Between the Lens: Photography and Writing Seminar

By: Kayla Thompson, Honors College Sophomore

As a student majoring in Multidisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Neuroscience, everything about an Honors College seminar with a fine arts credit made me uneasy. The lecture took place on the opposite end of campus away from my comfort of the Science and Technology building. I trudged to the other side of campus every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Navigating through the Jenkins Fine Art building was a tough task in its own. Then, they suggested I hop in a rusty, white van and go to Duke University to look at art. This would need some convincing.

I continued to steer to the far end of campus and attend this class that discussed a connection between photography and writing. Dr. Charles Twardy, a professor of the School of Communication, and Dr. Daniel Kariko, a professor of the School of Art and Design, displayed concerns about many different issues including things. We explored many series of pictures that conveyed messages about the terrain located near and far from Greenville, North Carolina. Before I knew it, they asked my peers and I to do the same thing in Eastern North Carolina. Anything east of I-95 would suffice.

Dr. Twardy prepared us through writing exercises and lectures on how to interview people. He had us talk in class using the same words that he wanted us to write with: concrete nouns and verbs. Dr. Kariko plunged into efficiently handling cameras and adjusting settings along with some modern and historical examples of popular photographs. They both taught me a new perspective of art portrayed through not only pictures, but also writing.

On a Saturday morning, I jumped into the van and headed to Durham where the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University awaited. I had the opportunity to explore black rooms for developing photographs along with seeing a real example of what our projects aspired to resemble. Lynsey Addario, a woman of many talents including blogdocumentary photography, had an exhibit on display that we explored. She called it “Veiled Rebellion: Women in Afghanistan.” It was a rather silent reveal due to the emotion that flowed through the words and pictures on display. I felt for these women and had the opportunity to recognize a different culture thousands of miles away. These emotions were interpreted by looking a photograph and then reading the story behind each woman. For example, a young girl had marks all over her face. After reading, I learned that this particular girl had acid sprayed onto her when walking to school because some men in their country do not encourage getting an education. The pictures were all interesting subjects but you developed an emotional attachment after reading Addario’s words that told exactly what was happening.

In America, we are not exposed to women trapped under the claws of the Taliban. But, we do have other issues, even in Eastern North Carolina. I discovered this when I was asked to go explore and talk to people in the community. I have initiated interviews and captured photographs of these people five minutes after meeting them. Being enrolled in a fine art seminar through the Honors College has stretched my confidence in many areas of my education. Interacting with Drs. Kariko and Twardy has also allowed me to comfortably adjust to unknown areas of my surroundings. In short, I have been given the opportunity, along with many other students, to convey passion through a camera lens and write about relevant issues.

To see some of the pictures taken in Greenville by the class, click here.

Posted in Colloquiums & Seminars, Honors College, Honors Colloquiums & Seminars, Living Learning Experiences, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ARGH 5K: EC Scholars Give Back

By: Patrick Twisdale, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

Greenville Harvest is a non-profit organization that educates Greenville residents on the importance of healthy eating and sustaining the environment through gardens. This year, the EC Scholars decided to help this local organization by hosting a 5K and donating all of the proceeds. As an EC Scholar, I was already assisting with the 5K, but I thought why not run in it too?  Several of my EC Scholars peers and I participated in the run with other members of the community.

This was my very first 5K, and I had no idea what to expect. But I wasn’t disappointed! As soon as the whistle sounded, I started at a good pace and was able to run the 5K in its entirety in 27 minutes and 4 seconds.

I feel that the 5K was a really successful fundraising event for Greenville Harvest. My participation in the 5K was very gratifying, and if given the option to participate in a 5K for this organization again, I would eagerly volunteer all over again.

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Alumni Profile: Laura Brinn ’99

Laura BrinnGraduation Year and Majors: 1999 – BA in Communication and BS in German

Current Position and Work History: Executive Director of Global Communications, Duke University. I have worked at Duke since 2001 in media relations and marketing roles at our Health System, Fuqua School of Business, and for the past 4.5 years leading global communications for the university. Before that I was an account executive in the health and medical practice at Ogilvy PR in New York City.

