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Radio contest leads to Keith Urban tour appearance

Kasey Tyndall (Photo courtesy of Michelle Messer Photography)

Kasey Tyndall (Photo courtesy of Michelle Messer Photography)



By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Kasey Tyndall has been singing and playing the guitar since she taught herself at 10 years old.

Friday night, Aug. 8, she took her talent to Walnut Creek Amphitheatre to sing a duet with country music superstar Keith Urban when his “Raise ‘Em Up” tour rolls into Raleigh.

The East Carolina University sophomore, who intends to major in nursing,  had a whirlwind week. She found out Aug. 6 that she won a contest held by Raleigh’s 94.7 WQDR to sing with Urban.

The radio station had singers call in and sing Miranda Lambert’s part to Urban’s #1 hit, “We Were Us.”

“I called in. They recorded it, sent to Keith Urban’s team, and they picked me,” Tyndall said.

Tyndall has performed at local festivals and even opened for country music artist Jason Michael Carroll at a show in Louisburg, but never on a stage this large. And she hasn’t performed “We Were Us” live before either, because it’s a duet.

Has she been practicing nonstop? Nope. “I’m trying to save my voice,” she said.

“He’ll play it exactly like he does on iTunes so I know how many measures before I come in,” she said. “And I’m sure if I have a moment, he’ll give me a nod.”

Surprisingly, Tyndall said she’s not really nervous. “The more people, the less nervous I am. It’s going to be fun,” she said.

“I have sound check with Keith at 3:30 p.m., and there’s a strict schedule after that with some gaps,” she said. Her dad, Keith Tyndall of Nashville, North Carolina, will be backstage with her.

“I’m nervous about the set up, but it’s going to be fine,” she said. “I’m not used to (a major production like this), but hopefully I will be soon.”

Some of Tyndall’s friends already had tickets to the concert, but she said, “my family went crazy buying tickets. They are so excited.”

Even though she wants to be a nurse and already has her Nursing Aide I license, Tyndall said she loves singing and performing.

“I tried out for The Voice and American Idol, but a lot of it is not if you can sing or not, it’s about the marketing and if you have a good story.”

Born in Rocky Mount, Tyndall moved to Greenville before sixth grade and graduated from D.H. Conley High School. Her mom, Teresa Martin, works in the Department of Technology Systems in the College of Engineering and Technology and has tickets to Friday night’s show – along with about 15 other family members and friends. “That’s just the ones I know about,” she said.

Her daughter’s feet haven’t touched the ground since Wednesday when she got the news, Martin said. “It just hasn’t sunk in yet.”

“She is more nervous to play for family and friends and sometimes she resists that. It’s true the more people she plays for, the less nervous. Of course this is a lot different,” Martin said.

“She’s down-to-earth, and she’s a good kid,” she said. “I’m very proud of her. Not just her music, but the person that she is.”

If you don’t have tickets to Friday night’s show, you can follow Tyndall on Twitter – @kase_kase_ – to hear about her adventure back stage and beyond.

Researchers study impact of exercise on moms-to-be, babies

 Kim Womack of Greenville uses free weights during an exercise session offered to women in their second and third trimesters as part of a study under way at ECU to assess how exercise during those months affects the health of the mother and baby. Womack was due in August. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Kim Womack of Greenville uses free weights during an exercise session offered to women in their second and third trimesters as part of a study under way at ECU to assess how exercise during those months affects the health of the mother and baby. Womack was due in August. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University researchers are studying the impact that exercise during pregnancy can have on newborn babies and moms.

Linda May, assistant professor of anatomy in the School of Dental Medicine, is leading the study. She has teamed up with graduate and undergraduate kinesiology students in the College of Health and Human Performance to offer exercise training to women in their second and third trimesters.

From left, Dominique Jones, who received his undergraduate degree in May and is now an exercise physiology graduate student, and Olivia Holden, a second-year graduate student in exercise physiology, oversee Beth Ketterman as she uses a leg resistance machine in ECU’s FITT building.

From left, Dominique Jones, who received his undergraduate degree in May and is now an exercise physiology graduate student, and Olivia Holden, a second-year graduate student in exercise physiology, oversee Beth Ketterman as she uses a leg resistance machine in ECU’s FITT building.

“We hope to find that children from women who exercise during pregnancy have better heart measures and are leaner than children from women who do not exercise during their pregnancy,” said May, who is an adjunct assistant professor of exercise physiology.

Kim Womack of Greenville, who is expecting her first child in August, is one of 55 women enrolled in the study to date. A speech language pathologist for Pitt County Schools, Womack does resistance training at ECU’s FITT building near Minges Natatorium.

As part of the study, Womack works out for 45 minutes three days a week at ECU. A friend, Emily Brewer of Greenville, also a speech language pathologist in the school system, told Womack about the study.

“I’m excited to be supervised (during pregnancy) by folks who know what they’re doing,” Womack said.

“I have felt fabulous,” Womack said. “I hope it helps with labor and delivery and to get back in shape afterward, and to have positive effects on the baby.”

Brewer, whose daughter Elyza was born in April, has recruited several women to the study. “I thought it was a great opportunity to stay in shape while I was pregnant and see the benefits through my baby,” Brewer said. “Labor and delivery was definitely something I wanted to get strong for. It helped my endurance in being able to push.”

Emily Brewer of Greenville holds her daughter, Elyza, who was born in April. Brewer has helped recruit other women for the study.

Emily Brewer of Greenville holds her daughter, Elyza, who was born in April. Brewer has helped recruit other women for the study.

Brewer was a regular exerciser before her pregnancy and committed to staying fit before and after her daughter’s birth. “Exercise has always been really important in my life. It’s been wonderful continuing to do something I felt was important for my mental and physical health,” she said.

Deandra Woods of Roxboro, an exercise physiology major who helps the women with their exercises, said “The moms love it. It’s a really good stress relief.” Woods is completing requirements for graduation with the internship this summer.

Jessica Van Meter, an instructor and program coordinator in the FITT building, said the study has benefited both graduate and undergraduate students. “Our graduate students get to find a topic that interests them and still do the coursework in their curriculum,” Van Meter said.

Each semester – spring, summer and fall – undergraduate students schedule and monitor exercise sessions with the mothers in the study. “Everyone works well together,” said Van Meter, who also oversees and coordinates exercise physiology graduate students’ assistantships.

Women in the study have been assigned to do specific exercises during their pregnancy. Some women are doing aerobic activity, such as walking on a treadmill or using the elliptical machines, while others are doing resistance training like free weights. Some are doing a combination of the two. “We know a fair amount about aerobic activity during pregnancy, but little is known about resistance training throughout gestation,” May said.

Beth Ketterman, assistant director for collections at Laupus Library, is expecting in August. “I think it’s helped me to keep my weight gain in a healthy range,” she said. “The core exercises are not exercises I would challenge myself with so it’s been good to have someone motivate me.”

Ketterman said she has achieved her goal to become stronger, and “I hope it has positive effects on my baby.”

Alanna Naylor of Greenville had her third baby, Elora, on April 7. She had never exercised before, but could tell a difference, particularly in her baby. “She was my biggest baby and she didn’t have any problems at all,” Naylor said, adding that her daughter’s motor skills seem to be developing more quickly than her other children.

Data for the study is gathered from ultrasounds, electrocardiograms, measuring the length and circumference of the baby and skin folds. “We are looking for differences in heart measures and body composition,” May said.

Babies are evaluated at one month, six months and 12 months.

The multidisciplinary project is supported by Amy Gross McMillan, associate professor of physical therapy, who is assessing infant nervous and motor system development; Robert Hickner and Joe Houmard, professors of kinesiology; and faculty members in medicine and nutrition. Deirdre Dlugonski, assistant professor of kinesiology, is following up with mothers after delivery to determine if they will keep exercising.

“The main focus of the project is to determine the effect of various types of exercise on infant and child outcomes,” May said. “Ultimately, my goal is to help children be healthier even before birth.” May, who has been at ECU for about two years, teaches medical gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy to dental students. An exercise physiologist by training, her research is exercise-focused. She also has a study on pregnancy and child oral health under way.

Anyone interested in enrolling in the exercise during pregnancy study should contact May at or 252-737-7072.

Meet 2014 EC Scholars

ECU welcomes 20 new EC Scholars

ECU News Services

Theater arts, physical therapy, nursing, engineering and business are a few of the planned fields of study for 20 incoming freshmen selected for East Carolina University’s prestigious EC Scholars Program.

The program is a four-year merit scholarship recognizing outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills. Recipients are admitted to ECU’s Honors College and receive a scholarship for four years, along with a stipend for study abroad, for a total value of approximately $61,000.

The entering EC Scholar recipients have completed a rigorous three-tier selection process that includes meeting the Honors College admissions criteria, having an additional faculty review and completing an on-campus interview. The incoming EC Scholar recipients have an average combined math/verbal SAT score of 1336 and an average unweighted GPA of 3.93.

For additional information on the EC Scholars Program, visit

For more details on each individual scholar, click on the scholars’ names below or scroll down the page.

(Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Jacqueline Curtis

Kayla Daughtry

Lily Faulconer

Kelly Forbis

Vivian Holt

Lily Howie

Taylor Leposa

Lindsay Locklear

Lillie Malpass

Maggie Marshall

Drew Navarro

Kevin Nguyen

Tulsi Patel

Joanna Paul

Austin Phillips

Jessica Rogers

Ashley Wilford

Cameron Worthington

Nadiya Yerich

William Zahran




EC Scholar Jacqueline Curtis

By Amy Ellis


Jacqueline “Jackie” Renee Curtis said East Carolina University’s distinguished College of Nursing was the reason she included ECU on her original list of potential colleges. But the 16-year-old from Willow Spring said the Pirates she interacted with during Scholars Weekend and Honors Preview Day sealed the deal.
“Everyone I met, students and faculty alike, was friendly, outgoing and eager to help,” she said.

Curtis is one of 20 freshmen who will enter ECU in August as EC Scholars – participants in the university’s most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program.

Although her particular scholarship offer comes with membership in ECU’s Early Assurance Program in Nursing, guaranteeing her entry into the College of Nursing, Curtis said she’s equally excited about other opportunities she sees down the road.

“I’m still excited about attending nursing school at ECU,” she said, “but I’ve also realized that the close, tight-knit student body present in the Honors College – and especially in the EC Scholars program – will enable me to grow personally as well as academically.

“Being an EC Scholar gives Curtis opportunities she never even dreamed of, she said. “I never imagined that I would be able to work alongside some of the best professors and students in the country, to study abroad, or to begin to make – years before graduating college – such a real and meaningful difference for people around me,” she said.

Curtis can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a nurse.

“I have been interested in nursing all my life,” she said. “I would go to the library and check out books on nurses when I was four or five. I really enjoy helping and caring for people, and nursing will allow me to do that constantly.

“The Early Assurance Program gives me an incredible opportunity to pursue graduate studies in nursing,” Curtis added, “and it will help me to reach even greater heights in my quest to be the best nurse I can be.”

Curtis looks forward to sharing some adventure – and bonding time – with fellow classmates through summer activities organized by the Honors College for the incoming class. Those plans include a group cleanup project in a Raleigh park, sailing, zip lining and whitewater rafting.

Also topping her summer to-do list: spending lots of time with family and participating in the Christian Youth Theater’s summer production in Garner.

In addition to theater, Curtis’s hobbies include singing, playing the piano and speaking in American Sign Language. “I would love to use ASL while I’m at ECU,” she said. “Something I’m looking into is volunteering as an interpreter at the hospital.”

Curtis, the daughter of David and Beth Curtis, was home-schooled throughout her entire elementary and secondary education.

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EC Scholar Kayla Daughtry

By Spaine Stephens

Kayla Daughtry is about to embark on a journey that will allow her to explore each and every one of her diverse passions.

Daughtry is one of 20 incoming freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers. She plans to eventually become a neurologist and neurosurgeon with a focus on brain trauma and mental disability.

“I have been made aware of how difficult it can be to live with a disability,” she said. “I hope to one day simplify that lifestyle through new research or medical treatments and therapies.”

