Student startup helps veterans with transition to college

Matt McCall has been there. He knows what it’s like.

Now, with help from GreenvilleSEED@ECU, he’s working to help other veterans make the transition from the military to college.

McCall, who joined the Marines in 2007, deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and was honorably discharged in 2013, said he spent a lot of time in the tutoring lab after enrolling in Coastal Carolina Community College’s pre-engineering program.

“I had a lot of knowledge gaps, especially in math, chemistry and physics,” he said. “A tutor told me I could get some of the tutoring cost reimbursed through the G.I. Bill.”

With the tutoring help, his grades improved, and he began tutoring other vets who needed help.

“I also helped them file their reimbursement paperwork,” McCall said. “Word spread, and within a couple months I had five students, so I started looking for other veterans and veteran spouses at the school who wanted to be tutors.”

With help from GreenvilleSEED@ECU, Matt McCall (right) has started a company that helps veterans like Michael Kohn transition to college. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

With help from GreenvilleSEED@ECU, Matt McCall (right) has started a company that helps veterans like Michael Kohn transition to college. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Now enrolled in East Carolina University’s biomedical engineering program, McCall has started Beyond Tutoring, a company centered on veterans tutoring other vets. He enlisted the help of Katie Thomas, a fellow Marine and tutor.

“Since the tutors are veterans and spouses, they’re able to relate to the students’ struggles well, especially relocating, anxiety and feeling out of place,” he said. “Our common ground helps break down barriers to learning.”

Student Michael Kohn, an undergraduate business management student at ECU, said the difference in lifestyle coming from the military to college can present a challenge, and it can be intimidating working with other students who haven’t had the same experiences.

“You’re not used to the mentality, the way of thinking and working though problems, the homework,” he said. “So having someone who’s been through what I’m going through, telling me how to work through the system, was a big help.”

Kohn said McCall showed him how to organize papers and manage his time.

“Working in the Army, every day is the same thing,” he said. “Matt helped show me how I could take the discipline I learned in the Army and be disciplined in a new way, apply it to the new area.”

McCall joined GreenvilleSEED@ECU to get help refining his business plan and his pitch, and to learn how to scale up the business. GreenvilleSEED@ECU is a partnership between the City of Greenville, the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce and ECU providing flexible operating space, business expertise and other resources to entrepreneurs.

“As a student entrepreneur, he is juggling the demands of classwork and building a business,” said John Ciannamea of ECU’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development. “Our staff has assisted Matthew with business introductions, vetting ideas and evaluating corporate development issues. His base platform is now well positioned for expansion in the market.”

Beyond Tutoring now has eight tutors and has assisted more than 60 students, 23 of whom are disabled veterans. McCall has also received assistance and advice from ECU’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship, the Office of Technology Transfer and the Pitt County Small Business and Technology Development Center.

McCall said his next goal is to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to streamline the reimbursement process. It can take months for a student to get reimbursement for the cost of tutoring. One possibility is to create an online form to speed up the process.

“If we can figure out how to get them their money back in a few days instead of five months,” he said, “they’d be more free to get the help they need. … We’ve already gone through the tough parts of transitioning into college, and we can help our students navigate the education system and get the most out of the benefits they earned.

For more information visit


-by Jules Norwood

Laupus Library to exhibit relief woodcarving creations

Laupus Library will open the art exhibit “Visions in Wood: Carved Creations,” on Oct. 3 in the Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery on the fourth floor of the library. On display through Dec. 9, the exhibit showcases a collection of relief carvings by Dr. Leonard “Leo” Trujillo, professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University.

The 2017 fall semester exhibit is part of the library’s ongoing “Art as Avocation” series that showcases and celebrates the artistic talents and self-expression of faculty, staff and students from the Division of Health Sciences.

“Laupus has a long history of showcasing the hidden talents of our health sciences faculty in this series,” said Beth Ketterman, director of Laupus Library. “Dr. Trujillo’s work is masterful and our hope is that those who view these pieces will gain an appreciation for his craft and expertise, and reflect on how the process of creation gives us insights into our own humanity.”

Log cabin by Dr. Leonard Trujillo. (contributed photo)

Log cabin by Dr. Leonard Trujillo. (contributed photo)

Trujillo’s work is reflective of a lifetime of learning the art of carving and love for nature. He recounts his desire at an early age to carve figures out of wood to create three-dimensional illusions in his works.

He will sometimes carve a piece only to study a certain aspect of the carving process. Beginning with a solid plank of wood, Trujillo uses mallets and a multitude of gouges, chisels, riffles and sandpaper leaves, to transform the wood into lifelike images of trees, old barns, nature scenes and once in a while, people.

