Category Archives: Events

Dr. Jennifer Arnold of ‘The Little Couple’ encourages ECU students to think big

The star of TLC Network’s, “The Little Couple,” Dr. Jennifer Arnold, was the keynote speaker for East Carolina University’s 2018 North Carolina Civility summit on Saturday, Feb. 17. She encouraged students to adopt her personal motto, “think big,” to achieve life’s goals.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold was the keynote speaker for ECU’s 2018 NC Civility Summit.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold was the keynote speaker for ECU’s 2018 NC Civility Summit. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The purpose of the Civility Summit is to create constructive dialogue to find solutions to address real-world challenges and face significant societal issues. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in sessions to discuss topics that included Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and climate change.

Born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, which results in short stature and skeletal abnormalities, Arnold endured 30 surgeries as a child. Those experiences in the hospital and the influence of her childhood surgeon led her to dream of one day becoming a physician.

“I wanted to give back to other kids so they could have a healthy, happy life,” said Arnold.

She is now a physician and was named director of the Simulation Center at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 2017. She was previously the director of the Simulation Center at Texas Children’s Hospital. During her conversation with students in Mendenhall Student Center, Arnold discussed the difficulty she faced when applying to medical school because people couldn’t see beyond her disability to notice her abilities.

According to Arnold, she attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University because it was the only program she encountered where the instructors did not doubt what she could do based on her size.

Arnold is neonatologist and stars in the TLC Network’s docu-drama, “The Little Couple.”

Arnold is neonatologist and stars in the TLC Network’s docu-drama, “The Little Couple.”

She pointed out the importance of the profession being more inclusive for people with disabilities and that .02 percent of people who graduate from medical school have a disability. She hopes to raise awareness for more inclusion in the medical profession. She knew becoming a trauma surgeon was unlikely due to her size. She joked that she chose her field, neonatology, because the patients were always smaller than her.

“It is possible to become a doctor but we have to focus on areas that promotes our strengths,” said Arnold. “My small hands made it easier for me to do some of the procedures,” she said.

“The Little Couple” follows Arnold, her husband and two children as they navigate life as little people in a world designed for people of average size. The show has been on for 10 seasons and has captured the couple’s early years of marriage and now, their most recent adventure in becoming parents and Arnold’s successful battle with cancer.

“When a great opportunity comes your way – even though it may be scary or hard – sometimes you have to try for it,” said Arnold.

The Civility Summit was open to ECU community members and included a closing session with Arnold to wrap up the day’s discussions.

“It was great; I loved it; super inspirational. I want to go to med school too,” said ECU senior Cristina Derespinis of Arnold’s presentation. “Events like this are important for awareness of things that are going on in our community and around the world. With the diverse people in our world, it’s important to get information from different perspectives,” she said.

Jon Cockerham, a junior studying political science and communications, is a committee member for the 2018 event. He said the Civility Summit allows students to exercise having civil dialogue around controversial topics with people who have differing views.

“What we’re seeing more of now is toxic dialogue, with people yelling at each other instead of sitting and listening to what the other person is saying and actually hearing them,” said Cockerham. “So, today is all about having that civil dialogue where you may disagree with the person but you’re still talking about the issue.”

 

-by Jamie Smith, ECU News Services

Grammy-nominated musician visits ECU

Renowned Grammy-nominated musician and ethnomusicologist Dr. Tim Eriksen will speak and perform in classes and other venues at East Carolina University during the week of Feb. 19-23. During the week, Eriksen will lead a film-screening and discussion, present an academic talk and perform a musical concert that are free and open to the public.

“Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia,” his online biography reads. “He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexton – a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass – creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 7-8 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room C-307, Eriksen will screen and discuss two films about the venerable sacred music tradition of shape-note singing, a unique and haunting genre of sacred music that reflects the complexities of identity in the multi-cultural history of the United States.

First, he will show Landon McCrary’s1979 independent film “Dewey Williams, 81st Birthday Singing,” about black shape-note singers in Alabama, followed by an excerpt from Matt and Erica Hinton’s film, “Awake My Soul,” about their white counterparts.

Tim Eriksen, Grammy-nominated musician, will visit ECU the week of Feb. 19-23.