A lofty goal for some, that aspiration is just one of many topics that give Daughtry a zest for life, leadership and service. Aside from her love of science and all things “brain” – “I am fascinated by the brain, its psychology, its flaws and its anatomy,” she said – she enjoys literature, languages, all religions, writing, music and sports. She plays the piano, sings and dances for fun. She hopes to explore those interests at ECU through activities such as intramural sports or the Magnolia Belles a capella group, as well as search for volunteer opportunities working with special needs individuals.
“I hope to pursue this within the classroom by gaining more knowledge about it to further prepare me for my intended medical pathway,” Daughtry said. “I also hope to study abroad to work in a shelter for children with special needs in a Third World country.”

Before examining those possibilities, Daughtry plans to stay busy all the way up to her first day on campus. This summer, she is taking kickoff trips with the Honors College; working part time as a grocery-store cashier; and volunteering at Jolly Day Camp, a three-week camp for special needs students from elementary to high-school age. She also will spend time with friends, family and her future roommate.

Daughtry is already strategizing the best ways to build strong relationships with professors and classmates that will shape her college experience from the start.

“I aspire to be someone who leads a life of positivity and happiness,” she said, “and I want my work and relationships with others to reflect that. I take pride in being easygoing and fun-loving while also being able to balance discipline, hard work and intelligence.”

She’s also looking forward to becoming a role model on campus.

“To me, being an EC Scholar means being held to a high standard by my professors, peers and community,” Daughtry said. “It represents to me that I am someone who stood out among the crowd as an individual who wants to dedicate her life to service and being a person of character.”

She is the daughter of Lisa and Curtis Daughtry.

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EC Scholar Lily Faulconer

By Doug Boyd

Smithfield’s Lilian Faulconer has her eye on a law degree and a career as an environmental advocate. She has a good start on that goal as a recipient of one of the top scholarships at East Carolina University.

Faulconer is one of 20 high school seniors who will enroll at ECU this fall as an EC Scholar, the university’s leading undergraduate scholarship program. She said receiving the scholarship is an “honor and privilege.”

“I stalked my mailbox during decision week and cautiously opened my letter when it arrived,” she said. “When I saw ‘Congratulations,’ I did a happy dance! To say I was thrilled and excited to receive this prestigious scholarship would be an understatement.”

She attends Smithfield-Selma High School and is the daughter of Linwood and Johna Faulconer of Smithfield. Her mother is a 1988 graduate of ECU.

At ECU, Faulconer plans to major in political science and seek out internship and research opportunities related to environmental policy locally, nationally and internationally. She said she’s also looking forward to Pirate football.

“My eventual career goal is to serve as an environmental advocate who changes the way humans interact with the environment by shaping policies and transforming public attitudes and behaviors,” she said.

Last summer, Faulconer spent a week on the ECU campus at the Shelton Leadership Challenge and liked what she saw. “ECU is a big university, but it feels warm and inviting,” she said. “I knew that I would be academically challenged and supported all on the same campus, so the decision to apply was an easy one.”

Opportunities for service, a faculty that’s involved with students, strong academics and the local community’s support for the university cemented her decision to attend.

Before enrolling, Faulconer plans to travel to Europe as well as the North Carolina mountains and coast.

At Smithfield-Selma High, Faulconer served as president of the mathematics honor society and the Spanish honor society and as activities coordinator for the National Honor Society. She was crowned Miss Smithfield-Selma High School, played varsity tennis for four years and was an active member of the pep and science clubs.

In the community, she volunteered with the Miracle League of Johnston County, Backpack Buddies and Keep Johnston County Beautiful. She was a four-year member and president of the Juniorettes of Johnston County and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

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EC Scholar Kelly Forbis

By Steve Tuttle

Kelly Forbis of Holly Springs said being an EC Scholar is “quite an honor. I feel blessed.”

“It definitely means a lot to me,” she added, “because over the next four years it will help me to be successful. It took a lot of work for me to get here and I want to uphold that.”

Forbis is one of 20 freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers.

Forbis, 18, who has been trained as a certified nursing assistant, said she is interested in getting a nursing degree at ECU but may major in pre-med. “Something in the medical field, definitely,” she said.
The Holly Springs High School senior said she chose ECU over other schools “because of the opportunity it gives me. At ECU, I know I will get an education that will set me up for graduate school.”

Plus, she said ECU simply felt like home. “I just love the atmosphere at ECU. I felt more welcome there.”

The daughter of Susie and Andy Forbis, who is a graduate of ECU, she is a midfielder on her high school’s varsity soccer team. Her team won its way into this year’s state playoffs.

Forbis is a member of the National Honor Society and active in Health Occupations Students of America. She has helped organize blood drives at her high school the past two years. She coordinated the events with Rex Hospital Blood Services and registered donors ahead of the events. The drives produced the most donations of all those sponsored across the state by HOSA, Forbis said.

She plays piano and is a member of the hand bell choir at Woodhaven Baptist Church. She also sings in the church choir.

Forbis earned CNA certification last summer. She said she plans to work this summer as a CNA to keep her license current.

“I’m getting excited about college, but this summer I plan to spend lots of time with my friends and family before I come to ECU,” she said.

Forbis is a twin. Her sister plans to attend N.C. State University and major in civil engineering.

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EC Scholar Vivian Holt

By Kathryn Kennedy

When East Carolina University wanted to offer Vivian Holt a scholarship this spring, they learned the 19-year-old can be a bit difficult to track down.

Holt’s father, an ECU alumnus, works in the U.S. Foreign Service. His career has taken them to South Korea, England, Costa Rica, and most recently to an embassy in Botswana, where her family has spent the last three years. Her offer letter came as an email – scanned in by her aunt who lives in the States.
Holt is one of 20 incoming freshman entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers.

Her global lifestyle has resulted in some unique educational experiences. Holt was one of six students to graduate from her school in December 2013, she said, and the only student in some of her classes.

“I’m looking forward to having more people around to talk to and learn about and from,” she said, adding that she’s already been looking at textbooks online and reading about Honors College courses and leadership opportunities.

Holt intends to major in biochemistry and minor in nutrition, and hopes to later attend medical school and specialize in dermatology. She selected the career track in part because of her ongoing treatment for keratosis pilaris, a skin disorder commonly referred to as “chicken skin.” Her sister also has the condition.

“It made me really nervous to wear short sleeves or shorts,” Holt recalls. “Doctors kept telling us ‘it’ll go away in a few years; it’ll be fine.’ We kept looking for someone who could tell us what it really was.”

They found that dermatologist while living in London. She prescribed them lotions, more time in the sun and reassured the girls that she’d seen the condition many times before.

“You can change a person’s whole life just with something simple,” Holt said. “By helping them with their skin.”

With many years of higher education ahead of her, the scholarship package offered by ECU swayed her from other schools she considered, including Vanderbilt University.

“(EC Scholars) really convinced me that this was the best option for my future. To keep my debt as low as possible.”

And in spite of all her worldly travels, she already has a place picked out for her study abroad experience: Lapland, Finland.

“I want to go somewhere cold,” she explained. “London was cold, but without any snow.”

Holt is the daughter of Arlen and Thania Holt. The family will relocate to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, this summer.

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EC Scholar Lily Howie

By Steve Tuttle

Lillian Howie of Fayetteville said she’s looking forward to the many learning experiences that come with being an EC Scholar.

“I’m excited for some of the opportunities to get involved in research and educational opportunities,” Howie said. “The ECU scholars program is great in that you get so many opportunities, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Howie is one of 20 freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers.

The Massey Hill Classical High School senior said ECU initially was not at the top of her college list.

“I was really surprised by ECU,” Howie said. “I had not thought much about the different colleges, but a friend of my mom’s encouraged us to come to the open house at ECU last year, and I came and I was absolutely amazed. I got to tour the campus with some current EC Scholars and they were so helpful,” Howie said.
Since that visit, “I’ve been in touch with the Honors College people throughout the process and I just love the people. All the professors are so wonderful. The students are all fantastic,” Howie said.

She knew ECU was the right choice because “I feel really happy there.”

Howie, 18, is the daughter of Nathan and Mary Lynn Howie, who has an MBA from ECU. She said she plans to double-major in geology and Hispanic studies.

Howie earned her Girl Scout Gold award for a project in which she wrote and illustrated two children’s books for the Fayetteville Child Advocacy Center (CAC).

“These books…contain fictional stories about children visiting the CAC so that the children who read them will know what happens at the center, and hopefully be more comfortable and less frightened during their experience,” Howie said.

Writing seems to come naturally for Howie, who has competed in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. The annual event, held in November, challenges writers to compose a 50,000-word novel within the span of 30 days. “Winning the challenge by completing the 50,000 words requires a prolific imagination and excellent time management skills,” she said.

Howie co-captained her high school’s N.C. Science Olympiad team that won the Fayetteville regional competition for two years running. She is president of her school’s National Honor Society and was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

Howie has taken piano lessons for 10 years and regularly performs in recitals and in ensembles. She is active in the choir at Haymount United Methodist Church. The choir performs an annual “singing valentines” event for church members and others in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

She said a family road trip is on this summer’s schedule.

“I’m going on a trip with my family for around three weeks. We like to travel during the summer. This year we are going to the Great Lakes, and touring the area between the U.S. and Canada. We go to a lot of national parks and see a lot of the natural landscape.”

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EC Scholar Taylor Leposa

By Steve Tuttle

Taylor Leposa received not one but two prestigious scholarships from East Carolina. In addition to being named an EC Scholar, the university’s top undergraduate academic scholarship award, Leposa was selected as an ECU Business Scholar.

The Business Scholars award is for students who plan to pursue careers in business. Business Scholars participate in the College of Business Leadership and Professional Development program, a curriculum designed to ensure students develop the leadership skills of critical thinking, value orientation, communication and team building.

Business Scholars receive $12,000 in addition to the EC Scholar award and are guaranteed entry into ECU’s MBA or MSA program upon completion of their undergraduate degree.

Leposa, 18, said she was offered similar scholarships from other schools and really had no firm idea which one she should select – until she visited ECU.

“I had visited a couple of campuses, but when I came to ECU for the first time it was extremely inviting. Everybody welcomed me and everyone was very helpful from the students who were leading us around up to the highest administrators. The whole atmosphere was so welcoming.”
To Leposa, knowing the type of people she will interact with daily is one of the attractions of being an EC Scholar.

“I think it most definitely (means) being around people who are…hardworking and goal-oriented and intending to do well. It will mean I will be with people who are community-service minded, who have outgoing personalities,” she said.

“I met these two girls (on campus), and I was extremely impressed with them because they were so kind and so helpful,” Leposa said. “You could tell they wanted to be the best they could be and I like that. It really speaks about what ECU values. I like those old-fashioned values.”

As a sophomore, Leposa and other Smithfield-Selma Senior High School students spent a week in Denmark on a student exchange trip. The group toured major landmarks and visited with Danish students who had spent time in Smithfield the previous year.

She has trained in gymnastics and is active in the youth group at First Baptist Church of Smithfield.

This summer, Leposa has a job waiting tables at a restaurant. She also is looking forward to a family vacation. “My family and I are going on a cruise to St. Thomas in a week or so as a graduation celebration,” she said. “We will be there eight days and I can’t wait.”

Leposa is the daughter of Jessica Brank and John Leposa. Her mother is a graduate of ECU.

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EC Scholar Lindsey Locklear

By Amy Ellis

Lindsey Raye Locklear said when she left East Carolina University’s campus after her first visit, she was already feeling like “part of the ECU family.” And she said it had nothing to do with the fact her older sister is an ECU student.

The 18-year-old from Fuquay-Varina said her sister’s experience is what first piqued her interest in the university, but being named an EC Scholar is what assured her ECU was the right decision.

Locklear is one of 20 freshmen who will enter ECU in August as EC Scholars – participants in the university’s most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program.

“The feeling of community and kindness I was shown by both staff and students on my first tour of the campus made me feel as if I was already a part of the family,” said Locklear. “I am very proud to be a part of this school, and I know I will achieve great things here.”
Locklear’s sights are set on a degree in exercise physiology, followed by a doctorate in physical therapy. “Being an EC Scholar means I will have extra support to achieve my goals through the mentoring I’ll receive from the Honors College staff,” she said.

