ECU LeaderShape 2015

By: Keerthana Velappan, EC Scholar and Honors College Junior

11270238_10103141659620948_3004368703822713197_o6 long days, 6 insightful cluster facilitators, 60 driven participants…and enough passion, inspiration, and memories to last a lifetime. Where do I even begin? I went into the week feeling anxious and considerably more nervous than excited as I questioned what I had gotten myself into. That changed rather quickly, though, upon my arrival at the Blowing Rock Conference Center. I was greeted by the excited crew of adults there: Maya, Greg, Mark, Wes, Katie, Chris, Laura, Jessica, Dan, and Dora. The first six individuals served as cluster facilitators, Laura and Jessica were the master planners, and Dan and Dora were the session co-leads, both from different universities. After an extensive introduction on the LeaderShape Institute and its goals, the sixty of us were divided into smaller “family clusters,” and I smiled as I recognized a few faces in my cluster. However, the icing on the cake was having Mark Rasdorf as my cluster facilitator. If you have not yet met Mark, the Assistant Director for the LGBTQ Resource Office on campus, I strongly suggest you drop by the aforementioned office in Brewster, if for no other reason than to meet this incredible kind-hearted individual!

Much of the week’s work was done in these designated family clusters, and I think I can speak for almost everyone when I say that the cluster time was what made the whole week. The clusters were a safe space, a supportive, judgment-free environment, where each of us could be ourselves and openly express our ideas and feelings. Every time I entered our special cluster room, for lack of better words, I literally felt safe and at ease. The overall goal of LeaderShape involved defining a personal vision – a commitment to changing or contributing to the world in a positive way – and then developing a blueprint for the action each of us will undertake upon our return to campus and beyond. While the actual Institute lasts only six days, the LeaderShape model is based on seven days, with the understanding that “Day 7” is “tomorrow and the rest of your lives.” Day 7 is when the work happens to ensure that these monumental visions become tangible realities. The six days in the actual curriculum have thought-provoking themes and activities in themselves, from “Building Community” (Day 1), “Challenging What Is, Looking to What Could Be” (Day 3), my personal favorite of “Living and Leading with Integrity” (Day 5), and perhaps the most important one, “Staying in Action” (Day 6).


Over the course of these six days, LeaderShape fostered strong friendships and intense personal growth. I was prompted to truthfully think about how I am living now and how that life corresponds with the future I want, not only for myself, but also for the generations to come. The tasks we performed most definitely tested me; I quickly learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable. For all sixty of us, LeaderShape reignited our passions and encouraged us to push for the things we believe in. It encouraged us to dream big and not settle. However, contrary to many leadership experiences, LeaderShape also provided us with the tools needed to put dreams into action and an ever-present support network…so here is to creating a just, caring, and thriving world where all lead with integrity and possess a healthy disregard for the impossible.


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Greetings from London!

By: Nadiya Yerich, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

11692630_1116552118358421_4877869218383032410_nJune 14, 2015

Dear Honors College Family,

I am having a great time in London! So thankful that the Bate Foundation covered this study abroad! I left for Europe last Friday, June 5. I flew with another friend who is on the study abroad trip with
me to Iceland and then to England. Iceland was absolutely gorgeous! We
had a 16-hour stopover, so we decided to spend the night in a hostel
and had booked a trip to the Blue Lagoon the next day. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa in Reykjavik (a main city in Iceland), and the waters are a bright blue. The temperatures were 98 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit for thewater, and it was awesome! Apparently, the waters are supposed to have healing powers relative to skin problems.

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

The next day we flew to London. We have seen and done so much already!
The official study abroad is only 13 days long, but Ms. Vail-Smith and
Dr. Chaney really packed in a lot. So far, I have seen more sights than
I can count. The first day, my friend and I went on a free 3-hour
walking tour that led us around Buckingham Palace, a bunch of parks,
Westminster Abbey, museums and monuments, the Big Ben (which is
actually not referring to the tower, but the bell inside it!), and
Parliament. With the study abroad group, we have been on the London
Eye, seen the musical Billy Elliott, had a traditional English dinner
the first night we were here, and took a day trip to Cambridge.

The White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover

From June 7 until yesterday, we had been doing site visits to the
health organizations around London and Cambridge. I have been learning
SO much about the English healthcare system and the NHS! It’s
incredible how the wonderful public health programs they have here
would be so much harder to run in the US because of bureaucracy. For
instance, there is one organization partnering with Public Health
England (PHE) called Change 4 Life, which is founded under the general
idea that children will ultimately be healthier in life given a good
start to life. Therefore, the program focuses on tackling childhood
obesity. The way they are doing this is incredible! They have partnered
with Disney, and send free packs out to any family that wants one. The
idea is that a child will get to select what ”team’ they want to be on
(i.e. Frozen, Monsters, etc.) and then they will get sent a team
pack. In the pack will be a pedometer, a calendar with stickers on it
for every day you exercise, a stopwatch, cards, etc. Then on TV, they
have “10 Minute Shake Ups,” based off of the fact that you need 60 or
more minutes of exercise a day. However, for someone who only gets 10
minutes a day, 20 is great! So they do a 10 minute shake up throughout
the day, hopefully getting to 60 or more, and these kids get
competitive with it and try to get their team to win by exercising more!
It’s so simple that it’s brilliant.

