Daring, Dancing, Dreaming: Honors College Fine Arts Gala

By: Kristalyn Gill, EC Scholar and Honors College Junior

kg 1What is art without a little heart?

What is movement without initiation?

What is creativity without curiosity?

As an artist, I am fascinated with thinking not only outside of the box, but also outside of the thrift store where the box is stored on the second bookshelf to the right.

Like I said, I enjoy thinking differently. A junior dance performance major in the School of Theatre and Dance, I am constantly being exposed to new methods of creative thought and technical knowledge regarding dance training. My peers and my teachers challenge me to explore ideas, emotions, and inquiries through my craft and my passion of dance. Dance studios may not have desks and tables, but as dancers, we submit to our professors our undivided attention and dedication to constantly better ourselves as professionals and as individuals. We feed off energy, excitement, adrenaline, fear, and the weight of hundreds of eyes upon our skin rather than a numerical figure on the top on an exam. It is a different environment than what is occurring within other classrooms on campus; however, neither environment is superior to the other.

Academia and the fine arts go hand in hand. I am inspired to create dance pieces because of research. The information I glean from textbooks and essays ignite in me a curious desire to move and portray images in the form of dance. Being a member of both the Honors College and the School of Theatre and Dance is a huge blessing, one that has enabled me to expand in movement creativity and in educational discovery.

After learning that the Honors College was in the process of planning an event to celebrate the fine arts, I was ecstatic. Finally, my two families on campus were conjoining! My decision to participate was an instantaneous “yes.” I desired to share with the Honors College a piece of my training experience and ideas nurtured by my time at ECU through the medium of dance. I wanted to showcase that, because of my professors’ shared insight regarding performing and directing performances, I am able to craft and exhibit my own creative dance works.

When selecting a concept, I decided to generate a dance about the strength of women and their role as ezer kenegdos, or sustainers. I was energized and in awe of the power and bravery of women in the 1940s as they entered the work force. Also, I have multiple women in my life who serve as excellent role models through their optimism, dedication to personal success, and expansive kindness.

I casted Lauren Culver, a sophomore dance performance major that is also in the Honors College, to be my duet partner. She is a beautiful dancer and a wonderful friend who inspires me in her perseverance and her joy. Sharing the stage with her at the Honors College Fine Arts Gala was an experience like none other for me. We were blessed to perform and present alongside a handful of other artists who blew me away with their voices, films, poems, monologues, jewelry, and canvases. It was an honor to see and hear their talents and to share with our friends, families, and faculty mentors our love for the fine arts.

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In its entirety, I would like to say that the gala impacted the Honors College and the ECU community. It revealed that there are students within the Honors College that have academic rigor for a large variety of career fields. Also, the event allowed for a diverse group of fine arts disciplines to be presented during one performance, an interesting and exciting experience for many artists.

I fully enjoyed my experience participating in this wonderful, thrilling event. Thank you to the Honors College and the Alumni Society for assisting in sponsoring this event. Thank you to Dr. Linda Quick and Mr. Hardik Patel for taking initiative in coordinating the gala.

This experience brought me countless amounts of joy. What an incredible feeling it was to feel those stage lights on the night of September 12th, 2015.

I deny failure. To fail means that I have been defeated, kneaded like dough and burnt in the oven, yet I refuse to say that my art can be bludgeoned. I refuse to believe that my work is meaningless.

It is between creativity and ingenuity that I find my purpose.

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

By: Stephanie Griffin, Honors College Senior

0701151835aTraveling the world is a dream that I’ve had from a young age. To explore places and experience new cultures, food, and even architecture was always a goal for me, along with filling up my passport. I never thought I would have the chance to go abroad, but this summer, I did just that: traveling to 7 different countries throughout Europe in just over 2 weeks. I wasn’t studying abroad or going to see my family — I was taking a once in a lifetime opportunity to simply travel.

