It was a warm and sunny July day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte where incoming Honors College students gathered to test their courage against the rapids at the Olympic whitewater rafting training site. Their concerns were justified. Several of the 45 students and seven college staff members, were catapulted from their rafts into the raging waters. It was great fun! Student Joy Taylor’s raft turned up on its side and she was launched into the water along with the raft’s guide! Both were hauled back aboard to complete the course. Joy declared it was “a thrilling experience. I had a blast.”
The Center also offered ropes courses, bike trails, zip lines, rock climbing and canoeing.
A change of pace was provided that evening at a minor league baseball game where the Charlotte Knights lost a close one to the Gwinnett Braves. Honors College Advancement Council member Bill Langley provided tickets and a ballpark buffet including franks and burgers for the hungry students. ECU Board of Trustees chair Robert Brinkley and his wife Amy also attended. Mr. Brinkley congratulated the Honors College staff, led by Dean Marianna Walker, for bringing talented students to ECU and offering them an array of rich programs and opportunities.
Megan Daniel declared that the day was “so much fun. I now know so many of my classmates, and we have shared such great experiences. I can’t wait to start classes.” Charlotte was the site of the third kickoff event offered to incoming Honors College students. The objective is to build social and academic relationships that will assist their success at ECU.
Students admitted to East Carolina University’s Honors College will begin classes this fall, but they began a commitment to service July 16 as volunteers at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. They raked fire lanes, closed social trails, collected litter, and assisted park rangers to improve the experience for the park’s 1.7 million annual visitors. Umstead has the highest visitation figure for North Carolina state parks although cared for by a small staff.
Umstead State Park in Raleigh is situated off interstate highways and near the RDU airport. It is a sylvan retreat in the state capital. With campsites and several man-made lakes for boating and fishing, Umstead is a testament to the economic recovery efforts to address the Great Depression following the stock market crash in 1929. The park was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project. It provided jobs when there were few to be had.
Students worked in teams under the guidance of veteran Park Ranger Billy Hartness, the recent father of twins. He remarked that he rarely had volunteers who showed up in such numbers— 41 students, plus 5 staff. He was also impressed with their enthusiasm for work. The tasks were finished in less time than expected.
The ECU Honors College values public service as principal component of its mission, embodied in the ECU Latin motto, Servire—to serve.
And there was levity! Students held a skit competition that had everyone in stitches. The day concluded with a picnic of pizza provided by Mellow Mushroom in Cary. Owner Robert Greczyn, a former ECU trustee and board chair, provided the pizza with the assistance of Will Greczyn. Honors College dean Marianna Walker welcomed Honors College Advancement Council member Laura Brinn and her family, who supported the event.
It was a dark and stormy 15th of June! But fifty students newly admitted to the East Carolina University Honors College, boarded the 72-foot schooner Jeanie B at Washington, NC for a cruise down the Pamlico River. The first band sailed in the morning in fair conditions. On return they were treated to lunch with the second group of sailors at On the Waterfront restaurant, hosted by owner and Pirate alum Billy Dunn.
The Jeanie B has two masts, a blue hull, white sails, and is a floating educational platform. Students serve as crew, raising and lowering sails, commanding the helm and handling lines. Most climbed the ratlines to reach the top of the main mast. Instructions for the landlubbers are provided by Captain Paul Del Rio and Mate Charles, also a licensed captain. Students busied themselves trimming sail, tacking ship due to blustery weather, while the afternoon crew heaved to and enjoyed a swim on calmer waters.
The students signed up for this event from across the state and beyond, as part of the kick off events that bring incoming Honors college students together before fall classes begin. The day before, they participated in the first Honors College orientation day. The Jeanie B has become the adopted “official vessel” of the Honors College. Students find her an ideal place to help smooth the transition to ECU so that when classes begin they can “hit the decks running.” What better introduction to the Pirate Nation. Arrgghh!!