High Achievers

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ECU students EXCEL in first semester

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Students celebrating a successful first semester at East Carolina University were lauded over the last two weeks with inclusion in the ECU EXCELS program. This is the third year ECU has systematically honored new students who earned a 3.0 GPA or higher.

More than 2,175 individuals made the honors, dean’s or chancellor’s list last fall – about 41 percent of all freshman and first semester transfer students, according to ECU EXCELS coordinator Stephanie Bailey.

EXCELS connects high achieving students with faculty members conducting research, volunteer and leadership opportunities, and professional organizations within their field. Bailey said administrators are aware ECU is “a plan B” for many high achieving students, and some students attend for a semester to raise their GPA before transferring to another institution.

“We want to show (students) ECU has these excellent programs,” Bailey said. “We want to keep you here.”

The recognition ceremony varies at each of the nine participating colleges. An event is also held for students in the major advisement program who have not yet joined a school or department.

“We do so much…for our students with academic difficulties,” said Jennifer Cabacar, academic advisor with the School of Communication. “We felt like we were missing a piece of the puzzle.”

“I don’t think anybody outgrows the gold star thing,” she continued. “Everyone likes to be recognized.”

The College of Fine Arts and Communication held its installment Friday, Feb. 3, featuring a musical performance and student and faculty speakers. Parents were also invited to attend – an opportunity Havelock native Theresa Holtz’ family took advantage of.

“It means I survived,” the art education major said of Friday’s ceremony. “This last semester was a very tough semester with school and home so I’m very happy to be here.”

Marvin Santos is a music performance major who transferred last fall from his university in Brazil. He originally attended ECU as a visiting international student, but decided to return full-time.

“The only classes I have problems with are the ones that aren’t music,” he said Friday. “I try my best, I concentrate and study and I don’t sleep sometimes. But I’ll make it.”

Michael Dorsey, interim dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, said the event not only celebrates last semester’s accomplishments, but also provides encouragement for students to “maintain that pace.”

Freshman Natalie McHale hopes to improve on that challenge.

“I feel like going to college is a privilege, and I want to take advantage of what I’m being given by my parents,” the communications major said. “I actually want to do better this semester and try to get straight As. That’s my goal.”

“They’re so supportive here (at ECU),” she added. “It feels really good to have people behind you every step of the way.”

The last of this year’s ECU EXCELS ceremonies is scheduled for Feb. 15. It will recognize more than 450 students in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences.


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