Category Archives: ecscholars13

Keerthana Velappan

Velappanfeat

 

Hometown: Cary, N.C.

High School: Panther Creek High School; N.C. School of Science and Math

Intended Major: Child Life, Medicine

“I look forward to being around equally hard-working and motivated peers, and I’m particularly excited about the study abroad options.”

 

Sights set on pediatrics

It was a high school internship with Duke Center for Human Genetics that drove Keerthana Velappan toward a career in pediatrics. Working with children and their families as they tried to discern what caused their ailments or disabilities, she was reminded of something familiar.

Keerthana Velappan

Keerthana Velappan

Born in India, Velappan was discovered to have a hearing impairment when she entered first grade in the U.S. She well remembers the regular visits with audiologists and other specialists as they tried to identify a cause and course of treatment for her disability. But she’s come a long way since that official diagnosis.

“It started that my life revolved around my hearing loss,” Velappan said. “It wasn’t a bad thing but everyone was aware of it. Now, no one has to know unless I tell them.”

Velappan, 17, of Cary will be one of 19 incoming freshmen who enters ECU this August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in child life before continuing on to medical school. The undergraduate program trains students to work with seriously ill and hospitalized children and adolescents.

“Being an EC Scholar means that I can focus on my academics and branch out of my comfort zone by joining various clubs and trying new activities, all without having to worry about financial hardships,” she said.

Velappan said she “fell in love with the campus and the people” at ECU while attending the Honors College Preview Day earlier this year.

“I look forward to being around equally hard-working and motivated peers, and I’m particularly excited about the study abroad options,” Velappan said.

She said she is considering Switzerland for a program with the World Health Organization, but might also returning to India for study abroad to experience her home country in a new way.

Velappan attended Panther Creek High School in Cary and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. In Durham, she served as a student ambassador, committee member for the Student Government and one of only six seniors selected for the Honor Council for disciplinary hearings. She was co-president and tutor of the Emily K Tutoring Club, which provided help for 4th and 5th graders, and supported fundraising efforts for the Association for India’s Development, which funds village educational centers.

Velappan participates in Indian classical dance. She is fluent in English, Tamil (South Indian), Spanish and American Sign Language.

She is the daughter of Uma Ramanathan and Velappan Velappan.

Steve Tuttle and Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Patrick Twisdale

Twisdalefeat

 

Hometown: Mint Hill, N.C.

High School: David W. Butler High School

Intended Majors: Bio-medical areas

“The students and faculty all seem to be very serious about the school’s motto, ‘To Serve.'”

 

On a path to exploration

Patrick Twisdale ended a childhood beach fishing trip helping a relative dissect a fish. That moment of exploration opened the door to a desire to study anatomy and biology.

Patrick Twisdale

Patrick Twisdale

“My relative showed me its internal organs and I even got to see its beating heart,” said Twisdale, 17. “You may think that is gross but being a 5-year-old boy that was really cool.”

Twisdale, of Mint Hill, is one of 19 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars — the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.

That early-life experience led him to biomedical technology courses as a freshman at David W. Butler High School. There, his experiences in honors anatomy and honors biology courses, participation in Science Olympiad — along with a teacher’s urging to join Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) — convinced him his future would be in the biomedical area.

In particular, Twisdale credits that teacher’s direction for his path.

“The encouragement she provided me when I was a high school freshman has helped focus my high school academic and non-classroom efforts … (it) opened by eyes to a new world that I may not have found without her help,” he said.

In addition to HOSA and Science Olympiad, Twisdale has been involved in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, soccer and tennis. In Science Olympiad, he won medals in competition for three years as a middle school student and as a freshman at Butler. His junior and senior years he led the school’s then-struggling Olympiad team, recruiting members and training the team for competition.

Twisdale said he was determined to make his team competitive.

“It was a lot of hard work, but I learned a lot of lessons about leadership,” Twisdale said.

His most rewarding experience, he said, has been volunteering for Kicking 4 Hunger, a charity which conducts youth soccer camps to collect food for a local food bank.

A visit to East Carolina and its Honors College swayed Twisdale away from other campuses and made the university his top choice. He particularly liked the campus atmosphere and the community support for the university, he said.

“The students and faculty all seem to be very serious about the school’s motto, ‘To Serve’,” said Twisdale, who plans to continue his work with Science Olympiad and Kicking 4 Hunger as a Pirate at East Carolina.

Twisdale had committed to attend ECU’s Honors College and his EC Scholarship was a bonus, he said. “I am grateful for this opportunity,” he said.

He is the son of Hal and Karlanna Twisdale.

Mary Schulken

 

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Jessie Tucci-Herron

TucciHeronfeat

 

Hometown: Greenville, N.C.

High School: J.H. Rose High School

Intended Major: Psychology

“….I want to be able to help people like they have helped my family.”

 

Seeking a career in caring for people

Like many teenagers, Jessie Tucci-Herron didn’t come home from high school every day gushing about what she’d learned. But one class was different.

Jessie Tucci-Herron

Jessie Tucci-Herron

Enrolled in advanced placement psychology her sophomore year, Tucci-Herron was fascinated. “I’d come home every day and talk about it,” she said.

Tucci-Herron, 17, intends to continue studying psychology at East Carolina University this fall. She will be one of 19 incoming freshman entering this August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.

She’s interested in the brain, and is considering attending medical school. That interest stems, in part, from watching her sister Jenna grow up with high-functioning autism and attention deficit disorder.