Tim Eriksen, Grammy-nominated musician, will visit ECU the week of Feb. 19-23. (contributed photo)

After the screenings, Eriksen will discuss the history and contemporary practice of shape-note singing and what it has to say about religion, civil rights and racial identity in American history and the present day. Also, he may perform a little singing of his own for the audience.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Eriksen will lead a lunchtime academic talk on “Old Folks Singing in Utopia: How Antebellum Musical Antiquarianism and Calvinist Eschatology Gave Birth to Science Fiction on the Banks of the Connecticut River.” The discussion will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bate building, room 1006.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, the public has the opportunity to hear Eriksen perform live. A concert of “Hardcore Americana: Secular and Sacred Songs,” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Science and Technology building, room C-307.

Eriksen received his doctoral degree in enthomusicology from Wesleyan University. He specializes in shape-note music – specifically the sacred harp – “Old Time” music, American folk, Bosnian vocal and Indian classical music. He has performed and consulted on the soundtrack for the film, “Cold Mountain,” and he has released numerous recordings in genres from folk to jazz to punk.

The events are co-sponsored by the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, David Julian and Virginia Suther Whichard Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities and Harriot College’s Religious Studies Program. All are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

For more information about Eriksen, visit timeriksenmusic.com/. For questions about Eriksen’s visit to ECU, contact Dr. Joseph Hellweg, Whichard Distinguished Professor, at hellwegj17@ecu.edu.

 

-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications

ECU hosts Veterans Writing Workshop

East Carolina University will help veterans develop the confidence to tell their stories during the Veterans Writing Workshop Feb. 16-17.

Dr. Robert Siegel, associate professor of English and organizer of the Veterans Writing Workshop, said the purpose of the two-day event is to help veterans and their families preserve their stories for future generations, record history, bridge the gap between veterans and civilians and place veteran concerns in the public consciousness.

The workshop begins with a reading and open discussion at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, in Joyner Library’s Faulkner Gallery.

On Saturday, Feb. 17, the workshop continues at 10 a.m. in Joyner Library, room 2409, with a special presentation by poet Hugh Martin. Martin, who spent six years in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq in 2004, will read from his highly praised collection, “Stick Soldiers.”

Following Martin’s presentation, the event will continue with workshops on fiction, nonfiction and scriptwriting. All events are free and open to the public.

The Veterans Writing Workshop is co-sponsored by the ECU Division of Academic Affairs, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Joyner Library and Operation Re-entry. For more information visit ecu.edu/cs-acad/veteranswritingworkshop/index.cfm.

Martin is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, winner of the 11th annual A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions, Ltd. and winner of the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award from the Iowa Review. His work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Grantland, The American Poetry Review, The New Yorker and The New Republic. He was the 2014-15 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College, and he now teaches at Ohio University where he is completing his Ph.D.

 

Contact: Robert Siegel, associate professor of English, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, siegelr@ecu.edu, 252-328-6581

 

ECU celebrates World Anthropology Day

East Carolina University’s Department of Anthropology will celebrate World Anthropology Day for the fourth year with Anthropology After Dark.

The Anthropology After Dark open house events include a lecture on the role of anthropology in the military by cultural anthropologist Robert Greene Sands. Sands, director of the Institute for the Study of Culture and Language at Norwich University, will discuss “From Advancing Cultural Sensitivity in Special Operations Forces to Building Sustainable Communities Through Outreach to Veterans,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, in the Flanagan Building, room 265.

The evening also will feature laboratory and artifact exhibits, Andean music and the display of an Egyptian tomb beginning at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Flanagan Building.

“This event is one of our more significant public outreach events,” said Dr. Randy Daniel, chairman of the department. “We invite the public into our classrooms and labs to help them understand the relevance of anthropology in the 21st century.”

All events are free and open to the public. Free parking will be available at the lot near the corner of 10th Street and College Hill Drive. A shuttle from the parking lot to the Flanagan Building will run every 15 minutes beginning at 6:15 p.m.

World Anthropology Day is a day for anthropologists to share their excitement about their discipline with the public and to build enthusiasm and awareness for current and future anthropologists. This year, 236 schools representing 13 different countries will hold events in celebration of World Anthropology Day.

