Examining Public Health Policies and Outcomes

By Brice Bowry, freshman EC Scholar

BowrySince 1995, the first full week of April has officially been National Public Health Week. This week is intended to be a time where the public health community can come together to celebrate advancements in the field and highlight areas where improvements can still be made. A critical part of achieving these objectives is conducting research to examine topics such as the effectiveness of certain public health policies or how various external factors affect public health policies and outcomes. Conducting research like this is exactly what one Brody School of Medicine professor of public health, two graduate students and I have been doing since Fall 2015.

Our research began as an offshoot of a larger project, but eventually we decided that our findings were significant enough to deserve a poster presentation of their own. We decided to title the research “History and Tobacco Legislation Reform in Eastern North Carolina.” As the title suggests, the poster we created focused on how various historical, cultural, financial and political factors affected the strength of tobacco legislation in various North Carolina counties.

By examining legislation, looking at statistical data and conducting interviews with stakeholders and policymakers, we sought to fully understand why some counties have far more robust and effective tobacco legislation than others. In the end, we found some key facilitators and barriers that can lead to strong or weak tobacco control laws.

We went to present this research at both the ECU Public Health Research Symposium and the Public Health Conference held at UNC-Wilmington in honor of National Public Health Week. This conference consisted of a poster showcase, two speakers and, of course, time to meet and greet everyone in attendance.

During the poster showcase, we were able to display our research alongside dozens of other students from various disciplines such as nursing, public health and physical therapy. Both speakers were fascinating, but one gave a particularly interesting presentation about chemotherapy and exercise. She discovered that, surprisingly, physical activity is very beneficial to patients undergoing chemotherapy, so she is currently working to create programs to get chemotherapy patients up and active.

In addition to these great speakers, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet a number of Masters of Public Health degree students from both the ECU and UNCW graduate schools. Overall, assisting in research and participating in the UNC Wilmington Public Health Conference were very interesting and informative experiences. I am very thankful that I had these opportunities.

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Honors Seminar: Breaking the Boundaries of Race

By Tricia Malcolm

MalcolmLet me be clear, I did not expect to learn as much as I had from my Honors Seminar, Breaking the Boundaries of Race. I have never personally noticed any racial injustices, but I suppose I wasn’t looking. I understand now that I am privileged, and that I need to be more aware of what is going on around me.

Now I believe that I am, and that I could help others become aware too. This class has really enlightened me because it divulges into everyday racism, involuntary racism, and even racism against your own race. Regardless of those lessons, my classmates and I have learned to develop actual solutions for East Carolina University.

With the increasing levels of racial violence occurring not only on our campus, but within our nation, we have devised a strategy to combat these issues. Our strategy is to gather a collective of students from different backgrounds and groups on campus, such as The Indian Student Association, and bring them all together. This collective is known as Coming Together.

Although, we are not an official group in the eyes of East Carolina University just yet, we are moving forward with the paperwork. Anyone interested can join our Facebook group and become involved in our movement.

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Honors College Students Receive Phi Kappa Phi Awards

Anna A. Lawrence awarded Eldean Pearce Graduate Fellowship for 2015-2016 Lawrence
Each year, the ECU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi awards the Eldean Pearce graduate fellowship, named for a former chapter secretary, to one senior student. The 2015-2016 winner is Anna A. Lawrence. She received a plaque and a check for $1,500 from the chapter at the annual initiation ceremony on April 17, 2016. In addition, Anna’s materials were sent to the national graduate fellowship competition by the chapter. Anna is a member of the Honors College and graduated in May with dual degrees in Hispanic Studies and Anthropology and a minor in Linguistics. READ MORE

Leela Goel named Outstanding Senior by ECU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi Goel
The ECU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi recognized Leela Goel, an EC Scholar and member of the ECU Honors College, as the Outstanding Senior for 2015-2016. She received a plaque and a check for $1000 from the chapter at the annual initiation ceremony on April 17, 2016. Leela graduates in spring 2016 with a degree in biomedical engineering in the College of Technology and Engineering. Leela held several internships to help her define her research interests and goals. READ MORE

Glenesha Berryman named Outstanding First-Year Student by Phi Kappa PhiBerryman
Glenesha Berryman, an EC Scholar and member of the Honors College, has been recognized by the ECU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi national honor society, as the Outstanding First-Year Student for 2015-2016. She was awarded a plaque and a check for $500 from the chapter at the annual initiation ceremony on Sunday, April 11, 2016. Glenesha is from a military family is the first in her family to attend college. She made the journey to ECU from Seoul, South Korea, where she finished high school. Glenesha is pursuing a BS degree in English Education in the College of Education and a major in English with the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. She has a passion for leadership, international relations and education advocacy and has been involved with the Honors College Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. READ MORE

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Preparing for the MCAT

By Jacylin Ticatic, Honors College senior

TicaticAfter three years of hearing about the dreaded four lettered test that pre-med students quiver at the sound of, it was my turn to take on the MCAT. After my first glance at my 7-book review package from Kaplan, I knew this venture would not be the easiest feat. This four part, computer-based test is used by medical schools to determine which medical school candidates will best fit their programs.

