Category Archives: Hot Topics

Award-winning SHOES Project builds on two years’ successes to combat mental illness and depression

East Carolina University students have partnered with campus departments to present the SHOES Project from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 8 near the cupola on the ECU Mall.

SHOES, which stands for Students Honoring Others’ Everyday Struggles/Stories, is a program intended to help ECU students who may be dealing with challenging times. College students may experience depression, anxiety, stress, addictions or thoughts of self-harm, but may feel isolated and unable to manage their response.

“Our hope is that this program and its profound effect on helping others with their struggles, providing them with education and resources, along with hope, encouragement and positivity, will help the masses in being more aware of mental health issues in adolescents and young adults,” said Waz Miller, director of residence life.

The SHOES project was first held in 2016. It won the state and regional Program of the Year award from the South Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls, and went on to be chosen as the Program of the Year by the National Association of College and University Residence Halls. The program was shared with other campuses at the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International conference in Rhode Island in June.

Shoes with notes bring awareness to mental health issues

Shoes are scattered across the ECU Mall with anonymous notes during the 2017 SHOES event, a project which aims to bring awareness to mental health issues. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Thursday’s event will feature a display of 400 pairs of shoes, each attached to a story of someone struggling with a family situation, medical condition, mental health issue or other obstacles, which have been collected from ECU and Hope Middle School students.

In addition to the shoes on display, the So Worth Living student organization will have a Worthy Wall, a chalkboard wall where students can write down the reasons why they are worthy of being loved. Student radio station WZMB 91.3 FM will broadcast live during the event.

ECU students and staff will distribute thousands of positive messages on buses and in campus buildings during the SHOES Project. There will also be a resource table, and the Center for Counseling and Student Development will have a counselor on site for participants who would like someone to talk to in a confidential setting.

There will also be a giant purple bear named Soks and hot chocolate and cookies donated by Campus Dining. Participants can share their photos and thoughts using the hashtag #ECUSHOES.

“This is a time of year when students may get stressed, lonely and need a lift,” Miller said. “This is a collaborative effort to bring more awareness to mental health and other issues which college and younger students are facing.”

In the event of rain, the project will be moved to Thursday, Feb. 15. For more information, contact Waz Miller at millerc@ecu.edu.

 

-Contact: Will Bullock, ECU Residence Hall Association advisor, bullockw17@ecu.edu, or Troy Nance, SHOES event coordinator/RHA President, nancet15@students.ecu.edu

Social determinants of obesity, diabetes addressed at ECU symposium

Does where you live or your level of education make you more prone to obesity and diabetes?

These and other social determinants of obesity and diabetes, which are disproportionally affecting eastern North Carolina, were addressed during the 14th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Friday.

ECU student discusses her project

ECU senior kinesiology student Mackenzie Brown discusses her project during the 14th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium at ECU on Feb. 2. (Photos by Rob Spahr)

During the event, local, regional and national experts in obesity and diabetes, as well as community leaders and ECU faculty, staff and students, were challenged to address the social causes of the diseases.

The social factors discussed included cultural beliefs, gender roles, access to health care and patient-provider communications, economic stability, community infrastructure, educational attainment and role models.

Dr. Leandris Liburd speaks

Dr. Leandris Liburd, associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the symposium.

This year’s featured speaker was Dr. Leandris Liburd, associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Liburd is an expert on the social determinants of health and has been successful in identifying intervention strategies to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.

“Our health is our greatest resource, it affects everything. … (But) it’s something that I think we typically take for granted until we don’t have it anymore. And then we get up and say ‘OK, now I need to pay attention,’” Liburd said. “In public health, we try to get to people in the front end of that. And while we can’t prevent everything, there are things that we can delay and that we can minimize.”

Liburd said physicians come with high levels of authority and respect, which they can lend to help sway public policies and make significant positive impacts in leveling out some of the social health discrepancies.

“We don’t expect that doctors will go out and take on all of these issues. But we do think that it’s reasonable, as a beginning, that they will lend their influence to the efforts that others are trying to put forth to help make them successful,” Liburd said. “We have to find our place in this and where we can contribute the most.”

The symposia are presented by the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with ECU’s Department of Public Health, the Brody School of Medicine and the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation.

“Over the past decade and a half, the Mills symposium has invited distinguished national and international experts to address the health and health care issues that affect minority populations, especially our communities right here in eastern North Carolina,” said Robert Orlikoff, dean of ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences.