“This is a great time for anthropology,” said Dr. Alex Barker, president of the American Anthropological Association. “Today’s anthropologists are making remarkable contributions to human understanding and tackling the world’s most pressing problems.”

Anthropology Day is an initiative by the American Anthropological Association. Founded in 1902, the association has more than 10,000 members and is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists. For more information, visit americananthro.org/AnthroDay.

 

Contact: Dr. Randy Daniel, chairman, Department of Anthropology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, danieli@ecu.edu, 252-328-9455

Students and staff to present ECU production of “The Vagina Monologues”

East Carolina University will present a production of “The Vagina Monologues” at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 in Wright Auditorium.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a play addressing multiple aspects of the feminine experience including the physical body, empowerment and the ultimate embodiment of individuality. The material was developed based on interviews with more than 200 women. It was first performed in New York in 1994.

“It’s an honor to bring life to Eve Ensler’s words and to be a part of this wonderful community of women who care so deeply,” said Mira Sampath, ECU senior and member of the ensemble. “I first auditioned to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone, but now I believe in the power these words hold to transform both the audience and the performers in a way unlike any other.”

Admission to the performance is free and open to the ECU community and general public. No ticket is required for entry. However, donations will be accepted at the door and will benefit the Center for Family Violence Prevention. This organization serves Pitt, Martin and Washington counties to break the cycle of domestic violence while enhancing individual self-sufficiency and promoting healthy family relationships.

The cast includes 23 women consisting of students, faculty, staff and community members.

“One of the most amazing things about being part of “The Vagina Monologues” is the reminder that runs through all the stories of how resilient women still have to be on a daily basis,” said Will Banks, co-director of the ECU production. “While these monologues may be 20 years old, the stories of sexual assault contained in many of these pieces are still far too real, too much a part of our daily lives. I hope by continuing to stage this show, we are helping more women know that they are not isolated in those experiences, and more men to recognize how we can be too complicit in these experiences by ignoring or downplaying their significance.”

Early performances of the play led to the 1998 launch of V-Day, a global movement aimed at ending violence against women and girls. The initial event led to more than 5,800 annual V-Day celebrations, many of those on college campuses.

The play contains strong language and adult content and is intended for mature audiences.

 

Contact: Mark Rasdorf, associate director for the ECU LGBT Resource Office/co-director of ECU production at 252-737-4451. 

ECU to host NC Civility Summit featuring Dr. Jennifer Arnold

East Carolina University will host the third annual North Carolina Civility Summit from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Feb. 17 in the Mendenhall Student Center.

The goal of the N.C. Civility Summit is to create constructive dialogue beyond ECU’s campus and the state of North Carolina, to find solutions and build coalitions to address real-world challenges and tackle significant societal issues. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Jennifer Arnold.

Arnold and her family star in the TLC Network hit docu-drama, “The Little Couple,” which follows her personal and professional life. In addition, she has spent the last eight years involved in health care simulation education. Arnold is currently the medical director of the Simulation Center at Texas Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

In 2013, upon the adoption of the couple’s second child, Arnold was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.  Through the support of family, friends and her fans, she underwent intense treatments and is currently cancer-free. Now as a cancer survivor, Arnold is an advocate for spreading cancer awareness, supporting those on the road to recovery and engaging all others with her inspiring story of survivorship.

Following the keynote address at 11 a.m., attendees from across the region will break out into multiple sessions discussing topics such as DACA/the Dream Act, the Politics of Sports, Climate Change and Language Ownership.

The N.C. Civility Summit is free and open to the public; however, tickets are required for entry. To register and for tickets for the event visit www.ecuarts.com. Lunch will be provided for all attendees.

Sponsors include Student Involvement and Leadership, Student Activities Board, Student Government Association, Black Student Union, Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Intercultural Affairs, Off-Campus Student Services, N.C. Civil and Pitt Community College.

For more information about the N.C. Civility Summit visit www.ecu.edu/ecunited or contact Wanda Tyler, director of intercultural affairs, at 252-328-6495.