But Locklear plans to give as well as take. She has volunteered in a number of community organizations for as long as she can remember and has no intention of stopping now.

“I will have the ability to continue my involvement in community service through the additional opportunities the EC Scholars program provides,” she said. “I will have the honor of positively representing the school though my academics and volunteering.”

Locklear said her tendency towards service will translate naturally into a therapy career, because both are centered on making positive impacts directly on others’ lives.

Her interest in physical therapy grew from seeing her grandmother regain knee strength through weekly sessions with a therapist. “She progressed from using a walker to walking on her own,” Locklear said. “Seeing the positive change a physical therapist helped to make in her life began my drive to become one.”

The past two years Locklear has attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics – a residential high school in Durham aimed at developing leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – so she looks forward to enjoying time with her family this summer.

Before moving to campus, she’ll also work as a camp counselor for Noah’s Landing, a nonprofit hands-on zoo in central North Carolina, where she’s worked and volunteered for more than six years. There she’ll teach kids how to be zookeepers and take care of exotic animals like lemurs and fennec foxes.

One of Locklear’s favorite activities: “smiling and sharing my happiness,” she said. “I am a firm believer in the power a smile can have.”

Locklear is the daughter of Melanie and Duane Locklear.

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EC Scholar Lillie Malpass

By Crystal Baity

East Carolina University already feels like home to Lillie Malpass.

She’s spent time on campus with her sister, Natalie, who is a rising junior at ECU and an EC Scholar. This fall, Malpass will be one of 20 freshmen entering as an EC Scholar – the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship program the university offers.

The Malpass sisters are among several sets of siblings in the history of the program, including fellow incoming freshman Lindsey Locklear and her sister Taylor.

“I’m looking forward to the amazing opportunity, expanding my horizon and also being there with my sister,” Malpass said. “It’s a special honor to be around 20 of the most well-rounded students in North Carolina.”
Biology has been Malpass’ favorite class at East Columbus High School and will likely be her major with a minor in nutrition at ECU, she said. She’s particularly interested in genetics and wants to pursue a career in the medical field.

Ranked first in her high school class, Malpass is president of the Student Government Association and president of the Future Farmers of America chapter. She is a member of the National Honor Society and senior Beta Club. She also is vice president of the Columbus and Bladen counties FFA federation. On May 9, Malpass attended the FFA South Central Regional Rally at Fayetteville Technical Community College, where she placed first in the job interview category. She will move on to compete at the state convention in Raleigh in June.

With student government and FFA, she has helped organize several community service projects including Safe Night, an alternative Halloween event including hayrides and trick-or-treating, a clothing drive and Relay for Life. The SGA raised about $3,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Malpass has played soccer all four years for her high school, where she also plays tennis and is on the school’s bowling team.

A Girl Scout for 14 years, Malpass plans to complete 80 hours of work for the Gold Award this summer. It’s the highest honor in girl scouting, similar to an Eagle Scout for boys. She is considering a project on veterans after hearing from a World War II veteran in a U.S. history class. “His story inspired me so much,” Malpass said. “Their lives are something we don’t know anything about.”

At ECU, Malpass is looking forward to meeting people with similar goals and learning from other EC Scholars – like her sister.

“We’re best friends,” Malpass said. “She’s my role model. It’s so exciting to be there, and to be with her, and to follow in her footsteps.”

Malpass is the daughter of Amy and Eddie Malpass.

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EC Scholar Maggie Marshall

By Spaine Stephens

Maggie Marshall is looking forward to following her passion for physical therapy among students who also have a drive to learn and grow during their undergraduate years.

“I am looking forward to living and learning with others who have a desire to excel and lead,” she said. “I always wanted to go to a large university, but I loved the small family feeling I got when I looked into the Honors College.”

Marshall, 18, is one of 20 incoming freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers. As an aspiring physical therapist, Marshall also has been accepted to the early assurance program in physical therapy; she is guaranteed entry to the graduate program upon completion of her undergraduate degree, provided she satisfies program requirements.
“I am excited to know where I will be continuing my education after I finish my first four years,” she said. “Physical therapy is something I am passionate about, so I feel extremely blessed to have been selected for a program that will ensure I reach my career goals.”

In addition to the unique early assurance opportunity, Marshall said she is looking forward to personalized attention from faculty and classmates and the special trips, events and activities offered through EC Scholars and the Honors College.

She comes to campus with close ties to the university; both her parents went to ECU, and she has always considered herself a Pirate. When she begins her own college experience, she won’t just focus on academics. She plans to pursue her love of sports and athletics, join an outdoor adventure club, seek volunteer opportunities and explore different cultures.

“I hope to gain more knowledge on different cultures and ways of life through my interactions with Honors College and EC Scholars students, faculty and staff,” she said. “I realize there are many different cultures and ways of life just here in the United States, and that fascinates me.”

Marshall hopes to eventually travel to every continent, along with pushing herself outside her comfort zone by learning to play guitar or participate in extreme sports – she recently went sky diving. This summer, she plans to vacation with her family, attend kickoff events for the Honors College, and spend time with her future roommate.

She wants to make an impact on campus as soon as she can in service and leadership activities.

“I think what makes me stand out as a scholar and person is my desire to lead,” Marshall said. “I try to open myself up to everyone and their views because I think open-mindedness is best. I think that way of thinking helps me stand out because I want to be seen as someone who is relatable.”

She is the daughter of John and Rebecca Marshall.

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EC Scholar Drew Navarro

By Spaine Stephens

Drew Navarro is eager to be held to high expectations from faculty and peers as he begins classes this fall. He is determined to make a difference not only at East Carolina University but in the surrounding community as well.

“EC Scholars and early assurance members are challenged to fully engage their community and school,” he said. “I feel called to positively impact myself and those around me. Down the road, I hope to make lasting contributions to the wellbeing of this school and community.”

Navarro, 18, an aspiring physician, is one of 20 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers. He is also an alternate to the early assurance program in medicine, which guarantees spots for selected students in the Brody School of Medicine provided they complete their undergraduate degree programs and meet program requirements.

“I will be exposed to excellent preparation for medical school throughout my undergraduate years,” said Navarro, “inside and outside of the classroom. It is an opportunity that I will seek to make the most of.”

An avid outdoorsman, Navarro enjoys running and other athletic activities. As he prepares for his first semester at ECU, he plans to attend summer Honors College events, work as a lifeguard, volunteer at a hospital and spend time with family and friends.
Navarro is looking forward to meeting and engaging fellow EC Scholars and Honors College students in seminars, classes and college events. He will explore possibilities from becoming an ECU Ambassador to joining the triathlon club and volunteering at Vidant Medical Center. He hopes to delve into research topics including biomedical technologies and cardiovascular disease. He is eager to take advantage of study abroad opportunities and to explore campus, all while keeping faith and family close to his heart.

“The Honors College and university also provide a host of service, leadership and extracurricular opportunities that I plan to pursue as well,” he said.

Navarro chose ECU’s Honors College because of what he describes as a unique ability to prepare individuals to succeed while also representing a high standard of excellence all around.

“The warm, unassuming atmosphere surrounding ECU’s Honors scholarship programs is very unique,” Navarro said. “The students interact with one another as friends rather than competitors. I am excited and grateful to be a member among them.”

He is ready to take advantage of every opportunity at his fingertips.

“I hope to mature and grow as a student and leader over the next four years,” Navarro said. “I also look forward to building lasting relationships within this group and within the Greenville community.”

He is the son of Suzanne and George Navarro.

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EC Scholar Kevin Nguyen

By Kathryn Kennedy

While Kevin Nguyen may have been nervous about selecting the right place to attend college – “it’s a big decision,” he noted – his mother had a plan.

“You’re going for that EC Scholars,” she told him. “You’re going to get it.”

Nguyen, 18, also considered attending N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill because a lot of the Cary-native’s friends are enrolling in those schools. But he couldn’t pass up East Carolina University’s offer of the EC Scholar award – the most prestigious undergraduate merit scholarship the university offers.

“I was absolutely speechless,” he said of receiving the news. “I just started jumping around. Luckily, my parents weren’t here to hear the ruckus.”
Nguyen plans to study engineering at ECU with a concentration in biomedical engineering. The strength of ECU’s engineering program and regular collaboration with the health sciences campus helped make ECU his top choice, he said.

“I always thought I’d be a doctor, but I’m not great at talking to new people,” he said. “Still, I wanted to work in that field.”

It’s an area he became interested in partly due to another passion: reading science fiction. The imagined accounts of “Ender’s Game” and other series made him curious about the real science behind the stories. Attending a seminar on nanotechnology at Duke University while in high school furthered the interest in science.

Now Nguyen is interested in studying biosynthesis – how various chemical compounds are produced by living organisms.

He plans to enter the ROTC program at ECU and join the U.S. Air Force after college. The military will afford him ample opportunities to work, he said. But he’s equally looking forward to the service and leadership curriculum for EC Scholars through the Honors College.

“Being an EC Scholar means that I now have a whole range of opportunities available to me as a student and that it is my responsibility to do as much as I can with them as possible,” he said.

Nguyen said he’s slightly nervous about coming to campus this fall because he doesn’t know many students coming to ECU. However, he’s definitely looking forward to finishing senior exams and enjoying the summer and “life with no school…while it lasts.”

Nguyen is the son of Ta and Linh Nguyen.

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EC Scholar Tulsi Patel

By Doug Boyd

A Cary resident and soon-to-be Raleigh Enloe High School graduate has her sights set on medical school after being accepted into a prestigious scholarship program at East Carolina University.

Tulsi Patel, the daughter of Mike and Amita Patel, has been accepted into the EC Scholars program, the top undergraduate scholarship at ECU. She also has been accepted into the Early Assurance Program at the university’s Brody School of Medicine. That means she’s guaranteed a spot in medical school provided she meets certain goals while an undergraduate.

“After collapsing on the floor and shedding a few tears, I immediately could not wait to be part of such a prestigious program,” Patel said. “I felt blessed to have been given such a wonderful opportunity and could not wait to make the most of the experience.”
She said being an EC Scholar means having an outstanding academic experience as well as opportunities to study abroad and better her community through service at home. ECU and the EC Scholars program offer “endless” opportunities and the chance to be part of an “active and thriving” community, Patel said. She was also attracted to ECU’s neuroscience program, and will be part of the ECU Honors College.

“I chose to attend ECU because through the EC Scholars Program, I will be given opportunities that are unimaginable at other universities,” she said. “When I visited ECU, I had the ‘I just knew it was the one’ feeling that I had not experienced before. I could not wait to officially be part of the community and lively atmosphere I saw around me.”

Before enrolling at ECU, Patel will travel to London to visit and attend a family wedding.

In high school, Patel has participated in the Medical Bio-Science Academy, the National Honor Society and Student Council. She served as president of the Medical Academy and as blood drive coordinator as well as completing an internship with the WakeMed pediatric surgical team. She has volunteered at Marbles Kids Museum and Duke Cancer Hospital and played recreational soccer with the Capital Area Soccer League.

While at ECU, she wants to be involved with service organizations as well as study in a Spanish-speaking country in order to develop her language skills. She also aims to participate in neuroscience research.

She plans to major in neuroscience and international studies. After she receives her bachelor’s degree and completes her planned medical studies, she hopes to become a pediatrician.

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EC Scholar Joanna Paul

By Spaine Stephens

Joanna Paul stands poised to make a difference in eastern North Carolina and around the world. One of the newest EC Scholars, Paul wants to use a career as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner to provide care to the underserved.

Paul is one of 20 incoming freshmen entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.

“Visiting India with my family back in 2007 really opened my eyes to the incredible devastation caused partially by the lack of quality health care in countries around the world,” she said.

That wider perspective lends itself to her goal to be a servant-leader closer to home.

“One of my greatest desires is to use my education and training to serve those around me, specifically those in rural communities who don’t have access to quality health care.”
Paul emphasized that ECU is a natural fit for her because of the individual attention the Honors College promises.