“Autism is one of those disorders that can be hard to understand,” Tucci-Herron explained. “I am considering psychology as a major not only to better understand different disorders such as autism but because I know that caring for people as a psychiatrist would be something I would be passionate about, having grown up with my sister.”

Tucci-Herron said she can see herself one day working as a psychiatrist or – departing from psychology a bit – in neonatal care.

“Even if I decide that psychology isn’t for me, I know a career in medicine is what I want because I want to be able to help people like they have helped my family,” she said.

As a native of Greenville, Tucci-Herron wasn’t sure if she wanted to attend college in the same town where she’d grown up. She considered UNC and Duke, but the opportunity to be an EC Scholar kept her here. The sense of community the program provides is important at a university as large as ECU, she said.

“There’s so many people (at ECU) but if you’re in the Honors College, it’s more focused and there are people with the same drive and goals. I’m really excited…to meet new people with the same academic interests as me.”

At J.H. Rose, Tucci-Herron played volleyball for four years, served as treasurer of the Student Government Association, and volunteered with various mentoring programs and the Special Olympics of Pitt County.

This summer, she hopes to earn an internship at Vidant Medical Center or A Small Miracle, a local nonprofit serving children and adults with disabilities and specializing in autism spectrum disorders.

Her parents are Tadd Herron and Karen Tucci-Heron.

Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Ricky Tharrington

Tharringtonfeat

 

Hometown: Pikeville, N.C.

High School: Charles B. Aycock High School

Intended Major: Mechanical engineering

“I try not to turn down an opportunity to help.”

 

Ready to solve problems

From Rubik’s cube to sorting marbles, Ricky Tharrington has a knack for solving problems.

Ricky Tharrington

Ricky Tharrington

This future mechanical engineer recently built a five-color marble sorter for a Charles B. Aycock High School class project. It worked the best out of all entries submitted, he said.

Tharrington is one of 19 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

While ECU’s engineering program is relatively new, he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get involved.

Part of that spirit comes from scouting, which Tharrington has been involved in since he was 6. He is an Eagle Scout and a winner of the Vigil Honor, the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow – scouting’s National Honor Society – can give. Tharrington has served as Lodge Chief and has worked several summers as a counselor at Camp Tuscarora in Four Oaks.

He is a member of his school’s Chess Club, Skills USA, Quiz Bowl team, National Honor Society and the Ambassadors.

Besides solving problems, he’s good at making people laugh. “I try not to take things too seriously,” said Tharrington, who’s done stand-up for school functions and church events.

He’s active with Saulston United Methodist Church, from mentoring elementary children to volunteering in the soup kitchen. “I try not to turn down an opportunity to help,” Tharrington said.

A fellow church member, Emily Quinn Pilkington, was an EC Scholar and influenced Tharrington’s decision to attend ECU.

Tharrington only applied to three schools. A Park Scholar and Morehead-Cain Scholar nominee, he didn’t look back once he received ECU’s invitation. “I knew I was definitely going once I got in. It means I’m ensured of a good education,” he said.

He’s also looking forward to being part of the EC Scholars and Honors College community.

“I’ve always enjoyed new experiences,” he said in thinking about the fall semester. “I also like the idea of walking to classes.”

Tharrington has had several family members attend ECU and N.C. State, but his admission has vaulted the Pirates past the Wolfpack by one. His aunt and uncle were history majors while his cousin recently completed a nursing degree. “I’m not one to turn down opportunities,” he said. “When I visited, I liked everybody there.”

He is still searching for some purple socks but the rest of his wardrobe has gotten an overhaul: all the red has been replaced by purple and gold.

He is the son of Rick and Terry Tharrington.

Crystal Baity

 

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Ryan Stitt

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Hometown: Fuquay-Varina, N.C.

High School: Fuquay-Varina High School

Intended Major: Dental Medicine

“A dental career combines my fascination for engineering with my passion for health sciences and caring to those in need.”

 

Headed for a career in dental medicine

On a camping trip with his mother on the west coast, Ryan Stitt made an invaluable connection. He struck up a conversation with a man who had the same kind of tent that he and his mother were using. And they found they had at least one other interest in common – dentistry.

Ryan Stitt

Ryan Stitt

Not long after, Stitt was shadowing his new mentor in San Francisco at the University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry. He observed surgeries and procedures up close and became sure this was the career for him.

Stitt, 17, will be one of 19 students entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

He also completed training in robotics and engineering at Wake Technical Community College, to gain a basic understanding of engineering principles as a foundation for dentistry studies.

“A dental career combines my fascination for engineering with my passion for health sciences and caring to those in need,” Stitt wrote on his application materials.

His desire to serve others is something that runs throughout his high school accomplishments. While attending Fuquay-Varina High School, he participated in the Society of St. Andrews, which provides fruits and vegetables for needy families in the community, and the Key Club.

At WakeMed’s Long-term Nursing Facility, Stitt logged more than 100 volunteer hours working to enhance the physical and emotional wellbeing of patients with severe head, neck or spinal cord injuries. For that effort, he was honored as the first recipient of State Farm’s Good Neighbor Award, which recognizes a local resident for demonstrated concern and involvement with the community.

“It’s not like outpatient care where you go in with a broken arm or something,” he said of his work with WakeMed. “These people are there for a long time. And after three years, I’ve made connections there. They’re like my friends.

“It’s extremely rewarding not just for yourself but for others. If you were ever in need, you’d want someone there to help you.”

