Preparing for the MCAT

By Jacylin Ticatic, Honors College senior

TicaticAfter three years of hearing about the dreaded four lettered test that pre-med students quiver at the sound of, it was my turn to take on the MCAT. After my first glance at my 7-book review package from Kaplan, I knew this venture would not be the easiest feat. This four part, computer-based test is used by medical schools to determine which medical school candidates will best fit their programs.

The breakdown of the MCAT is heavily science based, with three sections full of questions with elements from chemistry, biology, physics, psychology, sociology and biochemistry. The fourth section tests your ability to answer passage-based critical analysis and reasoning questions. Throughout the test, students are also tested on their ability to reason scientifically, in ways of research and statistics as well as on basic scientific concepts. After taking in what the MCAT was all about, I decided to take the plunge and begin studying.

When studying, I decided to take on the topics I found easiest first and start slow. Each day I’d set a designated time period where I’d sit and study from my Kaplan books. Slowly but surely, I made my way through the first three practice books and decided to take on a full practice exam to get a feel for the test. After taking this first practice test, I also realized that a huge part of studying for the MCAT is training your brain’s endurance level. Sitting in front of a computer for 6 hours and continually answering challenging questions is not a normal task for most college students. After I had this epiphany, as I continued studying I would also continually increase the time I spent sitting in silence and reading over the concepts of the test to train myself for the long day that was fast approaching.

The day before I took the MCAT, I felt as prepared as I could be and spent the day relaxing and slowly going over concepts for the last time. I highly advise to any soon to be MCAT sufferers to scope out the testing center the day before, so you can plan accordingly for travel time. It seemed all too fast, but soon enough I was walking into the Greenville Prometric Testing Center at 7:30 AM to finally take on the MCAT. After seeing some familiar faces I took my seat, and a few deep breaths, and took on the test that I’d been studying for all summer.

This isn’t a fairy tale ending though; when I received my scores back a month later I was disappointed with my results. At the time it seemed like the world was ending, but with the support of my friends and the faculty at the Honors College I was able to readjust my life plan and am now planning to take a gap year to strengthen my candidacy for medical school and retake the MCAT.

To any of the future MCAT takers reading this, this test will rock your world in both a great and terrible way but it does not define you as a person. You can and will conquer it in your own time, don’t lose your faith!

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Fact from Fiction: Deciphering Comparative History

By Garrett Yarbrough, EC Scholar sophomore

The last orange rays ofGarrett Yarbrough the setting sun flashed intermittently between the library bookshelves as I weaved briskly between them. I glanced fervently between the jagged paper with a haphazardly scrawled call number and the tiny labels on the spines. My bloodshot eyes moved down the row of dusty books, glancing at each in turn from beneath my furrowed brow. Aha! Hours and hours sifting through dusty books–through all four floors of the library–and leads that ended up deader than disco, and finally that “Aha!” that I’ve been waiting for, no, digging for.

No matter the hours hunched over a worn library keyboard with the T’s and S’s worn off, or the wild goose chases for one particular book that happened to be on exchange half the state away, that one moment of longing astonishment is always worth it. As a History and English major, biology doesn’t get my gears going and I don’t have much chemistry with atoms. I’ll tell you though, that one fact on page two hundred and eight-four smack-dab in the middle of a soldier’s memoir from 1944 will get my engines up and ready to dive head first into the newspapers from his hometown, and from there…what do you know? I’m halfway through a research project.

This semester, I’ve had the privilege to begin my foray into history with an in-depth research regarding the subject of the treatment of German Prisoners of War in North Carolina contrasted with how the American guards behaved towards the German prisoners in the Rheinwiesenlager, the Rhine Meadow camps. The fact that German POWs were held in North Carolina camps is not often discussed—or even known on some accounts—nor the fact that Americans held German soldiers from April to September of 1945 in twelve POW camps along the Rhine River in Germany.

Naturally, knowledge of German soldiers living down the road from the local school and half a mile from your neighbor’s farm wouldn’t be taken kindly nor calmly by the nationalistic people of rural North Carolina. Neither would the vindictive treatment of the German soldiers by Americans, living in barbed wire cages in the Ruhr Valley, including the lack of food and supplies (although that couldn’t be help as a massive shortage plagued occupied Europe). Heck, German U-boats (submersibles) patrolled up and down the North Carolina coast throughout the war, and the first German POWs sent to America were from a U-boat sunk off our coast. The captured soldiers were then promptly sent to Fort Bragg and Camp Butner, Fort Bragg holding the first POWs on American soil during World War II.