Hope you all are doing well!!


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Knightdale’s Megan Woodlief cards experience at U.S. Open

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The Global Classroom Experience

By: Tori Chapman, EC Scholar and Honors College Junior

tori chapmanLast semester, I enrolled in my second Honors College seminar called Culture, Health and Healing. It was perfect for me as Nutrition Science and International Studies Global Health double major! The class focused on health and healing practices of many different cultures and how to learn and respect cultural differences.

A major component of the course was the “global classroom experience.” We were able to video chat with a group of university students from Mexico to ask questions about their lives and culture, especially surrounding medical treatment. Questions we asked included: What do you do for fun? How do you view Americans? When you get sick, how do you seek treatment? This was a fun, educational interaction that really gave them and us an insight into the differences and similarities between our cultures. Interacting with people our own age from a different culture was a wonderful way to end our medical anthropology class!

To view descriptions of upcoming and past Honors College seminars, click here.

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

Desertion During the Civil War

By: Daniel Franch, Honors College Senior

dannyMy journey of getting a paper published in Explorations started the fall of my junior year here at ECU. HIST 2000 Introduction to History is a class that all history majors have to take as an introduction to the field of history. The class is writing intensive, so I knew that I was going to be writing often in that class. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of taking HIST 2000 with Dr. Dudley, for he conveyed his passion for studying history to most of the students in that class and is a great writer. As part of our writing responsibilities, Dr. Dudley gave all of us a yellow folder in which we would store all of our writing assignments. On the left side of the inside of the folder, we had to write aspects of our writing that we needed to fix. This helped me grow as a writer tremendously, and I learned the evil of using dangling prepositions in a sentence.

For the final research paper in HIST 2000, I chose to research the causes of desertion among Confederate soldiers from North Carolina during the Civil War. Ever since middle school, I have been fascinated by the Civil War for its carnage and drama as family and friends were forced to fight against each other. In reading previous books about the Civil War in North Carolina, I learned that desertion was a serious problem for General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, especially after 1863, and that many of the soldiers who deserted were from North Carolina regiments. This sparked my curiosity for this topic and made me choose it as a research topic for my final paper. With Dr. Dudley’s advice, I narrowed my focus from soldiers across the Confederacy to just soldiers from North Carolina.

As the Civil War progressed, desertion amongst Confederate soldiers infected the Confederate Army like a poisonous cancer. Although North Carolina mustered more troops to fight for the Confederacy than any other Confederate state, North Carolina also had one of the highest rates of desertion. In this paper, I examined the causes behind Confederate desertion of North Carolina soldiers. One main factor that motivated North Carolina soldiers to desert was desperate letters written by wives, sisters, and mothers begging their loved ones to stop fighting and come home amidst food shortages and other hardships. A second main factor was Southern elites’ broken promises to look after soldiers’ families by refusing to grow more food crops instead of the more profitable cotton. Lastly, the inability of the leaders of the Confederate Army and President Jefferson Davis to take substantive measures to punish deserters or prevent others from deserting early in the war allowed desertion to spread with deadly effect as the war continued. While rigorously scrutinizing numerous primary and secondary documents, I argued that appeals from family and friends at home, disdain for Confederate nationalism, Union occupation of large swaths of territory, and the failure of southern elites to keep their promises all drove Confederate soldiers from North Carolina to desert. A complete copy of my paper can be found online in the current issue of Explorations here.

After countless hours of research both from the undergraduate library at UNC Chapel Hill and in the North Carolina and Special Collections in Joyner Library at East Carolina, I discovered a plethora of primary and secondary source documents to use for this paper. The most exciting part of writing this paper was searching through numerous old manuscripts in the Special Collections on the fourth floor of Joyner Library, because never before had I read or held original documents written by soldiers and their family members.

After writing this paper and turning it in for a grade, Dr. Dudley approached me about the possibility of publishing it. I had heard about other undergraduate students publishing manuscripts in journals before, and I had tried to publish a research paper for a class I took my first year at ECU. This time I knew I had written a quality piece of historical research, so the most practical choice was to submit the paper to the reviewers for Explorations, which is the Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities for the State of North Carolina.

The submission process was simple, but I had to revise my draft three times before it was finally deemed publishable. This revision process helped me catch a few grammar and syntax mistakes, and it helped me improve the content of my paper as well. As much as I love history, I know that many people do not understand its significance and value, so getting this paper published was extremely gratifying and the ultimate reward for all of those long hours in the library and staying up countless late nights. I would advise all undergraduate students, especially Honors College students, to submit well-written research papers to Explorations.

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