 

Contact: Wanda Tyler, director of intercultural affairs, tylerw16@ecu.edu, 252-328-6495

Award-winning SHOES Project builds on two years’ successes to combat mental illness and depression

East Carolina University students have partnered with campus departments to present the SHOES Project from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 8 near the cupola on the ECU Mall.

SHOES, which stands for Students Honoring Others’ Everyday Struggles/Stories, is a program intended to help ECU students who may be dealing with challenging times. College students may experience depression, anxiety, stress, addictions or thoughts of self-harm, but may feel isolated and unable to manage their response.

“Our hope is that this program and its profound effect on helping others with their struggles, providing them with education and resources, along with hope, encouragement and positivity, will help the masses in being more aware of mental health issues in adolescents and young adults,” said Waz Miller, director of residence life.

The SHOES project was first held in 2016. It won the state and regional Program of the Year award from the South Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls, and went on to be chosen as the Program of the Year by the National Association of College and University Residence Halls. The program was shared with other campuses at the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International conference in Rhode Island in June.

Shoes with notes bring awareness to mental health issues

Shoes are scattered across the ECU Mall with anonymous notes during the 2017 SHOES event, a project which aims to bring awareness to mental health issues. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Thursday’s event will feature a display of 400 pairs of shoes, each attached to a story of someone struggling with a family situation, medical condition, mental health issue or other obstacles, which have been collected from ECU and Hope Middle School students.

In addition to the shoes on display, the So Worth Living student organization will have a Worthy Wall, a chalkboard wall where students can write down the reasons why they are worthy of being loved. Student radio station WZMB 91.3 FM will broadcast live during the event.

ECU students and staff will distribute thousands of positive messages on buses and in campus buildings during the SHOES Project. There will also be a resource table, and the Center for Counseling and Student Development will have a counselor on site for participants who would like someone to talk to in a confidential setting.

There will also be a giant purple bear named Soks and hot chocolate and cookies donated by Campus Dining. Participants can share their photos and thoughts using the hashtag #ECUSHOES.

“This is a time of year when students may get stressed, lonely and need a lift,” Miller said. “This is a collaborative effort to bring more awareness to mental health and other issues which college and younger students are facing.”

In the event of rain, the project will be moved to Thursday, Feb. 15. For more information, contact Waz Miller at millerc@ecu.edu.

 

-Contact: Will Bullock, ECU Residence Hall Association advisor, bullockw17@ecu.edu, or Troy Nance, SHOES event coordinator/RHA President, nancet15@students.ecu.edu

Social determinants of obesity, diabetes addressed at ECU symposium

Does where you live or your level of education make you more prone to obesity and diabetes?

These and other social determinants of obesity and diabetes, which are disproportionally affecting eastern North Carolina, were addressed during the 14th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Friday.

ECU student discusses her project

ECU senior kinesiology student Mackenzie Brown discusses her project during the 14th annual Jean Mills Health Symposium at ECU on Feb. 2. (Photos by Rob Spahr)

During the event, local, regional and national experts in obesity and diabetes, as well as community leaders and ECU faculty, staff and students, were challenged to address the social causes of the diseases.

The social factors discussed included cultural beliefs, gender roles, access to health care and patient-provider communications, economic stability, community infrastructure, educational attainment and role models.

Dr. Leandris Liburd speaks

Dr. Leandris Liburd, associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the symposium.

This year’s featured speaker was Dr. Leandris Liburd, associate director for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Liburd is an expert on the social determinants of health and has been successful in identifying intervention strategies to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.

“Our health is our greatest resource, it affects everything. … (But) it’s something that I think we typically take for granted until we don’t have it anymore. And then we get up and say ‘OK, now I need to pay attention,’” Liburd said. “In public health, we try to get to people in the front end of that. And while we can’t prevent everything, there are things that we can delay and that we can minimize.”

Liburd said physicians come with high levels of authority and respect, which they can lend to help sway public policies and make significant positive impacts in leveling out some of the social health discrepancies.

“We don’t expect that doctors will go out and take on all of these issues. But we do think that it’s reasonable, as a beginning, that they will lend their influence to the efforts that others are trying to put forth to help make them successful,” Liburd said. “We have to find our place in this and where we can contribute the most.”

