Category Archives: Volunteering

Learning medicine in Nicaragua

By Conor Pumphrey, sophomore EC Scholar and Early Assurance in Medicine

Conor - NicaraguaThe summer following my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua with St. James United Methodist Church. Though the team members vary each year, the group has been going to Nicaragua on this trip for over 12 years now. What intrigued me the most about this opportunity was that the trip was focused on providing medical care to the people of remote villages in the mountains. I was already interested in the medical field at this point and after the trip, my idea about wanting to become a physician was completely confirmed. I enjoyed this mission trip because I had the opportunity to do procedures that I would not have been able to do in the states such as testing for hemoglobin levels, glucose levels, taking blood pressure manually and with a machine, and testing for oxygen saturation levels. In addition, I was able to shadow the physicians that lead the trip. I decided to go again this summer because it was such an amazing experience for me.

The mission of the group is to provide basic health care to an impoverished country, especially the communities surrounding the city of Jinotega. The mission trip is one week long and the group has been lodged in the same orphanage every year since the first trip. The first day of this year’s trip was spent preparing for the first clinic that we held at the orphanage. This clinic served the kids at the orphanage, the staff and the surrounding community. Over the next two days, we had a clinic in the mountain villages and this is where I experienced some of the most memorable moments of my trip. One impactful moment was when we saw a man that was in his 80’s come into thNicaragua - Conore clinic wearing extremely dirty clothes with holes all over them. It looked like they had not been changed in weeks and he was wearing a plastic bag to stay dry during the rainy season. The interpreters said that he had walked 2 hours just to come get medical attention. It was amazing to see multiple members of the team give him personal items that they were wearing such as a hat, a raincoat, and clothes that we had at the clinic. Another patient came in with extreme pain in her arm. When we inquired more she said it only hurt when she was carrying buckets of water. The shocking part of the story was that she walks about 6 hours round trip a day to gather water from a stream, carrying several liters of water just to provide for her family.

Nicaragua Group - ConorThis trip not only provided me with great hands-on medical experience, but it was an eye-opening experience to see how the people of Nicaragua live. The people of this country would be blessed to live like the poorest of the people in America, and I think this is something many people would be shocked to witness. All of these reasons are why I love visiting this country and plan on continuing to go for many years to come.

ECU She’s the First Chapter represents at national summit

STFECUgroup“To become powerful, I only need one thing: an education.” One of the visiting She’s the First (STF) Scholars, Carlota from Peru, started her STF Summit presentation with this quote from Malala. What better way to affirm why 200+ high school and college students from around the world came to spend a weekend in the Big Apple? Social media played an integral part in She’s the First’s fifth Annual Campus Leadership Summit.

For the first time, the main stage sessions were livestreamed, and highlight speakers included Devonte Rosero (Magicians Without Borders), Callie Schweitzer (Editor-in-Chief of Motto by Time), and Erin Schrode (youngest person ever to run for Congress). You can watch them (and many more!) here:

NametagThe ECU chapter of She’s the First was well-represented at the Summit this year, with six Executive Board members in attendance, including Co-Presidents (and Honors College seniors) Samantha Gonzalez and Keerthana Velappan. Another first for this year was breakout session tracks: Community Engagement, Global Citizenship, and Leadership Development. From building leadership tool kits to raising awareness about girls’ education on campus to creating videos for social change, all of the sessions proved to be useful in different capacities. And of course, it wouldn’t be She’s the First without a tie-dye cupcake bar! 

The ECU chapter members had a successful year with regards to fundraising, but the highlight of this year’s Summit was something that even they were not expecting. During the Campus Awards Ceremony, STF ECU was presented with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Citizenship, one of five awards given that night. They had prioritized global awareness speakers and activities this past year, but as a relatively new chapter, they felt fortunate to have even been nominated. 

STF AwardWrapping up yet another STF Summit, they left with the wise words of another visiting STF Scholar, Angelica from Guatemala, who said, “Be yourself wherever and whenever because you are a rock star; do your best every day, and never give up.”

The Magnolia Arts Center: Greenville’s Thriving Community Theatre

By: Megan Daniel, Honors College Junior

Megan 1Theatre. It can seem distant, something that only exists in metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago. But theatre is everywhere. Locally, theatres can consist of underfunded high school programs. In a college town like ours, there can be academic theatre. Beyond that, there’s community theatre. Many people may not realize that Greenville has an established and constantly growing community theatre—Magnolia Arts Center.

Magnolia was founded in June 2005, having just recently celebrated its tenth year. I first became involved with Magnolia Arts Center last year. I was cast in Amanda Higgins’ (recent Honors College and Musical Theatre graduate) Well Water: A Parable. We rehearsed in one of the theatre classrooms, so it wasn’t until about three quarters into the rehearsal process that we even saw Magnolia. I can remember walking in as a cast member and looking at all the props and costumes on display in the lounge, imagining how well Amanda’s musical would fit into the intimate stage area. It was shocking to me that I had never been there before.

IMG_1457After closing Well Water, I looked forward to what I thought would be a nice summer off. But only a couple weeks after it had closed, I was itching to be a part of another production. I received an email about Magnolia producing Godspell over the summer, but auditions were the same night as another audition I had already signed up for. I almost didn’t go. I can remember pulling up, hastily putting on my heels and grabbing my repertoire book, my previous audition not leaving me much time before Godspell auditions closed. I walked back into the intimate stage area. When I saw the black walls, memories of Well Water came flooding back. Those feelings of nostalgia quickly faded as I passed the audience seats and greeted the audition panel, which was made up of unfamiliar faces. I took a deep breath, handed the accompanist my music and sang, performing again in the space of a show past. Two weeks later, I got an email saying I was cast.

