Category Archives: Students

Simulation brings awareness about living in poverty

About 50 East Carolina University students recently assumed the role of a family member living in poverty while juggling monthly bills, buying food or going to the doctor.

The students took part in a community action poverty simulation on March 16 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. The simulation was led by Tamra Church, a teaching instructor in the College of Health and Human Performance’s Department of Health Education and Promotion, Kim Werth, a counselor in the School of Dental Medicine, and the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. Courtney Williams, a master’s student and graduate teaching assistant, was instrumental in planning, organizing and volunteering in the simulation as well as overseeing registration, lunch, snacks and community resource tables.

Students – most from a health behavior theory class in the Department of Health Education and Promotion - portray family members living on a budget in a recent poverty simulation held in the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. (Photos by Josh Vaughan)

Students – most from a health behavior theory class in the Department of Health Education and Promotion – portray family members living on a budget in a recent poverty simulation held in the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU. (Photos by Josh Vaughan)

Church’s students are pre-health professionals and many are preparing for graduate school in physician assistant studies, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medicine, nursing or dentistry. Other graduates will go into the workforce where they will interact with people and patients from all walks of life.

“It was an opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing poverty,” Church said. “My goals for the simulation were to change beliefs about people experiencing poverty, increase students’ empathy towards people living in poverty and encourage them to get involved in more civic engagement.”

A student receives information for her simulation.

A student receives information for her simulation.

In the simulation, students were assigned to a family unit ranging from a single parent without a car to an elderly person having to pay for heat and medication for a month. The students sometimes faced unexpected challenges such as a death in the family or a break-in at their home. They interacted with service providers including employers, bankers, grocers, public schools or police officers portrayed by 14 volunteers from the School of Social Work, Pitt County Health Department and community.

“The poverty simulation accurately demonstrated the roller coaster of life that people in poverty have to live to get by day to day,” said Harlee Rowe, a public health studies major. “It was a shock of reality to see how much needs to be changed to help these people in need.”

Emmanuel McLeod, who is also in the public health studies program, said the activity was an eye-opening experience. “It has helped me to understand the daily lives they may face, and how the majority of the things they go through are out of their control,” McLeod said. “Despite this, we can reach out as a community and support those who need it.”

Students review materials for a community action poverty simulation held March 16.

Students review materials for a community action poverty simulation held March 16.

The simulation also taught students about available resources in the community.

After the event, some students said they planned to start having conversations about poverty while others planned to volunteer or start writing local government about issues.

“It changed my perception of how families in poverty deal with daily life struggles (that) the people who are not in poverty never have to think twice about,” said public health studies student Angela Bracco.

Church plans to offer the simulation each semester.

 

-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

ECU kicks off Research and Creative Achievement Week

A line of posters, students and judges in Mendenhall Student Center kicked off East Carolina University’s 2018 Research and Creative Achievement Week on March 26.

The 12th annual event features more than 440 research posters and presentations, giving undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students an opportunity to share their work with their peers and mentors.

Student Andra Glover (left) discusses her research poster with judges at the 2018 Research and Creative Achievement Week. The event began Monday at Mendenhall Student Center and runs through April 2. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Student Andra Glover (left) discusses her research poster with judges at the 2018 Research and Creative Achievement Week. The event began Monday at Mendenhall Student Center and runs through April 2. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

RCAW allows students from all disciplines – from biomedical sciences to visual arts and design – to practice their presentation skills and interact with other creative scholars on campus. Judges, made up of ECU faculty, staff and graduate students, provide a balanced evaluation of the students’ work, grading them on subject knowledge, effective medium use, clarity and question response, and originality and creativity. Awards are presented at the end of the week to both poster and oral presenters.

Left to right, guest panelists Bridget Todd, Allison Mathews and Suzanne Lazorick discuss how they have used research and creative achievement to change the world at RCAW’s opening session and discussion panel. (Photo by Matt Smith)

Left to right, guest panelists Bridget Todd, Allison Mathews and Suzanne Lazorick discuss how they have used research and creative achievement to change the world at RCAW’s opening session and discussion panel. (Photos by Matt Smith)

For the first time, RCAW held an opening session and panel discussion. The event featured digital strategist Bridget Todd, MATCH Wellness co-director Suzanne Lazorick and 2BeatHIV director and Community Expert Solutions CEO Allison Mathews. The trio hosted the panel “Run with New Ideas: Using Research and Creative Achievement to Effect Real World Change.” Todd, Lazorick and Mathews discussed their work with underserved communities – including women, children and minorities – and took questions from the crowd.