The symposia are presented by the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences in collaboration with ECU’s Department of Public Health, the Brody School of Medicine and the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation.

“Over the past decade and a half, the Mills symposium has invited distinguished national and international experts to address the health and health care issues that affect minority populations, especially our communities right here in eastern North Carolina,” said Robert Orlikoff, dean of ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences.

“This is not an academic seminar and this is not a town meeting,” Orlikoff added. “It’s a rare opportunity for us to come together, educate ourselves and work together to reach real and long-standing solutions.”

Jean Mills, who died from breast cancer in October 2000, was an ECU alumna with a passion for community health and health equity. Her brother, Amos T. Mills III, established the symposium in her honor.

 

-by Rob Spahr, University Communications

Health care quality improvement projects showcased at symposium

More than 150 people filled the auditorium of the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Wednesday to discuss, and reward, projects aimed at improving health care practices in eastern North Carolina and beyond.

The 2nd Annual Unified Quality Improvement Symposium – co-hosted by the Brody School of Medicine REACH Initiative and the Vidant Health Quality Office – featured more than 40 presenters. Their topics ranged from reducing rates of newborn hypothermia and improving HIV treatment adherence, to improving discharge processes in inpatient rehabilitation centers and limiting physician sleep interruptions.

Student presents project

Second-year ECU Brody School of Medicine student Noopur Doshi discusses her project during the 2nd Annual Unified Quality Improvement Symposium, which was held in the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU on Jan. 31, 2018. (Photos by Rob Spahr)

Second-year medical students Rebecca Jones and Reena Patel worked as nurses in neonatal intensive care and labor and delivery, respectively, prior to medical school.

For their symposium presentation, they discussed how they were working with a local OB-GYN to address the high infant mortality rate and maternal health disparities in Pitt County.

Students discuss their project

Omar Taha and Dr. Ahmed Hamed, left, discuss their project.

“We have a longitudinal program for mothers looking at having healthier pregnancies, reducing smoking, increasing breastfeeding and then also infant safety and CPR,” Jones said.

Patel said the program resulted in an overall decrease in anxiety for the mothers-to-be, as well as increased confidence in breastfeeding, CPR and choking rescue.

“We also compared longitudinal lifestyle changes and found that a number of people made significant beneficial lifestyle changes throughout the program,” Patel said. “As a result, we are implementing a portion of the program, the infant CPR portion, into Vidant hospital’s perinatal educational curriculum, as a medical student-run program.”

Student discusses his project

Second-year ECU Brody School of Medicine student Bennett Mack discusses his project.

This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Julie Freischlag, chief executive officer of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, stressed the importance of health care professionals having integrity and being brave.

“Igniting success as health care providers, you need to be compassionate, you need to be innovative and bold,” Freischlag said. “Seize opportunities, take chances, be brave. You be the one to start the momentum, even if it’s controversial or uncomfortable.”

The following participants earned awards for podium presentations:

  • 1st Place: Diana Layne, a Vidant Medical Center nurse, for a presentation on a collaborative approach to reducing central line associated blood stream infections.
  • 2nd Place: Pooja Sarin, a third-year medical student, for a presentation on reducing the rates of newborn hypothermia by maintaining delivery temperatures of 77 F during cesarean sections.
  • 3rd Place: Kate Gitzinger, a Vidant Medical Center nurse, for the presentation “Interprofessional Education: A Powerful Tool for Improving Delivery Room Care and Competency.”

These participants received awards for their poster presentations, which were displayed in the ECHI lobby throughout the event:

  • 1st Place: Meera Patel, a second-year medical student, for a presentation on reducing the rate of contaminated blood draws coming from the ED to the microbiology laboratory at Vidant Medical Center.
  • 2nd Place: Taj Nasser, a fourth-year medical student, for the presentation “From Bits to Bytes to Reality: Reduction in Patients who Leave Without Treatment in the Emergency Department by using Computer Simulation to Redesign Nurse Staffing.”
  • 3rd Place: Sujitha Nandi, a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at Brody, for a presentation on a challenge to discharge ECU general internal medicine inpatients before noon.

For more information about the REACH program visit http://www.ecu.edu/reach.

 

-by Rob Spahr, University Communications

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