Category Archives: Advice/Tips

Graduating and Gap Years

By: Julia Horiates, Honors College Senior

“The days are long, but the years are short,” is a quote my mom often repeats in our conversations about school. I’ve been in school for about 16 years. High school flew by and coming into college, I didn’t want to believe anyone saying that this time at ECU would go by even faster. (They were right.)

I’ll be leaving East Carolina University this May with the greatest memories I could have ever dreamed of making – shout out and thank you to my core group of friends: Justin Safin, Caroline Balch, Tyler Walston, and Evan Butler. But what happens when you don’t have it figured out? What happens if you think you know what you want to pursue after graduation, but aren’t entirely sure?

The stigmatized words, “Gap years” come into play.

As a dual-degree student, I had no time to fill out my applications to medical school and properly prepare for the MCAT during my college career. Out of my 8 semesters here, I’ve taken over 18 hours for 5 of them, in addition to classes over 4 summer sessions. Add in my time to working at least 2 jobs, volunteering as an EMT, and co-founding a chapter of the national non-profit, Timmy Global Health.

Pros? I’m graduating with a 2 separate degrees, a BS in Biology and a BA in English. I’ll be debt-free. I had an amazing college experience! Cons? I’ll be starting medical school later than I initially thought.

While I will use my time to shadow and work towards my paramedic license, I also plan to use my gap years to explore other areas of interest to ensure I want to go to medical school. From exploring climate research and conservation internships, volunteering in hospitals in other countries, teaching middle school literature in Philadelphia, I have a couple opportunities in different programs lined up for this summer and fall. Soon after, I plan to take the MCAT and start preparing for applications. I’ll also have to be working as well. These gap years mean I’m taking my time and pursuing things to confirm I’ll be making the right decision with my future.

So my advice to anyone reading this and possibly debating gap years is this: Don’t rush into it. Any professional program is a long and intense process and if you are any bit unsure of it, take some time off. Don’t start a program you’re not sure if you want to. Don’t accumulate the debt if you’re not whole-heartedly in it. Don’t push yourself to take more if you really need to decompress after college. Do make sure to explore your interests. Do have a plan and a timeline so you go back to school if that’s your initial goal. And lastly, do be flexible. Gap years can change everything.

If someone told me four years ago I would be taking two gap years before entering medical school, I would have laughed. I had a different mentality where I was full-throttle-ahead-nothing-will-stop-me. And I know in some ways I still have that spirit, but for now I need to focus on graduating and what will happen next. Maybe I’ll end up attending medical school in Fall 2019 or maybe I won’t, but wherever I end up is where I am supposed to be and I’ll be happy.

Research as a Freshman

By: Ananya Koripella, Freshman EC Scholar

AnanyaLab3One thing I hear often when I mention to someone that I am doing research at Brody is, “Aren’t you a freshman?” At first, I was a little startled when I got that reaction because I had not realized that a majority of freshmen do not participate in research but rather wait until their sophomore year to begin. There is no harm in doing either but if you see an opportunity that you like, take it and run with it.

When I first heard about this opportunity, I was intrigued by the mention of Drosophila melanogaster. I had worked with these fruit flies before in my AP Biology class and automatically was interested. Being a Public Health AnanyaLab2Studies major and Pre-Med, naturally I found the research’s links to obesity and metabolic syndrome even more interesting. All it took was an email and a meeting for me to get the research assistant position. Being a freshman, I thought that it would be difficult to get acclimated to the environment, get used to all the terminology that the upperclassmen use in the lab and learn the procedures. However, everyone has always been ready to lend a hand and help me learn. The fact that I’m a freshman has never been counted against me and I don’t think it would for any other freshman interested in research either.

AnanyaLab1Every day that I go to Brody, I learn something new. It could be the smallest thing about lab protocol or something bigger about the flies and the way they are reacting to the stimuli we give them. Just last week I even got to learn the process we use to sacrifice a mouse for cell cultures!

