SAAS Spotlight: Testimonial from Kristalyn Gill

Gill4_SAAS_Grant.pngKristalyn Gill, EC Scholar, junior, dance performance and public relations double major

After applying and receiving the SAAS grant, I was thrilled to learn that the Honors College would provide me with $100 to support my passion for dance.

When I created my creative project, I combined pain research and theories provided to me by Dr. Daniel Goldberg in my freshman EC Scholars seminar with my passions for writing spoken word poetry and choreographing dance works. My project centered on the universality yet individuality of chronic pain. I created different characters enduring this element of pain in different situations and forms. A major theme of the work itself involved the cyclic phases of the moon, ever repeating and showing its same face – representing chronic pain.

Gill3_SAAS_Grant.pngWith this project and the aid provided by the SAAS grant, I was able to present my piece at the ECU Intersection of the Arts and Sciences event and for Undergraduate Day during Research and Creative Achievement Week. Also, I put on a ticketed performance of my piece in the blackbox theatre within the ECU School of Theatre and Dance Building. Many friends and faculty members from a variety of fields and backgrounds came to support my work, completely entering into the story my dancers and I created.

Having the opportunity to create this project that has deeply impacted East Carolina University and its surrounding community is something I will cherish, and to think that this all began with $100…

Posted in Honors College | Leave a comment

ECU Hosts NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

IMG_3875Senior EC Scholar Leela Goel has had her eye on biomedical research for as long as she can remember. What began as a love of mathematics fused with a passion for medicine and a desire to change the world.

Always one to work hard toward her goals, she spent last summer immersed in the Brody School of Medicine and Honors College Summer Heart Institute Internship. Her exposure to clinical procedures and the engineering miracle that is the da Vinci Si Surgical System further fueled her interest in improving medical treatment.

This summer, Leela applied for the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) – Biomedical Engineering in Simulations, Imaging and Modeling (BME-SIM). Funded by the National Science Foundation, the 10-week summer research program allows outstanding students to work on cutting edge projects with a distinguished faculty member. This year was ECU’s second time hosting this particular REU experience.

Leela was 1 of only 8 students chosen out of a pool of 200 applicants from across the country.

She recently presented the culmination of her work alongside her REU peers. Under the direction of Dr. Stacey Meardon, Leela created a computer model of the tibia (or the shin bone) in the hopes of predicting tibial stresses. Tibial pain and fractures are a common problem, especially among athletes. By taking measurements of several long-distance runners, Leela was able to design a tibia model capable of being personalized to individual patients.

For more information about the biomedical engineering REU program, click here.



Posted in EC Scholars, Honors College, Research & Internships, Summer Experiences, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

erica 2

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!


Posted in Honors College, Research & Internships, Summer Experiences, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Leave a comment

Dear College Freshmen

By: Jessica Rogers, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

10440198_10205924317618613_8649788947709316001_nThe following blog post was originally featured on The Blog of Jessica. Photo: Jessica (right) and friend (left) graduate from Nash Central High School in 2014.

Dear college freshmen,

Wow… even though you are all still in school right now, you have officially gained the title here at college as “the new freshmen”. You’re mere months away from moving away from home and starting a new chapter of your life!

A year ago, I was right where you are. I had no idea what this next year had in store for me. I was excited, I was scared, I was depressed, I was every feeling you could possibly imagine and more. And secretly, I bet you feel like that, too.

So, as you play your final sports matches, perform in your final school musicals, and finish up those last exams, I wanted to give you some advice that I wish someone had told me at this point last year.

Don’t pack more than you need. You’ll be happily surprised at how little you can live off of. And you’ll be thankful for the space in your dorm room.

The freshman 15 WILL happen. No matter how much you try to avoid it, there’s a 9 in 10 chance that it will happen. It just comes from living a new lifestyle and the stress that comes with it. You’ll get rid of it soon. Don’t let it stress you out.

Communicate with your roommate. Set boundaries and know each other’s pet peeves. More importantly, KNOW YOUR PET PEEVES BEFORE YOU GO TO COLLEGE. I cannot stress that enough.

You are at college to learn. That should always come first.

….but also, know when to take a break from school, step back, and have fun. Watch Netflix. Go sit in a dining hall with your best friends for 3 hours. Go out partying at least once. Don’t be afraid of letting loose a little bit.

The schoolwork will be challenging. You’ll feel like giving up. Don’t. And don’t feel bad if you start feeling like you can’t do it, that’s natural. Just believe that you can, and you will.

But also, don’t be afraid of change. If you feel strongly like you need to change your major, go for it, but only if you know that it’s what you want and it is what will make you happy.

Absolutely NO ONE has their life together, but everyone likes to fake like they do. Don’t let them fool you. Don’t feel bad if you feel lost or stressed, everyone else does, too. You’re all in this together, going through the exact same transition at the same time.

It is perfectly okay to go home. If you go home over breaks, that’s awesome. If you go home once a month, cool. Once a week, still awesome. Sometimes in the middle of the week? As long as you’re back for class. If you feel like you need to go home, don’t be ashamed.

(And if absolute worst comes to worst, and you decide that college isn’t for you right now, it is always okay to go home.)