Approaching my senior year here at ECU, I have another 4 years of graduate school to look forward to, including summer sessions. I knew that this summer may be the last time that I would have the opportunity to travel and wouldn’t be up to my eyeballs in graduate school debt, so I went for it. With the help of a buddy pass for my flight to Ireland and back, I was able to travel on a budget and get quite a head start on filling up my passport.

0706151110aHaving already traveled to Haiti before, this was not my first international trip; but it was a one of a different kind to a diverse continent. Over the course of two weeks, I traveled by plane, train, and bus throughout Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Northern Ireland. I tasted the best pasta I’ve ever had (thank you Florence), walked along the cliffs of Ireland, and even put my feet in the Mediterranean.

Aside from all the food and views, I also was able to experience history through different museums, holidays, and traditions. I was able to stand on a bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice (in amazement at the architecture), touch the Berlin Wall in Germany, walk through a castle in the Czech Republic and experience Orange Day (a historical holiday) in Northern Ireland.

Where does the Honors College fit into all of this you might ask? Seeing such a large group of students exploring the world only further pushed my drive to do the same. If everyone else was traveling, why couldn’t I? The seminar classes were also helpful as well. I recently took Ocean Exploration with Dr. Runyan where we discussed the history of diving as well as the Titanic. Sure enough I found myself at the Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland,and the best part was having an understanding of diving and different underwater ROV systems. I was able to take the information I had learned in class and directly apply it in a country halfway around the world. The Honors College provided me with courses and knowledge that I was able to apply all over Europe, and without the drive I was given from my fellow colleagues, this Europe exploration trip might have waited for years. My biggest piece of advice would be, when you are given the opportunity and feel strongly about something, live on the edge and go for it! Happy travels!


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Accepting the Challenge: ECU LeaderShape 2015

By: Angel Chukwu, Honors College Sophomore

angelDear Enlightened Reader,

When I signed up to attend ECU’s LeaderShape Institute, I really didn’t know what to expect. Of course, that sounds cliché, but they actually didn’t give us much information on what we were going to be doing that week. All insight was extracted from short talks given by past attendees, a location, and a packing list – everything else was both secretive and well-planned. I’ve attended leadership camps with a similar purpose, but those programs were nowhere near my six days in Blowing Rock, NC.

If you were to read the week schedule that we were given once we arrived, you might have thought that this was a jam-packed, lecture-based program. But the moment we stepped into the community room, we were greeted with a lively, amiable vibe that would last throughout the week.

During Leadershape, we quickly identified who we were, who we wanted to be, and how we functioned as student leaders. Throughout the week, we engaged in thought-provoking dialogue that helped us develop our individual characters and our visions. There were even some really uncomfortable patches that we landed on. We talked about big social elephants in the room and emotions were real, raw, and unedited – but after these activities, there was an even more authentic dialogue that ensued. We dove into the vast nature of the human experience where we discovered that despite separations in personal preference and upbringing, we all fit together like a puzzle (with a whole lot of pieces).

There are many important takeaways from my LeaderShape journey, but the most prominent was a healthy disregard for the impossible. In an almost-but-not-so-cheesy-way, LeaderShape helped to restore my faith in humanity. I only hope that everyone is able to get involved with a program that has helped me to think, grow, and expand so much in just one summer.

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Teamwork, Ice Cream, and Armwrestling: Ocracoke 2015

By: Garrett Yarbrough, EC Scholar and Honors College Freshman

Ocracoke PictureThe following blog post refers to the EC Scholar Ocracoke Impact Trip, a leadership training and bonding experience held in August for each incoming class of EC Scholars. Thanks to the support of generous donors Mr. and Mrs. Holloman, the EC Scholar Class of 2019 enjoyed four days of delicious dining, beach activities, and integral professional development training in the Outer Banks completely free of cost.