Professional Organizations and Service: Academic advisor for pre-major students at Duke and HC Advancement Council

Awards and Scholarships: University Scholars Award recipient, Rivers Scholarship for study abroad, CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Gold Award for Excellence in Research Writing (2008) and General News Writing (2011)

What were some of your most memorable experiences as a communication major and University Scholar at ECU?

When I was at ECU, communication was a department, not a school as it is now, and Honors was a program, not a college, so it’s been great to watch both of these areas grow and evolve into their current forms. I would have to say the opportunities I was given through both programs shaped my ECU experience, and who I am today. As a communication major I had the chance to learn the fundamental skills that I still use every day, and to put those skills into practice both in classroom situations and assignments, but also during summer internships in Raleigh and Washington DC. And the University Scholars award, and Rivers scholarship, allowed me to spend my junior year studying at the University of Mannheim in Germany. That was an incredible experience that broadened my understanding of the world and really began to shape my understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

What does it mean to be recognized by your Alma Mater in the inaugural 40 Under 40 awards ceremony?

It is a tremendous honor to be included among ECU’s 40 under 40. The other honorees are such an impressive and diverse group of Pirates who are making important contributions through their careers in public service, business and education, and I was delighted to meet many of them and learn more about their work and interests. Although many of us were at ECU at different times, it is clear that our experiences at ECU shaped all of us into the people we are now.


The inaugural 2015 40 Under 40 inductees, an award and ceremony hosted by ECU’s Division of Student Affairs.

Why do you enjoy being on the Honors College Advisory Council?

I love being a member of the Honors College Advancement Committee. When I learned that an Honors College had been created, and the many ways the Honors College was providing incredible learning experiences for its students, I couldn’t wait to become more involved. Spending time with the students and faculty members, and learning how the students’ experiences at ECU have helped them grow not only as scholars, but also as citizens with a commitment to service, is really inspiring. The Honors College is providing tremendous opportunities for these students, and it is delightful to see the students soak it all up.

What led you to your current position and tell me about your passion for this work.

I’m passionate about education and its power to transform people’s lives, and am really grateful to have a career that allows me to combine my skills and expertise with that passion every day. At Duke I’ve had the opportunity to work in several different settings, doing different types of marketing and communications, and that has allowed me to develop a broad view of how we can combine and apply a variety communications tools to advance the university’s mission. For the past five years, I’ve been leading our efforts to expand Duke’s reputation around the world, calling on all of the approaches I’ve learned over the years to adapt and apply them in a global setting.

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Dr. Michael Bassman, Distinguished Honors Professor Emeritus

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

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Respected by students and faculty alike, distinguished honors professor Dr. Michael Bassman has had a profound impact on ECU and the Honors College.  As a tribute to all he has given to what is now an outstanding Honors College, Dr. Bassman’s many achievements are showcased in the remainder of this blog post.  It merely scratches the surface of his revered teaching style, ambitions, and awards, but we are honored to have had him as an integral part of our College’s founding.

Michael Bassman was named the first distinguished honors professor in February 2010 after most recently serving as associate vice chancellor and director of the Honors Program.  He received the Bachelor of Arts in French and Latin from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, the Master of Arts degree from Brown University, and the Master of Arts and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.  Dr. Bassman is an associate professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures.  Dr. Bassman was awarded the 1998-1999 UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professors Teaching Award.

Throughout 2013-2014, Dr. Bassman served as the primary reviewer for the revision of “The Holocaust: A North Carolina Teacher’s Resource.” Dr. Bassman served as an external reviewer for submissions in Humanities in “Explorations.” He was active in the National Council on Undergraduate Research and served as a judge for the ECU Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity week.

