ECU Honors Takes Orlando: Southern Regional Honors Conference 2016

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

IMG_5064In April, Associate Dean Kevin Baxter accompanied five ECU Honors College students to the annual Southern Regional Honors Conference (SRHC) in sunny Orlando, Florida.

SRHC is an excellent forum for sharing common practices in honors. Honors College senior and student employee Megan Woodlief presented Planning a Large Scale Honors Commencement Reception in which she shared her experience directing all logistics associated with one of our largest events of the year.

Megan’s talk on our end-of-year celebration for seniors was complimented with a focus on incoming freshman. Mr. Kevin Baxter presented Strategic Enrollment Management and Honors, providing an overview of ECU Honors recruitment practices.

IMG_5049Editor-in-Chief of The East Carolinian and Honors College senior Ryan Clancy created a poster connecting college journalism courses with journalism careers. His poster, titled Convergence Skills as Demanded by Newspaper Employers and Taught by University Journalism Programs, offered applicable knowledge for preparing university students for the newspaper industry.

The sciences were also strongly represented by three outstanding presentations in chemistry, health, and biology, respectively. In fulfillment of the Senior Honors Project, Honors College senior Kate McPherson presented a poster titled Palladium Catalyzed C-C Coupling Reaction from a Computational Quantum Mechanical Perspective, and Honors College senior Sarah Judy presented research titled The Effects of Coal Ash Containment Pond Runoff on pH and Microbial Respiration in River Sediments.

IMG_5053Last but certainly not least, Honors College sophomore Sahiti Marella presented A comprehensive study of the positive and negative effects of folic acid on embryonic and adult life. Her research suggests that folic acid is not only an essential prenatal vitamin supplement for the reduction of neural tube defects, but also a pivotal nutrient in the development of complications embryonically and in adulthood.

The Harry Potter themed conference paid tribute to nearby Harry Potter World. Each participant was placed in one of the four Harry Potter “houses” (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff) to promote camaraderie and friendly competition. Between panels and socials, the group enjoyed visits to Universal Studios (including Harry Potter World!) and various Disney locations.

IMG_5067Outstanding host cities, opportunities to network, and a supportive platform to communicate research with other honors communities are just a few of the reasons SRHC remains a must-attend conference for the ECU Honors College.IMG_5057


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Business Scholars: More Than A Number

By: Haley Smith, Business Scholar and Honors College freshman 

Honors Blog photoBeing in the Honors College at East Carolina is such a huge honor. It sets me apart from the large university. In the same way, being a Business Scholar sets me apart inside the College of Business. I am currently in my second semester here at ECU and I have loved every second of my time here. I am majoring in Finance with hopes to become a financial analyst. After completing my undergraduate degree and obtaining my BSBA, I will go to graduate school at East Carolina’s College of Business and acquire my MBA.

I originally applied to be a Business Scholar because of the awesome benefits that it would bring me. One major benefit that can be appreciated by all is a $12,000 scholarship, which is given out as $1,500 per semester for four years. That might sound great, but the best part is that an ECU College of Business alumni selects you and they personally fund your scholarship. This allows me, and all other Business Scholars, to form a one-on-one connection with our sponsor, who is usually someone that has worked their way up in their corporation, and is willing to help us in any way possible. The fact that they care so much about me and my success is a huge part of the whole experience. Another benefit of being a Business Scholar is what happens after I graduate. Upon completing my undergraduate here at East Carolina, as long as I remain in good standing, I will have an automatic, guaranteed seat in ECU’s nationally ranked MSA or MBA graduate program.  This is a huge benefit, as I will not have to worry about taking the GMAT or worry about applying or getting into other graduate schools. I am able to know my exact plan once graduating from my undergrad. Another benefit of being a Business Scholar is being invited to events to represent the College of Business. For example, one event I went to was a reception at Dean Eakins’ house. I was able to meet and network with notable alumni — I actually received lots of business cards, and I was told to call if I ever needed anything or if I was looking for a job. Did I mention that that was in the first month of my first semester? It was an incredible feeling knowing that the alumni cared about me and they were already looking to help me with jobs and internships and I didn’t even know that much about my major yet!

