ECU honors student wins competitive scholarship, NOAA internship

Chris Thaxton

Chris Thaxton
(Photo by Cliff Hollis)

By Jessica Nottingham
ECU Honors College

For the second year in a row, an East Carolina University Honors College student has won a prestigious scholarship and internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Chris Thaxton, a junior from La Grange and an EC Scholar, has received the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship, which provides $16,000 for Thaxton’s junior and senior years and a 10-week paid NOAA internship in 2015. He is one of 106 recipients from across the country.

Thaxton, who is majoring in biology and chemistry, intends to pursue a career in marine conservation.

“As an undergraduate, the research experience beyond ECU will be huge,” Thaxton said. “My original goal was to work at a university, but seeing NOAA from the inside, I now hope for a career with NOAA. This is a great resume-builder and networking opportunity.”

A frequent visitor to the coast, Thaxton said his passion for marine biology comes from a desire to preserve the destinations that have meant so much to him so that future generations may have the opportunity to enjoy them as well.

“Summers spent at the beach paddling through salt marshes, boating and fishing nurtured my love for the coast,” he said. “I decided to focus my love for the ocean toward coastal and wetland conservation—preserving them so that people can enjoy them like I have.”

The EC Scholars program, the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship offered at ECU, requires undergraduate research and encourages students to engage in conferences, study abroad opportunities and internships. Thaxton will be studying marine biology in Australia this fall. He interned at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort last summer.

“We encourage our students to seek scholarships and internships that broaden learning as they prepare for their life’s work,” said Dr. Marianna Walker, dean of the ECU Honors College, where the EC Scholars program is housed.

Thaxton attributed receiving the scholarship to his specific research interests and what he learned in a visit to NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center lab in Beaufort.

“Chris is an exceptional student whose hard work was recognized in his selection for the very competitive Hollings Scholarship,” said Dr. Tim Runyan, an Honors College faculty fellow who encouraged Thaxton to apply. “While meeting with NOAA researchers at the Beaufort lab, it was clear to me that he was dedicated to the field of ocean conservation.”

Thaxton could be placed at any NOAA office for his internship, but he hopes for an assignment in Alaska or San Francisco to study wetland restoration next summer, he said.

Thaxton is the second consecutive ECU Honors College student to receive the Hollings Scholarship. Thomas Vaughan, a senior atmospheric science major, is completing an internship in Hawaii this summer.

More information about the ECU Honors College and EC Scholars program can be found at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/honors/ or by contacting Jessica Nottingham, coordinator for marketing and recruitment for the Honors College, at nottinghamj@ecu.edu or 252-737-4625.

 

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ECU engineering student awarded SMART scholarship

An East Carolina University junior is one of approximately 150 engineering students nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship.

Swink

Swink

Jacob Swink of Roanoke Rapids was awarded the Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship by the American Society for Engineering Education and the U.S. Department of Defense. Approximately 1,900 applications were received.

The scholarship was established to support both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers who work in national defense laboratories, according to the scholarship website.

The scholarship will cover Swink’s full tuition and books through the completion of his engineering degree at ECU – an estimated value of more than $14,700. It also will pay for a graduate degree program should he choose to pursue one. The award includes a $35,000 stipend each year, as well as a summer internship and post-graduation employment with Fleet Readiness Center East, the engineering support group for marine and naval aircraft, at Marine Corps Air Station – Cherry Point.

Swink believes he was selected because of his relatively high GPA and summer work experience. He also is an Eagle Scout. “I was asked multiple questions about that, and the interviewers expressed what a great accomplishment that was,” he said.

Swink was accepted into multiple engineering programs but chose ECU because of its size. “My engineering classes have no more than 30 students in them, and I enjoy the attention the professor gives each student,” he said.

Swink is the son of David and Nina Swink. His mother has a master’s degree in math from ECU.

ECU’s engineering program, established 10 years ago, has 520 students enrolled and resides in the College of Engineering and Technology.

For more information about the SMART scholarship program, visit https://smart.asee.org/ or to learn more about the ECU engineering program, visit www.ecu.edu/cet/.