“No other school I looked at had the same interest in me as an individual,” she said, “and in helping me pursue my goals while also encouraging me to reach out to those around me.”

Paul, 17, comes to ECU following a rigorous curriculum through Aristos Academy, with a home-school format that included concentrated areas of focus, extracurricular activities and service to the community. She is a volunteer with Child Life at Vidant Medical Center and plays bingo weekly with her family at a local nursing home.

She also is active in National Christian Forensics and Communication (NCFCA), through which she competes in team policy debates by researching and proposing reforms for the United Nations and United States criminal justice system, among other topics.

Paul’s opportunity to delve into topics that interest her has bolstered her thirst for learning, something she knows the Honors College will fulfill. She feels the transition from a home-school setting to ECU will come naturally.

“In speech and debate, school, sports and many other areas, I have experienced my share of wins and losses,” she said. “One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that the way I handle failure is just as important as the way I handle success.”

Paul is already preparing to hit the ground running at ECU. This summer, she will get a head start on nursing course work by taking college level examination program tests. She also plans to attend an NCFCA competition near Washington, D.C., and prepare for several Honors College and EC Scholars trips.

She said she is looking forward to the freedom to focus on academics, leadership and service opportunities in the fall.

“I have so much to learn and grow in, but I think my desire for excellence in all things, thirst for learning and teachable spirit will serve me well,” Paul said. “I have constantly pushed myself with challenging course work and extracurricular activities, attempting to do hard things and doing them to the best of my ability. I don’t plan to stop that now.”

She is the daughter of Ravi and Nancy Paul.

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EC Scholar Austin Phillips

By Crystal Baity

Austin Phillips grew up near East Carolina University, not thinking he would be a student there one day.

Accustomed to the university and town, he wondered if he could find a better fit somewhere else. But he learned in visiting other campuses that ECU, its student body and atmosphere are unique. “I’ve realized that ECU is different than just Greenville. It’s a totally different community,” Phillips said.

Phillips is one of 20 freshmen entering ECU this fall as an EC Scholar, the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program offered by the university.

Earning the scholarship is a great honor, he said. “It shows my hard work pays off. I get to be at the place I want to be. It’s a challenge being with students as smart as – or smarter than – you,” Phillips said. “I get to represent my high school, my town, as an EC Scholar.”
Just a few blocks from campus is Elm Street Park, where Phillips can be heard announcing Greenville Little League baseball games. He calls about 100 games during a four-to-five month period, working six nights a week. “I played in that Little League,” Phillips said. “In middle school, I would help out off the field.”

He trained as a scorekeeper and learned about different aspects of operations as opportunities arose. Any time he’s not on the field, he can be found on the golf course. He has been on the J.H. Rose High School golf team four years and played baseball as a freshman. He also enjoys disc golf and recreational basketball.

A sports enthusiast, Phillips experienced one of the most difficult times in his life at age 14 when he received second-degree burns on his legs from a heater that caught his clothes on fire. “I could not walk for a month,” he said. “It was really, really tough. I made the baseball team at my middle school the day before I got burned. I missed pre-season but made it back for the first game. I had to make up for a lot of time missed.”

A scar remains, but he has grown from the experience, he said.

“It made me not take things for granted,” Phillips said. “I’m more appreciative and care a lot more. It helped me as a person.”

This summer, he’ll be announcing Little League games after working with high school students at a Young Life camp in the north Georgia mountains. Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to, and foster their growth in, faith.

Active in the youth group at First Presbyterian Church, Phillips has been a leader for Wyldlife, Young Life’s program for middle schoolers. It’s another reason he wanted to stay close to home for college.

Phillips is a member of the Rose High mock trial team, which advanced to state competition twice and was state runner-up this year. He is a member of the National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society and Math Honor Society. He also is part of the Dream Team, a club for Rose athletes that provides community service such as reading to elementary school children.

An intended communication major, Phillips said he is looking forward to being part of the Honors College, living in the Honors College living-earning community and making new friends at ECU.

His parents are LuAnne and Mark Phillips.

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EC Scholar Jessica Rogers

By Amy Ellis

When Jessica Blair Rogers heard the news she’d been named an EC Scholar, it was music to her ears. The 18-year-old from Nashville plans to major in musical theatre at East Carolina University.

Rogers aspires to be a performer as well as a private coach.

“I’ve been singing since I was about 3 years old, and the idea of getting on stage and becoming someone else while singing has always been something that’s fascinated me,” she said. “It’s fun because there are so many layers to it. Not only do you have to be able to sing, act and dance, but you also have to be able to look into the psychology of people and understand why people act the way they do – what their motivations are.”
Rogers is one of 20 freshmen who will enter ECU in August as EC Scholars – participants in the university’s most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program.

Her decision to attend ECU was not a difficult one to make, Rogers said. “I’ve grown up around East Carolina my entire life,” she said, “so it was easy to make the decision to continue my education in a school I held a special place in my heart for.”

Rogers did visit several colleges before settling on ECU, but said the environment at ECU felt more “personal” than any of the others. “The faculty at ECU made me feel as though they really cared about my success,” she said. “I want that one-on-one attention as a part of my education.”

Although she’ll miss the drama, dance and choral programs she’s been heavily involved in during her years at Nash Central High School, Rogers looks forward to the relationships she’ll build at ECU — not just with fellow Honors College students, but also with faculty. “I’m ready to take whatever they have to say in order to make my future as bright as it can be,” she said.

Being an EC Scholar means being a leader on campus, Rogers said. “It means being the example others can follow in order to attain success,” she said. “I want to be a person on campus who people know they can trust and come to when they need academic help.”

Prior to starting ECU this fall, Rogers plans to spend most of her summer volunteering at children’s performing arts camps in Rocky Mount and Wilson. A 2012 graduate of the Governor’s School of North Carolina — a summer residential program for intellectually gifted high school students — Rogers also hopes to make a return visit to her alma mater so she can meet the newest class.

Rogers is the daughter of Scott Rogers and Amy Rogers, who holds three degrees from ECU. “I’m so excited to become a Pirate and to join my mother as a Pirate!” she said.

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EC Scholar Ashley Wilford

By Crystal Baity

Dance is as much a part of Ashley Wilford’s life as academics. The Franklin Academy honors student has been performing for 15 years and works as an assistant dance teacher.

Her favorite form is contemporary because “it combines the methodical movements of ballet with the stronger movements of jazz, so it’s a nice mesh of the two,” Wilford said.

She will be in New York taking master’s classes with professional dancers this summer before coming to East Carolina University in August as one of 20 freshman EC Scholars, the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program offered at ECU.
As much as she loves dance, she plans to major in biomedical engineering which combines her interests in medicine, math and helping others. “I enjoy helping others and I want to continue doing that,” Wilford said.

She’s looking forward to the opportunities for research, internships and study abroad as an undergraduate student and EC Scholar, Wilford said.

Last fall, Wilford traveled to Spain, England and France with her high school. In March, she and her fellow advanced placement calculus and physics students had the opportunity to go to Disney World and shadow Disney “Imagineers,” or engineers.

The backstage operations gave her an understanding of how different amusement rides work and how they are designed. “It did sort of take away the magic of Disney, but it was really fun, educational and insightful,” she said. “Even though I’m thinking about biomedical engineering, it’s interesting to explore that side of engineering – mechanical engineering.”

She is honored to be an EC Scholar and looks forward to meeting new people and living in the Honors College living-learning community with students who have similar goals and priorities. After visiting campus, she said, “Everyone is welcoming and genuinely friendly, and I’m looking forward to that.”

At Franklin Academy, Wilford is student council senior class representative and a member of the National Honor Society, National Dance Honor Society, Math Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. Through student council, she has helped with a community Halloween carnival and has enjoyed tutoring middle school students through a Math Honor Society project. Wilford, who is past captain and four-year member of the high school cheerleading squad, participates in chorus and musical theater. She has performed at retirement homes and other community events.

Wilford is the daughter of Alex and Sim Wilford, and is the first in her family to attend ECU.

“All the hard work has paid off. In college, I’ll still be putting in that same amount of hard work, but I’ll be recognized for it,” Wilford said.

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EC Scholar Cameron Worthington

By Kathryn Kennedy

The first time Cameron Worthington set foot on ECU’s campus was when he arrived for a scholarship interview, which is perhaps unusual for someone who only lives 10 minutes away.

As it does for many prospective students, the visit changed the 18-year-old’s impression of the university and assured him ECU was the right choice.
“I’d known about the Honors College, and I was extremely excited to hear about the scholars (program),” said Worthington, who also applied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Worthington is one of 20 incoming freshman entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program the university offers.

Not only did it feel like the right place, he said, but the financial benefits offered by EC Scholars were greater and he was drawn to the service opportunities built into the Honors College experience.

Worthington has also been identified as an alternate for the Early Assurance Program in Medicine, in which students are guaranteed entry into the Brody School of Medicine at ECU upon completion of their undergraduate degrees.

It was in late middle school, Worthington said, that he first started considering his future career. He knew health care was evolving and there would always be jobs in the industry. So he took the opportunity to spend some time shadowing his uncle, an emergency physician at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

“Everything that he did, I want to do,” Worthington said. “It’s fast-paced, stressful…something different every day.”

That was only the beginning.

Worthington continued pursuing opportunities to work in health care throughout high school. He completed hundreds of volunteer hours with EastCare (now Vidant Medical Transport) and the hospital’s emergency department. He participated in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in the summer of 2012.

He’s also extremely interested in medical research. As member of Pitt County Health Sciences Academy, Worthington has taken part in two studies involving the relationship between certain genes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The program is a partnership between Pitt County Schools, Pitt Community College, ECU and the Eastern Area Health Education Center.

“Being an EC scholar at ECU means everything to me,” Worthington said. “It allows me to go above and beyond during my college career. Through my service and leadership, I will be able to represent East Carolina University to the best of my ability.”

Worthington is the son of Phil and Tammy Worthington.

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EC Scholar Nadiya Yerich

By Doug Boyd

Havelock High School senior Nadiya Yerich hopes an engineering degree from East Carolina University will lead to medical school and a career as a family physician.

She will take the first step toward that goal this summer, when she begins classes at ECU as an EC Scholar.

Yerich is one of 20 members of the Class of 2018 who have received the university’s top undergraduate scholarship. The New Bern resident will graduate from Havelock High next month and begin classes in late June.
Yerich is the daughter of Iya Shchutska and Jeffrey Krueger of New Bern.

She chose ECU because of the EC Scholar program, the Brody School of Medicine and her experiences when she and her father visited campus in April.

“ECU conveys that the university is proud to have you as one of its students, which is not the aura I have gotten from other ‘big-name’ schools,” she said. “At ECU, I do not feel like I will be just a number. I chose to attend ECU because I know that I will be encouraged to push beyond my limits in a positive environment with supportive people.”

As the time neared when she would find out if she had received the scholarship, Yerich said she braced for bad news. But when the envelope arrived and she opened it, she was “estatic.”

“It felt like such an incredible weight had been lifted off my shoulders – the weight being the price of attending college,” she said. “I honestly felt like I had won the lottery and that all of my hard work in high school had finally paid off.”

Born in Ukraine, Yerich moved to the United States when she was 8. She speaks Russian and English and is studying Spanish. She plans to major in biomedical engineering, attend medical school and become a family physician.

“I want to be able to take care of anyone that comes through the door of my office,” she said. “Being a family physician would also enable me to build relationships with both my colleagues and patients, which doctors in specialties are seldom able to do.”

While at ECU, Yerich plans to pursue student and service activities. She also hopes to travel to Italy to study.

“I look forward to being intellectually stimulated by the challenging coursework and honors classes offered to me as an EC Scholar,” she said. “It also means that I get to cultivate my leadership skills and potentially reach out to my community through volunteer service.”

In high school, Yerich held leadership roles in clubs, student government and the National Honor Society. She ran cross-country, played soccer, was a member of the homecoming court and made the principal’s list every grading period.

In the community, she has tutored students, served as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army during the holidays and raised money for Relay for Life. She also worked as a server at Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries in James City.