Overall, being a business major and a part of the College of Business has been an incredible experience so far! East Carolina has one of the largest undergraduate business schools out of all seventeen universities in the UNC system. The faculty of the business school is extremely nice and passionate about the subjects that they teach. It is nice to know that my professors, advisors, and even the administration of the business school all care about my success not only in the classroom, but they also hope for my success after I graduate. Within the College of Business I am more than just a number — the faculty actually know my name, which is something that you often can’t say about other large universities. Dr. Westmoreland, the Associate Dean, Mrs. Karen Kus, the Director of Undergraduate programs, and Mrs. Anne Fisher, the Director of Professional Programs, have all really impacted my time within the College of Business. These three people never fail to stop what they are doing and ask me how I am and how my classes are going. Every time I see them, I am reminded of how incredible ECU’s College of Business is and how I made a wonderful decision to attend East Carolina University.

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ECU Honors College Forms Partnership with Coastal Studies Institute

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

25321806712_8c27c1f350_zTourists from around the world travel from far and wide for a chance to spend time on the iconic beaches along Eastern North Carolina’s coast. Picturesque lighthouses, a rich maritime history, and unique flora and fauna are not only points of state pride — they are beacons of economic success, pillars of a an integral coastal environment, and a reminder of the cultural factors that have shaped the values of our region.

However, high human traffic and the desirability of the sandy North Carolina coast also threaten the integrity of the very environment we so cherish.

25072581389_f723047f21_zIn comes the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute  (UNC-CSI).

Now 13 years strong, the Coastal Studies Institute is based on Roanoke Island with the purpose of conducting environmentally relevant coastal research, engaging the public in important coastal issues, and inspiring interest in the next generation of environmental scientists. The inter-university institute draws prominent faculty from across the UNC system with East Carolina University faculty strongly represented. The strong partnership between the CSI and ECU has resulted in a number of coastally beneficially programs, including the Summester at the Coast and a Ph.D in Coastal Resources Management.

This collaboration has quickly extended to environmentally inclined ECU Honors College students who aim to make a positive difference on our coast through research or outreach.

24809665454_7f42352f49_kOn a bright and windy day in February, ECU Honors College students paid a visit to Jennette’s Pier and the Coastal Studies Institute to learn more about the CSI’s mission and opportunities for student engagement. After a delicious lunch served by ECU alumnus Mike Kelly at his restaurant, Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant and Tavern, honors students were greeted by Dr. J.P. Walsh, Mike Muglia, and Mike Remige.

Well-dressed against the February chill, all three greeted our Honors College students eager to talk about renewable ocean energy.

“Many of the Outer Banks are showing continual erosion over time,” says Walsh. “This area has shown a long-term erosion rate on the order of a couple feet per year. As you go south from here, the erosion rate increases to about 10 feet per year…That’s one key problem that’s happening to this community.”

Alarmed by this research, the town of Nags Head spent $35 million of locally-funded revenue in 2011 to replace sediments along a 10-mile stretch of beach. The united community front to restore the shoreline illustrated the importance of these beaches and served as a wake up call for dedicated coastal research and conservation.

24809621164_03d9eeb241_zWithout the help of state tax dollars, the Coastal Studies Institute conducts research around five key areas: estuarine ecology and human health, coastal engineering and ocean energy, public policy and coastal sustainability, maritime heritage, and coastal processes. Between long hours of study, the CSI is proud to maintain its self-sufficiency by creating its own revenue, generating its own electricity, and obtaining materials for the facility from local sources. They are fully equipped to accomodate the testing of renewable ocean energy, such as a wave energy converter and magnetic mirroring for devices.