“This is not an academic seminar and this is not a town meeting,” Orlikoff added. “It’s a rare opportunity for us to come together, educate ourselves and work together to reach real and long-standing solutions.”

Jean Mills, who died from breast cancer in October 2000, was an ECU alumna with a passion for community health and health equity. Her brother, Amos T. Mills III, established the symposium in her honor.

 

-by Rob Spahr, University Communications

Student-designed brochure outlines dangers of e-cigs

Second-year Brody School of Medicine students Whitney Green and Radhika Kothadia have designed a brochure to educate middle and high school students about e-cigarettes.

The effort comes on the heels of new 2017 data from Monitoring the Future, funded by the National Institutes of Health, said Dr. Vivek Anand, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at East Carolina University.Front of e-cigarette brochure

“During the past year, 19 percent of 12th grade, 16 percent of 10th grade and 8 percent of eighth-grade students, respectively, reported vaping nicotine,” Anand said. “These numbers can be higher for tobacco-growing areas like eastern North Carolina.”

Public health and tobacco control advocates are concerned about teen use of e-cigarettes because studies have shown that it goes hand in hand with the use of cigarettes and other drugs, he said. “And we still really don’t know how e-cigarettes affect the developing lungs and other organ systems.”

For several years, Anand has conducted research aimed at pinpointing the mechanisms behind smoking behavior.

Kothadia said she has become increasingly interested in patient education and preventative health care, and her interest in the effects of tobacco products began in high school when she volunteered with Tobacco Reality Unfiltered, an initiative of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our goal was to educate people of all ages about the harmful effects of tobacco,” she said.

Kothadia and Green helped format and edit the educational brochure and are working with J.H. Rose High School to arrange presentations in health classes about e-cigarettes. At least 25,000 brochures will be printed and distributed through the ECU Psychiatry Outpatient Center, ECU Family Medicine Center, ECU pediatrics clinics, Vidant, RHA and PORT health clinics in New Bern, and other community clinics throughout February.

“I grew up with pretty powerful advertising from anti-tobacco campaigns in the early 2000s that targeted young people and revealed the truth about the harmful effects of cigarette smoke,” Green said. “Now the trend has shifted over to vaping, and I don’t think enough information is out there to show teenagers the association between vaping and tobacco or how it all affects their health.”

With as many as one in five high school students reporting the use of e-cigarettes, Anand said continued research and educational efforts about their effects are critical.

 

-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

Ethnic Studies Film Series screening on March 21

ECU Ethnic Studies, Sociology department, English department, and the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center present: Forbidden; Undocumented and Queer in Rural America by Tiffany Rhyard. The documentary will be shown in Sci-tech 307C on Tuesday, March 21 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Forbidden is a feature length documentary about an inspiring young man whose story is exceptional, although not unique. Moises is like the thousands of young people growing up in the United States with steadfast dreams but facing overwhelming obstacles.

If you are an undocumented queer immigrant living in the United States amidst this turbulent political climate, you are not safe and your future is at risk. When Moises Serrano was just a baby, his parents risked everything to flee Mexico and make the perilous journey across the desert in search of the American dream. After 23 years growing up in the rural south where he is forbidden to live and love, Moises sees only one option — to fight for justice.

The film chronicles Moises’ work as an activist traveling across his home state of North Carolina as a voice for his community, all while trying to forge a path for his own future.

Both the director, Tiffany Rhynard, and Moises will be attending the screening. There will be a breif Q & A after the film. This event is a Wellness Passport Event!

-by Gera s. Miles Jr., Ethnic Studies

 

Brody students encourage healthy relationships

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Events organized by two students from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University this Valentine’s Day encouraged the community to look beyond flowers and candy. The students wanted their university family to learn more about domestic violence prevention.

Sophie Austin and Kelly Boyd, both second-year medical students, are recipients of funding from the Tiana Nicole Williams Memorial Endowment, named for a young woman killed by her fiancé in 2002, one month prior to beginning medical school at ECU.

“Her story disputes stereotypes that only low-income or poorly-educated women are victims of domestic violence,” Austin said. “Domestic violence is unfortunately present in every setting among people who may show no apparent signs. Hopefully, if domestic violence is talked about and resources made available more frequently, people will be more willing to seek help or speak up if they see a friend in trouble.”

Austin and Boyd hosted two events – one on each ECU campus – where they provided information on university and community resources. They also asked students and employees to answer the question, “What is love?”