“The hardest part of the carving process is having to stop and prepare the wood for the work that you are about to do,” he said. “That can take days out of actual carving time.”

In 2013, he built his first studio, doing all but the electrical work. Filled with sharpening machines, vacuum systems, special track lighting and carving gouges lined throughout the multi-stage workspace, it’s easy to see this is far from a getaway spot. He also refuses for it to be referred to as a “man cave.”

“I carve because of the pleasure it brings me, and truly take delight in the way people react to my work,” he said.

Presently, Trujillo isn’t competing in carving club shows and competition. “When you work towards winning a ribbon, you lose the pleasure of carving and it becomes work rather than pleasure,” he said.

An opening reception will be held on Oct. 3 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and will include a presentation by the artist. The event is open to the public.

To learn more about this exhibition series or if you are interested in showcasing your work, visit

For more information contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at or 252-744-2232.


-by Kelly Dilda, University Communications 

ECU recognized for diversity

East Carolina University has been recognized once again for its commitment to diversity by two publications that focus on diversity in higher education.

For the sixth year in a row, ECU has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award sponsored by Insight into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes colleges and universities in the U.S. that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The award process involves a comprehensive and rigorous application and includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees and best practices, said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of the magazine.

From left, students Sarah Marisa Mee, Daquevon Rogers and Kia Miller work together in Garrett Residence Hall. (contributed photos)

From left, students Sarah Marisa Mee, Daquevon Rogers and Kia Miller work together in Garrett Residence Hall. (Contributed photos)

“Our standards are high and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus,” said Pearlstein.

There are several programs that made ECU stand out from the competition. These programs, ranging from providing easily accessible data about the campus’ diversity to faculty programs and student groups, encourage the success of women and minority students.

ECU’s Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity LaKesha Forbes points out it isn’t the work of one group or program on campus, but a collaborative effort that makes ECU an inclusive working, learning and living community.

Those programs include Barbershop Talk, a leadership series that explores the personal journeys and unwritten rules for minority males in professional settings to assist men of color in their pursuit to become professionals and leaders at ECU. The Visiting Faculty and Scholars program brings diverse visiting faculty and emerging scholars to conduct research or present on topics related to inclusion, equity, diversity and cultural competence.

“We remain fully committed to diversity and inclusion at ECU and strive for our campus to be reflective of the population of the society we live in today,” said Forbes.

ECU will be featured with 79 other colleges and universities in the magazine’s November 2017 issue.

From left, Korey Kuhlman, Austin Stewart and Taron Fenner.

From left, Korey Kuhlman, Austin Stewart and Taron Fenner.

Top 100 Degrees Conferred 

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine released the Top 100 Degrees Conferred rankings on Aug. 24. ECU was one of the the top 100 colleges or universities in 47 categories ranging from total undergraduate and graduate degrees to individualized programs.

The rankings look at the number of degrees awarded to minority students by colleges and universities across the country in dozens of categories.

ECU ranked No. 47 for the number of African-Americans who receive bachelor’s degrees and was in the top 100 for the number of Native American students who earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, ranked 51 and 43 respectively.

“The diversity of our student body continues to grow. And as we become even more diverse, we remain steadfast in our intentionality to provide all students with the environment and support to be successful and a classroom experience that prepares them for the multicultural workplace and our global economy,” said Forbes.

Additionally, ECU was 47th on the list of traditionally white institutions who awarded degrees to African-Americans. The magazine selected the top 100 institutions out of 2,718 that were eligible.

To see ECU’s rankings, visit


-by Jamie Smith

ECU students promote positive change while honoring those who served on 9/11

The ECU Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) will kick off the Fall Week of Service on Saturday, Sept. 9 through service to the Pitt County community. During the week, CLCE will promote positive change by hosting service projects throughout Pitt County. The week will conclude on Friday, Sept. 15 with a Family Weekend Service Day.

Community partner service sites include Making Pitt Fit Community Garden, A Time for Science, MacGregor Downs Health & Rehabilitation, and River Park North.

On Monday, Sept. 11, CLCE will partner with the University Writing Center and Student Government Association to host a unique program called Design for Change. This event provides the opportunity for attendees to promote positive change in remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001. There will be four stations where participants can engage:

  • Write for Change: Participants may write letters for change they wish to see on a local, national and/or international level.
  • Design for Change: Participants may paint ECU Peace Rocks to keep or to hide around campus as reminders of peace and positive change.
  • Commit to Change: Participants may write on a chalkboard/poster board their commitment to positive change by completing the sentence, “I will commit to change by …”
  • Post for Change: Participants may take a photo with an Instagram cutout and post to social media using the hashtag #Pirates4Peace.

