Category Archives: Commencement

Thirty teachers from eastern North Carolina complete education graduate degrees

Thirty high school math teachers in eastern North Carolina recently earned their master’s degrees in education thanks to a unique blend of off campus, face to face and online classes led by East Carolina University faculty.

It was the largest graduating class in the history of the program, which usually only has a few students complete the master’s program for high school mathematics each year, said Dr. Rose Sinicrope, associate professor of mathematics education and a 2017 Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award recipient.

ECU faculty member Rose Sinicrope, left, and master’s graduate Anita Koen celebrate at the departmental graduation on May 6. (Contributed photos)

ECU faculty member Rose Sinicrope, left, and master’s graduate Anita Koen celebrate at the departmental graduation on May 6. (Contributed photos)

“Graduate level mathematics courses, which compose almost half the program, are taught face to face and it is very difficult for teachers to get to campus on time to attend classes. In the past, this was the major deterrent for many teachers,” said Sinicrope. “The second deterrent was North Carolina’s elimination of the teacher pay scale increase for graduate degrees in 2013.”

To combat those challenges, ECU faculty in the College of Education and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences customized an off campus course of study to fit the teachers’ schedules as part of a revision to the undergraduate mathematics education degree program in 2013.

“We continue to work very hard to provide an education of the highest quality that is both affordable and accessible,” said Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education. “There’s a critical need for teachers of secondary mathematics in our region and across the state. This is a testament to the hard work and dedicated efforts of our faculty and school partners and I applaud them for this achievement.”

The 30 teachers are from Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Edgecombe, Greene, Nash, Onslow, Pitt and Wayne counties. Twenty-nine teach in public schools while one teaches in private school. Teachers taught their full class loads during the two years of the program.

Graduation student speaker Anita Koen, math teacher at South Central High School and one of 30 high school math teachers from eastern North Carolina who received their master’s degree in education in May.

Graduation student speaker Anita Koen, math teacher at South Central High School and one of 30 high school math teachers from eastern North Carolina who received their master’s degree in education in May.

The largest number, 14, are from Pitt County, and half of those teach at D. H. Conley High School in Greenville. Renea Baker, the mathematics department chair at Conley, encouraged her fellow teachers to participate, Sinicrope said.

Anita Koen, math teacher at South Central High School who was part of the newest MAED graduating class, was instrumental to the program’s success since most classes were held in Koen’s high school classroom, Sinicrope said.

Koen delivered the graduate student address at the departmental graduation on May 6, thanking the ECU professors for support and creating a cohort just for them. “They came to us at South Central to hold class at times that were not convenient to them but were convenient to us,” Koen said.

Sinicrope called the group the “Miracle 30.”

“Few believed that high school mathematics teachers would be willing to invest in their careers without financial support and gain,” Sinicrope said. “Few believed that ECU faculty would be willing to meet teachers at their schools and on their schedules. It was a miracle that not just a few but 30 high school mathematics teachers, who sacrifice personal gain by remaining in the classroom, were willing to sacrifice more because they believe in their students, in themselves, and in ECU.”

Sinicrope said her ECU colleague Dr. Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi coined the term ‘Mathematics Teaching Communities’ as part of the revision to the undergraduate mathematics education program.

“The undergraduate program and the graduate program are connected with a shared vision of transforming high school mathematics for eastern North Carolina students,” Sinicrope said.



-by Crystal Baity 

ECU College of Business Issues first Project Management and Business Analytics Certificates

East Carolina University’s College of Business handed out two new graduate certificates during its recent commencement exercise. Ten students received a certificate in project management (PM) and six received a certificate in business analytics. Both programs started in the fall of 2016, and each consist of four, online courses.

Business analytics certificate recipient Jacquitta Boone. (contributed photos)

Business analytics certificate recipient Jacquitta Boone. (contributed photos)

The business analytics certificate works with real business data sets and provides students with advanced business analytics knowledge and data mining processes. The certificate was developed with input from numerous leading recruiters of data analysts and is offered in conjunction with SAS’ Joint Certificate Program.

“This program seeks to train data analysts,” says Dr. Elaine Seeman, chair of the College’s Department of Management Information Systems. “As organizations amass more and more data from their interactions with individuals and organizations, the need for people who can pull data, translate it and tell stories is rising.”

The PM certificate prepares graduates for employment as project leaders and managers who have hands-on management experience. Students will gain the knowledge needed to sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management Certification or the Project Management Institute professional certificate exams.

“Project management is a fast-growing field, and project management skills are in demand in a broad range of industries,” added Seeman.

Jacquitta Boone is from Murfreesboro, North Carolina and graduated with an MBA degree and was one of the first to receive a PM certificate. A process person at heart, she initially wanted to get her supply chain certificate, but after inquiring about the new PM certificate, she found that she still “loves to know about the processes in business but also how the processes affect the people and teams within an organization.”

Boone expects the certificate will help her to understand the behaviors of certain people in a group and how these behaviors will affect the process and project as a whole.

Business analytics certificate recipient Brad McAllister..

Business analytics certificate recipient Brad McAllister..

Brad McAllister. was one of the first recipients of a business analytics certificate. He works for the College and has been advising business students since 2004. He participated in the program to learn more about the tools and techniques available to mine data. As he puts it, “I want to apply what I’ve learned to better serve the students, faculty and staff of the College.”