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EC Scholar Will Zahran

By Crystal Baity

Working in his grandfather’s animal hospital in Fayetteville helped introduce Will Zahran to the medical field.

“I enjoy it…but I really don’t care for animals other than dogs,” Zahran said. “Reptiles are not really my thing.”

Some of the more unusual patients he’s seen have been a goat and a goose with a broken wing.

He witnessed the birth of five lab puppies by Caesarean section. “I helped with keeping them warm after they were born. It was really cool,” Zahran said.

Zahran is one of 20 freshmen entering East Carolina University this fall as an EC Scholar, the most prestigious undergraduate academic scholarship program offered at ECU.
“I like how the Honors College is like a small school within a school,” Zahran said. “I didn’t think I would do well in a huge auditorium classroom.”

This summer he’ll be at his grandfather’s practice, where he has been working since age 11. He feeds, bathes and walks dogs, cleans cages, washes dishes and works the front desk. He floats between helping technicians and receptionists, and with supervision, can run tests or administer a vaccine.

While he’s not planning to be a veterinarian, he is leaning toward biology as a major. He’s interested in medical school but he’s also interested in teaching in higher education. “Honestly, I just don’t know yet. Hopefully I can figure that out in my freshman and sophomore year,” Zahran said.

His parents, Carolyn and Steve Zahran, went to ECU. His dad received a business degree in 1986; his mom transferred and graduated from another school. One of his dad’s friends told them about the EC Scholars program.

“I didn’t want to go too far from Fayetteville, and I didn’t want to go where my parents would have to pay too much,” Zahran said.

He started looking at schools with great pre-med programs and ECU rose to the top.

“I liked it when I visited,” Zahran said. During the interview weekend, he met other scholars. “Seeing how happy they were, and seeing the school in general, I really enjoyed it,” he said.

Receiving the award means “finally, what I’ve done in high school is starting to pay off,” Zahran said. “It gives me a chance to go on to graduate school. It opens more options for me to go abroad.”

Zahran recently returned from a nine-day visit to Italy, a trip offered through his high school, Terry Sanford High. “We were talking with this guy who spoke five languages. It really makes me want to stay over there for an extended period of time and learn a second language,” he said. “Learning another language expands who you can help.”

Zahran is president of the Sanford High chapter of the National Honor Society, an organization known for its peanut butter drive for food banks. “We take 70 to 80 jars every month to the food bank,” he said.

The group has also supported Operation Christmas Child, collected blankets for the local child advocacy center and written cards to veterans. He also has been on the school’s mock trial team which made it to regional finals. A varsity soccer player, he coached an under-8 boys’ recreational soccer team for two years.

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Scuplture professor exhibits in Australia

By Jamitress Bowden
ECU News Services

Residents ‘Down Under’ got a glimpse of artwork from eastern North Carolina, thanks to the efforts of an East Carolina University sculptor.

Red Center (Contributed photo)

ECU professor Carl Billingsley’s work, Red Center, on display in Australia. (Contributed photo)

Carl Billingsley, professor of sculpture in East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design, had his work featured in Australia twice this school year.

Billingsley’s proposal for an art installation titled “Red Center” was originally chosen for “Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi” last fall. His participation in the show last fall lead to an invitation to another outdoor show, in a different city.

He was offered an opportunity through the Andrea Stetton Memorial Invitation to have his piece included at Cottesloe Beach in Australia in March. The installation took Billingsley one day to install at Cottesloe Beach, with help from 12 volunteers.

“I like to have my pieces in public rather than in a museum. I think more people have an opportunity to see the work,” said Billingsley. “It’s kind of a big event where people are very aware of it and look forward to it and they go out for it.”

“Red Center” is an installation of red and yellow construction flags. He chose Australia as inspiration for the installation, and a well-known Australian landmark as inspiration for the name. “At the very center of the continent, is this vast stone, which the aborigines call Uluru and colonists call Ayers Rock or Red Stone,” said Billingsley.

A close-up look at the Red Center artwork.

A close-up look at the Red Center artwork.

Billingsley decided to enter an installation instead of the traditional form of sculpture. “This is a relatively new endeavor for me, as a professor of sculpture. I’ve always focused a lot of my attention on very traditional materials.”

Both shows have had more than 500,000 people in attendance.

Club boxer wins national championship

Brandon Knox

Brandon Knox

East Carolina University senior Brandon Knox won the U.S. Intercollegiate Boxing Association National Championship competition held April 3-5 at the University of Miami, Florida.

A Salisbury, N.C. native, Knox will graduate in December with a degree in construction management.

He was the only ECU Club Boxer to quality for the national competition. Knox earned a bronze medal at the competition last year and the year before that – in his first year of competition at ECU – he was a nationals runner-up.

He competed in the 125-pound open division weight class, which signifies a boxer has competed in more than 10 bouts.

“Winning the national championship is the highest accomplishment a boxer can obtain in collegiate boxing,” said Knox. “This is why we train all year. It takes tremendous courage to step in that ring and fight another person one on one for three 2-minute rounds in front of several hundred people.”

Knox said he goes through a full range of emotions on the day of a match, especially when a national title is on the line. He said he starts the day anxious and a bit nervous because he is just ready for the fight to begin. But that quickly changes as he moves to the ring.

Knox poses with Claressa Shields, 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

Knox poses with Claressa Shields, 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

“I can feel my confidence rising with every step,” he said. “Once I am in the ring, I know the work I have put in and I just believe that I can win. And to be standing there with the referee holding my hand in the air as the winner is an amazing feeling.”

The pressure to win was compounded by some of the faces Knox saw in the audience. Watching the performing in front row seats were Claressa Shields, 2012 Olympic gold medalist; Andre Dirrell, boxing world champion; and Al Bernstein, Showtime boxing sports broadcaster.

Knox said he hopes his story will inspire other students at ECU to take a chance, put in the hard work and training that’s needed and bring another national title to the Pirate Nation.

Harper to keynote MLK Jr. celebration at ECU

Award-winning actor, author and philanthropist Hill Harper will speak at East Carolina University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 in Wright Auditorium.

Hill Harper

Hill Harper

Harper starred in the role of Dr. Sheldon Hawkes in the hit television drama “CSI: NY” from 2004 through 2013 and is now appearing in the USA Network’s program “Covert Affairs.” He is the author of five bestselling books – most recently “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” – and founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering underserved youth through mentorship and motivational programs.

Harper graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and cum laude with a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets must be requested from the ECU Central Ticket Office by calling 252-328-4788 or 1-800-ECU-ARTS.

For additional information, visit


Go Green

Pat Long, center, director of ECU's Center for Sustainability: Tourism, Natural Resources, and the Built Environment, stands with ECU graduates students Keturah Mayberry, left, and Scott Gray, right. Gray manages the travel care code for the center and Mayberry helped develop the travel care program's Facebook page. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Pat Long, center, director of ECU’s Center for Sustainability: Tourism, Natural Resources, and the Built Environment, stands with ECU graduates students Keturah Mayberry, left, and Scott Gray, right. Gray manages the travel care code for the center and Mayberry helped develop the travel care program’s Facebook page. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)



By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services
Consider a new holiday tradition this year: green travel.That’s the goal of the East Carolina University developers of the United States Travel Care Code.

The Center for Sustainability: Tourism, Natural Resources, and the Built Environment at ECU developed the travel care code, which encourages travelers to take a pledge to travel responsibly with 10 easy steps.

The tips include learning about your destination, continuing good habits while on vacation – like recycling – and being a fuel-efficient traveler.

“All are somewhat common sense but they’re great reminders,” said Scott Gray, a dual ECU business administration and sustainable tourism master’s degree student who manages the Travel Care Code for the center. One example: setting the air conditioning in a rental at a reasonable temperature and not having it so cold that your sunglasses fog up when you walk inside.

“Anyone traveling should be attentive and aware of traveling green,” Gray said.

The center developed the code to help educate, inform and influence as many visitors and travelers as possible. It’s available for free use and re-publication for destination marketing organizations, convention and visitors’ bureaus, tourism development authorities, hotels, and other hospitality-related organizations and businesses as a way to promote responsible travel, Gray said. Tourism organizations in Colorado and Florida are already using the code.

In his research, Gray found little on green travel designed for the general consumer. “We want everyone to use it,” he said.

According to Destination Marketing Association International, there is a growing movement of travelers committed to ensuring their impact on tourism destinations is positive and supportive of ongoing sustainable tourism programs. The travel care code is one way travelers – and the tourism industry – can help. The code was adopted from a similar one first developed in New Zealand through the work of Miles Media’s Chris Adams, who chairs the industry advisory board for the ECU center.

“His company has done a lot in terms of opening doors and hosting the website,” said Dr. Pat Long, director of the center in the ECU College of Technology and Computer Science.

The code supports the adage, “think global, act local,” Adams said. “It identifies where the areas are that travelers can make a difference,” he said.

“Obviously this is not designed to be a complete solution, just a partial solution.”

Adams said the center at ECU is a good home for the travel care code. “It gives academic weight and organization and promotion to the care code,” he said.

Faculty and students first started talking about developing the code about three years ago. Whitney Knollenberg, an ECU graduate now enrolled in a doctoral hospitality program at Virginia Tech, used the travel care code as her graduate assistant project. She researched and crafted the 10 items, which were taken to faculty groups and ECU’s sustainability committee as well as industry groups for feedback.

Keturah Mayberry, an ECU graduate assistant at the center who is pursuing a master’s degree in accounting, did initial work to set up and maintain the travel care code’s Facebook page:

The center is actively seeking sponsors for the code to help promote and market efforts. The center, part of the ECU College of Technology and Computer Science, advances research and outreach aimed at affecting change in tourism business practices, public policies and individual traveler behaviors that lessen negative impacts of travel while enhancing travel’s positive outcomes for both travelers and their host communities.

For more information, visit leads efforts for responsible travel

Pledge to Travel Green

United States Travel Care Code

  1. Learn about your destination – Enjoy a rewarding experience by learning more about the natural environment, culture and history that makes every destination unique.
  2. Don’t leave your good habits at home – While traveling, continue to recycle, use water wisely, and turn off lights as you would at home.
  3. Be a fuel-efficient traveler – Book direct flights, rent smaller cars and keep your own vehicle operating at maximum efficiency. Once in your destination, walk or bike as much as possible.
  4. Make informed decisions – Seek out destinations or companies that engage in energy efficiency or recycling programs and that take actions to preserve their communities and natural environment.
  5. Be a good guest – Remember that you are a guest in your destination. Engage with locals, but respect their privacy, traditions and local community.
  6. Support locals – As a visitor, the money you spend on your trip can help support the local artisans, farmers and business owners whose livelihoods depend on tourism.
  7. Dispose of your waste properly – Leave a beautiful place for others to enjoy. Recycle where possible, and always dispose of your waste with care.
  8. Protect your natural surroundings – Be mindful of the plants, animals and ecosystems that you impact. Avoid feeding wildlife, stay on designated trails and strictly follow all fire restrictions.
  9. Make your travel zero emissions – As an additional step, consider the option of purchasing carbon credits to fully offset your travel’s impact on climate change.
  10. Bring your experiences home – Continue practicing your sustainable habits at home and encourage friends and family to travel with the same care.

For more tips and resources on traveling with care see

Vampires and Victorians


Vampire vixens, left to right, Demetra Drayton, Jillian Brocki and Elizabeth Graves attack London resident Jonathan Harker – played by Robert DiDomenico – during an overnight stay at Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. Below, Count Dracula’s faithful servant Renfield, played by Cody Schauble, sits at his dinner table at the opening of “Dracula,” a student production by the ECU/Loessin Playhouse. (Photos by Jay Clark)


ECU students bring Dracula back from the dead

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Two days before the opening night of “Dracula,” in a backstage dressing room at McGinnis Theatre, costume designer Cybele Moon cocked her head and sized up a white, lacy wedding gown. Dissatisfied, she snatched it from the rack.

“This dress needs more blood,” she said, and hauled it back downstairs to the costume shop.