You are going to be around the same people for long periods of time. You are going to love most of them, but there will be a few that make you want to scream. Learn how to adapt and cope with that kind of energy. It’s hard, but you’ll get it eventually.

Don’t lock yourself in your dorm room for longer than 8 hours at a time (unless you are sleeping). Get out, hang out with friends, do some laundry, take a walk, go to the library, anything just to keep your blood flowing and your social energy alive.

Let’s face it, 80% of college kids drink alcohol, and you may want to as well. It’s your decision, but know the risks going in, especially since you are underage. Keep in mind that if you are caught underage drinking, you can lose scholarships, respect, even admission into the school.

If you do decide to drink, and it is your first time drinking, make sure it is in a safe place with people you trust. Large parties are absolutely NOT the place to drink for the first time. Watch your drink being made. Keep it in your watch at all times. Drink lots and lots of water. Make sure you eat before. Do everything that you possibly can to make sure that you stay as safe and as in control as possible.

And I swear, if I find out that any of you are drinking and driving, I will come find you and kill you if your stupidity doesn’t do it first. You risk not only your life, but also the lives of the people you pass on your way home. It’s a selfish act and absolutely unacceptable. Find a trusted DD or stay wherever you are until you are sober.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. They are mainly around to help you grow. They will answer your questions and be your guide as you attempt to pass their class.

And my small pieces of fun advice: save the number of every delivery person who calls you, so you know exactly who is giving you your food each time. (Lots of delivery guys are SUPER cute, so you need to know when to be presentable.) Do not pick up dollar bills off the street. If you stick around in Starbucks a few hours, you can usually pick up a free drink that someone abandoned at some point. If you eat Chick-Fil-A every day, you will get sick of Chick-Fil-A. Going into a 24 hours grocery store at 2:00am or later is a good idea maybe once.

But finally, and this is the big one, do not be afraid to let go. As you finish high school, you’re going to want to hold on to those times forever, because right now, they’re the best times you have. College will be so much better, but in order to embrace it, you have to truly let go of high school.

It’s a proven fact that 25% of high school friendships last through the first year of college. You will lose some of your friends. That’s okay, you’ve got amazing friends coming. You and your younger boyfriend/girlfriend will try the long-distance thing, and there’s a high probability that it will fail. That’s okay, there’s more fish in the sea. You will return to your high school, and you will see that your AP classes, your drama department, your sports team, etc, are doing great without you, and it’s going to make you upset. That’s okay, you are off doing bigger and better things. It’s all about learning to accept that what’s gone is gone, and while you can remember the good times, you have to embrace the new world you’re about to live.

Get ready for the most intense yet rewarding year of your life. You’re going to feel on top of the world at some points, and at other points you will want to crawl into a hole and die. But in the end, you get to come out knowing that you conquered living on your own and being an adult. At least for now.

And if you ever need any help or advice, you know where to find me.

All the best, and good luck!


Jessica Rogers, your newest college sophomore

Posted in Advice/Tips, Dorm Life, EC Scholars, Events, Honors College, Summer Experiences, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stepping into the Real World: Auditing Internship with SWIFT

By: Joey Harrison, Honors College Sophomore

FullSizeRender (2)Unfortunately, summer break is no longer the time for sleeping in late, staying up all night, and living worry-free. Well, it isn’t for me at least. I started off my summer with a week of relaxation in the Outer Banks. When I returned home, it was a quick transition back to reality. On June 27th, I underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum that occurred during my volleyball season. This meant no sports (i.e., no fun at all) for the entire summer. Luckily, I had a job lined up that would take my mind off of my injury.

I had the opportunity to gain both memories and amazing experience as I interned with a bank-telecommunications company called SWIFT. I worked alongside the chief auditor and several other audit managers and provided my skills on a multitude of projects. On top of the wonderful experience, I was able to network and connect with great people that can surely assist me with my professional advancement down the road. Working a “9 to 5” definitely gave me a taste of what life is like after graduation and although the clock seemed to stand still some days, the learning never stopped.

The projects started off simple and became more challenging. I was first tasked with updating documents; you know, the usual intern busy work. Before long, I was spending many hours in one-on-one meetings with executive level employees. The most nerve-racking time was when the chief auditor came in from Belgium for a week. The first day he was there, he asked for my input on how to more effectively present data to the Audit and Financial Committee board members. Obviously, this was way over my head… but after hours and hours of brainstorming and collaborating, we finalized the presentation, and he was very satisfied.

Prior to the internship, the only thing I knew about internal auditing was how to spell it. Now, I have experience with every aspect of that department, and I appreciate how important it is for it to work efficiently and effectively. It was a wonderful experience and I am truly lucky to have had the opportunity.

Qualifying for a prestigious internship such as this one would have been extremely difficult if it weren’t for the experiences and support that the Honors College has provided. The faculty members of the Honors College pursue a personal connection with each of the students not because they have to, but because they truly care. From the random “Great job” emails from Dr. Fraley to the “Just checking in” e-mails from Mr. Baxter, you’ll never find a better home away from home.

Posted in Advice/Tips, Honors College, Research & Internships, Summer Experiences, Uncategorized | Leave a comment