Students bring academics to BuzzFeed

While scrolling through your online newsfeed, you may have noticed offbeat quizzes and posts from BuzzFeed, a global network for news and entertainment that generates six billion views each month.

Dr. Tracy Tuten decided to bring academics to BuzzFeed this semester, tasking her social media marketing students to apply what they’ve learned in class through a real-world project. Through this special assignment, student teams created original content of entertaining or informative value, socially published it on BuzzFeed, and then seeded and promoted that content using social media tactics.

The projects allowed students the freedom of choosing a topic and then targeting a specific demographic. After posting, the students in Tuten’s class analyzed data received from BuzzFeed to see how their articles fared.

One of Tuten’s student teams developed a post called “How Well Do You Know Your Fast Food Fries?” that challenged viewers to match up French fry pictures to their respective restaurants. BuzzFeed soon promoted the quiz as a “featured post,” and within 24 hours it was trending with more than 500,000 views.

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Allison Creel, a senior business student from Leesburg, Va., worked with team members Kathleen O’Connor and Katie Richardson to develop the French fry quiz. She says the idea came to her after running across a quiz titled “Can You Identify a Chip By Just Looking at It?” Her team brainstormed further and agreed that a French fry quiz would likely attract a large audience.

Creel said, “Our project has proven to be much more successful than any of us had ever anticipated. We thought we would be struggling just to get the required 1,000 view-count. One of the biggest things we’ve learned is the true power of social media and the importance of identifying influencers.”

Tuten said, “It’s exciting to see students implement many of the things they are learning about and also see the data analytic side to review their results. Students oftentimes don’t realize how effective social media can be, but this project helps them experience first-hand how developing a promotion plan can be just as important as creating the content itself.”

–Jennifer Brezina

ECU freshman wins best woman vocalist at NC NATS auditions

A first prize for best overall undergraduate woman performer highlighted a strong showing for East Carolina University vocalists at the 2016 North Carolina National Association of Teachers of Singing auditions. The auditions were held on Feb. 19-20 at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro School of Music.

Freshman vocal studies student Alexandra Fee earned the overall award following a first place finish in the category for freshmen women vocalists. A native of East Moriches, New York, she attended Westhampton Beach High School before coming to ECU to study with instructor Dr. Jami Rhodes. Fee performed three pieces from composers Giuseppe Verdi, Aaron Copland, and Clara Shumann.

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Contributed photo by Alan Kaid Photography

“I went in knowing that I just wanted to give my best performance and I didn’t even think of the possible outcome,” Fee said. “I was listening to them announce the two awards and then they called out my name. I was so in shock that my jaw just dropped.”

“As a freshman singer, Alexandra was competing against upperclassmen winners of all of the other NATS divisions,” said John Kramar, chair of ECU’s Department of Vocal Studies. “The fact that she won the best overall female singer as a freshman is very impressive. She has a great voice, and she sings with much sophistication.”

ECU’s male vocalists also walked away with first place finishes in two categories. Timothy Messina won first place in the upper advanced college men category, and freshman William Edwards took first in the freshmen men category. Overall, East Carolina singers collected 13 awards at the auditions.

“I was very proud of every ECU student who participated in this year’s NATS auditions,” said Kramar. “They all sang beautifully — regardless of whether or not they were given an award.”

The NC NATS auditions draw competition from universities and colleges throughout the state. ECU vocalists competed against students from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Campbell University, High Point University, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and other rivals. The auditions provide an opportunity for the colleges and universities to show off their programs, and for students to get feedback from voice teachers working at other institutions.

“Our students behaved like young, gracious professional artists in a competitive environment,” Kramar said. “They are friendly, kind people who are happy for the success of others and enthusiastic about supporting the art form and tradition of beautiful singing.”

“From this experience, I learned that success isn’t just about doing well for yourself; it’s really about giving a good performance for others,” Fee said. “Performing is my passion but my end goal with singing is to bring others joy.”

