Inaugural year for the Honors College

Kevin BaxterThe inaugural year for the Honors College at East Carolina University has come to an end.  Our students, faculty, staff, and partners, have built an incredible foundation over these past two semesters.  New and innovative courses were launched, diverse and multidisciplinary seminars were delivered, and students engaged in a wide array of service and leadership experiences in their communities.  As the College delivered these experiences to our current students, we also launched the first full recruitment and admissions process for the incoming class of fall 2011.  This effort resulted in more than 100 new students joining the Honors College in August.

The College experienced a tremendous number of successes this past year.  In August, we hosted our inaugural Honors College Convocation.  This event featured remarks from Chancellor Ballard, Provost Sheerer, and others, and served as a milestone event for the Honors College.  Each of the freshmen students had the opportunity to meet with senior administrators and friends of the university in a reception that followed the event.  Our EC Scholars program continued to engage in strong partnerships around the region and contributed significant amounts of service to the local Golden Living Center and the Children’s Hospital at Pitt County Memorial Hospital.  The freshman class was fortunate to have a private audience with New York Times best-selling author and ECU alumnus, Tommy Spaulding.  In April, The Honors College relocated to the historic Mamie Jenkins Building and held a rededication event hosted by the chancellor.  Throughout the year, a number of our faculty and students received university and national awards and recognitions.  Finally, we congratulated 42 Honors students and 16 EC Scholars as they graduated from the university this past month.

As we look forward to the next academic year, there is much to be excited about.  Interim Dean and Chancellor Emeritus Richard Eakin is leading an incredible team of faculty and staff who are committed to delivering an experience second-to-none for each of our students.  As we continue to upgrade the facilities available to Honors students, our living-learning community is relocating this summer to Garrett Hall, just steps away from Mamie Jenkins.  Additionally, the student library space within Mamie Jenkins is being upgraded to include more technology and support for our students.  Our programs are growing stronger as we continue to pursue new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.  As we embark on the summer months and finalize planning for the upcoming year, we will continue to work hard to identify unique and exciting opportunities for our Honors College students.  We hope you will keep up with our progress by following us online or by planning a visit to the Mamie Jenkins Building so you can see the incredible space that is now fully functional for the Honors College.

On behalf of all of us at the Honors College, thank you for taking an interest in our new program for talented undergraduate students.  We truly believe that we are making an important impact to these students, our university, the region, and the state.  Should you be in a position to support the Honors College as a partner, mentor, or contributor, please never hesitate to be in touch.

Kevin Baxter
Associate Dean of the Honors College

What the EC Scholars program has taught me about service

Friday, August 20, 2010, at approximately 1:30 p.m., I, strolled down 10th Street with 10 other students towards the Real Crisis Intervention Center. This short walk may not seem significant to an outsider, but for us, it was the beginning of a new part of our lives. We were embarking on a journey that in some sense we had been preparing for over the past 12 years– college. But not only were we college students, we were also EC Scholars. Keep in mind, this was mere hours after our parents had left us in the unfamiliar residence hall and the 11 of us had only met about an hour before this walk took place. Interestingly enough, the activity that was planned for us was service work. Our first real interaction with one another as independent college students was a service project!  What an awesome message to instill in students.

East Carolina University encourages students to take part in the Greenville community in many ways. Part of ECU’s mission statement explains that the university’s goal is to positively impact eastern North Carolina by training students and sending them back into the community. The fact that a service project was the first activity that I participated in as an ECU student really put into perspective what would be expected of me as an EC Scholar. It set the standard very high and it showed us the community is as much a part of learning as the classroom.

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Tips for Managing Stress

Stress is something everybody has to deal with, whether young or old, male or female, Type A or Type B. But stress can especially be hard on a college student. To start, students must attend classes. And no matter what major or year you are in, there is always one class that just eats all of your time. No matter how hard you work on it, you always feel like you’re playing catch up.

Then there is another layer to add to our growing stress: friends. You love to hate them and can’t live without them. They are your family away from home, but just like family, they have the ability to crowd your space and annoy you. This can be especially true in the 12-by-12 cube that is your dorm room.

The last major component of our escalating stress levels is perhaps the classic reason we come to college—to discover who we truly are. We do this by joining clubs, rushing fraternities and sororities, joining honor societies, finding jobs, internships and shadowing, changing majors (and changing them again), and trying new experiences. Now I’m not saying that to have a full college experience you must try everything, but you should try everything that interests you. When else in your life will you be able to do this?

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Honors Dorm Life and Community

During my first semester here at ECU, I had the privilege of living in the Honors dorm. The experience of being part of the Living and Learning Community for Honors College students is beneficial in so many ways. As Honors College students, we meet together for Honors classes, but we also live together in the same building. This community allows us to build relationships within the Honors College that we can maintain throughout our careers at East Carolina University. It is also the perfect environment in which to build study groups and work on projects. Living on campus allows easy access to all of the resources of the library, as well as Mendenhall, and the Student Recreation Center.

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Research at the Brody School of Medicine

I am an undergraduate researcher at the Brody School of Medicine. I first started in the field of research in high school observing my mentors. One mentor I observed in high school focused on the mitochondrial physiology of cardiomyocytes, while the other mentor focused on the therapeutic effects of human mesenchymal stem cells in hearts. When I first started, I knew almost nothing about any of these subjects. What little information I did know was from the biology classes I took in high school. I did not know any of the techniques used to do research, but I learned.

I formed great relationships with my two mentors and the people in their labs over time. I literally began to absorb knowledge from my mentors like a sponge, learning how to do some of the techniques by observing. My mentors showed me how to apply scientific theory through their research. I learned how important the mitochondria in heart muscle cells were for life and the energy they provided to each individual heart muscle cell for the entire heart to beat. I also learned the potential of stem cells of how they can differentiate into heart cells to replace dead heart cells after a heart attack to restore the heart’s function back to normal.

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