Katina Hilliard, a graduate student in the College of Health and Human Performance, said she wanted to go through the learning experience of presenting her research to others. Hilliard and her co-researcher’s study focused on the relationship between staff practices in an after-school service program and school connectedness.

“Presenting at RCAW gives you a lot of practice in public speaking,” Hilliard said. “Presenting your research to others is a big part of the research process and this gives you an opportunity to share in a safe setting. In the future when I present at conferences, I’ll be able to use this experience to guide me.

Research posters line the halls of Mendenhall Student Center for the opening of RCAW.

Research posters line the halls of Mendenhall Student Center for the opening of RCAW.

“Every one of the judges and students that come through RCAW are here to help you,” she said. “They’re not here to criticize or put your work down; they’re here to build you up and make your work better.”

RCAW Chairman and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Tom McConnell agreed with Hilliard, emphasizing the importance of students dipping their research toes into public speaking.

“RCAW is all centered around our students,” McConnell said. “We want to give them a number of learning opportunities. These presentations are often the first presentations ECU students give and they gain valuable communication skills in the process. They also learn how to work with teammates and mentors – important skills to master if they plan to continue their research initiatives in the future.”

RCAW will run until April 2. More information is at https://blog.ecu.edu/sites/rcaw/.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

ECU student to drive in NASCAR trucks race at Martinsville Speedway

East Carolina University students went far and wide during spring break, but Tyler Matthews was probably the only one working with a NASCAR race team preparing a truck for his national racing series debut this week.

The ECU junior takes that next step in his racing career Saturday at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at the famed Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The race starts at 2 p.m. and airs on FS1.

ECU student Tyler Matthews is shown after a late model stock win at East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville in 2016. He takes the next step in his racing career Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. (Contributed photos)

ECU student Tyler Matthews is shown after a late model stock win at East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville in 2016. He takes the next step in his racing career Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. (Contributed photos)

“We’ve been working for a couple of months to sign the contract deal, and the fact that it’s happening is a dream come true because I’ve always wanted to race in the top levels,” Matthews told the Jacksonville Daily News in January. “A lot of these drivers have been racing for a long time. So for me to do all of this in a short amount of time is awesome.”

Earlier this year, Matthews signed a three-race deal with MDM Motorsports in Mooresville to drive the No. 99 Chevrolet Silverado. In addition to Martinsville, Matthews is scheduled to race June 16 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, and June 23 at Gateway Speedway in Madison, Illinois, just outside St. Louis.

Once he completes those races, NASCAR should approve him to compete on larger tracks, which the team could add to its schedule later this year, he said.

ECU junior Tyler Matthews

ECU junior Tyler Matthews

Matthews, from Richlands, is a construction management major in the College of Engineering and Technology at ECU. The 21-year-old won the 2016 late model track championship at Southern National Motorsports Park near Kenly and the 2017 late model championship at Carteret County Speedway near Swansboro.

He was the 2015 state NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Series Rookie of the Year and the series’ 2016 state champion.

The truck series is the bottom tier of NASCAR’s national touring series. Trucks race on a mix of short and intermediate ovals, superspeedways, two road courses and even a dirt track. Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota are represented in the series.

At 3,400 pounds, the trucks weigh about 300 pounds more than the late model stock cars Matthews is used to, and their 650-horsepower engines have about 250 more horsepower.

Matthews started racing 4-wheelers in enduro-type races through the woods when he was about 7, he said. In high school, he built his first race car for an entry-level division called UCAR and started racing late models – the top division at most local stock-car tracks – about five years ago.

His parents, Steve and Amanda Matthews, crew chief and former local racer Doug Barefoot (“He taught me a ton,” Matthews said.) and some high school friends, some of whom attend ECU, have helped him along the way.

“You have to enjoy what you do, and having your friends there makes it more fun,” he said.

