Category Archives: Events

Honors College Convocation Poem

Kristalyn ConvocationBy Kristalyn Gill, senior EC Scholar

Where the roots reach, branches climb.


Arriving at the land of purple and gold,

I found a school with an old soul and a young heart

Where dreams dare to expand and a thriving community of art

A hospital with researchers by the dozen

And a business school with students fully driven

A college of engineers just waiting to build into the skies

A land of historians, entrepreneurs, teachers, and writers.



Right turns.

They said it was my turn to make the right choices. Choices,

they are indeed a tricky thing.

Flinging yourself into the next four years of your life is no easy feat.

But you’ve done it.

You’re here.

Your feet brought you to this auditorium, and so have mine.

Despite our paths, we have arrived at our home, our haven.

As a dancer, I communicate through movement.

The moment I decided to pursue this career, I knew that it would be no easy game of tic-tac-toe

but more like finding a grain of wheat in the Sahara…

while blindfolded…

at night.


Nothing about this choice was logical to outsiders

But everything about this choice was right.


With a family of scholars and peers in this Honors College

I walked into this new chapter of my story with relationships to keep me grounded,

to keep me focused,

and to keep me determined.


This College is rooted deeply,

with branches reaching to do more,

to see more,

to know more,

and to be more.

More than you can imagine will happen to you while you grow into this community.


I have been tumultuously thrust into opportunities I never bought into the reality of:

Like having my poems published and received with love,

Getting the chance to dance in New York City

on one of the most well known stages in dance history.

Hearing how Dr. Walker, Dr. Fraley, and Dr. Fogarty all deeply believe in my passions,

stopping at nothing to help me conquer challenges and limitations.

Being financially supported to combine the arts and research,

Exploring Washington D.C. alongside my inspirational cohorts.

Challenging women in domestic violence shelters to let their creative juices flow,

Teaching children in Sunday school how to write the word “Go,”

Leading Bible Study with best friends and sharing my faith in Christ,

Dancing in Messick, McGinnis, in Hendrix, and here at Wright.

Having donors trust in this great school, financially supporting my dreams,

Performing at Bowery Poetry Club in New York City’s Lower Eastside scene.

Studying foreign cultures and earthquakes in the Peruvian mountainside.

Writing my own booklet about defeating anxiety during Me-Time.

Working in the Big Apple as a professional dancer,

Speaking at convocation knowing I don’t have all the right answers.


And despite this facility and these four years being all about knowing,

All this time will teach you is how to survive the ebb and the flowing.


It’s not about being right, but how a right is made by three lefts, three things to leave.


Leave your fears behind.

Leave yourself to grow.

Leave your passions to flourish.


These people will enrich your life, as they have mine.

They taught me that my words matter,

Despite my battering self-doubt, their encouragement left me standing tall

I have found a home in these hearts and a community in these companions.

More than just a degree, you will leave after four years here with joy, utter joy


From realizing that yes, grades matter, but those moments spent investing into one another like a metered parking spot left you feeling more whole than an A you might’ve got.


From coming to the conclusion that teachers are wise, if you listen you can learn so much between the lines. By making genuine relationships, these masters of knowledge can teach you to sail your own pirate ship.


From accepting that challenges will come and did come by the dozen, but they only serve to shape you. Amidst tragedy and heartbreak these losses still do not define you.


Define you.

Find you.


They say that during college you will find yourself.

I will counter this statement and say no, you will never find yourself.

You will release yourself.


After three years, I can say that my joy is found in the PEOPLE.

It all comes back to the people.

It is why I chose my blood to run purple and gold,

and I believe the people are what inspired you.


These people are the ones who pushed my artistry to become greater,

my passion to grow deeper,

my love to reach farther,

my determination to be stronger,

and my stamina to go longer.

This school introduced me to such inspirational movers and shakers, to the doers and creators of change and beauty, art and industry, research and ingenuity.


I inhale joy during each breath I take while on the dance floor as a new exciting space to explore.

These human stars in my night sky taught me to push myself to finally break up with who I was three years ago.


To break down the boundaries, limits, judgments, and hindrances I placed on my own path.

I will leave this May with confidence in my back pocket not because of my abilities,

but because I have finally begun the process of enjoying my own artistry.



A composition of moments and memories.


the words written for others and those I kept for myself

the pain of injury, of heartbreak, of loss

the storms caused by the weather and those initiated by circumstance

the questions of the future and the exclamations of joy

the moments dancing in front of thousands and those spent dancing alone

the laying on of hands and the laying down of hearts

the wet football games and the dry lectures

the hard conversations and the soft sunrises

the telling of stories and the act of making mine thicker.


So welcome freshmen,

welcome my new family,

welcome to our community.