He feels like his interest in service and scholarship makes him a good fit for the EC Scholars program.

“Being an EC Scholar means being a leader and role model for the rest of my class and community,” he said.

Stitt is the son of Lauren Marmor.

Steve Tuttle and Kathryn Kennedy

 

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McKenzie Shelton

Sheltonfeat

 

Hometown: Stokes, N.C.

High School: North Pitt High School

Intended Major: Psychology & Communications

“I think there is a humanitarian aspect to everything we do. We’re here to serve, help, learn and teach.”

 

Third generation Pirate proud to represent ECU

McKenzie Shelton enjoys music and theater but plans to be a psychologist like her father.

McKenzie Shelton

McKenzie Shelton

Her first taste of acting came as a ninth-grader when she entered a Shakespeare contest at North Pitt High School in Bethel. That winning performance sent her to the regional competition, where she performed a monologue and sonnet. Shelton won a free trip to New York to compete in the national Shakespeare contest. “There were 50 kids and only one other freshman,” she said. “I learned a lot just from watching them.”

Shelton is one of 19 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

She has coordinated several shows in Greenville’s uptown music scene including a benefit talent show for her high school art department.

Besides playing guitar and singing, Shelton enjoys keeping fit – which led to a part-time job at the Greenville Aquatics and Fitness Center where she works at the front desk and the children’s play area.

The day after graduation, she’ll leave on a 10-day trip to Italy with a close family friend. “My parents surprised me,” said Shelton, who’s never traveled outside the United States. She’s learning Italian, preparing flash cards with common words or phrases.

After she gets back, she’ll work at the fitness center and help teach a weeklong drama camp with her drama teacher in Ayden. She’s volunteered the past three summers at Emerge, an art gallery in Greenville.

One of the best summer experiences she had was two years ago when she was paired with a camper with Down syndrome at a weeklong camp for people with special needs at Trinity Center in Salter Path. “You learn unconditional love, and how they express how things make them feel,” Shelton said. “It’s not filtered. They don’t hide anything. It’s all very real.”

Shelton will be the third generation in her family to attend ECU, following her mother and grandmother. ECU was always on Shelton’s radar, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to stay close to home. Being awarded the scholarship made her decision pretty clear.

“I grew up around it; it’s very comfortable,” Shelton said. “I’ve witnessed the advances that ECU has made over the years.”

Right now, she plans a double major in psychology and communications with a minor in film studies. “I want to keep the creative arts in whatever job I eventually do,” she said.

She hopes to pursue a doctorate and eventually work with abused women and children. “I think there is a humanitarian aspect to everything we do. We’re here to serve, help, learn and teach,” she said.

Her visit to ECU’s Honors College and the EC Scholars preview day was welcoming, she said. “There was a panel of students and staff who talked to us. It was very intimate and familial. I liked that family aspect, and that they were watching out for us.”

She’s excited about the living and learning community for honors students in Garrett Hall too. She’s already been on the college’s Facebook page for incoming students and hopes to make friends quickly.

“I’m so eager, grateful and privileged to represent ECU,” said Shelton, who is the daughter of Robert and Suzie Shelton.

Crystal Baity

 

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Tori Plyler

Plyerfeat

 

Hometown: Troutman, N.C.

High School: South Iredell High School

Intended Major: Biomedical engineering

EC Scholars is “not a cutthroat competition….They bring each other up together.”

 

Combining service, engineering to support veterans

Tori Plyler wasn’t sure how exactly to prepare for her scholarship interview at East Carolina University in March.

Tori Plyler

Tori Plyler

Guided through the weekend by a current Honors College student, she chatted with people and explored the campus, but she only prepared for one question: If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be? Fortunately, that was the question she got.

Plyler, 17, said she would have dinner with former President John F. Kennedy because he “really knew how to promote morale and bring people together around a cause.” The panel must have liked her answer. Plyler will be one of 19 incoming freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

“I cried,” Plyler said of getting the scholarship. “It was like the whole world exhaled around me. I have a way to pay for college and it’s not going to be a burden. My only job will be to go to school.”

Plyler intends to study biomedical engineering at ECU, and may later pursue a medical degree. She’s interested in development of prosthetic limbs and skin to benefit veterans returning from war. Better care for their physical condition can help heal their psyche too, she believes.

Combining service and military support is a great fit for Plyler, who was an officer in her high school’s Marine JROTC program and will graduate with over 500 hours of community service. She also participated in the Beta Club and Service Club, was captain of the varsity tennis team, swam, and threw shotput at track and field competitions.

Coming from a two-stoplight town, Plyler said she is looking forward to joining ECU’s close-knit engineering program, which is growing but remains small enough to ensure plenty of one-on-one time with faculty. She also expects to fit in well with the other EC Scholars. The attitudes of the current scholars impressed her when she visited campus.

“It’s not a cutthroat competition,” she explained. “They bring each other up together.”

Plyler is no stranger to ECU. Her dad and his three siblings attended the university. She can’t wait to join in “the famous ECU tailgating” during football season – even if her parents are threatening to buy season tickets and come keep an eye on her.

“They promised I won’t have to sit with them every time,” she said, laughing.

At least Plyler knows she can get away when she studies abroad. All EC Scholars are given a stipend so they can study internationally while attending ECU. And though her mother is pushing for Italy or Australia, Plyler feels drawn to the developing world.

“I want to learn to better appreciate things (we have in America),” she said.

She is the daughter of Marty and Leslie Plyler.

Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Shivam Patel

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Hometown: Cary, N.C.

High School: Green Hope High School

Intended Major: Biology, Medicine

“…the Honors College here at ECU provides me with plentiful resources for furthering my education, both within and outside the classroom.”

 

Set on a career in medicine

Shivam Patel doesn’t just imagine the work he could do as a doctor. He’s already trying it out.

Shivam Patel

Shivam Patel

He volunteers weekly on the surgical recovery floor at WakeMed Cary Hospital and recently attended the National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine in Washington, D.C. In 2012, he initiated contact with and worked as a research assistant for a physiologist at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Together they examined the effects of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat cardiovascular diseases on rat cells.

Patel, 17, will be one of 19 students entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. The Cary resident said he felt something click when he visited ECU.

“I became instantly interested in attending,” Patel recalled. He said he had “a wonderful experience with accommodating professors and other staff members” while on campus.

“I realized that the Honors College here at ECU provides me with plentiful resources for furthering my education, both within and outside the classroom,” he said. “The research background I will gain at ECU will provide me with a sound foundation for my future career in medicine.”

Patel plans to major in biology. He has been accepted to ECU’s Early Assurance program, which guarantees Patel admittance to the Brody School of Medicine upon completion of his undergraduate degree.

“Both letters (EC Scholars and Early Assurance) came in the mail the same day,” he said. “I was anxious when they arrived but I opened them and jumped up and down.”

Becoming an EC Scholar “enables me to act as a leader on campus and within my surrounding community,” Patel added.

He has already established a record of service. He helped organize a fundraiser for victims of the March 2010 Haiti earthquake in addition to his time with WakeMed. Patel also volunteered with the Miracle League, assisting people with disabilities who play baseball.

Patel hopes to center his future study abroad experience on examining health care access and outcome disparities, and is considering India as a possible destination. This summer he plans to travel across multiple European countries with his family “exploring ancient history and diverse cultures and lifestyles.”

He is the son of Pravin and Monal Patel.

– Steve Tuttle and Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Ian McMillan

McMillanfeat

Hometown: Greenville, N.C.

High School: D.H. Conley

Intended Major: Biology

“My values and morals are very important in my life….In college, I want to continue that in my interactions with people.”

 

Outdoorsman, Scholar

Ian McMillan is ready to hit the ground running when it comes to being a college freshman—alongside students just as motivated as he is.

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan

The avid outdoorsman with a penchant for community service is eager to take hold of opportunities at ECU that will help him excel in academics, leadership and his many other passions.

McMillan, 17, of Greenville, will be one of 19 incoming freshmen entering ECU as EC Scholars—the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. He currently attends D. H. Conley High School.

When he learned that he had earned a spot in the newest class of EC Scholars, McMillan thought about how he has the potential to grow because of his classmates. “I’ve always liked to surround myself with people with similar goals as myself,” he said. “I look forward to continuing that in my college career.”

McMillan plans to major in biology, although he is still mulling over both the direction of his studies and his career possibilities. “I have always been interested in the outdoors,” McMillan said. “I grew up in Arkansas and later here in North Carolina, and have been hunting and fishing my whole life. Biology seems like a good choice. I plan on taking advantage of any opportunities to expand my knowledge of possible career paths.”

He set his sights on ECU because of the wealth of prospects available through the Honors College, such as study-abroad trips and networking opportunities with professionals. Living and attending high school in Greenville also helped him make a decision. “I like the campus,” he said. “I’ve very familiar with it since I live here, and I liked all the opportunities that come with the Honors College.” Those amenities attracted him more than those that other North Carolina colleges offered, he added.

McMillan is an Eagle Scout and a member of the St. Peter’s Catholic Church youth group. In his spare time, he is active in the Pitt County Wildlife Club and participates in archery and marksmanship competitions.

Before coming to ECU, McMillan will spend the summer traveling, backpacking, fishing and rock climbing. He also will serve on a mission trip through his church.

When he comes to campus in the fall to begin his tenure as an EC Scholar, he hopes to not only succeed academically but also to build new friendships and relationships on campus that will help him hone the character traits he finds most important in himself.

“My values and morals are very important in my life,” McMillan said. “In college, I want to continue that in my interactions with people.” He also hopes to continue to practice his hobbies.

He is the son of Joe and Amy McMillan.

Spaine Stephens

 

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Katerina Koloustroubis

Koloustroubisfeat

 

Hometown: Youngsville, N.C.

High School: Franklin Academy

Intended Major: Music performance, biology

“The most purposeful life is one built around serving others.”

 

Building a life around service

Music, math and medicine may not seem connected to many people, but for Katerina Koloustroubis they work in perfect harmony.

Katerina Koloustroubis

Katerina Koloustroubis

The Youngsville native began playing piano at age 3, picked up the flute in fifth grade and enjoys participating in musical theater at The Franklin Academy. As for the math, she said, “I don’t really have a passion for it, just a gift.” She is the only student at her school taking the highest level of advanced placement calculus.

A burgeoning interest in medicine reflects her desire to use those gifts to help people.

“The most purposeful life is one built around serving others,” she said.

Koloustroubis, 17, will be one of 19 incoming freshmen to enter East Carolina University in August at EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.

“It takes a (financial) burden off my family,” she said of earning the scholarship. “And it also feels like all my hard work has paid off.”

Koloustroubis, who is half Greek, has visited Greece many times with her family. She will return there again this summer. She hopes, however, to expand her travels to developing nations in the future.

