“I loved the opportunity to be able to hear what he had to say, his new vision for the university, the boldness of his statements – which I think pirate pride can match,” said ECU alumna Michaelina Antahades.

“We need for every pirate to make an investment in this institution. It’s only when we can come together and do this as a team that we’re going to be able to make sure East Carolina University can be all that I believe it can be in the days ahead,” Staton said.


Chancellor Staton shares his vision of ECU with those gathered for his roadshow.

During his remarks, the chancellor noted that he believes East Carolina is on the cusp of becoming America’s next great university. His plans include increasing the university’s national profile, increasing research, expanding international studies and preparing for a comprehensive campaign.

“The chancellor talks about increasing research, and we have philanthropic partnerships with corporations that help further research,” said Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Chris Dyba. “Duke Energy is a great example of that. They’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars to our engineering program and other programs at ECU to advance our research and do collective work for the citizens of North Carolina.”

Linda Thomas, Chancellor Staton, Wanda Montano, Jon DeFriese, and David Fisher

Linda Thomas, Chancellor Staton, Wanda Montano, Jon DeFriese, and David Fisher

The view from the 46th floor of the Duke Energy Center where the Chancellor’s Roadshow was held.

The view from the 46th floor of the Duke Energy Center where the event was held.

A big focus of the night was the importance of corporate support for the university. While corporate funding can help the university increase its national footprint in research and scholarships, it also helps students prepare for the future through internships and job placement.

“Anytime you talk about a true partnership, it goes beyond the financial commitment,” said ECU alumnus Mike Hughes who is also the vice president of community relations for Duke Energy in North Carolina. “You’ve got to develop opportunities for young people to get integrated into your workforce. I think we can find things that we need at Duke Energy and that East Carolina can absolutely deliver on and provide those kind of opportunities for students.”

These roadshows also give alumni and supporters a unique opportunity to speak with the Chancellor in one-on-one conversations.

“I definitely want to hear his ideas about these challenging times, but exciting times, and celebrating diversity and where we go from here,” said Steven Carmichael, a 2000 ECU graduate and co-founder of the Black Student Union at ECU.

Ronald Ellis, Chancellor Staton, and Roni Ellis

Ronald Ellis, Chancellor Staton, and Roni Ellis

Staton began his roadshow in August at the Murphy Center on ECU’s campus and plans to visit nearly a dozen locations in North Carolina and along the East Coast. The chancellor’s next roadshow event is planned for New York City in early December. For more information, contact ECU Advancement at 252-328-9550 or visit

–Rich Klindworth


Click here to see all photos from the event.

Chancellor Staton takes a selfie with a guest.

Chancellor Staton takes a selfie with a guest.

“All Hands on Deck” in Response to Hurricane Matthew

As the ECU family continues to come together in communities across the region in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and the resulting floods, many of you have been asking how you can help.

Matthew Flooding

The East Carolina Alumni Association has partnered with the ECU Students’ Treasure Chest and the American Red Cross to provide information on how you can volunteer, give, or donate toward their efforts to help thousands of people affected by the recent storms in our area. Whether you live in eastern North Carolina or on the other side of the country, you can do your part to pitch in and help our neighbors and fellow Pirates.

“Hurricane Matthew has devastated our communities and recovery will be a group effort. Volunteers, partner organizations, and state and local officials will work together day and night until every need is met,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “And while the storm has passed, we’re not out of the woods yet. We expect most of the rivers to crest mid-week and cause additional flooding. Red Cross will be on the ground for weeks to come.”

Here is how you can help, Pirate Nation!

  • Volunteer.
    Red Cross is also seeking nurses and disaster mental health volunteers to assist in shelters. Volunteering is easy. To sign up to assist, visit and click on “volunteer” to start your application.
  • Give.
    In parts of the country unaffected by the storm, the Red Cross needs eligible individuals to please give blood or platelets now to help ensure we have a readily available blood supply for patients in need. Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
  • Donate to help support ECU students in need.
    The Students’ Treasure Chest at ECU helps support students who may be facing difficulties, including those caused by Hurricane Matthew. You can give online at – selecting our “Students’ Treasure Chest Assistance Fund” or email to get in touch with someone who can take your gift over the phone.
  • Donate to the Red Cross.
    The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. You can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation.


Do you need shelter? Download the Red Cross Emergency App on your smartphone, or call 1-800-768-8048 to find a shelter near you.

Matthew Flooding

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