Matthews said when semesters begin and professors ask students to talk about themselves, most of his classmates don’t really understand what he means when he says he’s a race car driver – the level of work and dedication it takes to succeed at just the local level. But when they see photos or come to a race, they get the idea.

Matthews plans to remain enrolled at ECU and then “see what happens for next year if I can make this full time,” he told the Daily News. But he added his parents have always insisted that school come before racing.

ECU junior Tyler Matthews works on the Chevrolet Silverado he will race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

ECU junior Tyler Matthews works on the Chevrolet Silverado he will race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

“It just gets difficult trying to focus on school and do the best you can in racing,” he said. “I just know I have to get my schoolwork done if I want to race. School comes first, or the racing will come to an end.”

Roger Burns, manager of Carteret County Speedway and father of two sons who race against Matthews, said he’s a “smooth driver” who has a bright future behind the wheel if all goes well.

“He and his dad worked really hard to get where he’s at,” Burns said.

Matthews said his main goal for his first truck series races is to run well, learn and stay out of trouble. Ultimately, he wants to compete full time in the series and then move up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Cup Series.

“That’s definitely my goal to one day run Cup, but that doesn’t always happen,” Matthews told the Daily News. “You have to make the best of what you have. You have to make the best of what opportunities you have.”

And for him, making the most of opportunities means one thing.

“I just want to win,” he said. “I’m so competitive I just want to win everything I do.”

In addition to his truck schedule, Matthews also hopes to compete in some late model races this year. Follow his progress on @TMatthews___ and on Facebook at tyler.matthews.731572.

 

-by Doug Boyd, University Communications

ECU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi Hosts inaugural lecture

ECU’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, established in 1970, is pleased to host its inaugural distinguished lecture. (Contributed photos.)

ECU’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, established in 1970, is pleased to host its inaugural distinguished lecture. (Contributed photos.)

The East Carolina University chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines, will host its inaugural lecture this month.

Dr. M. Todd Bennett, associate professor of history in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, will discuss “Imagination Unlimited: How the CIA Raised a Sunken Soviet Submarine in the 1970s and Why it Matters Today” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, in the Jenkins Fine Arts Auditorium, Room 1220. The event is free and open to the public.

The ECU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, established in 1970, is ECU’s most distinguished academic honor society.

“The collegiate honor society promotes academic excellence in all fields of higher education and supports a community of scholars and professionals,” said Dr. Marianna Walker, president of the chapter and associate professor in the College of Allied Health Sciences.

Dr. M. Todd Bennett, associate professor of history.

Dr. M. Todd Bennett, associate professor of history.

“Historically, the ECU chapter has co-sponsored lectures and events across campus. This will be the first distinguished Phi Kappa Phi lecture at East Carolina University,” said Walker.

Bennett is the author of “One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, the Allies and World War II” and the editor of several volumes in the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the official documentary record of American foreign policy published by the U.S. Department of State.

He has appeared on National Public Radio and contributed to The Washington Post and the journals of Diplomatic History, and Intelligence and National Security. Bennett’s current book project on the Glomar Explorer submarine won a 2017-2018 Public Scholar award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For additional information about ECU’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, visit www.ecu.edu/org/pkp/. For more information about the lecture, contact Walker at 252-744-6093 or walkerm@ecu.edu.

 

-by Lacey Gray, University Communications

ECU student honored as 2018 Newman Civic Fellow

Haley Creef has been named a Newman Civic Fellow. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Haley Creef has been named a Newman Civic Fellow. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, has announced the 268 students who will make up the organization’s 2018 group of Newman Civic Fellows, including East Carolina University’s own Haley Creef.

“Haley is an outstanding role model for other students – she is passionate about our local community but committed to learning about large-scale issues,” said Dr. Dennis McCunney, director of ECU’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, who recommended Creef for the honor. “She connects her learning in the classroom with her involvement in civic issues. In so many ways, she embodies what it means to be an ECU student.”

Creef, a sophomore studying finance and economics, has served as a voter engagement student leader with the CLCE, a mentor for Jarvis Leadership Residence Hall, a special education teaching assistant at a local elementary school, and as treasurer for ECU’s Student Government Association.