List of award winners

First Place, Overall Best Undergraduate Woman, 2016 NC NATS — Alexandra Fee
First Place — Freshmen Women — Alexandra Fee
First Place — Freshmen Men — William Edwards
Second Place — Freshmen Women — Chloe Agostino
Honorable Mention — Freshmen Men — Christopher Short
Honorable Mention — Freshmen Men — Cory Whaley
Third Place — Sophomore Men — Eli Cole
Second Place — Junior Women — Rebekah Shamberger
Honorable Mention — Junior Men — Nolawi Araya
Third Place — Senior Women — Elizabeth Stovall
Second Place — Lower Advanced College Men — James Taylor
First Place — Upper Advanced College Men — Timothy Messina
Second Place — Hal Johnson Spiritual Prize — Johnathon Spell

Symposium features health care quality improvement projects

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Interprofessional collaboration and how innovative programs can improve the quality of health care and education were recurring themes at the second Quality Improvement Symposium, held March 2 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

The annual event is part of the ECU Redesigning Education to Accelerate Change in Healthcare (REACH) program – an American Medical Association grant-funded initiative to transform medical school curriculum so it better prepares future physicians in patient safety and quality improvement in an environment of team-based, patient-centered care. The Brody School of Medicine was one of 11 schools nationwide chosen to participate in the initiative.

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Second-year Brody School of Medicine student Ismail Kassim gives a presentation during the second-annual Quality Improvement Symposium on March 2 at the East Carolina Heart Institute. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

This year’s symposium featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Jennifer Hepps, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and clinician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Hepps walked the more than 100 symposium attendees through how her institution implemented a program to improve patient “handoffs” between shifts at the hospital.

But the day also showcased the quality improvement efforts of faculty, health care providers and students from across ECU’s Division of Health Sciences.

“Someone at my table (today) said ‘quality improvement is a team sport.’ And I really think that’s true,” Hepps said.

Dr. Heather Oxendine of the Brody’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine speaks with another symposium attendee about her poster presentation.

Dr. Heather Oxendine of the Brody’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine speaks with another symposium attendee about her poster presentation.

“The posters and presentations you see today are a good representation of what we do at REACH, which is interprofessional collaboration,” said Dr. Jason Higginson, director of neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics and leader of ECU’s Teachers of Quality Academy – another REACH initiative.

The following participants were recognized Wednesday for outstanding presentations:

  • Ismail Kassim, a second-year medical student, took first place for his podium presentation about reducing sepsis-related mortalities through implementing a multidisciplinary approach.
  • Danielle Walsh, an ECU pediatric surgeon, and Vidant Medical Center nurse Elaine Henry earned second place for their collaboration to improve patient outcomes via a robust surgical quality program.
  • Third place was awarded to Danielle McMullen, also a nurse at the medical center – which serves as the Brody School of Medicine’s affiliated teaching hospital – for her interest in improving the integrity of specimens coming from lab draws in the Emergency Department.

Awards were also given for outstanding posters – all of which were displayed in the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU lobby throughout the event. Recognized for their efforts were LaShawn McDuffie, a Vidant Medical Center nurse, Tim Barnes of the ECU Department of Radiation Oncology and Dr. Heather Oxendine of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

Lorie Sigmon of ECU’s College of Nursing speaks with a symposium attendee at this year’s QI Symposium – part of an American Medical Association-funded program to shape the future of medical education.

Lorie Sigmon of ECU’s College of Nursing speaks with a symposium attendee at this year’s QI Symposium – part of an American Medical Association-funded program to shape the future of medical education.

More information about the ECU REACH program is available online at http://www.ecu.edu/reach.

 

School of Art and Design to host 2016 undergraduate exhibition

The annual East Carolina University School of Art and Design Undergraduate Exhibition will be on display in the Wellington B. Gray Gallery from March 3 to April 1.

ECU has the largest studio art program in North Carolina, which is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Faculty in the school selected artwork for the exhibit submitted by more than 500 undergraduate students. Curriculum areas to be represented are animation, art foundations, ceramics, cinema, drawing, graphic design, illustration, interactive media, metals, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textile design and video.

A piece by John Hancock, ECU alumnus and judge for the undergraduate exhibit

“Like Descartes” by John Hancock – ECU alumnus and judge for the undergraduate exhibit

An awards ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 3 in Speight Auditorium, which will be followed by an opening reception in Gray Gallery. ECU alumnus and judge for the show John Hancock will present a judge’s talk at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 in Speight Auditorium.

Hancock is a studio artist and retired art educator who earned his MFA in painting from ECU in 1989. He received a bachelor of fine arts from Valdosta State University.

Hancock previously served as art department chair at Barton College and taught at NC Wesleyan College’s Raleigh campus, Wake Technical Community College, Piedmont Virginia Community College and at the N.C. Governor’s School East. He completed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center funded by a North Carolina Arts Council grant. He remains involved in community arts organizations and occasionally teaches.