All volunteers and participants are encouraged to upload images to social media during the entire Fall Week of Service by using #Pirates4Peace.

ECU students, faculty and staff can learn more about Fall Week of Service and the various projects through the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance portal on OrgSync (

To learn more about the national 9/11 Day of Service visit

For additional information, contact Tara Kermiet, associate director for curricular programs in the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, at 252-328-1554 or via email at


Contact: Tara Kermiet, associate director for Curricular Programs in the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement,

College of Education dean to serve on state Principal Fellows Commission

Dr. Grant B. Hayes, dean of the East Carolina University College of Education, has been appointed to the North Carolina Principal Fellows Commission, the governing body of the Principal Fellows Program.

Dr. Grant B. Hayes (contributed photo)

Dr. Grant B. Hayes (contributed photo)

Created in 1993 by the General Assembly, the Principal Fellows Program is a competitive, merit-based scholarship that provides loans to individuals with relevant experience and exceptional academic ability who want to enter education administration in North Carolina public schools. The commission administers the program in collaboration with the State Education Assistance Authority.

Hayes is one of two deans from schools of education in the UNC system appointed by President Margaret Spellings. The commission requires that two deans serve on the 12-member board with the remaining members appointed by state organizations or elected officials.

“I am honored to be appointed to the commission and I look forward to working with the other members to do this important work,” Hayes said.

More than 1,200 fellows have completed the program since its inception. Individuals selected for the Principal Fellows Programs have the opportunity to attend school on a full-time basis and earn a master’s in school administration in two years. The program is offered at 11 UNC system campuses including ECU, and provides one year of full-time academic study and a one-year, full-time internship in a North Carolina public school.


-by Cole Dittmer, University Communications

College of Nursing welcomes 125 new students

More than 100 ECU students were officially introduced to the nursing profession during the College of Nursing’s twice-annual Lamp of Learning ceremony on Aug. 31.

The ceremony, held in the Brody School of Medicine auditorium, recognized 125 new students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program as family and friends looked on.

Meaghan Brown receives her lamp pin from a classmate at the College of Nursing’s Lamp of Learning ceremony on Aug. 31. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Meaghan Brown receives her lamp pin from a classmate at the College of Nursing’s Lamp of Learning ceremony on Aug. 31. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

During the ceremony Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the college, reminded students of the university’s dedication to service, a value shared by the college and the nursing profession. She emphasized Gallup Poll data that has consistently pointed to nursing as the most trusted profession among all professions, and urged new students to remain honest and ethical in order to preserve that trust.

“That is a wonderful characteristic that we want to maintain and instill in our nursing students,” she said.

Dr. Annette Peery, associate dean for undergraduate programs, introduced each student on stage as Brown presented him or her with a gold lamp pin representing Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. The lamp symbol signifies service and light, and is also featured on the College of Nursing pin that students receive at graduation.

“As you wear that pin, think of these symbols and what they mean, particularly your orientation to service as part of the profession,” Brown said.

Nursing student Taylor Harrison recites the College of Nursing pledge at the Lamp of Learning ceremony at the Brody School of Medicine on Aug. 31.

Nursing student Taylor Harrison recites the College of Nursing pledge at the Lamp of Learning ceremony at the Brody School of Medicine on Aug. 31.

Krista Whitley, a nursing student from Kinston, was among those having pins affixed to their purple scrubs.

“It’s really special,” she said. “It makes me want to work even harder. Ever since high school I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. I job shadowed in high school and observed a couple of surgeries. It really pumped me up and made me want to be a nurse.”

Admission to the College of Nursing’s BSN program is very competitive. In addition to meeting the university and college requirements, students’ scores on a required national pre-admission exam are taken into account along with their GPA, enrollment status and other factors. Students accepted into the program this year had an average GPA of 3.7.

Phyllis Burt attended the ceremony to watch her daughter Heavenlee Burt receive her pin.

“She worked hard for this and I love her. I am very proud of her,” Burt said. “I came a long way just to catch her in this moment. I think the world is going to be a better place.”


-by Natalie Sayewich, University Communication

Phased retirement program available

Chancellor Cecil Staton has announced the annual availability of the phased retirement program for eligible tenured faculty members. Individual letters to eligible faculty members are being sent to home academic units. If a faculty member’s appointment does not meet the program’s eligibility criteria for age and years of service, he or she will not receive a letter of invitation to participate in the phased retirement program. Faculty members who do not receive a letter but believe that they should be eligible based on program criteria should contact their respective vice chancellor’s office for assistance.