“I know it sounds cliché,” she said, “but I want to save lives.”

She looks up to her older sister, who studies engineering and has similar service goals. Koloustrobis said her sister, now a student at N.C. State, has traveled to Kenya to build schools.

Koloustroubis’ own high school career is dotted with numerous service projects, ranging from performing music at retirement communities to tutoring peers. She hopes to continue one particular project in which she creates “memory bears” sewn from the belongings of people who have passed to help their families through bereavement.

“I know that in medicine, you have to deal with death,” she explained. “I thought this would be a good experience for that.”

Like many high school seniors, Koloustroubis is nervous about being independent and away from family for the first time. However, she feels certain that ECU is the right place to embark on the next chapter of her life.

“It was just so uplifting and comforting when I visited,” she said. “I felt like a young adult with aspirations. And not like I was just a number.”

Koloustroubis is the daughter of Gregory and Pamela Koloustroubis.

Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Jared Keever

Keeverfeat

Hometown: Dunn, N.C.

High School: Triton High School

Intended Major: Undecided

“The feeling of helping people is so much better than getting something for yourself.”

 

Focus on serving others

Though studying abroad is a new experience for many college students, Jared Keever is already a world traveler.

Jared Keever

Jared Keever

He has visited the Ukraine twice and Belize three times on mission trips with the First Baptist Church in Dunn, where his father is a pastor. In the Ukraine, Keever and other volunteers built a center providing foster care for youths who might otherwise be homeless. Their work in Belize centered on the construction of hurricane shelters in an impoverished part of the country.

Keever, 17, will be one of 19 incoming freshman entering East Carolina University this August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.

He considered numerous other North Carolina universities, including Wake Forest, UNC and N.C. State, but the opportunity to be an EC Scholar was too good to pass up. Urged to take a tour by his aunt – who works in admissions at ECU – he said the university “really felt like a place that could be home.”

Keever also felt that he wouldn’t feel pressured to immediately choose a major and career path at ECU. He likes history – particularly European history – and science, but isn’t sure what he wants to do with his life just yet. Whatever he may decide, it will likely focus on serving others.

“I like helping people and I feel like getting people out of bad situations is a good thing,” he said. “The feeling of helping people is so much better than getting something for yourself.”

Keever is looking forward to the annual day of service that ECU Honors College students participate in across the community on the day after move-in. And he hopes to spend part of this summer assisting victims of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey who are still struggling to rebuild.

“There are still a lot of people who need homes,” he explained. “It takes time for that kind of recovery.”

In addition to logging numerous hours of community service during his tenure at Triton High School, Keever is president of the Beta Club and runs track and cross country.

His parents are Len and Catherine Keever.

Kathryn Kennedy

 

Return to EC Scholars home page.

Lee Hoff

Hofffeature

 

Hometown: Greenville, N.C.

High School: J.H. Rose High School

Intended Major: Chemistry & Biochemistry, Medicine

“For people to see the potential in me…makes me optimistic for the future.”

 

Launching global aspirations from hometown

Lee Hoff is already counting the ways his ECU education will have global implications.

Lee Hoff

Lee Hoff

Hoff, 18, of Greenville, plans to use opportunities through the Honors College to explore other cultures and eventually attend medical school in France. “I want to see everything over there,” he said.

Hoff, a senior at J. H. Rose High School, is one of 19 incoming freshmen entering ECU this fall as EC Scholars—the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. “It’s an honor considering all the students who were interested in this scholarship,” Hoff said. “I feel blessed and honored.”

At East Carolina, he will double major in chemistry and biochemistry and possibly pursue a master’s degree in chemistry. He is already researching French medical schools so he can be a step closer to beginning a career while also experiencing the culture and language. He is open to the possibility of practicing medicine overseas. He especially hopes to visit Paris through the EC Scholars study-abroad requirement.

For now, Hoff is gearing up to attend his hometown university. Growing up in Greenville, he visited campus often and always knew it was a strong option for his higher-education plans. Both of his sisters attended ECU, and the Honors College events he attended before deciding on a college helped sway him toward the university and what it has to offer. He said he especially looks forward to developing academically under the guidance of top faculty.

Other advantages as an EC Scholar that Hoff looks forward to are retreats and networking. “I’m looking forward to meeting people in the businesses we’re interested in and getting those connections, “ he said. “That experience will help me become a cut above the rest.”

Hoff is already setting himself apart through his activities and interests. He is active in student government, several honor societies and orchestra. His hobbies include singing and acting. This summer, he plans to get a part-time job and take a road trip to reconnect with himself before he begins classes at ECU.

When that time comes, Hoff knows he will hit the ground running academically and socially. The close Honors College community, he said, will help him get to know his classmates better and make lifelong friendships. “I love people,” he said. “There’s just something about being with a group of people and being able to connect with everyone on some sort of level.”

Hoff is still processing his selection for the EC Scholar award. He is mulling over what it will mean for him to be one of ECU’s most promising undergraduates. “For people to see the potential in me that way,” he said, “makes me optimistic for the future.”

He is the son of Rebecca Latham.

– Spaine Stephens

 

Return to EC Scholars home page.

Zoe Hinton

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Hometown: Louisburg, N.C.

High School: Louisburg High School

Intended Major: Biology, Medicine

“At ECU, I felt like I wouldn’t be just a number, that they would help me grow as a person.”

 

Connecting with people

While Zoe Hinton toured a variety of university honors programs across the state, only East Carolina’s Honors College felt like home.