BSOM

Nelly Bellamy, a first-year student at the Brody School of Medicine

“It made people really think about and reflect on what a healthy relationship means to them,” Boyd said. “Everyone’s idea of a healthy relationship is different, but there are some fundamental aspects of health that all relationships should have, including respect, trust, safety, et cetera.

BSOM2

Taj Nasser, a second-year student at BSOM

“The more people who are educated about domestic violence prevention,” Boyd added, “the closer we are to stopping this violence before it happens.”

Austin and Boyd collaborated with the ECU Wellness Center, ECU Healthy Pirates and the Office of the Dean of Students.

 

 

 

 

 

More information about the Tiana Nicole Williams Memorial Endowment is available online at http://www.ecu.edu/tnwe/Endowment/Home.html.

BSOM3

Leslie Miller (left) and Consola Esambe Lobwede (right), both first-year students at BSOM.

 

New trees planned for sustainable parking lot renovation

Trees that were to be included as part of a sustainable parking lot design were determined to be dead when they did not produce leaves this spring. Designers plan to replace the lost trees. (Contributed photos)

New trees will be planted in the 14th Street parking lot renovation area across from Belk Residence Hall as part of a sustainable parking lot design.

The new canopy trees will replace several existing trees that died this winter.

The parking lot renovation is the first construction project initiated since East Carolina University adopted its new master plan designating sustainability as a core value for the institution.

The existing trees were a key element incorporated into the original sustainable parking lot design. However, experts identified the trees as dead when they failed to produce new leaves this spring. Since the old trees cannot be saved, new trees will be planted to replace them.

The existing green areas will not be used for additional parking.

The campus personnel involved in the design of this parking lot also chose to maintain and protect the trees at the former Stratford Arms Apartment site.

For additional information, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/parkingandtransportation/bnjuly2012.cfm.

 

A plan to maintain existing trees in a new parking lot renovation fell through when the trees died over the winter. New trees will be planted in their place.

New Concentration

ECU Kicks off New Risk Management and Insurance Program

The College of Business at East Carolina University kicked off its new risk management and insurance program this month. Directed by Brenda Wells, an insurance expert who holds a Ph.D. in risk management and insurance from the University of Georgia, ECU’s risk management and insurance concentration is a direct result of partnerships with industry professionals. More than 40 students have already enrolled.

Summer medical education program deadline nears

College students and recent graduates aiming for a career as a physician have until March 4 to apply to ECU’s Summer Program for Future Doctors.

The eight-week summer program at the Brody School of Medicine, which begins May 16, is an intensive program that lets participants experience the demands of a medical school curriculum.

The only requirement is that students be North Carolina residents. Preference is given to minorities, disadvantaged and non-traditional students, but all students are encouraged to apply.

Students should have satisfactorily completed one year of biology, chemistry and physics. Organic chemistry is strongly encouraged. The program is tuition-free, though participants are responsible for living expenses. Eligible students will receive stipends.

Applications and more information are online at http://www.ecu.edu/ascc/SPFD.cfm.

Space Grant

NC Space Grant Expands Consortium Membership

ECU is the newest university to join the NC Space Grant, a consortium of academic institutions that promote, develop, and support aeronautics and space-related science, engineering, and technology education and training in the state.

In partnership with NASA, industry, non-profit organizations, and state government agencies, the NC Space Grant conducts programs designed to equip the current and future aero/space workforce in North Carolina.

Other N.C. affiliates include Appalachian State, Duke and N.C. State universities and the North Carolina Community College System.

As a new member of the NC Space Grant, ECU will collaborate with NASA and the aero/space community and strengthen existing relationships.

Led by Dr. John Rummel, the Space Grant program at ECU will use space science and technology as a vehicle to “inspire the next generation of explorers” using ongoing NASA-related research and educational programs at ECU with NC Space Grant-focused activities. The ECU mission is to increase the interest, awareness, and opportunities brought by ECU faculty to develop astrobiology, space science, planetary sciences, and exploration opportunities for university students, first, and thereby reach K-12 teachers, students, and the public.

Rummel is the director of the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy and a professor of biology at ECU.  Prior to his arrival at ECU in 2008, Rummel was the NASA Senior Scientist for Astrobiology, based in Washington, D.C., responsible for leading all aspects of NASA’s program to understand the origin, evolution, and fate of life in the universe.

For more information about the NC Space Grant, visit www.ncspacegrant.org.

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