24809613234_5efd421df9_zHonors College students also received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Institute led by David Sybert and Robert McClendon. Sybert and McClendon praised the enthusiasm and dedication of the CSI’s summer and semester interns and extended the opportunity for similar research experiences to our Honors College students.

The day’s discussions about CSI’s role in coastal research and management piqued the interest of several honors students in attendance, including freshman Matthew Chilton.

“I came on this trip primarily because my family has always been around the beach,” says Chilton. “A lot of my family lives on the Outer Banks. I had no idea that this research was going on, or to this extent.”

Chilton confirmed the assertions of the CSI faculty that the coastal environment has created a unique culture.

“A lot of [this research] has to do with preservation. If we can preserve the environment here, we can preserve all of the culture here…because it’s not just environmental — there’s a whole anthropological side to this.”

He also echoed the murmurings of many of our students about a potential career in renewable ocean energy and coastal preservation.

“I think that the collaboration here provides a lot of opportunities for students. Now that I know that this exists, I’m giving some pretty intense thought about the direction I want to go with biology after graduation. I want to come back here.”




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Rocking the Boat: Honors College Cardboard Regatta 2.0

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

26295292285_2c38521b4f_zHe that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea. – Thomas Fuller

Infinite duct tape, several boxes, 4 pairs of scissors, and 4 brilliant minds–but only one team could claim the title of Cardboard Captains at the second annual Honors College Cardboard Regatta.

Honors College students and faculty in a battle of the boxes on April 1st to raise money for the Eakin Fund, which supports Honors College living-learning experiences. The event involves teams of 2-4 participants who create a boat made only of cardboard and duct tape in an allotted time and then race the boat in a pool against other teams.

A video is worth a thousand words–watch our stealthy (and soggy) ships race across the ECU Student Recreation Center pool for ultimate glory:



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Honors Student Receives Competitive Fulbright Award

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

1919306_10207052991897175_316088788415744945_nA global society requires the ability to effectively communicate with dissimilar cultures and understand world events. Being able to speak another language, interpret world news, and bridge the gaps between continents in a variety of fields are invaluable skills in today’s workforce. As a triple major in German, history, and history education, Honors College student Daniel (Danny) Franch has spent his college career gaining valuable knowledge about the world around him.

Danny’s list of collegiate accomplishments is impressive, including a professional publication, becoming a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, and long-term dedication to the University Writing Center. However, his most recent impact on the community took place over Spring Break by aiding refugees in Germany. After extensive fundraising efforts, he and ten other members of ECU’s German Club spent nine days at a home called Helferkreis-Waldperlach in Munich. The students taught the refugees basic German, such as the alphabet, important survival phrases, and traffic rules. In return, the club gained important insights about the refugees during their free time and while playing frisbee and basketball.


Photo provided by Dr. David Smith

Before and after his travels, Danny was busily preparing an application for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany. Founded in 1946, the Fulbright is a highly competitive international program that seeks to promote cultural understanding by providing generous grants for student research projects and assistantships abroad.

After a lengthy and grueling application process, Danny learned that he had been chosen as a semi-finalist in January.

By April, he was officially named a 2016 Fulbright Scholar.

“I had the choice to pick three federal states, and I chose all former East German states because the former East is still economically behind the rest of Germany,” Danny explained.

In addition to teaching English to a German K-12 classroom, he will be expected to engage the local community.

“I proposed to join a local environmental organization and learn ways to increase sustainability practices,” said Danny. “Germany is a world leader in using clean alternative energy. The country does an excellent job recycling, and the Germans love to garden. My mother’s passion for gardening and my own love of the outdoors made me want to join ECO-Pirates at ECU and engage in environmental activism in Germany.”

Danny is the seventh student to be named a Fulbright Scholar from East Carolina University. The most recent ECU student recipients of the award were Diana Gliga (medicine, Romania) and Sarah Searcy (teaching English, India) in 2009.

The ECU Honors College is proud to see the culmination of Danny’s efforts in education end in a prestigious award that will open a multitude of doors for his future. We wish him all the best with this exciting new adventure!


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