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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A Celebration of Leadership: Honoring Chancellor Steve Ballard

By: Charlotte Pearsall, Honors College junior

Charlotte Pearsall was one of a handful of Honors College students chosen to partake in a personal send-off celebration for ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, who will step down on July 1, 2016. 

True to its name, the Celebration of Leadership was a celebration of the impact that Chancellor Ballard has made on ECU and the leadership he has inspired within its student body. The event was comprised of personal statements from student and faculty leaders about Chancellor Ballard’s character, as well as stories about how he has impacted their leadership throughout their years here at ECU.

It was really amazing for me to hear all of the positive praise my fellow students had for Chancellor Ballard and to learn from their leadership journeys. I first met Chancellor Ballard when I participated in the Chancellor Student Leadership Academy (CSLA), and since then, he has inspired me to try to create a positive change in the world around me. Being able to spend this time with him and my cohort of leaders is one of the most empowering memories I have from ECU.

To see more details about ECU’s A Legacy of Leadership Week, click here.

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Developing Discipline: A How-To Guide for Taking the MCAT

By: Ryan Carter-Stanley, EC Scholar and Honors College senior 

MCAT pictureThe “MCAT.” I don’t know about you, but for me, as a senior in high school, that one word had the ability to evoke incomprehensible amounts of anxiety. It wasn’t until I met the test face-to-face (or face-to-computer really) that I was able to see past my fears. The MCAT is a necessary step to achieving your dreams–one of many as you will shortly discover–but it does not have to be a dreadful one. You will, I hate to say, find your self spending countless hours nose-in-book, and you will have to learn the art of saying “no” every once in a while. You will have to develop a study plan. You will have to look inside yourself, muster up every ounce of self-discipline and interest in science that you can, and buckle down for a hard couple of months. But you do NOT have to be anxious. This is a very hard test and it is meant to be. I don’t think any human being desires to sit in front of a computer for 7 hours and be required to expel countless tidbits of information compiled from the toughest college classes you will have taken. But, my young friend, hear me when I say this: you can do it. You may have to do it twice, and it will not be the best memories you have from college, but you can do it!

I have always found test taking to be one of my strengths, but after taking the MCAT once, I discovered that this exam was different. Do not be quick to assume that you do not need to study hard. I was able to get a set of MCAT subject study books for free from my Pre-Med advisor. These books can easily run a few hundred dollars. I made a study plan, which I humbly admit I struggled to stick to. I have had friends who are able to sit down each day and study 4 hours for a couple months, and if that is you, then this method may work. Figure out if you are a morning or evening person. It helped me to wake up before my roommates, brew some coffee and tackle it then. That way, I didn’t find it as tempting to join in on the activities around me. I took the older MCAT in November of my junior year. I did this so that I would have enough time to take the newer version a second time if need be.

…Well, the need be became my reality. I wasn’t satisfied with my slightly below average score, so after quite a bit of self-coaching on why I wanted to be a doctor, I began preparing for the second test. This time, I took a different approach and signed up for a MCAT preparation course.  It was VERY expensive (I think around $1,000), but there is just no Family Dollar option for this test. I joined in on an online session twice a week and studied some on my own. We were assigned a chunk of the book to read and practice on our own and then we would go over it together. Kaplan (the company that I took the course with) was able to offer countless strategic tips on how to attack the test aside from content-based knowledge. I without a doubt recommend taking one of these courses…and this is coming from a girl who would choose shopping at Goodwill or a yard sale any day. I am thrifty, but there are no cutting corners with this one. If I remember correctly, the course is a two-month commitment. You also need to give yourself time to take the many practice tests they provide, so I would probably dedicate a semester to preparation. Kaplan will provide you with so many resources; you will not be able to cover it all. But I encourage you to try and do as much as you can.

And then rest. Find things that you enjoy to take a break. And take the test. Dominate the test even! And find a way to occupy yourself for a month while you wait for the results. Trust me, this is only your first lesson of patience when it comes to seeking a career in medicine. It is March as I write this, and I have been waiting since my interview in October to hear back from the Brody School of Medicine. We will wear those white coats one day, my friends. One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other.

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Navigating Undergraduate Research at ECU

By: Joseph Paul, EC Scholar and Honors College senior

paulThe vast majority of undergraduate honors programs at public universities require research as a curricular requirement. However, the rationale and importance of undergraduate research is often unarticulated, leaving students with obscured views of its significance. Here, I will address some of the important aspects of undergraduate research and its role in ECU’s Honors College in the form of a Senior Honors Project.