With plentiful blood and smoke, vampire vixens and Victorians, Halloween has come early to East Carolina University. The ECU/Loessin Playhouse production of “Dracula” opened Sept. 26 and ran through Oct. 1. Tickets are $10 for youth/students and $12.50 for the general public.

Based on Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel, “Dracula” tells the story of the ancient vampire Count Dracula’s arrival in London and the attempts to piece together the clues of his mysterious appearance. The secrets characters keep from one another allow Dracula’s reign of terror to continue, resulting in a hideous fate for some.

Faculty member Greg Funaro directs the play. It’s the third production of “Dracula” at ECU since the 1970s, and the first horror play performed in Funaro’s 13-year tenure at the university. The director said he’s been fascinated with Dracula since, as a fifth grader, he saw the 1979 film version starring Frank Langella.


The immortal vampire Count Dracula, played by Landon Summers, feeds on the blood of London resident Lucy Westenra, played by Cate Kessler.

“It’s a fun play,” Funaro said. “It’s something that is open to all these different imaginings… and it also features one of the world’s first and enduring supervillains. He says he’s capable of love, but he’s just pure evil. He’s got so many strengths, but so many weaknesses, too. There are such interesting layers to him.”

ECU senior Landon Summers was selected for the title role of Dracula, with other lead roles including junior Anne-Marie Kennedy and senior Robert DiDomenico as Mina and Jonathan Harker.

For this particular production, Funaro selected the well-known adaptation by playwright Steven Dietz. It’s the truest to the original novel, he said, which is made up of letters and journal entries rather than a strictly chronologic narrative.

“Now (vampires) are such a cliché, it’s a great challenge to take something that’s so overdone and keep it fresh and interesting,” Funaro said, “without being hokey.”

Dracula needs a Transylvanian accent, for example, but shouldn’t sound like the count from “Sesame Street,” Funaro explained.

The ECU production also incorporates a growing literary science fiction/fantasy genre known as “steampunk,” which has been described by some as what the future would have looked like if it happened sooner – specifically, in the Victorian era. It was an interesting period in history, Funaro said, when Victorian restraint confronted advances in science, philosophy and technology.

Faculty member Jeni L. Parker’s set includes massive gears, steam grates and pipes alongside Transylvanian castle walls. Moon’s costumes include corsets worn outside rather than underneath dresses, more color than traditional Victorian clothing, and funky, metallic trim on jackets and vests.

This is the first ECU production with costume direction by Moon, who arrived on campus Aug. 2. She said she was prepared for the challenges of caring for costumes bloodied nightly but, she added, “it is my first show with fangs.”

The ECU/Loessin Playhouse is the educational theater for the School of Theatre and Dance’s professional programs. Students are involved in every part of the production, not only as actors. Its mission is to provide the citizens of eastern North Carolina with the highest quality productions of the world’s musical, comic and dramatic repertory at affordable prices to encourage broad, diverse and non-elitist audience participation.

For more information about “Dracula,” visit, and for tickets visit or call 1-800-ARTS.

The many incarnations of “Dracula”

From Sept. 26 through Oct. 1, Count Dracula will stalk McGinnis Theatre – primarily after dark, of course – as ECU’s School of Theatre and Dance presents a production of “Dracula” adapted for the stage from Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 novel.

Count Dracula is most famous vampire in history, and the story of a undead Transylvanian nobleman who travels to London to seek out, seduce, and suck the blood from beautiful young women, while being able to turn himself into a bat, a rat or a wolf and proclaim the glories of “the children of the night,” is known by almost everyone – even those who have never read the novel. This is because Dracula has been kept undead through his countless re-appearances in film and on stage. It’s hard to keep a good vampire down.

Dracula has “lived” in the theater for his entire unlife. Upon the publication of his novel, Stoker staged a reading of the story to secure the theatrical copyright to his tale. In 1924, the author’s widow commissioned Hamilton Deane to write a dramatic adaption of the novel that toured England before becoming a hit in London.

In 1927, Dracula came to Broadway, starring Bela Lugosi, a then little-known actor. The play was a success, toured the United States and has been touring ever since. The most famous adaptation was the 1977 Broadway revival with set and costume designs by Edward Gorey and starring Frank Langella as a seriously sexual vampire.

Adaptation is the sincerest form of cinema, and as he was appearing on stage he began to be seen in darkened movie houses. Some of the most interesting horror films ever made are adaptations of “Dracula.” F.W. Murnau’s 1922 “Nosferatu” starring Max Schreck is one of the finest silent films ever made.

Tod Browning’s 1931 “Dracula” with Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan created the image of the caped count who has become such a cultural icon that he was even transformed into the “Sesame Street” Count von Count.

In the 1950s British adaptations of “Dracula,” Christopher Lee frightened a generation of filmgoers with his threateningly forceful portrayal of the count. Frank Langella reprised his Broadway role for BBC television in 1979 as a suave seducer confronted by Sir Laurence Olivier as vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing.

The most elaborate adaptation has been Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 operatic “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins.  The less said about “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” and “Dracula’s Dog,” the better.

Wherever he has appeared Dracula has entertained, seduced, and frightened audiences. And now he is amongst us. Beware and buy garlic.

Jim Holte, professor of English and Film Studies at ECU

Reaching Robeson


Pamela Wright, left, school counselor with Robeson Early College High School, and Michael Scholtz, director of community dental practices at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, study a floor plan for the new community service learning center in Robeson County. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

‘The heart of who we want to be’  

LUMBERTON — Robeson County will soon be home to a facility that officials say will bring dental care to limited-income, underserved residents while providing educational opportunities to East Carolina University dental students.

That was the message Sept. 16 as Robeson leaders and the ECU School of Dental Medicine announced plans to build a community service learning center in Lumberton.

ECU will build the facility next to the Robeson County Health Department on land donated by the county. Construction dates will be announced later.

Leaders in Robeson County and at East Carolina said the location in this statistically underserved border county illustrates the seriousness and reach of the university’s mission of service.

“We are very honored that East Carolina University decided to put the program here,” said Noah Woods, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, at a public event announcing the location. “We are honored to have this fine institution with a record of service as our partner.”

Chancellor Steve Ballard told the group, “This (dental school outreach) is the heart of who we want to be, who we ought to be and who we are.”

At the center, fourth-year dental students and dental residents will hone their patient-care techniques and learn the ins-and-outs of operating a community practice under the watch of experienced faculty members. It is the seventh center that ECU has announced since it began its new dental school in 2008.

Teaching dentists statewide

The $3 million, 7,700-square-foot center is one of up to 10 ECU plans to build across the state. The first two centers have opened in Ahoskie and Elizabeth City. Two more are under construction in Lillington in the central part of the state and Sylva in the mountains. Others are planned for the mountain town of Spruce Pine and in Davidson County in the Triad.

“We are excited about working with the county health department and the local dental community and look forward to providing quality dental care to people of Robeson County and the surrounding counties,” said Dr. Gregory Chadwick, dean of the School of Dental Medicine at ECU.

The center will have 16 dental chairs and will employ local staff members, including 1.5 full-time dental faculty positions, a business manager, five to six dental assistants, two to three dental hygienists and two general dentistry residents. Four to five students will be at the center for nine-week rotations.

Once open, the center will provide a variety of services, including general, preventive and emergency dental care and will include services such as crowns, root canals and bridges.

While services won’t be free, charges will be on a sliding scale. Officials have said fees typically will be about 70 percent of those at a private dental practice.

ECU approach distinct

William Smith, director of the Robeson County Health Department, said the center will help the 14,000 people in his county who don’t qualify for Medicaid or insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The department closed its dental center in July due to financial pressures after the state did not expand its Medicaid program.


ECU student and Lumberton native Kasey Oxendine will train at ECU’s community service learning centers.

“I think not only for Robeson County but the region as a whole the clinic is going to be vital for a segment of our population that heretofore has not accessed dental care,” Smith said.

The setting will also provide students and dental residents with an opportunity to learn what practicing in a community setting is like. The school admitted its first class in 2011, and all students are North Carolina residents. Goals of the school are to educate students from underrepresented groups and disadvantaged backgrounds and to improve access to dental care.

“The ECU approach – educating students and residents in our community service learning centers – could become a future model for dental education,” Chadwick said. “Community service learning centers are more than just dental clinics. They are an integral part of our dental school where our seniors will spend much of their fourth year.”

One of those ECU dental students who will train at the community service learning centers being built across the state is Lumberton native Kasey Oxendine.

The second-year ECU dental student knows the need for dental care in Robeson County firsthand. She remembers as a child in Lumberton having a toothache and having to wait to see a dentist.

“Robeson County is one of the poorest and largest counties in the state. As a child, I experienced the lack of access to care when I had to wait and extended period of time before I could be seen for a routine cleaning,” she said. “Furthermore, lack of dental insurance as a child forced me to chew on the opposite side of my mouth due to a toothache and eventually lose a tooth that could have been restored.”

Oxendine, who earned her undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010, is now driven to become a dentist and return to her home county. “Realizing that experiences like (mine as a child) are experienced by many others has motivated me to become a dentist and return to Robeson County to practice,” she said.

A documented need

North Carolina ranks 47th out of 50 states in the number of dentists per capita, according to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Many people without good dental care live in rural areas, where North Carolina averages three dentists for every 10,000 people. That compares to urban areas of the state, where the ratio is nearly five dentists for every 10,000 people. Nationally, the ratio is six dentists for every 10,000 people.

Robeson County had a population of 134,168 in the 2010 census, with Lumberton being home to more than 21,000. The county has fewer than 2.1 dentists for every 10,000 people, according to the Sheps Center.

Smith said the center will help maintain a level of service in the county as dentists there retire during the next few years.

ECU hopes the centers will help improve the status of dental health in the state while adding an innovative educational aspect to dental school. Chadwick compares to centers to moving the students’ fourth-year clinical work off the ECU campus and into communities across the state.

“We are not only providing much needed care, but we are also educating students in areas similar to where we hope they will practice,” Chadwick said.

Construction will be paid for with funds appropriated by the state to ECU. Additionally, the CSLCs will generate revenue through patient care each of the centers will provide.

By Doug Boyd, Mary Schulken and Jeannine Manning Hutson

Study of immunotoxicity leads to national award


From left, research specialist Quing Hu, doctoral students Jason Franklin and Qixiao Jiang, and Dr. Jamie DeWitt discuss their research in DeWitt’s lab in the Brody Medical Sciences Building. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Dr. Jamie DeWitt, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has received the 2013 Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Immunotoxicology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology.

The award is given to investigators who are 10 or fewer years out from obtaining their doctorates who have contributed substantially, through scholarly research, to the field of immunotoxicology. To date, DeWitt has 24 scholarly publications that focus on immunotoxicity and a total of 34 publications.

DeWitt received the award at the group’s annual meeting this month in San Antonio, Texas.

“It’s a huge honor as the scientists who’ve been selected for this award in the past have made monumental contributions to the field of immunotoxicology,” said DeWitt, who then mentioned her mentors and advisors during her educational and professional career.

Her research focuses on systemic and developmental immunotoxicity following exposure to environmental pollutants. One of her main interests is the impact of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid, a compound used to manufacture many industrial and commercial products such as Teflon, on immune function.

Her goals are understanding the long-term effects of developmental toxicant exposure on behavior and immune function, evaluating common signaling pathways for nervous and immune system development and identifying critical windows of developmental exposure.

“I think this award also indicates that the immunotoxicology community values developmental immunotoxicity research and research that explores the connections between the immune and nervous systems,” DeWitt said. “These are both areas that are relatively new in the discipline and areas that are somewhat understudied in relation to other areas of immunotoxicology.”

Ultimately, DeWitt wants to extend her studies in developmental immunotoxicology to investigate the potential role of immune modulation in the development of disorders such as autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

DeWitt has been at ECU since 2008. In addition to being on the pharmacology and toxicology faculty, she is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Public Health at the medical school. She also chairs the Brody Women Faculty Committee and is the incoming president of the North Carolina regional chapter of the Society of Toxicology.

