Alumni Profile: Laura Brinn ’99

Laura BrinnGraduation Year and Majors: 1999 – BA in Communication and BS in German

Current Position and Work History: Executive Director of Global Communications, Duke University. I have worked at Duke since 2001 in media relations and marketing roles at our Health System, Fuqua School of Business, and for the past 4.5 years leading global communications for the university. Before that I was an account executive in the health and medical practice at Ogilvy PR in New York City.

Professional Organizations and Service: Academic advisor for pre-major students at Duke and HC Advancement Council

Awards and Scholarships: University Scholars Award recipient, Rivers Scholarship for study abroad, CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Gold Award for Excellence in Research Writing (2008) and General News Writing (2011)

What were some of your most memorable experiences as a communication major and University Scholar at ECU?

When I was at ECU, communication was a department, not a school as it is now, and Honors was a program, not a college, so it’s been great to watch both of these areas grow and evolve into their current forms. I would have to say the opportunities I was given through both programs shaped my ECU experience, and who I am today. As a communication major I had the chance to learn the fundamental skills that I still use every day, and to put those skills into practice both in classroom situations and assignments, but also during summer internships in Raleigh and Washington DC. And the University Scholars award, and Rivers scholarship, allowed me to spend my junior year studying at the University of Mannheim in Germany. That was an incredible experience that broadened my understanding of the world and really began to shape my understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

What does it mean to be recognized by your Alma Mater in the inaugural 40 Under 40 awards ceremony?

It is a tremendous honor to be included among ECU’s 40 under 40. The other honorees are such an impressive and diverse group of Pirates who are making important contributions through their careers in public service, business and education, and I was delighted to meet many of them and learn more about their work and interests. Although many of us were at ECU at different times, it is clear that our experiences at ECU shaped all of us into the people we are now.


The inaugural 2015 40 Under 40 inductees, an award and ceremony hosted by ECU’s Division of Student Affairs.

Why do you enjoy being on the Honors College Advisory Council?

I love being a member of the Honors College Advancement Committee. When I learned that an Honors College had been created, and the many ways the Honors College was providing incredible learning experiences for its students, I couldn’t wait to become more involved. Spending time with the students and faculty members, and learning how the students’ experiences at ECU have helped them grow not only as scholars, but also as citizens with a commitment to service, is really inspiring. The Honors College is providing tremendous opportunities for these students, and it is delightful to see the students soak it all up.

What led you to your current position and tell me about your passion for this work.

I’m passionate about education and its power to transform people’s lives, and am really grateful to have a career that allows me to combine my skills and expertise with that passion every day. At Duke I’ve had the opportunity to work in several different settings, doing different types of marketing and communications, and that has allowed me to develop a broad view of how we can combine and apply a variety communications tools to advance the university’s mission. For the past five years, I’ve been leading our efforts to expand Duke’s reputation around the world, calling on all of the approaches I’ve learned over the years to adapt and apply them in a global setting.

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Dr. Michael Bassman, Distinguished Honors Professor Emeritus

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

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Respected by students and faculty alike, distinguished honors professor Dr. Michael Bassman has had a profound impact on ECU and the Honors College.  As a tribute to all he has given to what is now an outstanding Honors College, Dr. Bassman’s many achievements are showcased in the remainder of this blog post.  It merely scratches the surface of his revered teaching style, ambitions, and awards, but we are honored to have had him as an integral part of our College’s founding.

Michael Bassman was named the first distinguished honors professor in February 2010 after most recently serving as associate vice chancellor and director of the Honors Program.  He received the Bachelor of Arts in French and Latin from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, the Master of Arts degree from Brown University, and the Master of Arts and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.  Dr. Bassman is an associate professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures.  Dr. Bassman was awarded the 1998-1999 UNC Board of Governors Distinguished Professors Teaching Award.

Throughout 2013-2014, Dr. Bassman served as the primary reviewer for the revision of “The Holocaust: A North Carolina Teacher’s Resource.” Dr. Bassman served as an external reviewer for submissions in Humanities in “Explorations.” He was active in the National Council on Undergraduate Research and served as a judge for the ECU Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity week.

Dr. Bassman served as a mentor and advisor to many Honors College students, especially in relation to study abroad opportunities, graduate school, and course selection. He also assisted in mentoring and advising Honors College students in their application for external fellowships, scholarships, and other awards. Other advising responsibilities included coordination of “Fellowships, Scholarships, & Awards for the Honors College.” Dr. Bassman’s seminars on the Holocaust were popular among the students, which included writing intensive components and a trip to Duke University to view Holocaust artifacts and documents. Dr. Bassman is know as an expert in this area both nationally and regionally.

Dr. Bassman retired in June 2014 as the Distinguished Honors Professor Emeritus.  As a way to recognize excellence in research and writing, endeavors both highly admired and pursued by Dr. Bassman, the Michael F. Bassman Honors College Thesis Award was established in 2010.