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ECU student wins title as best amateur golfer in the Carolinas

Katie Kirk (Photo courtesy Carolinas Golf Association)

Katie Kirk (Photo courtesy Carolinas Golf Association)

By Steve Tuttle

Rising East Carolina University senior golfer Katie Kirk won the 88th annual Carolinas Women’s Amateur Championship on May 22 in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina[t1] . The victory in the prestigious event pegs Kirk as the best women’s amateur golfer in the two Carolinas.

Kirk finished with a total of 220 in the three-day event at the Wachesaw Plantation Club sponsored by the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA). Lane Gakeler, also a member of the ECU women’s golf team, tied for 10th place with a score of 229.

Kirk, who is from Davidson, near Charlotte, birdied the final hole to win the tournament by one shot over two competitors.  “When I was standing on the 18th tee I knew I had to make a birdie to win,” Kirk said. “I just told myself to play the hole as I’ve done all week.”

Her third shot from the fairway with a wedge came to rest within inches of the hole for a tap-in birdie. “It was awesome! I’ve always wanted to win a CGA championship. I’ve had a great week. I can’t wait to come back next year.”

Kirk is a two-time National Golf Coaches Association Division I Scholar All-American, a two-time Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal recipient. She has been named to the ECU Director of Athletics Honor Roll four times. She is majoring in economics.

The Carolinas Women’s Amateur is widely considered the premier stroke play event for women from North and South Carolina. Past winners include many of the best women golfers in the region. Among them are N.C. State University golf coach Page Marsh Lea, Wake Forest assistant golf coach Stephanie Neill Harner, UNC Chapel Hill golf coach Amber Marsh, Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame member Patty Moore and Brenda Corrie-Keuhn, a member of the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

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Four ECU students sworn in as Student Government officers

officers

An East Carolina University junior and three sophomores will lead the university’s Student Government Association for the 2014-2015 school year.

Junior Michael King of Prince George, Virginia; sophomore Jake Srednicki of Mahopac, New York; sophomore Kaitlyn Dutton of Greenville; and sophomore Katie Swanner of Huntersville all said they are excited to get started in their new positions.

As president, King will also serve on the ECU Board of Trustees as an ex-officio member and said he is looking forward to the leadership experience. He will join the Board of Trustees in July.

“I love this university and I love all of the opportunities that East Carolina has given me,” said King. “I figured this is the least I could do to try to give back and this is the best way I could have that opportunity.”

Srednicki, vice president, said he would use his former role with SGA as a foundation for his new role.

“I want students to be more engaged in what’s going on, what decisions are being made at the faculty, staff and Board of Trustees levels and come to SGA with their concerns,” said Srednicki.

Dutton said as treasurer she will work on improving efficiency in the allocation of student funding.

“I want to look at allocating funds to club sports and to Greek life. Because they get (additional) outside funds, they don’t usually get approved for (SGA) funding as often or as quickly as they need it,” said Dutton.

Swanner, secretary, was previously involved with Student Senate and wants to use her role as secretary to increase student involvement.

Collectively, the students said they would strive to complete their campaign goals, which included improving campus safety and implementing a house of representatives within SGA.

All four students are pursuing degrees in the ECU College of Business.

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ECU student wins scholarship in online contest

ECU student Alexandra Smith's submission to the online contest reflected career goals in animation. (Submitted photos)

ECU student Alexandra Smith’s submission to the online contest reflected career goals in animation. (Submitted photos)

East Carolina University student Alexandra Smith, of Apex, was the winner of a $1,000 scholarship from the Frame My Future Scholarship Contest offered by Church Hill Classics.

Alexandra Smith

Alexandra Smith

She was selected as one of 24 finalists based on her submission of a creative work expressing personal or professional goals after college, illustrating the theme “This is How I Want to Frame My Future.”

Smith submitted an image of herself working at a laptop to create an animated scene, reflecting her career goal of becoming a storyboard artist for an animation company such as Dreamworks, Disney or Pixar. In her entry, Smith said she hoped some day to see her work on the big screen.

The finalists were posted on Facebook for a one-month voting phase. Smith was one of the top five entries earning the most votes, which earned her a $1,000 scholarship and a commemorative frame.

 

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