Category Archives: Student News

ECU honors student receives Fulbright Award

An ECU Honors College student and triple major Daniel Franch has been named a recipient of an English teaching assistant award from the highly-competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Franch, who is graduating in May with a degree in history, history education and German, is one of 140 students in the United States to receive a $30,000 grant that will support his international experience in East Germany teaching English for a year.

ECU honors student receives Fulbright Award

ECU honors student and Fulbright scholar Daniel Franch

“For most countries, the competition is very stiff,” said Birgit Jensen, the Fulbright advisor at ECU. “In 2015, only eight applicants out of 98 for the Australia study grants were chosen. That same year, there were 381 applicants for English Teaching Assistantships in Germany and 127 were selected. Germany awards more grants than other countries because it funds additional stipends from its end.”

Franch, who worked in ECU’s University Writing Center for the past three years, will assist a lead teacher with English instruction in a German K–12 English classroom. In addition to teaching, he is also required to engage the local community as part of the Fulbright grant. He has proposed to join the local environmental organization and learn ways to increase sustainability practices.

“It seemed like an excellent opportunity to spend a year in Germany spreading goodwill between the United States and Germany,” said Franch, who is the ninth student from ECU selected as a Fulbright. “I had the choice to pick three federal states and I chose all former East German states, because the former East is still economically behind the rest of Germany.”


With ECU’s German Club, Franch spent nine days over spring break volunteering in Munich in conjunction with local organizations to assimilate displaced refugees.

“We taught basic German such as the alphabet, important survival phrases and traffic rules in addition to playing Frisbee and basketball with the refugees,” said Franch.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English teaching assistant programs. A candidate will submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S., according to the program’s website.

 “We know that to be successful ECU graduates must be more globally aware, more globally competent, and more globally competitive,” said Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “We’re delighted that Danny Franch has earned a prestigious Fulbright award for study in Germany, as it will provide him with precisely the kind of extended immersion experience that can enrich his personal growth and enhance his professional prospects. Speaking from personal experience (Fulbright to Belgium, ’92-’93), I can safely say that this opportunity will give Danny a lifetime’s worth of important connections and lasting inspirations.”

–Jessica Nottingham

College of Allied Health Sciences awards 35 student scholarships

The College of Allied Health Sciences held its annual Scholarship Celebration during a March 31 luncheon at the Rock Springs Center. The event, created in 2014 to honor outstanding students from all allied health sciences disciplines, provided much to celebrate as 35 scholarships totaling over $100,000 were awarded to 71 deserving students for the 2016-2017 academic year.

“The college is very proud of the accomplishments of our student recipients, very excited that this group will be part of the next generation of servant-leaders in their professions and very grateful to our donors for their generosity,” said Dr. Greg Hassler, interim dean for the College of Allied Health Sciences.

Anand Jose, a junior in the department of health services and information management and Federal Work-Study student in the College of Allied Health Sciences, is the recipient of The Rear Admiral Christina M. Alvarado Scholarship. Born in Kerala, India, Jose moved to Cary before coming to ECU.

“This scholarship means a lot,” he said. “I’m the first person in my family to come to college. It means less burden on me financially and allows me to concentrate on my studies more.”

Jose’s plans for his future include completing graduate school before pursuing a career in health administration.

Physician Assistant Studies student Hina Khatri receives the Dr. Dale Newton Scholarship from its namesake, Dr. Dale Newton, an ECU professor and medical director of the PA Studies program. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

Physician Assistant Studies student Hina Khatri receives the Dr. Dale Newton Scholarship from its namesake, Dr. Dale Newton, an ECU professor and medical director of the PA Studies program. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

College-wide scholarship recipient Lea Taylor, a first-year graduate student in the department of occupational therapy, decided she wanted to be an occupational therapist at age 12. “My brother was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and started going to occupational therapy at an outpatient clinic,” she said. “Through that experience, I became really interested in occupational therapy as a profession.”

While completing her undergraduate degree in biology, Taylor fell in love with the university and the Greenville community. “Though a large university, ECU has a small community feel and that was a huge factor in my decision,” she noted. “The distinguished faculty and the excellent reputation of the program just solidified my decision.”

“Receiving this scholarship means that there are people within the community and the university that really believe in my ability to make a difference in this field and contribute to the profession. I have been so fortunate throughout my time at ECU to receive such amazing support from faculty, staff and community members, and this scholarship is just one of the many ways I continue to feel this support and encouragement from the ECU community. Grateful is an understatement.”

Recipients represented eight departments from the college including addiction and rehabilitation studies, clinical laboratory science, communication sciences and disorders, health services and information management, nutrition science, occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant studies.

Dr. Leonard Trujillo, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy, congratulates graduate student Ashley Thigpen on receiving the Jessica King Memorial Scholarship.

Dr. Leonard Trujillo, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy, congratulates graduate student Ashley Thigpen on receiving the Jessica King Memorial Scholarship.

