Social work faculty, students participate in conference

ECU was well represented at the annual National Association of Bachelor Social Work Program Directors meeting in March. (Contributed photo)

ECU was well represented at the annual National Association of Bachelor Social Work Program Directors meeting in March. (Contributed photo)

Eight East Carolina University students and two faculty members in the School of Social Work recently attended the annual National Association of Bachelor Social Work Program Directors meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

ECU students Tracey Leonard, Trevor Blue, Andrew Bracken, Kirby Elmore, Charon Hudson, Gabrielle Karl, Tracy Meaux and Christopher Williams were selected by the national organization to serve as conference volunteers at registration, as assistant moderators and other activities. The students, all members of the Bachelors of Social Work Student Association, participated in workshops on professional development and topics such as current advocacy practice trends, political activism and GLBT issues in practice and policy.

“Being able to meet other social work students from around the country has been one of the best things about this this trip,” Leonard said.

Williams was invited to present his findings from a study of treatment needs of parents suffering from addiction issues in child welfare. The students also met with graduate school recruiters from around the country. The closing plenary emphasized the role that social work has in civil rights and liberties with featured speakers involved in the events at Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb and the site of ongoing protests after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer.

Dr. Brenda Eastman, associate professor of social work, and Dr. Kelley Reinsmith-Jones, assistant professor of social work, traveled with the students more than 2,400 round-trip miles in a van through winter weather to attend the conference, held March 3-9.


ECU faculty, students to present at conference

Pictured left to right are graduate students Marianne Ayers, Benjamin Wigand, Miranda Guardiola, Anne Saville and Andrea Fulle. (Photo provided by Maria McDonald, teaching instructor of sociology)

Pictured left to right are graduate students Marianne Ayers, Benjamin Wigand, Miranda Guardiola, Anne Saville and Andrea Fulle. (Photo provided by Maria McDonald, teaching instructor of sociology)

East Carolina University will be well represented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans March 25-28.

Presenting at the event are four Department of Sociology faculty members, 10 graduate students, five undergraduates and two alumni.

Several ECU presenters will participate in paper, roundtable and poster sessions to discuss research focusing on gender inequality, including sexual assault. Others are presenting research on a broad range of topics including social impacts of the digital divide, mysogynoir, the impact of student volunteer work, North Carolina’s environmental movement and attitudes toward the Confederate flag.

This year’s meeting theme is “Stalled Revolutions? Gender Inequality in the 21st Century.”

For additional information, contact Marieke Van Willigen, interim chair of sociology, at 252-328-6092 or


ECU Alumni Association names award winners

The East Carolina Alumni Association has announced the recipients of the 2015 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award. These five students will be presented with the award during commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 8.

The most prestigious award for undergraduates at East Carolina University, the Wright award recognizes academic achievement, service to both the university and community, and demonstrated leadership. Recipients are recognized as those who will make a positive impact on their respective professions and communities.

In addition to receiving the Wright medallion at commencement, recipients are given a lifetime membership in the East Carolina Alumni Association.

Recipients are:

  • Ajay Ajmera of Greenville, NC; biology and chemistry double-major
  • Matthew Ryan Baucom of Marshville, NC; chemistry and biochemistry double-major
  • Jessica Katlyn Jewell of Clayton, NC; communication major
  • Shayna Nitin Mooney of Winterville, NC; neuroscience and international studies double-major
  • Kristi Noelle Wilkerson of Mastic, NY; nutrition major.



ECU student awarded for textile design



ECU senior Ashley Lamb won an Outstanding Student Award from the Surface Design Association for her piece titled “Exposed.” Her nominating instructor in textile design was Robin Lynn Haller. The award earned her a paid one-year membership to SDA.

Ashley Lamb

Ashley Lamb

Ashley is from Marshburn, VA and is double majoring in fashion merchandising and textile design. She is also the ECU Textile Guild Co-President, and a member of both Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and the Apparel and Interior Merchandising Organization.

Last summer, Lamb worked in the sales group for Jessica Simpson’s dress line at the GIII Apparel Group, a company which designs, manufactures and markets women’s and men’s apparel for brands like Calvin Klein, Guess and Kenneth Cole. Her ultimate goal is to design and sell her own clothing line.

To learn more about the fashion merchandising program in ECU’s College of Human Ecology, visit

For a list of all award winners, visit


Married ECU art students present senior exhibition

East Carolina University art students and husband and wife, Jacob and Meredith Parker, will host a dual senior exhibition, “Passing for Normal,” in the Burroughs Wellcome Gallery in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center March 16-20.

An opening reception will be held 6-9 p.m. March 16.

Both are candidates for a bachelor of fine arts in May. Meredith Parker is pursuing a concentrating in painting and drawing, while Jacob Parker is working toward a concentration in printmaking.

The Parkers are known for their charismatic personalities and their artwork titles such as “I’m Not Going, You Can’t Make Me Go, I’m Never Going,” “They’ll Mow You Down Easy,” “Nobody Sees a Problem with This; Just Eat it” and “This Should Be of Some Practical Use Later.”

Jacob Parker recently won an award in the School of Art & Design’s undergraduate show.