Welcome to the act of making YOUR story thicker.

We cannot wait to walk beside you as your three lefts make a right.

The HOSA Experience

By: Thao Kim Pham, Honors College Sophomore

Kim HOSAWhat was once music has now become a cacophony as it mixes with the sounds of horns and traffic. The 10-hour drive proved to be more arduous than we bargained for. Upon arrival at our hotel we were fortunate to be able to enter the doors to our domain to rest our weary heads. We slept. And we continued to sleep. At this point food was a mere barbaric instinct stirring us to wake from our deep slumber. If there was anything that could salvage this trip it would be the HOSA experience. The HOSA International Leadership Conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee from June 21–26.

After immersing myself in HOSA – Future Health Professionals for five years, I knew that there would be more to our trip than the long drive. The days ahead would engrave the HOSA experience deep upon my brain. The experience can best be described as synonymous with a buffet. While each entity can be enjoyed separately, a buffet tastes best when joined with others. The HOSA experience enables this by drawing unique backgrounds into one meeting place allowing for the interchange of culture. This enriching setting was amplified more so during my competitive event.

MrsWest_Me_2ndplaceEveryone enjoys winning, and at nationals this goes double. Here the best are gathered to do combat until one stands out amongst the rest. During my competitive event, a conglomerate of emotions filled my body. At the center of my soul, was doubt. Despite countless hours of studying and encouragement, the doubt within me grew restless as does a bee hive when provoked. While it may seem trivial to merely indicate A or B, when thrown into this predicament it becomes A or B or Y. “Y” as in “Why did I put A instead of B”. This doubt stabbed at me incessantly tugging at the corner of my mind until I fatigued my body and soul. By the end of the test I left the room to see the sparkling smiles of my friends. So what if I lost? I can still enjoy Tennessee with my friends. Or so I thought. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would attain second place in my competitive event of Knowledge Test: Human Growth and Development. This is the HOSA experience where students crawl and battle their conscience for any place they can get.

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


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


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.

Honors College brings top finalists and admitted students to campus

By: Jessica Nottingham, Coordinator of Communications and Marketing

East Carolina University’s Honors College hosted its sixth annual Selection Sunday and Honors College Preview Day for top scholarship program finalists and admitted honors students Feb. 14-15.

Approximately 80 finalists were selected to interview during Selection Sunday for the EC Scholars, Early Assurance (in audiology, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy), Business Scholars, Humanities Scholars and Music Scholars award programs housed in the Honors College. In addition to the respective scholarship program benefits, recipients received the Honors College scholarship of in-state tuition valued at approximately $17,000 and are offered unique leadership, mentorship and community-engagement opportunities.

The EC Scholars Award Program is ECU’s most prestigious merit scholarship program valued at approximately $62,000 awarded over four years. The scholarship program includes a $5,000 study abroad stipend as well as the Honor College scholarship of in-state tuition. Setting a record, the program received 530 applications and interviewed 49 finalists. With 20 awards, the EC Scholars award is the largest scholarship program in the Honors College.

24969698752_e2103b831b_kFaculty, alumni, donors and campus administrators volunteered to select and interview finalists on Selection Sunday.

24733303260_1c22da00fc_k“Being part of the EC Scholars Selection Sunday was quite a privilege,” said Margaret Turner, director of marketing and outreach for the College of Engineering and Technology, who served as an EC Scholars Award Program interviewer. “All of the candidates are extraordinary students and not only impressive on paper, but even more so in person. It’s exciting to be a part of selecting the next cohort of scholars that will represent ECU.”

Advocating and fundraising for the Honors College, the ECU Women’s Roundtable became a supporting partner this year. Shelby Strother, emerita Women’s Roundtable member and 2007 Incredible ECU Women honoree also served as an EC Scholars interviewer. “Some of [the students] have already accomplished more in their K-12 education than others do in a life time,” said Strother. “East Carolina University is very fortunate to have these outstanding students as part of the incoming freshmen class.”

The early assurance programs (EAP) guarantee admissions into the respective graduate or doctoral programs at ECU after completing an undergraduate degree as an honors student. The most competitive EAP is in medicine, which offers recipients guaranteed admittance to the Brody School of Medicine. The EAP in medicine received 176 applications, interviewed 23 finalists and will name four recipients and four alternates.

The EAP in nursing received 46 applications, selected six finalists and will award three recipients. The EAP in physical therapy received 45 applications, interviewed four finalists and will name two recipients. The EAP in occupational therapy received 9 applications, interviewed and will award two finalists. The EAP in audiology received four applications and selected one finalist to interview and award the scholarship.

