Graduating and Gap Years

By: Julia Horiates, Honors College Senior

“The days are long, but the years are short,” is a quote my mom often repeats in our conversations about school. I’ve been in school for about 16 years. High school flew by and coming into college, I didn’t want to believe anyone saying that this time at ECU would go by even faster. (They were right.)

I’ll be leaving East Carolina University this May with the greatest memories I could have ever dreamed of making – shout out and thank you to my core group of friends: Justin Safin, Caroline Balch, Tyler Walston, and Evan Butler. But what happens when you don’t have it figured out? What happens if you think you know what you want to pursue after graduation, but aren’t entirely sure?

The stigmatized words, “Gap years” come into play.

As a dual-degree student, I had no time to fill out my applications to medical school and properly prepare for the MCAT during my college career. Out of my 8 semesters here, I’ve taken over 18 hours for 5 of them, in addition to classes over 4 summer sessions. Add in my time to working at least 2 jobs, volunteering as an EMT, and co-founding a chapter of the national non-profit, Timmy Global Health.

Pros? I’m graduating with a 2 separate degrees, a BS in Biology and a BA in English. I’ll be debt-free. I had an amazing college experience! Cons? I’ll be starting medical school later than I initially thought.

While I will use my time to shadow and work towards my paramedic license, I also plan to use my gap years to explore other areas of interest to ensure I want to go to medical school. From exploring climate research and conservation internships, volunteering in hospitals in other countries, teaching middle school literature in Philadelphia, I have a couple opportunities in different programs lined up for this summer and fall. Soon after, I plan to take the MCAT and start preparing for applications. I’ll also have to be working as well. These gap years mean I’m taking my time and pursuing things to confirm I’ll be making the right decision with my future.

So my advice to anyone reading this and possibly debating gap years is this: Don’t rush into it. Any professional program is a long and intense process and if you are any bit unsure of it, take some time off. Don’t start a program you’re not sure if you want to. Don’t accumulate the debt if you’re not whole-heartedly in it. Don’t push yourself to take more if you really need to decompress after college. Do make sure to explore your interests. Do have a plan and a timeline so you go back to school if that’s your initial goal. And lastly, do be flexible. Gap years can change everything.

If someone told me four years ago I would be taking two gap years before entering medical school, I would have laughed. I had a different mentality where I was full-throttle-ahead-nothing-will-stop-me. And I know in some ways I still have that spirit, but for now I need to focus on graduating and what will happen next. Maybe I’ll end up attending medical school in Fall 2019 or maybe I won’t, but wherever I end up is where I am supposed to be and I’ll be happy.

EC Scholars Provide Service, Reflect on Four-Year Journey

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, 17 EC Scholars traveled to Charleston, South Carolina where they led a service project at the Ronald McDonald House, connected with East Carolina University alumni and reflected on their four-year journey together.

The annual senior impact trip also included an outing to Fort Sumter to learn more about the history of Charleston.

At the Ronald McDonald House, students cleaned, removed holiday décor, cleaned the food pantry, organized the linen closet and freshened up rooms.

The also painted an elephant face on a pop can tab collector. Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide collect pop tabs as a fundraiser. 

The senior class described their time together as “entertaining, meaningful and rejuvenating,” said Dr. Diana Majewski, assistant director of the EC Scholars, who accompanied the students on the trip along with Dr. Todd Fraley, director of EC Scholars.

To view photos from the trip, visit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/ecuhonorscollege/albums/72157677587716551

Research as a Freshman

By: Ananya Koripella, Freshman EC Scholar

AnanyaLab3One thing I hear often when I mention to someone that I am doing research at Brody is, “Aren’t you a freshman?” At first, I was a little startled when I got that reaction because I had not realized that a majority of freshmen do not participate in research but rather wait until their sophomore year to begin. There is no harm in doing either but if you see an opportunity that you like, take it and run with it.

When I first heard about this opportunity, I was intrigued by the mention of Drosophila melanogaster. I had worked with these fruit flies before in my AP Biology class and automatically was interested. Being a Public Health AnanyaLab2Studies major and Pre-Med, naturally I found the research’s links to obesity and metabolic syndrome even more interesting. All it took was an email and a meeting for me to get the research assistant position. Being a freshman, I thought that it would be difficult to get acclimated to the environment, get used to all the terminology that the upperclassmen use in the lab and learn the procedures. However, everyone has always been ready to lend a hand and help me learn. The fact that I’m a freshman has never been counted against me and I don’t think it would for any other freshman interested in research either.

AnanyaLab1Every day that I go to Brody, I learn something new. It could be the smallest thing about lab protocol or something bigger about the flies and the way they are reacting to the stimuli we give them. Just last week I even got to learn the process we use to sacrifice a mouse for cell cultures!