ECU social work student featured in New Social Worker magazine

An original poem and rap video created by East Carolina University senior Landon Digh in ECU’s social work program will be featured in The New Social Worker magazine’s 2015 Social Work Month Series.

Digh’s presentation, titled “You ARE a Social Worker,” will included on the magazine’s web site during March, which is Social Work Month. 

His related video will be placed on YouTube.

Digh’s poem follows:

You ARE a Social Worker

To put it into words is not as easy as you think,
It takes courage, drive, motivation, and will
A push for change doesn’t happen in a blink,
That’s why to be in this field you’ll need more than just skill
A thrill to heal, you’ll find you’re never really still, until,
You change one life, and then more, and more
And pretty soon it comes natural; you’re acting so casual
The look on a child’s face when you walk in gets you razzled, dazzled, unraveled
How could a simple hug from you create so much magic?
Then you stop, and you ponder-
All the times that you’ve wondered,
Am I cut out for this job? Do I really even matter?
That’s when you realize you’re a batter, striking out or hitting homers
Either way you DO matter,
Things you do make things BETTER
A hero in the making, though some may call you villain
You do it all for the greater, the prisoner, the children
You strive to find a home for a retired, homeless veteran
And then the day is through and somehow you gain composure,
But there’s so much left to do, people to help, help things further
Just look up, smile, and know
You ARE a Social Worker

Poem/Rap by Landon Digh
Social Work BSW
East Carolina University


Excels program celebrates student achievement

ECU alumnus Eric Kosco was keynote speaker at the Excels event.

ECU alumnus Eric Kosco was keynote speaker at the Excels event.

The East Carolina University College of Health and Human Performance celebrated its high achieving freshmen and transfer students at an Excels program Feb. 20 at Club Level, Dowdy Ficklen Stadium.

The event recognized 334 freshmen and transfer students with a GPA of 3.0 and above including 25 on the chancellor’s list, 134 on the dean’s list and 175 on the honor roll.

Dr. Glen Gilbert, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance welcomed the students and parents. “HHP has a long history with interesting and challenging career options,” he said.

His remarks were followed by the keynote speaker, ECU alumnus Eric Kosco.

Kosco graduated from ECU in 2013 with a bachelor of science in athletic training and is pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

Megan Warfield of Hickory, exercise physiology major, and her parents attended.  “This event makes me feel good about my hard work,” she said.

Students received an HHP t-shirt following an activity that allowed them meet peers and faculty in the college.

ECU student Megan Warfield

ECU student Megan Warfield


ECU graduate to use grant to fund Project Opera Camp

Brenton O’Hara, left, and Kate McKinney (Submitted photo)

Brenton O’Hara, left, and Kate McKinney (Submitted photo)

A recent ECU music graduate will use a $20,000 prize from the University of South Carolina to fund a non-profit that will introduce opera to disadvantaged children.

Brenton O’Hara, who graduated in 2013 and who is now enrolled in the master’s degree in opera theater program at USC, was half of a team that won the Maxient Social Impact prize. The prize was one of several awarded on Nov. 18 as part of USC’s annual Proving Ground entrepreneurial competition. Working on the project with O’Hara was his girlfriend, recent USC music graduate Kate McKinney.

O’Hara and McKinney will use the money to support a non-profit organization they founded, Project Opera Camp, which seeks to promote life skills among underserved children through the arts. O’Hara said the camp will accommodate about 40 elementary and middle school-age children from Charleston, South Carolina and will run the first two weeks of June. In September, the organization will offer after-school arts programs in Charleston schools.

O’Hara said campers will be nominated by teachers at schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Using opera as a vehicle to teach life skills, classes will include skills not typically taught in the classroom like wellness and yoga, leadership seminars and team-building exercises. The camp will culminate with performances of a children’s opera that will demonstrate participants’ self-esteem and allow them to express themselves in an artistic way, O’Hara said.

O’Hara said the couple chose Charleston as the site of the camp because they developed ties to the arts community there after volunteering at last year’s Spoleto Festival.

O’Hara is a native of Pinehurst. While at ECU, he was president of the Student Forum for Musical Organizations.

– Steve Tuttle


Named to high school hall of fame

Tynita Butts (Photo courtesy of Alexandria News)

Tynita Butts (Photo courtesy of Alexandria News)

Tynita Butts, the record-setting high jumper on ECU’s track and field team who won the Penn Relays twice and was named an NCAA All-American six times, was inducted into her high school’s sports hall of fame. The ceremony was held Dec. 8 at T.C. Williams High School in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia.

Butts graduated last May with a degree in sociology and a concentration in marriage and family relations. She is working at an athletic clothing retailer in Washington, D.C., while pursuing professional sports.

She tied for second in the high jump at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., last June. That’s the highest-ever finish by an ECU athlete at the NCAA nationals. She finished her ECU career as the school record holder in both the high jump (1.91-meters) and long jump (6.22-meters). She qualified for the NCAA Championships every year in which she competed at the collegiate level.

During her high school career she was a two-time Virginia state champion and two-time Penn Relays champion in the jumping events. She was honored as The Washington Post’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year as well as Gatorade Athlete of the Year.

Ranked first in the nation in the high jump and second in the long jump her last season as a Pirate, Butts recorded four first-place finishes in the high jump and won the event at the 2014 Conference USA Outdoor Championships.