In the case of unfavorable (to some audiences) history, perspectives vary wildly in the historical community, and selective research is cherry-picked to be presented to the public. This is where the most interesting part of historical research comes in—and where the learning magic happens. You can’t trust everything you read, and my project touches on this. My research is on comparative history, historiography, and personal memoirs. Reporting from these events tend to be filtered through a biased lens, depending on motive, theses, nationalities, and other background context. Learning to properly research, be a skeptic, and analyze the clues and sources left behind by researchers are skills that can be applied to any writing for any field. Being thorough and critical thinking are a must for any kind of reporting or research.

Not only do I get to learn the ins and outs of my prospective field, I get to speak to other prominent historians that have earned their stripes…a position I hope to be in in the near future. With the help of ECU staff and that of the devoted Honors College, I’ve gotten to speak to several historians specializing in naval history and the fates of these Germans. Through the personal archives of one of these historians, I’ve gotten to see the humanity and generosity that the North Carolinians treated German POWs, which resulted in fond memories in most cases and their emigration to the United States after the war.

“What could possibly be better than tracking down each and every tidbit available for your research project? What ecstatic experience could hope to top it?” you’re all wondering, arriving back home from our brief but breath-taking adventure to History Land. The payoff for all that arduous work wafts off the page in the hot ink, you sitting back with disheveled hair and peering over each footnote, knowing that you held that story, and that story came from someone who crawled out of the mud and barbed wire cages and into the brisk autumn German air of 1945.

The alluring part of studying history is the realization that the story doesn’t stop after you print out that bibliography. The present only lasts for a moment, and then it’s history. History is made every day, and with what I’ve learned from my research project, more stories unfold every day as a result of the past. With that said, I can tell you without a doubt that I’m banking on hunting down each of those stories that I can get my hands on.

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A Semester of Revelations: Experiencing Dutch Healthcare

By: Ankita Mishra, Honors College sophomore 

IMG_9629The October of my freshman year, I began planning my study abroad experience. I researched the best options: the programs that would bring me the most credits, and a country that would best suit my interests. I landed upon HAN University in the Netherlands.

What I have learned and seen so far this semester may sound like anything else you may have read about being abroad, but the value that has been revealed to me in relation to medicine, patience, and humanity lies beyond comprehension. My minor, Internationalization, entailed a semester of theory involving the practice of healthcare in Western and developing countries and a comparison of these practices. This was coupled with a practical research component that I’d be completing while the Dutch students in the minor traveled abroad to practice health care in various developing countries at clinics in partnership with the university. The part I didn’t realize? Each and every one of my classmates would be a nursing student.

Being a public health major on a pre-medical route, my interests coincide with those of my classmates, but the education that we have received is very different. With every lecture, assignment, and group project that we completed together, I learned more about medicine from the perspective of a nurse. The challenges that they face and the mission that they hope to accomplish with every patient is similar to what I have observed from shadowing doctors, yet treated so different. Nurses are actively engaged in public health policy, patient advocacy, and have a tremendous role in the health of a patient. It occurred to me while working with other nurses that the ultimate difference between a doctor and a nurse is simply the ultimate responsibility of the patient as this is primarily the doctor’s liability. Everything else — the opportunities they have, their experiences, their goals, and their basic education — is the same.


My time with my nursing classmates not only illustrated to me the value of nursing, but also exposed me to the simple yet beautiful practice of Dutch healthcare. I have visited numerous hospitals and clinics in the Netherlands and the one aspect that they share is patient-centered care. Dutch health care focuses on addressing the social health of a patient to make hospitalization a less drastic change for patients. The cultural expectation of a person who is sick is not abided by in the practice of Dutch health care. Patients are provided with a close semblance of their daily routine as health care providers allow them to wear their own clothes, provide them with various opportunities for social interaction, and attempt to replicate their typical daily schedules as much as possible. In addition, hospitals and clinics constantly renovate their building to keep up with the needs of their clients and to assure that the client has the best possible experience during their stay. They overwhelm the client with options when it comes to rooms, their daily meal, and their day-to-day living while at their Hospital. With this approach, the Dutch health care system seeks to address the holistic needs of the patient rather than just curing their illness. The best part of it all, though? Most, if not all, of this care is free to the client.

My time in the Netherlands so far has taught me a lot about Dutch healthcare and how it compares to that of America and other countries. I continue to learn more through my research component, which consists of studying about the cost-efficiency of prevention methods established by large NGO’s, and then applying this knowledge to help develop a new public health minor at HAN with other lecturers. I cannot begin to thank the International Office and the Honors College for giving me this amazing opportunity to expand my perspective on medicine. With half of my stay to look forward to, I cannot even begin to imagine what the next few months holds.

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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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