DeWitt completed her doctorate in 2004 at Indiana University-Bloomington in environmental science and neural science and completed post-doctoral studies in immunotoxicology at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. David Taylor, DeWitt’s department chair, praised DeWitt’s research and her collaboration with faculty members from across ECU. “The university, Brody School of Medicine and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology are fortunate to have Dr. DeWitt as a member of the faculty,” he said.

Growing Partnership


Scholarship of Engagement Award, 2012-13

Rebecca J. Dumlao

Associate Professor,
School of Communication
College of Fine Arts & Communication


Dumlao fosters engagement as ‘way of life’

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Vibrant flowers decorate Rebecca Dumlao’s office in Joyner East overlooking the Cupola at East Carolina University.

A large window provides ample light for real blooms next to her desk, and now that it’s spring, she’s looking forward to working in her home garden too.

Propped close by is a suitcase full of puppets, part of a project developed by Dumlao and Deborah Thomson in the School of Communication to take ECU students into the community as puppeteers to talk with children about healthy lifestyles.

Like her garden, Dumlao has been growing partnerships, earning her the 2013 ECU Scholarship of Engagement Award. Earlier this year, Dumlao received the 2013 Robert L. Sigmon Service Learning Award from the N.C. Campus Compact. She was the first from ECU to receive the award.

“It’s important to talk with the community about what they want,” Dumlao said. “One of the things I love about community service learning and engagement is getting students excited about working in the community. I feel good about it because it’s another way to prepare students for what they’re going to be doing after graduation.”

The puppets are just one way that Dumlao and colleagues have fostered service-learning, a teaching strategy that links community service to classroom study and reflection.

Since starting the project in 2008, the puppets have given more than 300 children a fun way to learn about serious topics such as diabetes and obesity. Dumlao has collaborated with faculty across campus – nutritionists, pediatricians, child development and family relations, theater – on scripts to address the unique needs of area children.

“It’s not just puppet shows,” Dumlao said. “We want to make a bigger difference.”

Dumlao has led service-learning efforts at ECU and beyond for more than a decade, chairing the university’s service-learning committee to support course design and faculty development, serving as editor of book reviews for trade journals, and integrating service-learning into the curriculum.

She helped create the School of Communication’s required capstone course, which includes a service-learning project. Since 2001, more than 1,600 ECU students have completed the course, contributing over 18,000 hours of service locally.

“I want my students to be able not just to understand the content of the class but to be a leader and contributor to the community,” Dumlao said. “We’re (ECU) not the whole show, but we’re a piece hopefully that’s going to make a difference in the community and with others.”

Recently, Dumlao signed a book contract to write about bringing communication scholarship into community service learning and engagement. “There’s not a lot out there about how to do it,” Dumlao said.

Dumlao has worked at ECU for 15 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in home economics and early childhood education from Penn State University, a master’s in scientific and technical communication from Oregon State and a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Dumlao’s mother and grandmother were teachers who incorporated community engagement into their work long before the term was coined.

“It feels good to be recognized as a leader,” Dumlao said. “This is not a short-term endeavor. For me, community engagement is a way of life.”

Return to Research and Creative Achievement home page.

‘Genuine and Groundbreaking’


Five-Year Achievement Award, 2012-13

Thomas Herron

Associate Professor,
Department of English

Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences

Herron recognized for research in Irish literature

By Alexa DeCarr
ECU News Services

An English professor at East Carolina University is being recognized this month for his research and published works on the literary and cultural history of the late 16th and early 17th century Ireland.

Associate Professor Thomas Herron has received a University Research/Creative Activity Award in the Five-Year Achievement category. Since coming to ECU in 2005, Herron has published numerous books, articles, essays and reviews. He has organized and participated in several conferences in his field of study.

“(Herron) is one of the most learned and intelligent schools of his generation,” said J.B. Lethbridge, a lecturer at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, in his nomination letter. “His influence on his chosen fields, Spenser studies and studies of Ireland in the Renaissance, has grown profound.”

Between 2005 and 2011, Herron single-handedly organized a series of ECU lectures on medieval Irish history, literature and archeology. Many of the lecturers came from abroad and were hosted by Herron’s own family.

His research involving the life and literature of English poet Edmund Spenser is especially reknown, including his first monograph, “Spenser’s Irish Work,” published in 2007.

Christopher Burlinson, director of studies in English at Jesus College in Cambridge, England, called Herron’s work “a study which made a genuine and groundbreaking intervention in what might have seemed to be an already rather abundant critical field.”

This spring, Herron is one of the curators of an exhibit on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, “Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland,” focuses on the Irish upper class during the 16th and 17th centuries and uncovers their relationship with the English newcomers. It displays the ways in which the two cultures influenced each other through architecture, literature and the arts.

Herron received his undergraduate degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, where he developed his passion for Irish culture and the Middle Ages and studied the works of Spenser as well as poets William Shakespeare and Christopher Middleton. He acquired his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

At ECU, he teaches courses in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature and recently took a class to see the play “Henry V” in Washington, D.C.

“I love to share my enthusiasm with my students,” Herron said.

He also edits the multidisciplinary journal “Explorations in Renaissance Culture.”

Return to Research and Creative Achievement home page.

‘A Rising Star’



Five-Year Achievement Award, 2012-13

Baohong Zhang

Associate Professor,
Department of Biology
Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences


Zhang honored for excellence in research

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Baohong Zhang, a molecular biologist and associate professor of biology, received a 2013 Five-Year Achievement Award from the ECU Division of Research and Graduate Studies. His research focuses on three related fields: molecular genetics, toxicology and biotechnology.

In his lab in the ECU Science and Technology Building, Zhang uses model species such as the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and crops such as cotton, soybeans and corn to study microRNA-mediated gene regulation and its function in organism growth, development and response to stressors.

MicroRNA, or miRNA, is a small non-coding RNA molecule found in plants and animals that functions in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression; for example, the triggering of developmental pathways, responses to environmental stimuli or adaptation to new food sources.

He has written more than 40 peer-reviewed articles in that field in the past six years, most recently appearing in the Archives of Toxicology and Plant Molecular Biology. He has also published two scientific books since joining ECU: “Transgenic Cotton” and “RNAi and microRNA-Mediated Gene Regulation in Stem Cells.”

Since arriving at ECU, Zhang has been the principal or co-principal investigator on research grants totaling more than $3 million from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense as well as private corporations and organizations.

“Baohong is without question a rising star in the world of computational and molecular biology, particularly in the field of miRNA research,” Dr. Jeffrey McKinnon, chair of the biology department at ECU, said in his award nomination letter of Zhang.

Zhang’s research includes looking at the toxicity and effects of several groups of traditional and emerging pollutants, such as nanomaterials, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, explosives and pesticides for clues that could lead to the development of biomarkers for assessing the exposure and health effects of these substances. Zhang is also investigating the molecular mechanisms of toxicant/toxin-induced cancers and their chemoprevention. One of his research projects is to investigate the role of natural products on human breast cancer treatment.

His work could also lead to the creation of new genetically modified organisms for producing drugs and biofuels, modifying resistance to abiotic and biotic stressors, and improving crop yield and quality as well as looking at the biosafety and risk assessment of genetically modified foods.

Zhang is also part of the ECU Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Initiative. This program uses two new, large shared lab spaces on the fifth floor of the Science and Technology Building that accommodate multiple inter-related research groups. He is one of the major contributors to the Operation Re-Entry North Carolina research program for wounded veterans at ECU.

He is co-editor-in-chief of the World Journal of Experimental Medicine. Since joining ECU, he has served as editor or on the editorial board for 11 international journals. He also serves as an ad hoc reviewer for more than 69 journals and 27 international funding agencies and has served multiple times on grant review panels for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Baohong’s funding accomplishments have benefited his own productivity but have been even more important to the members of his laboratory, and he is dedicated to the thoughtful training of the next generation of scientists in his field,” McKinnon said.

Zhang has a doctoral degree from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s degree from Beijing Agricultural University in China.

Return to Research and Creative Achievement home page.

‘Out there making a difference’


Lifetime Achievement Award for Research and Creative Activity

Roger Rulifson

Professor, Department of Biology Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences
Senior Scientist, Institute for Coastal Science and Policy



Student influence highlights career

By Justin Boulmay
For ECU News Services

When Roger Rulifson has meetings with members of federal agencies, he doesn’t see strangers anymore. He sees his former students—a testimony of just how far he’s come in 30 years of fisheries research and the difference he’s made.

That’s one of the many reasons that Rulifson, a professor in the Department of Biology and senior scientist for the Institute of Coastal Science and Policy, is this year’s recipient of the 2012-13 Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by East Carolina University. It’s an honor well deserved by someone who is now seeing his former students interview and hire his more current students.

“It’s starting to sink in that I’ve been around a long time and that the work that I do and the students that have been produced by ECU and by my lab are out there making a difference,” Rulifson said. “So I guess this lifetime achievement award is like the crown jewel of that.”

Rulifson received bachelor’s degrees in biology and French from the University of Dubuque in Iowa as well as three degrees from N.C. State University: a master’s. in marine science, a doctorate in marine science and engineering and a postdoctorate in federal management planning with a focus on anadromous fish, which migrate from saltwater to freshwater for spawning. Internationally known for his work in fisheries along the Atlantic, Rulifson came to ECU in 1983 as an adjunct assistant professor in the biology department and an assistant scientist for the Institute for Coastal and Marine Resources.

The author of more than 70 technical and policy reports to fisheries and environmental agencies, Rulifson has secured more than $6.3 million in research funding, including more than $700,000 to tag and investigate striped bass. He has also been heavily engaged in the American Fisheries Society, including serving as president from 2008-10.

Rulifson and his students study migratory patterns and population sizes of species such as striped bass, American and hickory shads and Atlantic sturgeon. He’s also studied and tagged 40,000 spiny dogfish sharks, which have traveled as near as Wilmington and as far as Iceland. His research can have a positive impact on environmental conservation and economic development. If researchers like Rulifson know where species travel, then they can try to ensure that oil and gas developers or the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management don’t build in those areas.

Spiny dogfish sharks are also in demand in Europe and could be put on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora list. If that happens, then the sharks can only be collected and sold by fisheries that have been certified as sustainable. That’s a good economic opportunity for American fishermen and shows why information such as migratory patterns could prove beneficial.

“If that were to happen, it would protect the populations of spiny dogfish in Europe because they’re really overfished, but it would also allow any fishery that was certified as sustainable to sell to Europe,” Rulifson said. “And the United States has the only certified fishery for them.”

Rulifson has also mentored 50 graduate students, who have gone on to work for organizations such as federal agencies and are even starting to hire some of his more current students. He encourages his students to network with potential contacts and guides them in their careers. When one of them gets a job interview, he’ll ask that student questions about what the hiring agency was looking for in their candidates.

“I get all those questions answered and then I put that into my fisheries techniques class and focus on those things that I know state agencies and federal agencies want in a person when they come in to interview,” he said.

Rulifson’s former and current students can’t seem to speak highly enough of his influence. In her letter nominating Rulifson for the award, Jennifer Cudney, a doctoral candidate in coastal resources management, said working in his lab “teaches us how to work successfully with folks from all walks of life, how to understand alternative perspectives, and provides exposure to real-world problems in fisheries management.”

Joshua Murauskas, a senior fish biologist, considers Rulifson a mentor as well as a professor. In his nomination letter, he wrote, “Ask around at the local North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries office, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the editors of the world’s premier fisher publications, or even biologists working in the hub of renewable energy and salmon conservation in the Pacific Northwest: Dr. Rulifson’s mentorship has changed the landscape in natural resource management throughout the country.”


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Genotyping helps identify source of clinic outbreak

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Researchers from East Carolina University used a new technique of genotyping to identify the source of a hematology clinic outbreak of Mycobacterium mucogenicum, a gram-positive, acid-fast bacteria found in tap water.

This outbreak of M. mucogenicum is the first in an ambulatory care setting; five other outbreaks have been reported in hospital settings since 1995. The study was published in the November issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Ashraf, Muhammad1


The outbreak involved four young sickle cell patients, who all recovered following treatment with antibioltics. Since all four had long-term lines implanted to deliver medication into the bloodstream, investigators guessed they were probably exposed to M. mucogenicum during outpatient visits when the lines were accessed. As part of the outbreak investigation, researchers collected water samples from two faucets in the exam rooms and performed an audit of infection control practices, including hand hygiene compliance, use of appropriate techniques for injections and other procedures.