The scholar program awards in business, humanities and music are valued at approximately $30,000 over four years including the Honors College in-state tuition scholarship. Applicants must articulate an interest and dedication to one of these respective fields on their Honors College application to be selected as a finalist.

25028850945_5f6144e359_kAfter receiving 52 applications, the Business Scholars program interviewed six finalists and will award two recipients. This program also provides guaranteed entry to ECU’s MBA program upon completion of an undergraduate degree in business. The Humanities Scholars program received 13 applicants, interviewed and awarded one finalist. The Music Scholars program received 30 applicants, and the finalists are still participating in auditions.

The Honors College has partnered with ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, College of Allied Health, College of Business, College of Nursing, School of Music and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences to deliver these award programs.

“Selection Sunday is a time for us to showcase ECU’s prestigious merit scholarship programs to some of the best students in our region and nation,” said Dr. Todd Fraley, director of the EC Scholars Award Program and interim associate dean of academic programs for the ECU Honors College. “Every year, I continue to be amazed by the students and how competitive these programs have become.”

Finalists had lunch with current recipients of the Honors College scholarship awards, university leaders and college constituents to learn more about ECU, the Honors College its scholarship programs. Following the lunch, finalists participated in their interviews and were invited to a reception at the East Carolina Heart Institute. At the reception, the prospective scholars and their families heard from Dr. David White, interim dean of the Honors College, Dr. Ron Mitchelson, the ECU provost, Dr. Liz Fogarty, an Honors College faculty fellow and associate professor in the College of Education and Chris Thaxton, a senior EC Scholar majoring in biology and chemistry.24910794262_c4a8e9a75d_z

24969706112_131daec030_kOn the Monday following Selection Sunday, the Honors College hosted Preview Day for accepted honors students who enter fall 2016 as freshmen. Designed to assist students in their college selection decision, the event featured campus administrators including Dr. Steve Ballard, ECU Chancellor, Dr. Dave Meredith, director of admissions, White, interim dean of the Honors College and Kevin Baxter, associate dean of the Honors College.

24720249409_fd827b8610_kProspective honors students heard from faculty, current students and parents, met with advisors from colleges across campus, participated in a campus and Gateway Residence Hall tour, and ate lunch at West End Dining Hall.

“East Carolina University and the Honors College have a lot to offer high-achieving students,” said White. “I am confident that the scholar program finalists and accepted honors students and their families left ECU knowing that we are a campus committed to scholarship, leadership, character and service.”

For more information about the Honors College and its special scholarship offerings, visit Photo galleries for Selection Sunday and Preview Day are available.

An Epic ECU Lip-Sync Battle: This Girl is on Fire!

By: Jackie Curtis, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

Convo_45“My advice for incoming freshmen: don’t be afraid to try new things!  Step out of your comfort zone a little bit – you’ll be amazed how much you can learn about yourself!”  So I wrote as I sat in my room thinking about the millions of things I could say to the incoming freshmen at Convocation.  Out of all the ideas I had come up with, this one seemed, rather ironically, very fitting for the occasion.

A week before, I had received an email asking for volunteers to compete in a lip-sync battle at ECU’s Convocation.  The email was from an Honors College faculty member, so instead of doing my homework and confirming the details, I assumed that the email was referring to the Honors College Convocation.  I responded to the email saying that I would like to participate, thinking that a solo performance in front of a relatively small group of my Honors College peers would be a beneficial transition from my past experience with choirs and musical theater chorus ensembles.

At some point, as I was reading through the long stream of emails that ensued regarding the lip-sync battle, I came to the startling realization that it was not, in fact, the Honors College Convocation at which I had volunteered to lip-sync.  It was the general college Convocation – the one that close to five thousand freshmen would be attending.

To give some personal background, just about anyone who knows me would say that I am shy, quiet and reserved.  I am an introvert.  I like listening more than talking.  I don’t want to be the center of attention.  My agreeing to take center stage in front of what I thought would be around two hundred people was a pretty big deal.  Needless to say, I was slightly unnerved when I realized my misunderstanding.  The idea of performing in front of thousands of people was not especially appealing.

Fast-forward to the day of Convocation: I showed up at Minges a few hours before convocation began to run through my routine.  I had a great time watching my fellow competitors rehearse, watched as thousands of freshmen poured into the arena, took a few deep breaths before I went onstage in front of everyone, and then proceeded to have the time of my life.  I absolutely loved every second I was performing.  I never could have imagined that I would have so much fun doing something so far outside my comfort zone.

I will never forget the feeling I had while I was onstage performing.  I will also never forget the lessons I learned through this experience.  Number one: read emails thoroughly before agreeing to do things.  Number two: “step out of your comfort zone a little bit – you’ll be amazed how much you can learn about yourself!”

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