Dr. Bassman served as a mentor and advisor to many Honors College students, especially in relation to study abroad opportunities, graduate school, and course selection. He also assisted in mentoring and advising Honors College students in their application for external fellowships, scholarships, and other awards. Other advising responsibilities included coordination of “Fellowships, Scholarships, & Awards for the Honors College.” Dr. Bassman’s seminars on the Holocaust were popular among the students, which included writing intensive components and a trip to Duke University to view Holocaust artifacts and documents. Dr. Bassman is know as an expert in this area both nationally and regionally.

Dr. Bassman retired in June 2014 as the Distinguished Honors Professor Emeritus.  As a way to recognize excellence in research and writing, endeavors both highly admired and pursued by Dr. Bassman, the Michael F. Bassman Honors College Thesis Award was established in 2010.

The Honors College is also proud to announce the recent establishment of the Michael F. Bassman Fund for Study Abroad.  An international experience expands our horizons and challenges us to think in new ways, and we hope to grant this incredible opportunity to all of our current and future Honors College students.  If you’re interested in making a donation to this fund, you may contact Associate Dean Kevin Baxter by calling (252) 737-4079 or by e-mailing him at We welcome any and all contributions!

Posted in EC Scholars, Honors College, Honors Colloquiums & Seminars, Research & Internships, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

She’s the First

By: Keerthana Velappan, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore


The following blog post is about the East Carolina University chapter of She’s the First.  The chapter was founded by Keerthana and her Honors College peers to give girls around the world the chance to obtain an education. 

She’s the First*{East Carolina} is the East Carolina University chapter of She’s the First (STF), a non-profit organization that sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries.  This newly founded organization gives girls the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. To fulfill this mission, STF mobilizes supporters to fund scholarships and provides a clearer understanding on complex global issues related to poverty. Harnessing technology and social media, STF is committed to connecting sponsors and scholars around the world in innovative, mutually beneficial ways to foster mentorship, philanthropy, equality, and leadership. Ultimately, their student leaders and scholars become the change agents who break cycles of generational poverty and transform the world.


She’s the First’s educational philosophy is that quality always trumps quantity, and they partner with organizations who believe the same. I actually heard about She’s the First through Shanti Bhavan, their partner school in India, and their very first one at that! Shanti Bhavan, founded by Dr. Abraham George in 1996, is a home and exceptional school located in rural Tamil Nadu, India, for the region’s most socially and economically disadvantaged children. These first-generation students, primarily from the “untouchable” (Dalit) caste, are selected at the age of 4 and remain at the school until the completion of high school. Once in college, Shanti Bhavan continues to support them financially and oversees their progress through a careful mentoring program. One of Shanti Bhavan’s blog posts mentioned She’s the First, as STF recently produced an original documentary called “Magho” (“Daughter”) featuring Maheshwari, one of the girls studying at Shanti Bhavan, on her graduation day. Just last week, Maheshwari and Jancy (the very first STF scholar) walked across stage to receive their college diplomas! I hope to intern/teach at Shanti Bhavan during the summer of 2016, after my study abroad experience.

stf 2She’s the First has 125+ high school and college/campus chapters across the nation and have sponsored 450+ girls since initiation in 2009. North Carolina has two preexisting STF chapters: Elon and UNC-Asheville, and ECU and UNC-Chapel Hill have just started theirs this semester. Every chapter is responsible for hosting one awareness event and one theme-appropriate fundraiser each semester, a fitness one in the spring (Sweat for STF) and a tie-dye cupcake bake-off in the fall (Bake a Change). STF*{ECU} just hosted a Documentaries & Discussion event (showed “Magho” and “To Educate a Girl”) and will be hosting a donation-based Zumba class on April 19th from 2-3 p.m. in Mendenhall Student Center room 244.  We hope to put on a “Day of the Girl” event and sell tie-dye cupcakes in the fall! Please help us raise our fundraising goal of $720 this semester so we can be matched with two girls from Nepal or Uganda (currently at $672) by visiting our fundraising page  (  Also, like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things related to She’s the First and She’s the First*{East Carolina} (!

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