Zoe Hinton

Zoe Hinton

“Nowhere else felt as genuine,” said Hinton, 17, of Louisburg. “At ECU, I felt like I wouldn’t be just a number, that they would help me grow as a person.”

Hinton will be one of 19 incoming freshmen entering ECU this fall as EC Scholars—the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. She currently attends Louisburg High School.

Growing up in a small rural town, Hinton learned to apply herself academically and athletically over the years. She excelled in school, served as senior class president of the student government association and as a member of the National Honor Society and Science Olympiad. She also was named captain of the varsity softball and volleyball teams.

That connection to sports has called Hinton to delve deeper into her interest in medicine. The aspiring doctor and biology major uses her experiences playing sports to connect leadership and teamwork themes that she hopes to incorporate into a career, possibly in orthopedics or primary care. She wants to establish connections with her future patients, “being able to have conversations with people” in order to give them the best possible care.

Hinton is also an active voice for the welfare of people in all walks of life. She has volunteered for the Miracle League of Franklin County and the Franklin Regional Physical Therapy Center. During the summer before her junior year of high school, she helped her father, an art professor at Louisburg College, build a brick-and-concrete labyrinth as an artistic gift to the town.

Hinton doesn’t plan on losing any steam during the transition from high school to college. She is already exploring the Honors College’s unique programs that will help her learn and grow among her peers. “EC Scholars will provide a lot of opportunities,” she said, including a study-abroad experience she looks forward to taking advantage of.

She hopes to travel to central or South America to assess health-care needs and explore how language binds people to each other. “I like languages and how they connect people,” said Hinton, who hopes to minor in Spanish.

First, however, she’s looking forward to being around students, faculty and staff who will help her succeed as an EC Scholar by providing new perspectives and opening doors. “I really want to challenge myself and stay curious,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being around people who share the same drive and passion about solving problems and interacting with people.”

What she gains from others, she also wants to offer during her time at ECU. “I know I’m going to bring focus and commitment,” she said. “I’m really excited to move on to a new chapter of life.”

Over the summer, Hinton will work part time for the Town of Louisburg’s parks and recreation department, assisting with rec league baseball and softball and park upkeep.

She is the daughter of William and Patricia Hinton.

Spaine Stephens

 

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Sydney Hendricks

Hendricksfeatre

 

Hometown: Ayden, N.C.

High School: Ayden-Grifton High School

Intended Major: Biology, Medicine

“I don’t like to limit myself. I’m interested in a little bit of everything, and I like it like this.”

 

Building on a history with ECU

Sydney Hendricks is looking forward to building on her family ties to ECU by making new memories of her own.

Sydney Hendricks

Sydney Hendricks

“Both of my parents went to ECU,” she said. “I grew up here and did more research on it when I was choosing a college. The opportunities ECU had led me to pick this school.”

Hendricks, 17, of Ayden, will be one of 19 incoming freshmen entering ECU this fall as EC Scholars—the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. She currently attends Ayden-Grifton High School.

Hendricks also earned a spot in this year’s Early Assurance program, which guarantees her a spot in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University upon successful completion of her undergraduate degree. While she is still undecided on a major, she is said biology is the frontrunner for now. She hopes to eventually become a general practitioner.

Hendricks was thrilled to learn of her status as an EC Scholar. “It’s really an honor,” she said. “I look at it as what ECU wants students to do: get involved in all different kinds of things. It’s like they’re saying, ‘You’ve done awesome so far. Keep doing that at ECU.’”

Hendricks won’t leave any avenue for opportunity unexplored. She prides herself on getting involved in a variety of activities in high school that introduced her to new people and innovative ideas. “I don’t like to limit myself,” she said. “I’m interested in a little bit of everything, and I like it like this.”

During her high school years, she served as vice president of Health Occupations Students of America, treasurer of Future Business Leaders of America, and participated in Key Club, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta math honor society and volleyball. She attended the Health Science Academy, Business Technology Academy and the Honors Medicine Research program at the Brody School of Medicine. She also served as an American Red Cross blood-drive coordinator.

As an Early Assurance scholar, Hendricks will have access to experiences on the medical sciences campus that will prepare her for medical school. She will have the chance to learn the ropes from current medical students and attend seminars and professionalism courses. She also is looking forward to retreats and the Honors College’s living-learning community.

That will be a fresh take on how Hendricks has viewed ECU all her life. Her family has held season tickets to football games, and as a child she attended theatre productions and other events on campus. Coming to campus in a more official capacity will be a milestone, she said. “I think it’s going to be great,” she added. “I’m getting really excited about it.”

Before beginning her undergraduate years at ECU, Hendricks will spend the summer vacationing with her family, spending time with friends and attending Honors College kick-off events.

She is the daughter of Jeff and Allison Hendricks.

Spaine Stephens

 

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Kristalyn Gill

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Hometown:  Statesville, N.C.

High School: Statesville Christian School

Intended Major: Dance Performance & Communications

I knew that when I came down to it, ECU was the perfect fit for me.

 

Ready to join the Pirate family

Before Kristalyn Gill arrives on the East Carolina University campus in August to begin her college career, she plans to lifeguard at her local pool and compete in the 76th Miss North Carolina pageant.

Kristalyn Gill

Kristalyn Gill

About the pageant, she said, “This progressing journey is a childhood fantasy come to life, no matter the outcome.” At age 17, Gill will be the youngest contestant in the scholarship pageant, which will be held June 18-22 in Raleigh.