The sandy grit between the grooves in the bridge’s asphalt crunched beneath my sneakers as I stretched my legs from the ferry ride. Fresh off the boat! This was my first time visiting the Outer Banks since Murphy’s Law practically dictates my life. Every time I had the chance, circumstances changed and the Outer Banks’ silky sand slipped through my fingers. Thanks to Captain Edward Murphy, I can never say “What’s the worst that could happen?” Just give it a minute. I can say that Murphy’s Law makes some good stories, so what more could an English major ask for?

That’s exactly what I got after getting back on that boat after four days and three nights–a lot of stories. The trip to Ocracoke with the other nineteen freshman EC Scholars and the upperclassmen gave me the opportunity to bond with twenty-plus people that I am ecstatic to work and grow with over the next four years. Speaking on my experience as the perpetual “new kid,” having more than twenty new friends in an overwhelming new setting like college is a godsend. Each of the Scholars is unique and has their own talents that they bring to the table, which enriches what our group can accomplish. Plus it makes them the raddest dudes and dudettes to chill with.

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Ocracoke provided a dualistic approach to our days, akin to what college would become. By day we learned how to become the best leaders we could and a cohesive unit. By night we ate ice cream and watched the World Armwrestling League (“WAL” for those of you who haven’t been blessed by the planet’s sport of champions). Seriously, we ate ice cream every single day. We know what’s up. All twenty of us found a great deal of commonalities between us and we clicked after one day, it seemed. We’re a well-oiled machine, similar cogs with differing teeth that spin in different directions, but create a magnificently functioning automaton in the end, fueled by inside jokes, ridiculous nicknames, and ice cream of course.

The activities that were there for us were so much fun as well! The oppressive heat was alleviated by learning how to balance ten of us on three boards adrift in the ocean, crossing a river on the backs of sea turtles, and myself fumbling with a kayak paddle. Through all of this we learned how to better communicate so we can function at our highest level possible. With the other classes of Scholars there to lead us, we learned what it meant to be an EC Scholar and how to give back to the college that has invested in our futures. After all, East Carolina is the only Carolina.

When I boarded the ferry to head back, I wasn’t even close to sad that we were heading back. I was positively fervent to get to East Carolina so I could spend even more time with such a terrific team! After the last seagull dropped off alongside the boat to head back to its roost and the island was once again enveloped by the ocean’s inscrutable fog, I looked ahead towards the mainland that began to peek over the horizon. We had all been through a lot already at this point, including a brush with the supernatural and being lulled to sleep with Jeff Bridges’ Sleeping Tapes, and the next four years will hopefully continue the insanity that we’ve already dipped into.

Ocracoke Picture 3

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Greenville to Barcelona and Back

By: Zoe Hinton, EC Scholar and Honors College Junior

zoe 1“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”

“Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.”

– Antonio Machado

¨Lub dub, lub dub, lub dub¨ is the best that language can capture the sound of a beating heart. Hearing that rhythm through a stethoscope does not compare to feeling the blood pulsate through one´s carotid artery with your pointer finger.

Let´s move backward one year. In the fall of 2014, I began volunteering at the Greenville Community Shelter Clinic. It was there that I met Dr. Walter Pories, who has become a very valuable mentor of mine.  My dialogues with Dr. Pories led me to immerse myself in both the Spanish language and the field of medicine. He connected me with a Bariatric and Colorectal surgical team in Barcelona, Spain. With a beginner Spanish fluency level, I needed practice, especially to understand medical communication in the hospital. I contacted the ECU Foreign Language Department and spoke with Rosa Lopez-Cañete who guided me toward a medical Spanish program in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain. This educational precursor coupled very well and allowed me to excel in my experience at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona.