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“Voxis Vulpis,” another piece by John Hancock – ECU alumnus and judge for the undergraduate exhibit

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery is located on 5th Street in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The gallery is closed for all university holidays. The Jenkins Fine Arts Center is handicapped accessible.

For more information, contact Tom Braswell, interim gallery director, at 252-328-1312 or visit www.ecu.edu/graygallery.

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?”

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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.

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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.

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

 

Excels event celebrates student success

East Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Performance recognized its high achieving freshmen and transfer students at an Excels Award Ceremony Feb. 5 at the Murphy Center.

The event honored freshmen and transfer students who achieved a GPA of 3.0 and above. A total of 450 freshmen were identified, 32 on the chancellor’s list, 189 on the dean’s list, and 229 on the Honor Roll.

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High achieving HHP students were lauded at the ECU Excels Ceremony on Feb. 5.

Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, welcomed the students and guests. “HHP has a long history with interesting and challenging career options,” he said.

His remarks were followed by the keynote speaker, ECU alumna Tricia Tufts.

Tufts graduated from ECU in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in health fitness specialist. She also earned a master’s degree in teaching and is employed at Charles Jordan High School in Durham.

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HHP students received a t-shirt at the Excels Ceremony on Feb. 5.

Students received a HHP t-shirt following an activity that allowed them meet peers and faculty in the college.

-Kathy Muse

ECU College of Education hosts Margaret Blount Harvey Literacy Institute

East Carolina University’s College of Education hosted the spring 2016 Margaret Blount Harvey Literacy Institute on Jan. 30 for students and educators in the Latham Clinical Schools Network, a privately funded partnership that supports the enhancement of 39 school systems in eastern North Carolina.

Margaret Blount Harvey Literacy Leaders board members, who represent districts in the network, and undergraduate students in the ECU College of Education attended separate workshops and sessions throughout the day.

Board members examined literacy instruction in public schools and the issues and challenges that literacy leaders and teachers face. The workshop allowed board members to share strategies for addressing challenges.

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ECU College of Education students reviewed the development and progression of literacy skills and instruction needed to pass the standard reading exam required for a teaching license in North Carolina.

The session for students included a review of the development and progression of literacy skills and instruction needed to be successful on the standard reading exam required for licensure in North Carolina.

“The institute truly helped our future teachers become more prepared to teach and reinforce literacy skills, particularly those early literacy skills and strategies focusing on word recognition and identification,” said Dr. Katherine Misulis, chair of the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education and History Education at ECU.

The Margaret Blount Harvey Institutes are planned by reading education faculty members in the ECU College of Education and sponsored by Margaret and the late Felix Harvey, and daughters Leigh McNairy and Sunny Burrows.

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ECU literacy studies students gather following a working session at the 2016 Margaret Blount Harvey Literacy Institute held at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville on Jan. 30.

Offered in the spring and fall, the institutes are named for Margaret Blount Harvey of Kinston, a former member of the State Board of Education, N.C. Education Research Council, N.C. School Improvement Panel and the Learning Disabilities Association of North Carolina.

Dowdy Student Store to host Grad Expo

Dowdy Student Store will host a Grad Expo for May 2016 graduates from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 and 10 and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 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, 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 2016 graduates are invited to enter; no purchase is necessary.

Graduating seniors unable to attend the Expo can visit Dowdy Student Stores after Feb. 11 to pick up their caps and gowns.

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For more information about the Expo, call 252-328-6731 or visit www.studentstores.ecu.edu.

ECU student seeks help for underprivileged children

ECU student Leon Johnson, center, is shown in December 2014 distributing gifts to underprivileged children in the community. (Contributed photo)

ECU student Leon Johnson, center, is shown in December 2014 distributing gifts to underprivileged children in the community. (Contributed photo)

East Carolina University student Leon Johnson is helping to make children’s wish lists come true for Christmas.

Johnson created “Giving Grace: Make A Christmas,” which pairs ECU students with underprivileged children in Greenville to make sure the child gets at least one present on their Christmas wish list.

In its first year in 2014, Johnson’s group was able to help about 70 children. This year, he hopes to help at least 100 or more.

Johnson, a senior in public health studies, is teaming with ECU’s Student Government Association, Black Student Union, Greek organizations and others to help children from the Little Willie Center and Operation Sunshine.

The project is named Grace for Johnson’s grandmother, who died last year.

A Christmas party and gift exchange will be held Dec. 8 in Mendenhall Student Center.

For more information or to participate, contact Johnson on Instagram at leon_asking or email johnsonle11@students.ecu.edu.