Being on stage comes naturally to Gill, who plans to double major at ECU in dance performance and communications. Gill of Statesville will be one of 19 students entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

Before her visit to campus, Gill didn’t have ECU on her radar. She thought she would attend Elon University with her sister, who is a rising junior. “To be honest, at first I wasn’t even going to apply to ECU. After seeing my sister’s experience, I thought that Elon had what I wanted,” she said. “It turns out that it may have been what I thought I wanted, but ECU proved to me that it has what I need.”

At the ECU Honors Weekend, Gill said she felt welcomed as part of the “Pirate family.” Her college choice was determined by two reasons – the people and the opportunities, she said.

The students and faculty in the program “felt like family from day one.” And “the opportunities to be active in numerous clubs, dance performances, scholar’s programs and study abroad trips are amazing. I knew that when I came down to it, ECU was the perfect fit for me.”

Gill said she “clicked” with the other honors scholars she met. “I felt as if we all had already been friends and knew we would all end up at ECU regardless,” she said.

“Being an EC Scholar means that I am not only a student but also a scholar who strives to learn for the simple pleasure of gaining knowledge. The Scholar’s Program is a one-time change that if given up would forfeit countless adventures that could be life changing,” she said. “By being part of this selective group of students, I am now able to learn academic skills, fitness skills, mental skills and social skills that I couldn’t learn anywhere else.”

Gill aspires to dance in a Broadway musical one day and to teach choreography classes for traveling dance competitions. “I cannot wait to get involved this fall (on campus),” she said.

But before then, there’s a stage and pageant in Raleigh calling her name. And she’ll be in good company; the reigning Miss North Carolina Arlie Honeycutt is a vocal performance major at ECU.

—  Jeannine Manning Hutson

 

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Allison Flowers

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Hometown: 
 Wilmington, N.C.

High School: John T. Hoggard High School

Intended Major: Music Education, Music Performance

“I simply wish to leave the world in a better state than it was when I found it.”

 

Passion extends to arts and science

Before she arrives at East Carolina University, Allison Flowers will see Europe in a big way – eight countries in 16 days. Flowers was chosen with other North and South Carolina musicians to perform eight concerts in eight countries; she will play clarinet in the wind ensemble and sing in the chorus.

Allison Flowers

Allison Flowers

“I am excited for the concert tour because I love music and feel that through this medium a number of people will be exposed to the benefits of arts in society,” she said. “In present times, exposure to the arts is crucial if we wish to keep them alive from both local and global standpoints.”

At ECU, Flowers plans to double major in music education and music performance unless her love of science wins out. Flowers, 18, of Wilmington will be one of 19 students entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

“Music is something that gives me great joy and I am truly passionate about, and I would love to have the opportunity to share this form of living art with the world,” she said. “However, I am also extremely interested in science and the world of medical research.”

If she decides to pursue a career in neurology, Flowers said she would like to work toward possible cures for diseases that are pervasive across the globe, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which has affected her grandmother and other members of her family.

She is following in the footsteps of her mother and other members of her family in attending East Carolina. Flowers has participated in summer music camps at ECU and likes Greenville and its pride in the university, but the deciding factor in her college choice was the Honors College and EC Scholars faculty.

“For the short weekend that I spent interviewing for the EC Scholars Award and touring the Honors College, I could tell that the professors involved in each of these programs were truly interested in me as both a student and a person,” she said.

She sees being selected as an EC Scholar as an honor and responsibility. “The opportunities that will be provided to reach out to communities in need and to grow as a person are two experiences that I will be able to take part of as a scholar,” she said.

Even though her major isn’t decided yet, her goal to make the world a better place is definite.

“I have a desire to help others in any way that I can,” she said. “In a world where innumerable people live and die every day, I wish to be able to make a lasting difference that will benefit humanity as a whole. I simply wish to leave the world in a better state than it was when I found it.”

She is the daughter of Jeff and Brenda Flowers.

—  Jeannine Manning Hutson

 

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Matt Earley

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Hometown: 
 Rocky Mount, N.C.

High School: Faith Christian School

Intended Major: Mechanical engineering

EC Scholars are “a bunch of people who are driven and passionate like me….They’re there to get their education. And that’s me.

 

Ready to pursue lifelong interest

Matt Earley knows exactly how he first got interested in studying engineering.

Matt Earley

Matt Earley

“I’ve always been very hands-on since I was a kid,” he explained. “It probably all started with the Legos.”

Success in a high school calculus class assured him he could handle the academic rigor of an engineering program. Now he’s ready to develop those skills and use them to make a difference in the world, maybe by designing wells to alleviate water shortages in Africa, or by studying the unique architecture of Japan.

Earley, 18, of Rocky Mount will be one of 19 incoming freshman entering East Carolina University in August as an EC Scholar – the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.

“I didn’t want to sound like I was freaking out when Dr. (Katie) O’Connor called (with the scholarship offer),” he said, laughing. “But after I hung up the phone, I screamed. I screamed like a little girl.”

Because of his interest in engineering, Earley also considered attending N.C. State University. But he found the ECU faculty more hospitable and willing to connect with him from day one. So Earley decided to become a Pirate. The scholarship, he said, was “icing on the cake.”

Earley likes to stay busy. He played varsity basketball for four years as well as varsity soccer. After two years of varsity tennis he opted to take the spring off to keep up with the coursework in his advanced placement classes.