Additional details about the phased retirement program are available at the following website:

Questions about the phased retirement program should be directed to Linda Ingalls at 252-943-8584 or (Office of the Provost) or Lisa Hudson at 744-1910 or (Division of Health Sciences).

Laupus Library exhibits “Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America”

Laupus Library is hosting the traveling exhibit “Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America” in the Evelyn Fike Laupus gallery on the fourth floor of the library.

On display from Aug. 28 through Oct. 7, the six-banner exhibit looks at the Chesapeake region, where European settlers relied upon indentured servants, Native Americans and African slave labor for life-saving knowledge of farming and food acquisition, and to gain economic prosperity.

By examining the labor of slaves and food practices of the time, including those at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the exhibition explores how power was exchanged between and among different peoples, races, genders and classes during the early colonial era.

“I’m really excited that Laupus was selected to host this exhibit, primarily because eastern North Carolina is situated adjacent to the Chesapeake region and so this history hits close to home,” said Beth Ketterman, interim director of Laupus Library. “We’ll be able to supplement the panels and digital materials with artifacts and archival materials from our collection which I think will add an important dimension for our visitors.”

An online version of the exhibition available at features a range of resources for educators and students, including two lesson plans developed for elementary and high school courses, a higher education module for undergraduate and graduate students and instructors, online activities, and a compilation of online resources. In addition, it offers a digital gallery of 18th-century materials on food, botany, health and housekeeping from the NLM collection.

The exhibit is available during operating hours posted at, or call 252-744-2219.

The exhibition was brought to you by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

For more information contact Kelly Dilda at 252-744-2232 or


-by Kelly Dilda, University Communications

Brody associate dean named to national steering committee

The associate dean for diversity and inclusion at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine has been selected to serve on the steering committee for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Diversity and Inclusion. In this role, Dr. Kendall Campbell will act as a liaison between the national committee and all medical schools in the southern region of the United States.

“It [my selection] puts Brody on the map, on the national landscape if you will, for diversity and inclusion issues,” Campbell said. “It allows me to bring issues that may be particular to Brody, to a national light. It really stresses Brody’s commitment to diversity and inclusion because I was nominated by folks here for this position. So it’s not something I just decided to do myself; there were people here that recognized that it would be good for me to serve on this committee.”

Dr. Kendall Campbell. (contributed photo)

Dr. Kendall Campbell. (contributed photo)

Brody is dedicated to increasing access to a medical education for minority and underserved students as part of its legislatively mandated threefold mission. Campbell’s office oversees eight groups within Brody that focus on diversity, such as the Sexual and Gender Diversity committee, the Brody Women Faculty committee and the Interprofessional Diversity Group. The Office of Diversity Affairs has also developed workshops that focus on the various aspects of diversity and inclusion to promote retention of minority faculty and a more inclusive environment at Brody.

According to a recent AAMC report, Brody ranks better than 90 percent of the nation’s medical schools when it comes to the percentage of its graduates who are African American. Nearly one-third of Brody’s newest class is non-Caucasian.

Campbell said that while Brody does better than many medical schools when it comes to maintaining a culture of diversity, there is still work to be done.

“My goal for us is to be at parity with the state,” he said. “Because we only accept North Carolina residents, I look at the state census population as to what should be our representation. So if there’s a certain percentage of racial minorities in the state, then that’s what we want to see reflected in our medical school classes.”

Campbell earned his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine and completed a residency in family medicine at the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Family Practice Residency Program. Before coming to Brody in 2016, he was on faculty at Florida State University College of Medicine, where he was the co-founder and co-director of the Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine.

In addition to his AAMC appointment, Campbell was recently named a member of the Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities for the National Academy of Medicine. He is also the director of the Research Group for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine at Brody.

“Dr. Campbell is a nationally recognized expert in the field of diversity and inclusion in medical school communities,” said Brody’s interim dean, Dr. Nicholas Benson. “His appointment to this important national leadership body demonstrates that the Association of American Medical Colleges recognizes that Kendall’s participation will bring an important voice to their discussions that have positive impact for medical education and research across the country.”

The AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion is a national forum aimed at advancing diversity in the medical academic setting, keeping institutions informed about the benefits of diversity and highlighting the importance of addressing issues pertaining to historically underrepresented populations. Ultimately, the goal of the committee is to provide better care to the underserved through a more diverse medical workforce.

“I think the most encouraging trend is that [diversity] is on people’s minds,” said Campbell. “And not only that it’s on their minds, but people are moving from a place of tolerating diversity to recognizing diversity benefit.”


-by Angela Todd, University Communication 


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