“Since she arrived on campus, Haley has committed herself to putting many of ECU’s most treasured values – public service, leadership and community engagement – into action,” said Chancellor Cecil Staton in his nomination letter. “Through all of her activities and more, Haley displays her passion for enhancing our campus community as well as our local community.”

Creef

Creef is studying finance and economics at ECU.

The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate and engage with such an extraordinary group of students,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “The stories of this year’s Newman Civic Fellows make clear that they are bringing people together in their communities to solve pressing problems. That is what Campus Compact is about, and it’s what our country and our world desperately need.”

The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation.

 

-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

Social work graduate student featured in state publication

Lowry

Lowry (Contributed photo)

William Lowry Jr., a combat veteran and master of social work student at East Carolina University, has received a scholarship dedicated to increasing the number of practitioners working with military service members and their families.

Lowry was featured in the North Carolina Governors Institute on Substance Abuse winter newsletter.

The scholarship, funded by the N.C. Division of Mental Health Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, aims to dually license practitioners and increase the number of licensed clinical addiction specialists working in North Carolina. The scholarship program is building a workforce that will support military service members and their families.

Lowry served 30 years in the military and is a combat veteran of the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His goal is to help people recover from substance use, mental health and medical issues.

Lowry is employed as a N.C. certified peer support specialist and integrative health coach in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Center in Wilmington.

In the future, Lowry hopes to open a practice that serves veterans, at-risk youth and adults and provides educational workshops and training. He will graduate in May 2019.

 

-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

Increased campus activity, traffic

During the weekend of March 23-24, ECU will have more than a dozen events, programs and activities going on across our main campus, athletics complexes and parking lots. ECU will once again be the hub of major activity, and our campus will be on full display for thousands of current and prospective Pirates and their families as well as devoted Pirate fans cheering during the Purple and Gold activities.

Here are some of the major events taking place:

Friday, March 23

  • Purple/Gold Pigskin Pigout at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
  • Spring Family Weekend events in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
  • Multiple Athletics events including volleyball and softball

Saturday, March 24

  • ECU Pirates Aboard – Admitted Students Day starting at 8 a.m.
  • ECU Spring Football Game at 2:30 p.m.
  • Spring Family Weekend festivities
  • Multiple Athletics events including lacrosse and softball

The largest impacts to the campus community are expected to be on Saturday, March 24.  With so many events going on at the same time and the current construction projects around the athletics complex and main campus, many of the roads around campus will see increased volumes of traffic. Additionally, many of our parking lots are expected to be full.

Motorists are encouraged to avoid the areas of campus that border Greenville Boulevard, Charles Boulevard, 14th Street, 10th Street, Fifth Street and Cotanche Street. Traffic will be more congested than normal and numerous buses will be utilized to shuttle campus visitors. Please drive defensively and allow extra time for your travels.

For additional information, please visit the following websites:

LimeBike launches at ECU

One hundred LimeBikes will be deployed on ECU’s campus on Monday, March 12. Anyone can unlock and use the bikes using the LimeBike app. (Contributed photos)

One hundred LimeBikes will be deployed on ECU’s campus on Monday, March 12. Anyone can unlock and use the bikes using the LimeBike app. (Contributed photos)

Beginning Monday, March 12, 100 LimeBikes will be deployed on East Carolina University’s main campus, offering students, faculty and staff, and visitors a simple way to find and use a bicycle.

LimeBike is a bike sharing company based in California and currently operates in more than two dozen cities and several university campuses including N.C. State and UNC Greensboro. Each bike is equipped with GPS, wireless technology and self-activating locks, freeing them from the confines of designated docking areas.

“The dock-free network makes it easier for ECU students and faculty to explore the campus on two wheels,” said LimeBike public relations coordinator Emma Green.

There is no cost to ECU for the service; users access the bikes and pay using LimeBike’s iOS or Android smartphone application. The cost for students and others with an ECU email address is 50 cents per half-hour.

Dan Hemme, LimeBike’s operations manager for Greenville, said he anticipates deploying additional bikes as needed and expanding to include the health sciences campus. The City of Greenville is also working on an agreement to deploy the bikes citywide.

For students, faculty and staff with an ECU email address, the cost is 50 cents per half hour.