If you’re interested in doing research, just look for a topic you’re interested in. Don’t wait for it to find you, go find it. Sometimes opportunities do fall into our laps, but other times we find what we want just by looking. We attend a university that thrives on helping its students. Being in the Honors College is an even bigger blessing. Talk to different people, ask around and use the resources that are provided to us. Most of all, if you are a freshman, don’t let it stop you from doing something you’re interested in.

Pirates Promoting Community Wellness

By: Tori Chapman, Senior EC Scholar

ppcw2Pirates Promoting Community Wellness (PPCW) is a student led organization with the mission to connect ECU students with volunteer and leadership opportunities for the promotion of wellness locally and globally.

Locally, we partner with AMEXCAN to host monthly fitness and nutrition classes open to the public.  The aim of these classes is to share basic wellness information, and to foster a community focused on promoting healthy lifestyles. We also are involved in collecting can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, chair fitness at Red Oak Retirement Center, and many other local outreaches. 

Globally, we raise money and go on a service trip to a state in Honduras called Comayagua. The main focus of our philanthropy is the construction of a park and community center in a poor Honduran village, Carrizales. We work with Threads of Hope, which is a non-profit organization that strives to give poor communities in the Philippines steady employment. Threads of Hope profits go towards two causes. Half goes back to providing dignified work for families so they can stay together, avoid exploitation, and pursue education to set a new trajectory for their lives, and the other half goes towards PPCW’s goal of building a park! We also sell Honduran coffee.

Working with locals and the non-profit Honduras Fountain of Life, we have been able to jointly construct a community center with three classrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and a large congregating space. We have also installed a drainage ditch, which allows for the dangerous waters of the rainy season to be diverted. Compassion International has committed to finding ppcw3sponsors for 150 children in the area because of the community center. 

During Winter Break, we will take a team of 12 students to live in an orphanage and to run a free health-screening clinic. Within those 12 students, we have a diverse majors and ages ranging from Freshmen to Super Seniors. The goal of our service trip is to establish and continue the deep relationships that have been made between the Honduran community and ECU.

We will be having our trip this December 28th – January 7th and is planned as follows:

  • Dec. 28th- 31st: Talk to local health officials & government agencies and publicize free clinic to communities
  • Jan. 1st: Take a field trip with the orphan girls to the pool followed by an evening soccer USA vs HONDURAS
  • Jan 2nd, 4th, 6th: All day health screening & clinic and evening wellness classes
  • Jan 3rd: Install park equipment in Carrizales, do a community meal & park dedication
  • Jan 6th: Women’s education empowerment presentation in orphanage

We are grateful to be able to announce that this year the Student Government Association’s Appropriations Committee has provided t-shirts and 12 plane tickets. PPCW would also like to thank all of those who have supported our dreams of making a lasting impact as students for wellness advocacy, and all who will help in the future. For more information about PPCW please check us out at ecuppcw.com

ppcw1

Bob Woodward Visits ECU

By: Madeline (Madie) Fleishman, Sophomore EC Scholar

Pictured Left to Right: Lilian Faulconer, Bob Woodward, Madie Fleishman, Garrett Yarbrough

As a part of the Voyages of Discovery lecture series, Bob Woodward came to campus last week. Bob Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein are the journalists responsible for reporting the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s. Members of the Honors College were given the opportunity to meet Mr. Woodward in a small group discussion. During the discussion Mr. Woodward told us countless stories of his time in investigative journalism. He began by asking us how we find our information. Most people said the Internet, books, or people. Mr. Woodward told us that the best way to get information is through observation and personally experiencing it. He shared with us stories of times he used this himself. He told us one story about a piece he wrote on a coffee shop that ended up being completely inaccurate because he hadn’t bothered to go to the coffee shop himself.  This lesson will stick with the other students and I as we tackle challenging Honors research and our remaining classwork in our undergraduate experience. Mr. Woodward would remind us that there is always a way to experience our research. Additionally, we discussed the current presidential election and the controversy surrounding both candidates. The topic of most interest was the debate of whether Trump’s tax records or Hillary’s emails were more important to find. Woodward brought this conversation back to Watergate, proposing the question, what can we do to prevent another Watergate? The conversation provoked thoughtful discussions on crime, corruption, and prevention of scandal.

              Hearing stories and advice from a man that had changed the future of the US was inspiring. He taught me that with hard work and dedication, it is possible to change the course of history. Woodward was open with us about everything (except his sources) about his experiences and knowledge of current events and uncovering Watergate. I was incredibly grateful to be able to meet such an influential person and it was all made possible by the Honors College.

1 2 3 4 5 36