ECU student team competes against other universities at Social Entrepreneurship Conference

Four undergraduate students will represent East Carolina University on Friday at a UNC-system 2014 Social Entrepreneurship Conference at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

The ECU students are Trey Cook, Annaliese Gillette, Jessie Tucci-Herron and Justin Safin.

The team, called “Pirates Provide,” spent the fall semester working with Third Street Community Center in Greenville. They created a unique business plan to present at the social entrepreneurship competition based on the proposed development of a two-acre community garden at the center. The students will compete against 25 other undergraduate student teams at the event.

The garden is the centerpiece of the students’ proposal to create Third Street Community Harvest to address the social need of healthy food options. The goal is to provide residents access to affordable, fresh food and education about gardening and healthy lifestyle choices.

The center is located in a food desert area and within walking distance of most of the population of west Greenville, which is bounded by the Tar River, Memorial Drive, Greenville Boulevard and Fifth Street.

The garden would be established and maintained by the combined efforts of the community harvest, community partners and neighborhood residents including Pitt County’s Master Gardeners program. Grants, corporate and individual donations would be sought to help pay for an estimated $33,000 in start-up costs. Long-term plans call for the center to establish a culinary school and a small restaurant.

Faculty advisors are Austin Bunch, Ron Mitchelson, Beth Velde, Todd Fraley and Kindal Shores.

The concept of social entrepreneurship involves identifying large-scale social problems and working to solve them in creative ways. Positive social change is the goal, with or without profit earnings. The conference’s keynote speaker will be Tom Szaky, founder and chief executive officer of TerraCycle, a company that collects traditionally non-recyclable waste that is recycled into consumer products and materials that are then sold to retailers. The company is recognized for producing some of the most eco-friendly products in America.


ECU sorority to host 5K race, pasta dinner

The Kappa Delta Chapter at East Carolina University will host a “Shamrock ‘N’ Run” 5K run and walk to raise funds for Prevent Child Abuse America on March 1, beginning at Greenville Town Common.

A post-race party will include refreshments, music and an awards ceremony.

A pre-race Pump-up Pasta Dinner will be held on Feb. 28, the evening before the race, from 5 – 8 p.m. at the Greenville Masonic Lodge near the Provence apartments.

The event is the sorority’s 6th annual fundraiser for Prevent Child Abuse America, and the group raised $20,000 last year.  This year’s goal is $25,000. Local proceeds benefit TEDI BEAR Advocacy Center in Greenville.

Registration for the race is available at or by contacting a member of the Kappa Delta sorority at ECU. Race fees are $15 and T-shirts from the event are $10. On race day, registration will begin at 7:30 a.m.

Tickets for the Feb. 28 all-you-can-eat pasta meal are $5 before Feb. 27 and $8 at the door.

For additional information, contact Brittany Butler, vice president of public relations for Kappa Delta Sorority, at or by calling (910) 934-3381.


ECU student wrestling against the norm

Aleigh Patterson (Contributed photo)

Aleigh Patterson
(Contributed photo)



By Chris Stansbury
ECU Student Affairs

A little advice from mom can go a long way in life. For East Carolina University sophomore Aleigha Patterson, that valuable advice came when she was a headstrong seventh grader.

“You are going to do great things,” her mom said. “Decide what you want to be, work at it and do it.”

The advice was pretty simple, but Patterson took it to heart and to the mat – the wrestling mat.  She’s now the only female competing on ECU’s Club Wrestling Team.

“I was always a rough kid and I liked wrestling,” said the Lenoir native. “I knew wrestling was pretty much done only by boys, but that wasn’t going to stop me from giving it my best shot.”

In 2008, she tried out and made the high school wrestling team. She trailed 10-1 in points going into the third period of her first match, but Patterson never quit. She remembers it vividly.

“I was able to get into a good position and put my opponent in a half nelson and pinned him to win the match,” she recalled.

Even as a girl in a male-dominated sport, Patterson pushed herself to get better. She credits high school coach Josh Woodruff as a key person in making her a better wrestler and a better person.  Woodruff was an ally when there wasn’t a long line of people in her corner, she said.

“Some coaches refused to send out a wrestler to face me. I couldn’t believe they actually took a match forfeit rather than having someone wrestle me.”

It was difficult for Patterson’s mom, Hollin Honeycutt, to hear other wrestlers and even other parents call her daughter names and tell her she didn’t belong in wrestling. But it was the physical barrages that pushed her mom over the top.

“It got to the point where my mom stopped going to the matches because it was too much for her to watch. One wrestling competitor actually punched me in the face repeatedly during a match.”

So why continue wrestling? Patterson said she likes the fact that it’s a battle – just two people squaring off face-to-face to see who can walk away on top.

“I wrestled against the boys for four years. I didn’t win every match. In fact, I probably lost more than I won. But I never quit.”

She started her college career at ECU in 2012 and discovered Club Wrestling. The advice of her single mother rang out once again: Find your passion and do it. But there is a big difference between high school and college, especially in wrestling.

“These guys are much bigger, much faster and a whole lot stronger,” Patterson said.  “But I still wanted to give it my best shot.”

Trey Wade, president of the club wrestling team, said Patterson’s stubbornness and commitment to succeed is a great combination.

“She is driven by the opposition against her,” said Wade. “When she hits the mat, we don’t treat her like a male or female, she is a wrestler trying to survive, trying to tackle a challenge and trying to succeed in life.”

At ECU, Patterson is able to wrestle against other females in competitive matches. And like many Pirates, she has her sights on lofty goals, both personally and for her university.

“I want to make history by winning nationals while an ECU Pirate. After that, my next goal is to make the Olympic team in 2016 or 2020.”

Patterson will compete in a tournament in Oklahoma this spring and hopefully earn a place at the 2014 nationals in Texas. Until then, she will rely on her perseverance, determination and the continued support and guidance of her coaches and, of course, her mom.

For further information on any of more than 40 club sports sponsored by ECU Campus Recreation & Wellness, contact Justin Waters at or 252-328-6387.


ECU alumnus scores Super Bowl Championship ring

Michael Brooks

Michael Brooks

East Carolina University alumnus Michael Brooks will join the ranks of former ECU Pirate football players who wear a Super Bowl championship ring.

Brooks was on the winning Seattle Seahawks team for the Feb. 2 contest as a rookie defensive lineman.

Originally assigned to the practice squad, 22-year-old Brooks was recently promoted for game play after two players were  injured.

A native of Roxboro, Brooks majored in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security. ECU Pirates now have five Pirates with a Super Bowl championship ring within the last four years.


ECU music student wins two orchestra competitions

Mary Catherine Cox

Mary Catherine Cox

Mary Catherine Cox, ECU junior violin performance major studying with Ara Gregorian, won both the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra and the Durham Symphony Orchestra concerto competitions Jan. 11.

She recently won the 2013-14 ECU Concerto Competition Ron and Patty Allison Prize, and the opportunity to perform as soloist with the ECU Symphony Orchestra.
Cox has been awarded All-State Honors Orchestra and has attended the Music Teacher’s National Association state auditions and international music festivals in France, England, and Italy.

Last summer Cox was awarded a fellowship to study at the Madeline Island Chamber Music Festival in Wisconsin. She will perform with the Raleigh Symphony Feb. 23 and the Durham Symphony April 6.

She studies piano with ECU’s Keiko Sekino. Her older sister, Caroline Cox, who graduated in 2012, also is an accomplished violinist. Younger sister Sarah Cox is majoring in music. They are the daughters of optometrists Carson and Valerie Cox of Southern Pines.