As part of a summer internship finale, two East Carolina University graduate students will fire a groundhog kiln on the lawn of the North Carolina Pottery Center today.
Erin Younge, a third-year graduate student in ECU’s ceramics program, has been teaching clay programs for all ages. Devin McKim, a second-year graduate student, has been working with local Randleman potter Joseph Sands to learn production ceramic techniques. The student internships are part of an ongoing collaboration between ECU and the pottery center.
The firing of the groundhog kiln takes approximately 15 hours and uses two cords of wood. “Firing a groundhog kiln is a great introduction to Seagrove pottery,” McKim said. “I am excited to be joining in on that traditional style of salt firing.”
Also on Aug. 2, there will be a Raku firing demonstration. Younge and McKim will explain the firing process and answer questions from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. today and Saturday.
The Raku firing will be divided into smaller batches to fire, remove and fume – and then repeat with each batch – to give visitors a chance to see finished pieces more quickly than most types of firings.
“I am amazed by the range of color that Raku firings produce,” said Younge. “The transformation that takes place in both the clay and the glaze by using simple combustible materials like sawdust or flowers is always a treat.”
The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina.
The center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, call 336-873-8430 or go to www.ncpotterycenter.org.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-737-4625.
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An East Carolina University junior is one of approximately 150 engineering students nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship.
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.
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.