If you’re interested in doing research, just look for a topic you’re interested in. Don’t wait for it to find you, go find it. Sometimes opportunities do fall into our laps, but other times we find what we want just by looking. We attend a university that thrives on helping its students. Being in the Honors College is an even bigger blessing. Talk to different people, ask around and use the resources that are provided to us. Most of all, if you are a freshman, don’t let it stop you from doing something you’re interested in.

The Array of Opportunities with a Business Degree

By: Rachel Eker, junior in the Honors College

ekerI always knew I was going to be a business major. Both my parents were business majors and like any other kid, I wanted to be just like my parents. As I got into high school, I despised dissecting animals so I knew a science career was out. Poetry and writing were never my thing so that eliminated English as a career path also. It seemed like business was a good choice after all. I would be able to find a job after college and be able to relate to my parents.

Through my journey the last two years at ECU’s College of Business and the Honors College, I have interacted with many business professionals and I always ask them what they studied in college. For the most part, I get an answer that explains how they were studying a different part of business than the one they are in now. These conversations led me to realize how versatile a business degree is and I’ve come to appreciate that.

Business incorporates marketing, economics, management and finance. It’s impossible to separate one from the other while working in a business setting. I am thankful to have been chosen as a Business Scholar, where I have had the opportunities to understand the scope of a business degree.

Currently, I am studying accounting and finance. Next summer, I will have the opportunity to be an intern at Dixon Hughes Goodman in my hometown, Jacksonville, FL. I aspire to get my CPA after graduation and work at an accounting firm, but eventually transition into a finance position for a corporation.

With my business degree, I know I am not tied to a CPA position and can really go anywhere. I’ve always liked to be adventurous and I know I have chosen a degree that can let me take risks and will give me the chance to accomplish whatever I want.

Views from the Mess: My Experience at ECU LeaderShape 2016

By Glenesha Berryman, sophomore EC Scholar

leadershape1Stay in the mess.

Out of all the cool quotes and sayings I learned at this year’s LeaderShape, this phrase is the one that I keep coming back to. Staying in the mess was our co-lead facilitator John Mountz’s way of encouraging us to embrace challenges and engage when we felt the urge to withdraw. The more he said it, the more it stuck with me. However, I was not always eager to accept his message…

Avoiding the Mess

When people told me that LeaderShape would change my life, I responded with what any self-respecting college student would: a whole lot of skepticism. On the first day, I met every icebreaker, every definition of leadership we wrote, every “So what’s your major?” conversation with the satisfaction of knowing that I was right—LeaderShape wouldn’t change my life. Yet, a part of me was disappointed that I would not experience the life transformation my peers had experienced. When I voiced these frustrations with a former LeaderShape participant, she told me not to worry—just trust in the process.

Getting in the Mess

Without realizing it, the icebreakers became dynamic team building experiences that challenged everything I believed about my purpose on a team; the sessions spent defining leadership turned into moments of eye-opening reflection and bold vision building; superficial small talk became taboo; deep talks about anything under the sun became normal dinner conversation. Every hard lesson learned and every vulnerable story shared helped create a family out of strangers.

Staying in the Mess

rockpaperscissors

Trusting in the process and getting super into the rock paper scissors tournament.

John Mountz called the things we were doing at LeaderShape a mess for a reason. Vulnerability, honesty, reflection, and growth ain’t easy—it’s downright messy. But by practicing all of these things and by staying in the mess, I was able to experience the life-changing LeaderShape my friends had promised me. Through deep introspection and adopting a healthy disregard for the impossible, I was able to challenge my career aspirations, sharpen my vision for the world, and discover my core values.

Looking back, staying in the mess is a testament to my LeaderShape experience, a reminder of the six days I spent participating in vulnerable conversations, fearless dreaming, and authentic relationship building. Before coming to LeaderShape, I could not have imagined myself willing to do these things. However, the fact that I did speaks to the power of LeaderShape, the power of re-thinking the status-quo, and the power of getting messy and staying in it.