At ECU, students aspiring to careers in health (e.g. medicine) would likely tell you that research experience is critical to gaining admission into professional school, while others may simply address it as a necessary evil to receive an honors degree, among other interpretations. It may also seem like research is restricted to certain disciplines, such as the natural sciences (e.g. biology or chemistry). In reality, research comes in many forms and manifests across the disciplines. It is also important for undergraduates because it is usually their first opportunity to generate original and meaningful ideas and to learn key analytical and communication skills.

Initiating research is perhaps the most daunting part for undergraduates. If you are genuinely passionate about your major, a good starting point is your department, where it should be easy to get connected to research. Certainly, many students (myself included) will be willing to share insight from their journey into research and help navigate the variety of opportunities. It is also important to look broadly and even consider research that may be on the periphery of your academic interests. One recent example of this is ECU alumna and former EC Scholar Mansi Trivedi, who majored in biology but produced an interdisciplinary Senior Honors Project addressing a traditional Indian medical system at the intersection of religion and modern medicine. In this case, Mansi used a study in humanities to answer questions about medicine and society.

There is also great value in using time during the summer to conduct research. There are many paid internship and fellowship programs at ECU and other institutions across academic disciplines. Although these opportunities are competitive, the Honors College, faculty, and other students are all willing to help interested students construct the best application possible for such positions. Going elsewhere for research offers the chance to explore new research questions. I chose to spend my own summers at the Mayo Clinic and more recently at Stanford University to pursue research on motor neuron disease (ALS). I was exposed to different areas of biology and learned new laboratory techniques that were nearly exclusive to each institution.

Certain analytical and communication skills are absolutely required to conduct research–they also translate into useful tools for any imaginable career and develop informed members of society. These skills sometimes come from unlikely places, such as an Honors College humanities seminar, where these skills are used to critically discuss prose or poetry. For example, while the majority of my time reading at present consists of scientific articles, these same analytical tools are essential to dissect the tone and purpose of the writing that can often cloud the scientific merits of the work. Any robust research opportunity will allow you to further refine these skills through the practice of reading, discussing, and eventually composing a manuscript of your research.

There are Honors College alumni who have proceeded to research-based graduate programs. Former EC Scholar Rachel Mehaffey is pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, which is one of the premier institutions in that field. In another instance Holden Jones, a current EC Scholar, will be pursuing a master’s degree in analytics at NC State next year. I will also be pursuing a doctorate next year in molecular and cellular biology.

On the chance that you find yourself captivated by research, there are avenues for pursuing graduate study at ECU or beyond. The research landscape at ECU is large but certainly navigable and an important component of the Honors College curriculum. Research is not just a means to an end, not just another line on your resume, or a mere requirement to graduate with honors. As a senior in the Honors College, I think I also speak for my peers when I offer up that any of us involved in research are willing to discuss and help advise any student on potential research opportunities.

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Jordan Thomas Featured in North America’s Most Prestigious Student Illustration Competition

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

LiminalityAfter a college career marked by continuous success in the arts, Honors College student Jordan Thomas will wrap up her senior year by having one of her original illustrations (featured left) showcased at the Society of Illustrators gallery in New York City.

The Society of Illustrators is known for hosting the most prestigious student illustration competition in North America, the Student Scholarship Competition. During the competition, the Society juries work submitted from students all across the country and selects a handful of pieces to be displayed at their gallery in New York, in their annual catalog, and on their website. Many submissions come from schools known for their large illustration programs, making the selection process very competitive and a chosen piece one of the highest honors a student illustrator can receive. Out of 2,289 top students in illustration, only 254 students had their work selected. Jordan’s piece, entitled “Liminality,” is a silverpoint drawing with digital enhancement that she completed during an ECU Drawing Media and Techniques course last semester. Joan Mansfield, the director Liminality 3of ECU’s Illustration program, submitted 30 pieces of student work, with Jordan’s classmate Taylor Keith also being selected to take part in the showcase.

Jordan’s illustration will be juried further for additional scholarship and award consideration, and the gallery reception for her and all other chosen recipients will be held on May 19th.

To see more of Jordan’s artistic projects and products, check out her website at www.jordanthomasartwork.com and professional Facebook page, Jordan Thomas Artwork.

Liminality 2

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