IMG_1047My time in Godspell truly cemented my love for Magnolia Arts Center. Janice Schreiber, the director, made me love coming to rehearsal every day. Seeing my cast members, some with a lot of theatre experience, and some with very little, have theatre touch them in the same way as it touches me was rejuvenating. It reminded me why I do theatre in the first place. Theatre’s significant impact was evident with the audiences’ reception—our show sold out. Greenville has an audience for all it’s theatre outlets, whether it’s academic or community based.

Since then, I’ve continued to work with Magnolia. Here at ECU, I’m a part of the East Carolina Theatre Association and 5th Street Players, a student-run theatre company created by Honors College and Musical Theatre students Brandon Fillette and Matthew Johnson. Magnolia has welcomed 5th Street Players with open arms, allowing us to use their space for four shows this semester. I’ve coordinated a pre-show made up of East Carolina Theatre Association members for their Christmas show and am in the process of coordinating another pre-show for their Valentine’s Day production.

Not every town is fortunate enough to have community theatre. With the collaboration between university and community theatre, theatre is flourishing in Greenville now more than ever. Below is a list of dates for upcoming Magnolia Arts Center performances. The next time you’re looking for an enjoyable way to spend your evening or weekend, pop in to Magnolia and experience something great. You won’t regret it!

Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve

(with a preshow by ECU School of Theatre and Dance students at 7:00pm)

February 11, 12, 13, and 14th at 7:30pm


A Tree is a Tree/Revolting: An Electrifying Comedy

(a 5th Street Players production)

February 19th at 7:30pm

February 20th at 7:30pm



(an ECU theatre improvisation troupe)

February 21st at 2:00pm


Sabrina Faire

March 4th at 7:30pm

March 5th at 2:00pm and 7:00pm

March 6th at 2:00pm

March 11th at 7:30pm

March 12th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm




(a 5th Street Players production)

March 18th at 7:30pm

March 19th at 7:30pm

March 20th at 2:00pm


Spring Awakening

(a 5th Street Players production)

April 15th at 7:30pm

April 16th at 7:30pm

April 17th at 2:00pm


Aint Misbehavin’

June 3rd at 7:30pm

June 4th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm

June 5th at 2:00pm

June 9th at 7:30pm

June 10th at 7:30pm

June 11th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm

The Ultimate Transformation: Teaching at NCSSM

By: Erica Carlisle, Honors College Sophomore

erica 1Going into my senior year of high school, if you had told me that the genetics class I was taking through the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics was going to lead to an amazing internship opportunity less than two years later, I would have told you that you were crazy. Taking Dr. Martyn’s class in videoconference format with students from across the state was a great opportunity. While we laughed a lot and had fun in class, it was the most challenging course I ever took in high school. When the semester ended, none of us thought that we would see or talk to Dr. Martyn again. We couldn’t have been more wrong! My classmate (and one of my best friends) Marissa and I kept in touch with her long after the class was over, and we talked to her regularly via email throughout our first semester of college. So when I left my chemistry lab one day in January and had an email from Dr. Martyn on my phone, I just assumed she was checking in to see how the new semester was going.

What it actually turned out to be was an offer for a summer internship in which Marissa and I would have the chance to work as her lab assistants and help her with her summer program at NCSSM. So of course, we immediately texted each other about this exciting news and emailed her back later that day to tell her that we were definitely interested. Once we confirmed our interest, she sent us the details. We would be helping her with her Summer Accelerator program offered by NCSSM to high school students. Dr. Martyn’s students were doing a cloning lab. They were going to be transforming E. coli bacteria to glow in the dark. Groups of students would come in for a week at a time, and during the week they would perform DNA extractions, load and run agarose gels for electrophoresis, and at the end of the week, they would transform and plate their bacteria in hopes that they would get glowing colonies.

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This lab is very hands-on, and there is a lot going on at any given time. My responsibilities were to aliquot solutions and prepare things that the students would need, answer any clarification questions that I could, help them with the procedure if they were confused, and to run and get anything that we needed in the lab so that Dr. Martyn didn’t have to leave the students. The days were very busy, but it was most definitely worth it to see the students learning and beginning to trust themselves more in the lab.

The students weren’t the only ones learning, though. I learned a lot myself, because I got the chance to do things in the lab that I had never done before. I learned how to prepare different solutions, how to work with some of the equipment that we were using, how to run an electrophoresis gel, and how to pour plates with media so that the E. coli would grow. I also improved my lab technique, developed more patience, and realized that I love teaching people about things that I enjoy.erica 3

This experience was absolutely incredible, and I got way more out of it than I ever expected. Not only did I get to do really cool lab work and help students work through the lab protocol, but I was reminded of how at home I feel in a lab. I was reminded of how much I want to do research, and I realized that I might want to do it in this field. I think the thing that had the biggest impact on me, though, was watching the students learn and get excited about something that I love so much. It was so rewarding to see their work each day and to see their results at the end of the week. I couldn’t have possibly asked for a better way to spend part of my summer, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.

Until next time!


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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