-by Michael Rudd, University Communication 

College of Engineering and Technology Graduates First Environmental Engineering Students

Last week’s College of Engineering and Technology graduation ceremonies saw a couple of momentous occasions. First, the College’s Department of Engineering graduated its 500th student! Secondly, three students were the first to graduate with a concentration in environmental engineering.

Matthew Edwards, Brian Garrett and Troy Puryear came to the program two years ago and then this past Friday, they became a part of college history.

However, the impetus for this program started when the College wanted to add another engineering concentration almost five years ago. The goal was to create opportunities that would complement the needs of eastern North Carolina.

Pictured, from left to right: Instructor Jeff Foeller, Troy Puryear, Matthew Edwards and Asst. Professor Randall Etheridge, Ph.D. Puryear and Edwards are two of the first three graduates to receive an engineering degree with a concentration in environmental engineering. (contributed photo)

Pictured, from left to right: Instructor Jeff Foeller, Troy Puryear, Matthew Edwards and Asst. Professor Randall Etheridge, Ph.D. Puryear and Edwards are two of the first three graduates to receive an engineering degree with a concentration in environmental engineering. (contributed photo)

“We sat down internally and asked what’s going to make a good environmental engineer for this area,” said Jeff Foeller, an Instructor with College and one of the architects of the original curriculum. “We have a lot of water and lot of coastline. Therefore, we knew the program should have a water concentration.”

So, the department mapped out the classes, got the curriculum approved and classes were then made available.

Puryear, who is from Greenville, says this concentration appealed to him because he, “wanted the opportunity to work hands-on, in the field; rather than always indoors or in an office.” Puryear is currently an intern at a local firm and has hopes to continue with that firm as a full-time employee.

Along with the intimacy of the program, Edwards chose the environmental concentration because, “my uncle is an environmental engineer, and I’m able to work both outside and inside.” Edwards has accepted a position with an engineering firm in Raleigh.

Though only three graduated in this first group, Foeller expects to double that number over the next year. The goal is to sustain a program that can handle one or two dozen students a year.

“As we’re growing in the East and developing more land, the need for environmental engineers will increase,” said Foeller.



-by Michael Rudd, University Communication

Special education major receives Bassman Honors Thesis Award

Sarah Bonin, an East Carolina University College of Education student majoring in special education from Cary, has received the 2016-2017 Michael F. Bassman Honors Thesis Award.

Sarah Bonin received a 2016-2017 Thesis Award. (contributed photo)

Sarah Bonin received a 2016-2017 Thesis Award. (contributed photo)

One student is selected each year for the outstanding senior Honors College thesis or project and a $500 award. Bonin created a reading and math curriculum for students in third through fifth grades, and is believed to be the first education student to win the award, said Dr. Guili Zhang, professor and interim chair of the Department of Special Education, Foundations and Research.

“Your personal achievements and accomplishments exemplify the very best of the Honors College and ECU,” said Bryna Coonin, coordinator of the award, in an email announcing Bonin’s selection.

Bonin was nominated by Dr. Melissa Hudson, her senior project mentor, in collaboration with Dr. Linda Patriarca, who has been Bonin’s instructor and internship supervisor this year. Faculty member Debbie Metcalf also provided a support letter.

Bonin will be recognized at the Honors College departmental graduation ceremony on May 3 at Rock Springs Center in Greenville. Bonin will be moving to Durham to begin her career as a kindergarten through fifth grade resource teacher at Glenn Elementary School in the Durham Public Schools system.



-by Crystal Baity

Dowdy Student Store to host Grad Expo

Dowdy Student Store will host a Grad Expo for May 2017 graduates from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 and 8 and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the student store in the Wright Building on campus.

Graduating seniors can pick up caps and gowns; register for graduation; and order class rings, custom invitations, announcements and thank-you notes. Jostens, the official provider of class rings for ECU, will have samples of class rings, and representatives can help with finger sizing and original designs.

The Alumni Association, Pirate Club, Rec Center, Career Services, Registrar, The Buccaneer, College of  Education Office of Alternative Licensure, Custom Stoles and University Frames will be on hand with offers and information. Jostens has donated three $100 Dowdy Student Store gift cards that will be given away in a drawing. A diploma frame donated by University Frames will also be given away in the drawing. All May 2017 graduates are invited to enter; no purchase is necessary.

Representatives from Oak Hall custom regalia will be at Dowdy during the Expo for faculty members who wish to purchase their own gowns. They will have samples of regalia and can take measurements. A 10% discount will be given on all orders placed during this visit.

Graduating seniors unable to attend the Expo can visit Dowdy Student Stores after Feb. 9 to pick up their caps and gowns.

For more information about the Expo, call 252-328-6731 or visit


-by Karen Simmons

Graduates decorate caps to celebrate degrees

Graduating from college is an accomplishment and expressing that elation has become a tradition at East Carolina University. Approximately half of ECU graduates decorate their mortarboards celebrating their accomplishments, using Pirate symbols, Bible verses and glitter.

The annual grad cap contest sponsored by the East Carolina Alumni Association once again showcased some very creative designs.

Any graduating student was eligible to enter their creation in the contest. Graduates were encouraged to be as creative as they wanted without blocking someone else’s view at commencement. Students wrote their favorite sayings, added their favorite gems, or even reshaped their caps to represent their future.

This year, 78 students submitted photos of their caps by email, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

The winner, Carolyn Walence, won with her Peter Pan inspired cap with the quote, “Everything ends and so our story begins.”

She will receive a free diploma frame from Dowdy Student Stores courtesy of the East Carolina Alumni Association.

–Rich Klindworth