College-wide scholarships and recipients:

The Berbecker Foundation Fellowship
Lea Taylor

The College of Allied Health Sciences Alliance for Excellence Scholarship
Alice Fratoni
Kirsti Robertson
Natasha Shah

The College of Allied Health Sciences Patriot Scholarship
Briceida Osborne
Gregory Pait

The Louise O. Burevitch Memorial Scholarship
Alexis Wilkerson
Allender Lynch
Ashley Ritter
Chelsea Hollingsworth
Chloe Medina
Christine Hamilton
Claire Harrison
Danica Motuz
Emery Bulla
Emily Wall
Karsyn Tall
Katherine Boyd
Kristin Messina
Matthew Monaco
Savanah Hatfield
Temple Mills

The Pitt County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship
Kasie King

The SGM Herman J. Kennedy Memorial Scholarship
Alex Courtney
Charissa Simpson

Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, scholarships and recipients:

The Jennifer Elizabeth “Beth” Lambeth Memorial Scholarship
Allison Harris
Katherine Quillen

The Louise O. Burevitch Scholarship
Alexis Wilkerson

Department of Clinical Laboratory Science, scholarships and recipients:

The Stas and Brenda Humienny Scholarship
Chloe Medina

The W. James & Susan T. Smith Scholarship
Lejla Pozegic

The W. Richard Bamberg Memorial Scholarship
Joshua Conley

Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders, scholarships and recipients:

The Dr. Thomas S. Joseph and Karen E. Joseph Scholarship
Tela Palmer

The Harold & Lois White Memorial Scholarship
Christina Kelder

The James & Carol White Speech Pathology Scholarship
Ashley Ritter
Eshan Pua
Kristen Prosser

The Lina Edwards Wheeler Memorial Scholarship
Haley Gilroy
Marisa Timmins

The Meta Downes Memorial Scholarship
Ashley Ritter
Betty Jennings

The Robert and Mary Muzzarelli Scholarship
Kazlin Mason
Michelle Morley

The Tanya Johnson McDowell & Riley Floyd Scholarship
Haleigh Meffert

Department of Health Services and Information Management, scholarships and recipients:

The HealthPort Scholarship
Alexandra Lindahl
Gregory Pait

The Louise O. Burevitch Scholarship
Courtney Harrell
Eric Woodruff

The Peggy H. Wood Scholarship
Elizabeth Baker

The Rear Admiral Christina M. Alvarado Scholarship
Anand Jose
Mary-Grace Kelly

Department of Nutrition Science, scholarships and recipients:

The Elsie Faith Seal Scholarship
Kelsey Cossio

The Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni and Friends Scholarship
Karsyn Tall
Kirsti Robertson

Department of Occupational Therapy, scholarships and recipients:

The Jessica King Memorial Scholarship
Ashley Thigpen

The Louise O. Burevitch Scholarship
Joshua Register
Katherine Boyd

Department of Physical Therapy, scholarships and recipients:

The Blaise Michael Youngs Scholarship
Barbara Brafford

The Catherine Virginia McCulley Memorial Scholarship
Eric Kosco

The Dale A. Huggins Memorial Scholarship
Barbara Brafford

The George Hamilton Scholarship
Chelsea Hollingsworth
Rachel Adams

The Kinetic Physical Therapy and Wellness, Inc. Scholarship
Eric Kosco

Department of Physician Assistant Studies, scholarships and recipients:

The Dr. Dale Newton Scholarship
Hina Khatri
Jonathan Bullock
Kendra Lisec
Rachel Bradley

The Louise O. Burevitch Scholarship
Jonathan Bullock
Kendra Lisec
Rachel Bradley

–Kelly Dilda

ECU to hold annual fashion show

Ready-to-wear and art-inspired fashion will hit the runway at East Carolina University’s 12th annual Apparel and Interior Merchandising Organization (AIMO) Fashion Show.

The event will be held 7-9 p.m. Thursday, April 14 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 NC Highway 43, Greenville.

The stage[1]

The stage set-up from last year’s show. Contributed photo.

Produced and modeled by students, this year’s theme is Parisian Garden Party. Spring fashions for women and men from local stores and boutiques will be showcased including Pink – A Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, Shimmer, Belk, Truly Yours, Campus Corner, Bald Head Blues, Olly Oxen and Beloved. Wearable art creations from ECU textile design students also will be featured.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for non-students and will be available at the door or in advance by contacting Dr. Runying Chen, associate professor of interior design and merchandising, at or 252-328-1329.

Belk group[1]

Student models and designers pose backstage after last year’s event. Contributed photo.

Since it began in 2004, funds from the event go to support professional development for AIMO students. The show gives students real-world experience and skills in community engagement, model and wardrobe line up, stage design and production.

–Crystal Baity

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.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 5.27.24 PM
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.


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.


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


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.

Voxis Vulpis, John Hancock.jpg

“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

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?”


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.


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


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.

Excels Event

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.

Excels 2.jpg

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

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