He looks forward to facing similar academic challenges as part of the Honors College at ECU. The students he met who are already in the program made him feel right at home.

“It’s a bunch of people who are driven and passionate like me,” he said. “They’re there to get their education. And that’s me.”

Earley plans to spend the summer working at a local car wash and saving money. He also wants to spend some time fishing and hopes to attend the summer meet-ups scheduled by the Honors College that give the incoming EC Scholars and honors students a chance to meet each other and bond in advance of the school year.

His parents are Terry and Patricia Earley.

—  Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Trey Cook

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Hometown:  Cary, N.C.

High School: Homeschooled

Intended Major: Biology, chemistry

“I realize I am held to a higher standard. ECU is making an investment in me; I have to make good on my end of the bargain.

 

Following a path to veterinary medicine

Trey Cook believes that his unique educational path – which includes homeschooling and community college classes – has well prepared him to attend East Carolina University.

Trey Cook

Trey Cook

He began as his mother’s student, learning at home. That expanded to a co-op learning environment with other homeschooled students when Cook was in middle school. By his senior year of high school, he was enrolled at Durham Technical Community College taking classes on campus and online.“I’ve had a lot of different types of study,” he said.

Cook, 18, will be one of 19 students entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

“Being awarded the EC Scholarship has a huge financial benefit which will be incredible,” he explained. “However, I didn’t want to make my decision purely based on money. The leaders of the Honors College and (EC) Scholars program made a huge impression on me; they are looking ahead to the future, and they are innovating, doing things other schools aren’t willing to do.

“I realize I am held to a higher standard. ECU is making an investment in me; I have to make good on my end of the bargain.”

Becoming an EC Scholar “means working to excel more than I ever have before,” Cook continued. “It means growing into a man of character, integrity, and academic excellence so that 15 years from now, people will see me working and say, ‘Now that is EC Scholar material.’”

Cook will travel with his family to Alaska this summer – which he said he could not be more excited about – and will also intern at a veterinary clinic.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to be the San Diego Zoo vet. Instead of being an astronaut, that was my childhood dream.”

Though he’s no longer so sure about working with exotic animals, Cook hopes an undergraduate degree in biology or maybe biochemistry will prepare him for a career in veterinary medicine.

Cook also enjoys playing tennis in his free time. He ranked number 27 out of 289 in the North Carolina Jr. Tennis rankings. Cook participated with a tennis mission trip to Scotland by coaching and overseeing tennis practices. He was also the 2012 North Carolina Tennis Sportsman of the Year for boys 18 and under.

He is the son of Kenny and Sherri Cook.

—  Steve Tuttle and Kathryn Kennedy

 

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Tori Chapman

chapmanfeature

 

Hometown:  Webster, N.C.

High School:  Smoky Mountain High School

Intended Major: Nutrition & Sports Physiology, Medicine
“I really feel led to serve others in my life. It’s the reason I want to go into medicine and become a rural family doctor.”

 

Led to serve others

Tori Chapman’s experience as a patient will likely help her become a great family doctor.Last year while playing for her Smoky Mountain High School varsity soccer team, Chapman suffered serious internal injuries when she and an opposing player charged for a ball. The player’s knee struck Chapman’s stomach, and she underwent emergency surgery to remove her spleen and part of her pancreas damaged in the freak accident.“That event totally changed my perspective,” Chapman said. “Academics are important but so is happiness.”

Chapman

Tori Chapman

The sense of community at ECU is a big reason why she chose the university. “I felt the attention, and the care of the staff members and in the EC Scholars and Honors College,” Chapman said. “I love the programs.” Chapman is one of 19 incoming freshman entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

The scholars’ service programs, her interest in medicine and the Brody School of Medicine’s emphasis on family medicine also factored in her decision to attend ECU. She hopes to do some undergraduate research in medicine, and would like to attend Brody in the future.

“Not only am I in a great program that offers so many things, it’s such a blessing to have been offered this scholarship in so many ways,” Chapman said.

Chapman spent 11 days in the hospital following her accident, and was bedridden before progressing to a wheelchair and walker. “I went to prom with a walker. My friends helped decorate it,” she said.

Undeterred, Chapman wanted to play soccer again, and wore a stomach guard as a senior and captain this spring. “It’s been a hard year but one that really opened my eyes,” said Chapman, who just ran her first half-marathon.

She’s considering an undergraduate major in nutrition and sports physiology before applying to medical school. She’s had the opportunity to shadow and intern with local doctors while in high school.

“By being the patient and the student, I have received two different perspectives on medicine – on what is working and what is not,” Chapman said. “It is this empathy that I hope will shape me into a great family physician.”

Living in Sylva, a small community in western North Carolina, she knows the challenges that underserved areas like hers face. At the same time, she covets the ability to know a community really well and to give back.

In January, she went with her church group to Guatemala where they built 15 homes. “I really feel led to serve others in my life,” she said. “It’s the reason I want to go into medicine and become a rural family doctor.”

Small town living in a county with only one high school has given Chapman lots of opportunities to excel, she said. She is valedictorian of her class, student body president, captain of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, president of HOSA, where she served as a state officer last year, Spanish Club president, Mu Alpha Theta vice president and a member of the National Honor Society.

This summer, she will work for a small rafting company on the Nantahala River before heading to ECU this fall. “I’m just really excited about meeting new people, and being in a more diverse community,” she said. “I can’t wait to start the rest of my life.”

Chapman is the daughter of Tim and Laura Chapman of Sylva.

—  Crystal Baity

 

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