Approximately 5,600 incoming Pirates converged on campus Aug. 16 when East Carolina University opened residence halls for move in. The welcome extended to more than 27,000 students when fall semester classes began officially Aug. 21. Many of the students were moving in to new living-learning communities, which bring together students with similar interests into a central living area.
Brittany Colie was among the incoming freshmen moving in for the first time on ECU’s move in day Aug. 16. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
Among the incoming freshmen moving in to campus for the first time on Aug. 16 were: Brittany Colie
To say that Kristen Colie is going to miss her sister is an understatement. The seven-year-old plainly stated on East Carolina University’s move-in day that she was “sad” about Brittany moving into Fletcher Residence Hall.
But she’s excited too, because Kristen – who will be in second grade at West Greene Elementary in Snow Hill – has already decided that she’s coming to ECU like her big sister.
As she has for the past five years, Brittany was asked by their parents, Shayne and Geneva Colie, to take care of Kristen this summer. According to Kristen, they painted faces (her favorite thing), went to the pool and sometimes met their mom for lunch.
Brittany is living in Fletcher as part of the FX: First Year Experience, one of nine Living Learning Communities on campus, and plans to study elementary education. Brittany said she’s ready to be at ECU but admits it is hard to leave her parents and sister.
“She cried last night,” Brittany said about Kristen while they took another load from their SUV to Fletcher. “I had to sleep with her. And then Mom came in and slept with us for a while, too.”
“I’ve kept her since she was 2,” Brittany said. “I took her to school and picked her up every day. She’s my little best friend. She wants to be like me and come to ECU, but she says she wants to be a nurse.”
Geneva said, “We were very ecstatic when she got in to ECU. This is the only application she submitted, because she said I’m going to get in.”
Brittany was born to be a teacher, her mother said. “She has taught Kristen to subtract and they are working on multiplication. She loves working with young children.”
Sporting an “East Carolina Mom” T-shirt, Lynne Jennings of Winston-Salem was waiting Thursday morning for her husband to come back to their daughter Ashleigh’s pile of belongings for another trip into Fletcher Residence Hall.
Ashleigh Jennings is also part of the FX: First Year Experience and is planning to study physical therapy.
“We visited campus the summer of her junior year and she decided then to come to ECU,” Jennings said. “We heard that ECU is the best place for physical therapy, and she can do it all right here.”
Like many freshmen, Ashleigh Jennings and her roommate, Madison Lewis of Morrisville, met using online resources to match potential roommates at colleges using their similarities and preferences.
“I’ve been good so far,” Lynn Jennings said. “I’m sure as I leave here today I’ll get teary-eyed. It’s what she needs to do.”
Ashleigh’s dad, David Jennings, rested between trips up to her room and said, “I’m ready. It’s time for her to have some time to herself. Not that I’m kicking her out,” he added with a laugh.
Kristen and Geneva Colie help move in family member Brittany Colie.
LIVING AND LEARNING ECU students bond over majors, interests in housing communities
Jarvis Residence Hall may be the oldest housing available for students at East Carolina University, but it plays host to a new and increasingly popular college experience.
Opened in 1909, Jarvis Hall will house more than 100 students participating in the Jarvis Leadership Program this fall. It is one of nine living-learning communities at ECU, with the first programs launched in 2009.
Living-learning communities evolved from theme housing, said Janet Johnson, associate director for Residence Life. But they are distinct in that students in living-learning settings must take two courses together in the residence hall.
Some are major-based – like music and the new College of Business living-learning communities – while others, like Jarvis, stretch across academic disciplines.
More than 380 ECU students will enter living-learning communities this fall. Students must apply for admittance, but there are numerous benefits associated with the model, Johnson said.
“It’s kind of like having family support,” she said. “Studies show students (in these communities) are better engaged, better with time management, and faculty and staff can come in and interact with them. It gets them involved.”
Three living-learning communities are new at ECU this year. Among them is the Future Pirate Nurse Living and Learning Village, where 27 intended nursing majors will live in Umstead Residence Hall.
Students typically apply to the College of Nursing in their sophomore year and begin as juniors, said Dr. Janice Neil, associate professor and chair of the undergraduate nursing science junior division in the College of Nursing.
Living in the village does not guarantee admission, but the environment will provide encouragement, support and enrichment activities toward the pursuit of a nursing degree, Neil said. Many of the students will take pre-requisite classes together.
“It will give people insight into what nursing is before they apply,” Neil said. “We’re going to include them in many of the College of Nursing activities and have them interact with our students. One of our goals is to produce a diverse group of intended nursing majors.”
Also living in Umstead are 65 students participating in the Engineering Learning Community, which faculty members agree could lead to collaborative research opportunities between the two groups.The engineering and nursing programs are among the most rigorous on campus, said Karen De Urquidi, coordinator of advising and retention in the Department of Engineering.
“These are people who really need to study,” De Urquidi said. “We want to make it an atmosphere where they can be serious about their studies and get the sleep they need.”
De Urquidi said students living in the community earned higher GPAs in past years. And it’s convenient, students said.
ECU students will soon be moving in to residence halls across campus for the fall semester. Living-learning communities offer a unique opportunity for students to share spaces near fellow students with similar interests.
“I love being just across the street from classes, as well as being in between dining halls,” said rising sophomore Curren Blake, an engineering major from Surf City. “Having the engineering students live together made forming study groups and asking questions quick and easy.”
Housed in Garrett Residence Hall, the Wellness Living & Learning program is geared toward students who have an interest in healthy living. The students are ambassadors for healthy living, and take a health risk assessment as part of a behavior modification project that they choose, from getting more sleep to eating better or exercising more.
“We take it a step beyond and teach them how to give back to the community,” said Tywanna Purkett, assistant director of campus wellness and co-creator of the program. “We are empowering them to make smart decisions about their health and wellness.”
Rising sophomore Ashley Adair of Harrisburg helped teach a group of elementary students about eating healthy in a service project this spring. She was drawn to the wellness community and liked getting to know fellow students before classes started last fall.
“I will have friends here for years and years and years,” she said.
Those already in the program will mentor freshmen in Garrett Hall, where about 40 students in the wellness community are housed. Students in the Honors College and new Bio Living-Learning Community also live in Garrett.
“I think it’s good for students to have another student to connect to, especially when they first get here,” Purkett said.
Johnson said that’s the goal of all living-learning communities, and of housing at ECU.
“Our intent is for them to feel like this university is home now,” she said. “It’s a more welcoming environment.”