After weather delays, cancellations and re-routed flights through Portugal, I made it to Oviedo; a small, rainy city in northwestern Spain. The Spanish Courses for Health Science Professionals Program was a 4-week intensive program at the University of Oviedo including classes on: the medical interview, medical terminology, medical Spanish culture and grammar. My speaking ability did not allow for conversation far past, ¨Hi, How are you?¨ I wore the shoes of many Spanish-speaking citizens in the United States. It can be demoralizing when one has thoughts but cannot verbalize them. While no one truly minds, it can cause one to feel less than, not enough, and quite frankly, unintelligent. This gives a healthy sense of humility.

zoe 2I traveled to Bilbao, Madrid, and Granada before arriving to Barcelona. These places hold treasures: a magical feeling in the air while eating tapas on the streets of Madrid, a peek at the history of Moorish rule at the Alhambra in Granada, and the flirtatious curves in the metal exterior of Frank Gehry´s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. After a week of tourism, I arrived in the ever-sought-after Barcelona. The home of Antoni Gaudí, Futbol Club Barcelona and the center of Catalan culture.

I found the surgical teams at Hospital Clínic equally impressive to the culture and architecture during my time in Barcelona. Twenty minutes after I obtained an ID card and white coat on my first day, I went to the operating room to view a laparoscopic colorectal cancer resection in 3D. Before introducing myself, the surgeon looked to the other side of the room and explained a suturing method in English. I later learned that surgeons from the Cleveland Clinic were present for a week to learn a trans-anal resection technique for which Dr. Antonio Lacy, the Chief of the Gastrointestinal Surgery Department at Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, is famous. This was one of the three groups that came to train with Dr. Lacy during my brief time shadowing the team. He is a leader in the field of Bariatric and Colorectal Cancer surgery and served as an excellent advisor during my time with the team. In addition to those fields, I was also able to spend time in Urgent Care, Endoscopy, General Surgery and Endocrine Surgery.

zoe 4Something very special happened while watching a total thyroidectomy during my second week of shadowing. The patient was put under anesthesia, cleaned thoroughly with betadine and the surgeon told me to scrub. I hurriedly went to the sinks and was taught how to slowly and thoroughly take all precautions prior to putting on a sterile garment and double gloves. During surgery, I was taught how to hold pieces of equipment for a surgeon´s best view, tie sutures and even cauterize blood vessels. Occasionally I would peek under the layers of sterile sheets to remind myself there was a person on the table and not just a body part. Then came the moment when the surgeon told me to feel for the carotid artery. At first, I felt nothing. After reporting this to the surgeons, they laughed and encouraged me that the patient was not dead. The assisting resident then gently pushed my hand further into the patient’s neck. There it was: lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. Warm and alive and healthy. Beating in such close proximity to the heart.  This tactile moment was one I will never forget. The chest moved up and down. Muscles reflexed and tautened when touched with the cauterizer.

I grew up with a father in pottery and a mother in painting. I watched them sculpt, sketch and mold. The hands of artists performing their trade are analogous to the adept hands of a surgeon; the hands of silk weavers in Northern India; the hands of a piano player. It seems to come at such ease, but there is intense practice and utter calculation behind the skill. They are all artists, but only mold different mediums. Surgery is a process which demands dexterity, both of one’s hands and one’s mind.

zoe 5There were obvious praxy learnings in the operating room, what with how to tie a suture knot and what exactly was a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, but there are many other lessons to be gleaned from the experience. One of the most important is how to ask for help. Second, is the need to escape your comfort zone. The most memorable piece of advice I encountered: one learns the most when disoriented, confused and struggling, not when life comes easy. At some points in our lives, it does us well to embrace the discomfort of not knowing. Third, moments like these do not come without guidance and assistance from others. Without the kindness of professionals in their respective fields, it is unlikely that I would have had this hands-on experience.

With this being said, I have found that all professionals are more than willing to help students at East Carolina University, in the Honors College and in the EC Scholars Program, but no one will help without being asked. It is our job as students to use our imagination and self-advocacy skills to seek out opportunities and address those who have the experience and ability to guide us. At ECU, I have found people and resources to help me build my road.

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