For students, faculty and staff with an ECU email address, the cost is 50 cents per half hour.

Users are encouraged to wear helmets, obey traffic rules and safe bicycle operation, and to park the bikes in or near existing bike racks, not on sidewalks or lawn areas. ECU currently has bike rack capacity for 1,780 bicycles in 72 designated bike rack areas, according to Joshua Rossnagel, external operation supervisor for ECU Parking and Transportation.

“One of the projects we are working on is having daily occupancy reports of the bike racks so that we can get accurate data on where additional racks may be needed,” he said. “LimeBike also has strong data metrics that will allow us to find trends in the ridership on campus.”

LimeBike representatives will be manning tables on campus during the launch to answer questions and distribute LimeBike information and swag, including helmets. To celebrate the launch, riders can use the promotional code “LIMEATECU” to receive $1 off their first two rides.

“Bringing LimeBike to ECU will help reduce bicycle congestion on campus while providing alternative transportation methods that will reduce our carbon footprint,” Rossnagel said. “LimeBike will allow faculty, staff, students and guests the opportunity to travel throughout campus without moving their vehicle from their original parking destination.”

For more information visit limebike.com.

 

-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

Could a poll boost ECU’s national reputation?

The next presidential election may be two years away, but East Carolina University’s Center for Survey Research has its focus set on Nov. 3, 2020.

•Peter Francia is the new director of ECU’s Center for Survey Research.

Peter Francia is the new director of ECU’s Center for Survey Research. (Contributed photo)

By then, Director Peter Francia hopes to have established a university polling center capable of accurately predicting the voting margins.

If successful, the university could join other polling powerhouses like Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University and Marist College, who regularly find themselves in the national spotlight come campaign season – an otherwise rare occurrence.

“They have a national reputation because of the polling they do. Why not ECU?” Francia said.

Becoming well-known for political polling extends beyond simple name recognition. The president of Monmouth University has estimated the value of free media exposure to be close to $1 billion. When John Lahey started Quinnipiac’s poll in the late ’80s, the school was a small commuter college with fewer than 2,000 students. A coordinated effort to build a polling facility helped turn it into a nationally known university with more than 10,000 students today.

“If you were to follow our admissions and our growth, you could follow the poll,” Lahey told Politico last year.

ECU plans to set up its poll beginning with a call center that will be built with the help of a $100,000 donation from alumni Wayne and Sherry Holloman. The Hollomans have annually supported a political science scholarship, Honors College student programming and the Voyages of Discovery lecture series.

Wayne and Sherry Holloman donated $100,000 to the Center for Survey Research to establish an ECU polling center.

Wayne and Sherry Holloman donated $100,000 to the Center for Survey Research to establish an ECU polling center. (Contributed photos)

“Imagine learning the results of the election and hearing people say, ‘ECU was dead on it,’” Wayne Holloman said. “It could be big.”

Housed in the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Survey Research currently assists the university as well as private clients and public agencies in public opinion and community assessment research. That includes survey design, questionnaire development, data collection and focus group research.

“We’ve seen across the country that university-based opinion polls can capture the pulse of the electorate and catapult their institutions to prominence,” said Dr. William Downs, Dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “Wayne and Sherry Holloman are great friends of ECU and of the Arts and Sciences, and their generous investment in our Center for Survey Research will ensure that Pirate polling has a successful launch and an impactful future.”

Francia, who is also a political science professor, said a polling center makes sense at ECU because North Carolina is an exciting state to be in politically.

“On the presidential map, North Carolina is not a red state or a blue state. It is a purple state. There is also a history of very competitive statewide contests for governor and for the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Moreover, partisan control of the U.S. Senate could potentially hinge on a single seat in 2020. If so, North Carolina’s U.S. Senate election will have national implications.”

The ECU Poll will involve students by giving them opportunities to work in the call center, develop questionnaires and conduct data analysis. Francia said he hopes the polling center can be worked into the political science curriculum so more students can learn how polling and random sampling works.

In addition to political polling, the university would be capable of polling on other topics that affect the area, like opioid use and immigrant labor.

“Expanding services and missions is important,” Holloman said. “That’s what this is. Making ECU a part of the community, the state and the nation.”

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

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