Using repetitive sequence-based polymerase chain reaction, the first time this genotyping method was used in an M. mucogenicum outbreak, researchers determined that a water sample from an exam room faucet with an aerator had the same bacteria as the infected patients, and all were genetically similar to control strain of M. mucogenicum. Aerators have been found to be reservoirs for bacteria in previous outbreaks.

The use of new technology to match the genetic material in the bacteria established the source of the outbreak; however, since M. mucogenicum is commonly found in tap water, researchers needed to continue their investigation to determine how the bacteria was being transmitted to the patients.

While reviewing the infection control practices of the unit, preparation of intravenous medications by one nurse, who was involved in the care of all four patients, was found to be the only breach in safe practices. During the period of infection, this health care worker prepared injections at the sink counter. It’s likely that the fluid bag being used to prepare injections became contaminated when the worker washed her hands.

As a result of the investigation, all of the water aerators were removed from the faucets and educational information stressing that sinks were not to be used as work spaces were distributed to staff. Since the changes, no new cases of M. mucogenicum bloodstream infection have been identified.

“This study demonstrates the efficacy of using genotyping technology in identifying the source of the outbreak,” said Dr. Muhammad Salman Ashraf, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. “But it also points to the need for proper infection control practice in clinic settings and that faucet aerators should be avoided in all health care facilities, especially those caring for immunosuppressed patients.”

ECU spin-off firm develops application for heart patients

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

People with implanted cardiac defibrillators can have some peace-of-mind thanks to a new smartphone application developed by experts at East Carolina University.

An ECU spin-off company, Quality of Life Applications, or QOL Apps Inc., is making its ICD Coach application available in the Apple iPhone Store.

ICD Coach, which costs $4.99, is a mobile phone application with a multimedia educational purpose for cardiac patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators, or ICDs. The app will educate patients about information and strategies that will allow them to achieve a desirable quality of life, despite heart disease.



Dr. Samuel F. Sears, professor of psychology and cardiovascular sciences at East Carolina University, is the author behind the ICD Coach. A business partner in QOL Apps Inc., Sears is the director of cardiac psychology services at the East Carolina Heart Institute and a professor in the ECU Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and the Department of Psychology.

“My clinical practice and my research studies convinced me that psychological coping skills and information were needed widely in ICD patients across the world, and ICD Coach was invented to attempt to do that,” Sears said. “They fear having an arrhythmia and getting shocked and recognize that arrhythmias are dangerous and the shock hurts,” he added.

Sears is an internationally known researcher, speaker and educator on the topic of the ICD and patient quality of life. Since 1997, he has contributed to the care of ICD patients through publication in professional commentaries and reviews, empirical work, the development of tools to aid in the research process, workshops designed for ICD patients and worldwide lectures.

The ICD Coach blends Sears’ research and clinical experience into a mobile phone application about cardiac survivorship, confident thinking, confident behavior and confident relationships with interactive exercises and information. ECU is a stakeholder in this endeavor, as Sears engaged numerous professors across the campus in business, marketing, visual design, graphics and technology transfer.

The ICD is the primary treatment for patients who survive or are at risk for cardiac arrest. This unique, applied area of psychology is notable because it more than 1 million patients. Surviving cardiac arrest is an accomplishment, but the process of resuming life after the event can be psychologically challenging.

Sears’ work is critical in offsetting the negatives associated with this life-saving technology by examining and minimizing the effects on patients and families because of the life-saving but painful, high-energy shock of the ICD that is delivered immediately upon the device’s detection of an arrythmia.

“The ICD Coach will provide early adopters with a useful, effective product as we move towards developing a suite of apps designed for doctors, patients, and future ICD patients,” said Gabe Dough, business partner in QOL Apps Inc.

ICD Coach is the first product to be launched from QOL Apps. Founded in November 2010, QOL Apps has a broad focus on developing multimedia educational products focused on improving quality of life for ICD patients.

The Office of Technology Transfer provided funds under its pilot Accelerator Award Program to build a prototype of ICD Coach in 2010. Chris Rumpf and Travis Jones of Raleigh-based Blue Brindle Software designed the prototype that served as the template for the final product, which was built by Greenville native and University of Pennsylvania freshman Brian Schroeder. Gunnar Swanson, associate professor of graphic design at ECU, designed the graphics. Dr. Tracy Tuten, associate professor of marketing at the ECU College of Business, provided expertise in social media.

‘Completion of our promise’


East Carolina University officials gather for the official ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 12 to open Ledyard E. Ross Hall, where the School of Dental Medicine will reside. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


ECU cuts ribbon on dental school home

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Local, state and university leaders cut the ribbon Oct. 12 on one of East Carolina University’s most significant buildings in recent years: Ledyard E. Ross Hall, the home of the School of Dental Medicine.

The 188,000-square-foot building rises four stories on its northwest side and three stories on its east side on ECU’s Health Sciences Campus. It houses classrooms, dental clinics, administrative offices and teleconference rooms. Its fourth floor is yet to be completed, but plans are for it to house offices and research space.


Dr. Ledyard E. Ross, who donated $4 million to the ECU School of Dental Medicine, is shown in front of the building that bears his name.

“Ross Hall not only provides a world-class learning facility for our students, it represents the completion of our promise to build a unique dental school that serves every area of North Carolina that is currently without sufficient oral  health  care,” said Dr. Steve Ballard, ECU chancellor.

“It is also symbolic of ECU’s historic mission to make a difference for North Carolina.”

Ballard also praised Dr. Ledyard E. Ross’ commitment to the community, calling him a “great friend of ECU.” Ross, a retired Greenville orthodontist, donated $4 million to the school.

“I’m fortunate to be able to help the dental school,” said Dr. Ledyard Ross. “I am very lucky to have the financial means to do so.”

Officials expect the school to help ease the statewide shortage of dentists, especially in eastern North Carolina. Three eastern counties – Tyrrell, Hyde and Camden – have no dentists. The new school will aim to educate dentists who want to stay in the state to practice, particularly in rural areas.

“Our new dental school and Ross Hall symbolize the state’s commitment and East Carolina University’s commitment to improving the quality of life of North Carolinians,” said Dr. Gregory Chadwick, dean of the dental school. “We look forward to not only educating future practitioners but to providing care across the state. Today is a celebration of the cumulative efforts of literally thousands of individuals who have made the ECU School of Dental Medicine and Ross Hall a reality.”

The first two classes total 104 students. They began their studies in the Brody Medical Sciences Building, home of the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.

“Following the ‘grow your own’ philosophy established by ECU’s School of Medicine, all students accepted into the School of Dental Medicine are North Carolina residents with a demonstrated commitment to serve the people of their home state,” said Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system. “Once again, ECU has put our university system in a positive national spotlight, and other states are already taking note and learning from our new model for dental care and training.”

First-year dental student Drew Jordan of Greenville praised the new building.

“It’s very modern and very welcoming, not just for us but for patients,” he said.

Second-year students, such as Alex Crisp of Burlington, began their dental studies last year in classrooms and labs in the Brody Medical Sciences Building, home of ECU’s medical school.

Smiling, Crisp said he feels like “I finally moved off my brother’s couch and got my own apartment.”

The school is continuing to hire faculty and staff. Its innovative curriculum uses technology to improve traditional dental education. Outside Greenville, the school’s first community service learning center opened this year in Ahoskie, and the second one should open by the end of the year in Elizabeth City. Centers will also be built in Lillington, Spruce Pine, Sylva and Davidson County, and up to 10 are planned for the state. At those centers, faculty members, dental residents and fourth-year dental students will provide care. Students and residents will learn what running a practice in an underserved area is like.

Construction on Ross Hall began in the summer of 2010. ECU officials are seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification for Ross Hall. Design elements that make it a green building include the atrium that allows natural light to penetrate more parts of the building, a parking lot designed to minimize stormwater runoff, the use of regional materials to reduce freight and the use of materials with recycled content for a significant portion of the building structure, roof and walls.

Officials expect to announce plans in November for beginning patient care in the new building.

North Carolina general construction firm Balfour Beatty built the dental school, which cost $68 million. Architects were Raleigh-based BJAC and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Pennsylvania.


Dr. Nisha Ganaesh demonstrates how to perform a dental filling during a tour of Ross Hall after the Oct. 12 dedication ceremony. Ledyard Ross, at left, observes the demonstration.


Fighting injustice

Franklin E. McCain, one of the original four who took part in the Woolworth sit-in in Greensboro in 1960, speaks with students (l to r) Grace Brown, Zackery Hawkins and Ira Rushing before he addressed students and faculty at East Carolina University on Sept. 14. (Photo by Jay Clark)


By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Dr. Franklin McCain, one of four men who led the Greensboro Woolworth’s sit-ins for civil rights in 1960, challenged East Carolina University students on Sept. 14 to find ways to leave the Earth better than they found it.

“It’s your life. You’re in control,” McCain said. “You should be ashamed if you don’t contribute something.”

McCain was the featured speaker for Lead Week, sponsored by the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement, which spotlighted service in recognition of ECU as a leadership university. “We hope Lead Week will become a week of awareness for many things,” said Ira Lawson, 23, of Timberlake, a second-year graduate student in communications.

McCain took students back to the months leading up to the Feb. 1 sit-in and the weeks after the historic movement against segregation, which forced blacks to use separate bathrooms and water fountains or denied participation in many activities.

“I appreciate how passionate he is and how he tells his story so easily,” said Marcella Camara, 20, of Durham, a junior community health and nursing major. “For him to say that he never saw failure as an option is really inspiring.”

In 1960, McCain was a 17-year-old freshman at North Carolina A&T State University who had become fed up with the injustices he saw. He did all the things his parents and grandparents told him to have a successful life: follow the Ten Commandments, attend Sunday school, get superior grades, respect elders, and never expect to be acknowledged or paid for his work. Despite his efforts, he was denied rights because he was black. “There is no other reason,” he said. “I felt betrayed.”

After leaving Union County for college, he found friends who felt the same way. McCain and roommate Joseph McNeill lived near David Richmond and Ezell Blair Jr. at N.C. A&T.
The four students decided to demonstrate their dissatisfaction in a non-violent and Christian way based on the influences of Jesus and Gandhi. They chose Woolworth’s where they could buy any items they wanted, but couldn’t sit down, eat and pay for a meal at the lunch counter.

It was about a one-mile walk from campus, and McCain said he was prepared to go to jail or die to gain his freedom, dignity and manhood. “Fifteen seconds after I sat on that stool, I felt free,” he said. “I would not have felt cheated if I had died that very moment. There was complete peace, acceptance, invincibility.”

One of the greatest lessons McCain learned came from an elderly white woman sitting a few stools down. He thought her fixed gaze meant disapproval. “That lady put her hands on our shoulders and said ‘I’m proud of you,’” McCain said. “Don’t stereotype anybody in your life. Get to know people before you conclude what they are. You not only owe it to them, but you owe it to yourself.”

A police officer came, but no one was arrested, and the store closed early. They decided to go back the next day, and asked people on campus to join them. But it took a while for A&T students to get involved. The first to help were three white students from Women’s College, now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, whom administrators threatened to expel if they returned to the sit-in.

The movement spread to High Point and Winston-Salem, and about 70 other cities after the first week. As the weeks progressed, 67 students worked in shifts, occupying every stool, at the Greensboro store alone, McCain said.

They were spat on, their clothes were cut with razor blades, and they were called names, but they persevered. “Nothing was going to stop us because we had a clear vision,” McCain said. “Leadership is actually learned and, for it to be effective, it has to be shared.”
He encouraged students to work for things they feel strongly about.

“If there is something you feel compelled to do, don’t wait for the masses,” McCain said. “Get out of the conspiracy of silence when you see things that are not right.”

He finally ate a sandwich at that lunch counter on July 26, once the store desegregated after six months of lost revenue from the sit-ins. McCain received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology in 1964 from N.C. A&T.

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