Views from the Mess

leadershapegroup

My LeaderShape Cluster Family #2AAllDay

Explaining a life-changing experience like LeaderShape with just words is impossible. How can they capture all the learning, the laughter, the tears, the joy, the hope that LeaderShape gave me?

The only way to know LeaderShape is to experience LeaderShape. So to all the skeptics, the dreamers, the movers, the shakers, the I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-lifers, I challenge you to embrace the mess at LeaderShape.

The Power of SAAS: Scholarly Activity Awards for Students

By SAAS Award Recipients

The Honors CollSAAS imageege launched an initiative called Scholarly Activity Awards for Students (SAAS) a few years ago that funds approximately 12-14 awards each fiscal year. Below are some of the outcomes from the awards, which range from $125-$400 in support.

Kristalyn Gill: The SAAS award this semester has allowed me to reach beyond the norm of my experiences. It has supported sharing my anthropological research conducted in Peru at a conference in Vancouver. I have been blessed by the Honors College to widen my educational experience as well as enrich it deeply.


Sarah Judy:
Receiving the SAAS Award has allowed me to buy the basic supplies needed to test river sediment samples contaminated with coal ash runoff for pH and respiration. Not only this, it has also allowed me to further expand my research project to include other factors initially too expensive to test.

We are currently working on characterizing if there are heavy metals present in the sediment samples and after data analysis we can see if they are present and if they themselves might be affecting microbial respiration and pH. I can then share these results with my community which has been adversely impacted by coal ash ponds in Goldsboro, NC; a community I want to advocate for and protect.

Kendal Carter: Receiving the SAAS award has opened up great opportunities for my research project. My lab is partnering with the Mayo Clinic to run a study on tissue from pig hearts that they have already harvested. This money has allowed me to perfect my lab technique and protocol for this experiment as well as contribute to the shipping of the tissue from our partner lab. I am extremely excited to continue on with this research and receiving the SAAS award has made this feasible.

Daniel Franch: A SAAS Award helped me attend the 2016 Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference (SWCA) in Columbus, GA. At SWCA, I presented with two co-workers about writer identity and how consultants can develop writer identity in the writing center. My presentation focused on using Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences to adjust consulting methods according to the diverse learning styles of the students we serve.

Carrie Beard: Receiving a SAAS Award from the Honors College has greatly impacted my undergraduate research experience. The funding helped me purchase the resources I needed to complete my experimentation and also allowed me to expand the scope of my research further than I initially planned. I am very grateful for the Honors College’s support of student research!

Emily Bolger: The money went towards purchasing equipment in Dr. Sargent’s research lab that allows us to interface with high-end computers that preform the bulk of our calculations. The equipment also allows us to preform post-processing graphical visualization of key chemical results. Thanks again to the honors college for your support!

Shivam Patel: My SAAS Award allowed me to purchase more research materials for completing my senior honors project. These include reagents, antibodies, multi-well plates, and cell culture flasks. I have been able to conduct various assays and experiments repeatedly in order to obtain viable data as a result.

Denay Hayden: Children with special needs participate in less physical activity than the typically developing child. Physical activity and participation within activities is essential for a child’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Riding a bicycle is a typical childhood milestone that many children with special needs are unable to achieve. Through a local non-profit, ENC Ambucs, funds are raised to provide AmTrykes, or specially adapted tricycles, to children with special needs in this region. Our study focused on the effects of the AmTryke on the quality of life, activities, and participation in children with special needs. The SAAS award was very beneficial for purchasing mailing materials for the assessments. Our study did show that use of an AmTryke appears to improve the quality of life, activities, and participation in children with special needs. In terms of their sense of independence and mood, children with special needs who are unable to walk alone may benefit more than others from the use of an AmTryke.

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