The Honors College is also proud to announce the recent establishment of the Michael F. Bassman Fund for Study Abroad.  An international experience expands our horizons and challenges us to think in new ways, and we hope to grant this incredible opportunity to all of our current and future Honors College students.  If you’re interested in making a donation to this fund, you may contact Associate Dean Kevin Baxter by calling (252) 737-4079 or by e-mailing him at We welcome any and all contributions!

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She’s the First

By: Keerthana Velappan, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore


The following blog post is about the East Carolina University chapter of She’s the First.  The chapter was founded by Keerthana and her Honors College peers to give girls around the world the chance to obtain an education. 

She’s the First*{East Carolina} is the East Carolina University chapter of She’s the First (STF), a non-profit organization that sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries.  This newly founded organization gives girls the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. To fulfill this mission, STF mobilizes supporters to fund scholarships and provides a clearer understanding on complex global issues related to poverty. Harnessing technology and social media, STF is committed to connecting sponsors and scholars around the world in innovative, mutually beneficial ways to foster mentorship, philanthropy, equality, and leadership. Ultimately, their student leaders and scholars become the change agents who break cycles of generational poverty and transform the world.


She’s the First’s educational philosophy is that quality always trumps quantity, and they partner with organizations who believe the same. I actually heard about She’s the First through Shanti Bhavan, their partner school in India, and their very first one at that! Shanti Bhavan, founded by Dr. Abraham George in 1996, is a home and exceptional school located in rural Tamil Nadu, India, for the region’s most socially and economically disadvantaged children. These first-generation students, primarily from the “untouchable” (Dalit) caste, are selected at the age of 4 and remain at the school until the completion of high school. Once in college, Shanti Bhavan continues to support them financially and oversees their progress through a careful mentoring program. One of Shanti Bhavan’s blog posts mentioned She’s the First, as STF recently produced an original documentary called “Magho” (“Daughter”) featuring Maheshwari, one of the girls studying at Shanti Bhavan, on her graduation day. Just last week, Maheshwari and Jancy (the very first STF scholar) walked across stage to receive their college diplomas! I hope to intern/teach at Shanti Bhavan during the summer of 2016, after my study abroad experience.

stf 2She’s the First has 125+ high school and college/campus chapters across the nation and have sponsored 450+ girls since initiation in 2009. North Carolina has two preexisting STF chapters: Elon and UNC-Asheville, and ECU and UNC-Chapel Hill have just started theirs this semester. Every chapter is responsible for hosting one awareness event and one theme-appropriate fundraiser each semester, a fitness one in the spring (Sweat for STF) and a tie-dye cupcake bake-off in the fall (Bake a Change). STF*{ECU} just hosted a Documentaries & Discussion event (showed “Magho” and “To Educate a Girl”) and will be hosting a donation-based Zumba class on April 19th from 2-3 p.m. in Mendenhall Student Center room 244.  We hope to put on a “Day of the Girl” event and sell tie-dye cupcakes in the fall! Please help us raise our fundraising goal of $720 this semester so we can be matched with two girls from Nepal or Uganda (currently at $672) by visiting our fundraising page  (  Also, like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things related to She’s the First and She’s the First*{East Carolina} (!

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Honors Students Receive Alumni Association Awards

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

alumni picAs the days become longer and the academic year draws to a close, award and scholarship committees are proudly presenting deserving students with prestigious accolades. Perhaps some of the most well-known awards on ECU’s campus are the Robert H. Wright Awards and the Alumni Association Scholarships.

The Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award is the most prestigious award presented by the East Carolina Alumni Association to undergraduate seniors. The award recognizes academic achievement, service, and leadership qualities. Of the five Wright Awards announced this spring, four of them were awarded to EC Scholars. Congratulations to Ajay Ajmera, Ryan Baucom, Jessica Jewell, and Shayna Mooney on a successful and celebrated college career at ECU!

Likewise, the Alumni Association Scholarships recognize demonstrated leadership and service to the community. These competitive scholarship awards may be given to any class of undergraduate students. Of the 27 ECU students who received an Alumni Scholarship this spring, 9 of them were Honors College students. Congratulations to Keith Dunbar, Zach Evans, Annaliese Gillette, Kristi Robertson, Emma Shirley, Katie Stanley, Jordan Thomas, Erika Dietrick, and Aenia Amin!

We are thrilled to have such talented, ambitious, and service-oriented students in the Honors College at East Carolina University and look forward to all they will accomplish in the future.

If you’re interested in joining or renewing your membership with the ECU Alumni Association, click here.

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My Pirate Life: Engineering

By: Virginia Melton, Honors College Sophomore

In an Honors Ambassadors meeting, members were asked to create a video that defines their life as an ECU pirate.  Virginia’s video illustrates how studying mechanical engineering and being an Honors College student has defined her pirate life.

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