The breakdown of the MCAT is heavily science based, with three sections full of questions with elements from chemistry, biology, physics, psychology, sociology and biochemistry. The fourth section tests your ability to answer passage-based critical analysis and reasoning questions. Throughout the test, students are also tested on their ability to reason scientifically, in ways of research and statistics as well as on basic scientific concepts. After taking in what the MCAT was all about, I decided to take the plunge and begin studying.

When studying, I decided to take on the topics I found easiest first and start slow. Each day I’d set a designated time period where I’d sit and study from my Kaplan books. Slowly but surely, I made my way through the first three practice books and decided to take on a full practice exam to get a feel for the test. After taking this first practice test, I also realized that a huge part of studying for the MCAT is training your brain’s endurance level. Sitting in front of a computer for 6 hours and continually answering challenging questions is not a normal task for most college students. After I had this epiphany, as I continued studying I would also continually increase the time I spent sitting in silence and reading over the concepts of the test to train myself for the long day that was fast approaching.

The day before I took the MCAT, I felt as prepared as I could be and spent the day relaxing and slowly going over concepts for the last time. I highly advise to any soon to be MCAT sufferers to scope out the testing center the day before, so you can plan accordingly for travel time. It seemed all too fast, but soon enough I was walking into the Greenville Prometric Testing Center at 7:30 AM to finally take on the MCAT. After seeing some familiar faces I took my seat, and a few deep breaths, and took on the test that I’d been studying for all summer.

This isn’t a fairy tale ending though; when I received my scores back a month later I was disappointed with my results. At the time it seemed like the world was ending, but with the support of my friends and the faculty at the Honors College I was able to readjust my life plan and am now planning to take a gap year to strengthen my candidacy for medical school and retake the MCAT.

To any of the future MCAT takers reading this, this test will rock your world in both a great and terrible way but it does not define you as a person. You can and will conquer it in your own time, don’t lose your faith!

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Fact from Fiction: Deciphering Comparative History

By Garrett Yarbrough, EC Scholar sophomore

The last orange rays ofGarrett Yarbrough the setting sun flashed intermittently between the library bookshelves as I weaved briskly between them. I glanced fervently between the jagged paper with a haphazardly scrawled call number and the tiny labels on the spines. My bloodshot eyes moved down the row of dusty books, glancing at each in turn from beneath my furrowed brow. Aha! Hours and hours sifting through dusty books–through all four floors of the library–and leads that ended up deader than disco, and finally that “Aha!” that I’ve been waiting for, no, digging for.

No matter the hours hunched over a worn library keyboard with the T’s and S’s worn off, or the wild goose chases for one particular book that happened to be on exchange half the state away, that one moment of longing astonishment is always worth it. As a History and English major, biology doesn’t get my gears going and I don’t have much chemistry with atoms. I’ll tell you though, that one fact on page two hundred and eight-four smack-dab in the middle of a soldier’s memoir from 1944 will get my engines up and ready to dive head first into the newspapers from his hometown, and from there…what do you know? I’m halfway through a research project.

This semester, I’ve had the privilege to begin my foray into history with an in-depth research regarding the subject of the treatment of German Prisoners of War in North Carolina contrasted with how the American guards behaved towards the German prisoners in the Rheinwiesenlager, the Rhine Meadow camps. The fact that German POWs were held in North Carolina camps is not often discussed—or even known on some accounts—nor the fact that Americans held German soldiers from April to September of 1945 in twelve POW camps along the Rhine River in Germany.

Naturally, knowledge of German soldiers living down the road from the local school and half a mile from your neighbor’s farm wouldn’t be taken kindly nor calmly by the nationalistic people of rural North Carolina. Neither would the vindictive treatment of the German soldiers by Americans, living in barbed wire cages in the Ruhr Valley, including the lack of food and supplies (although that couldn’t be help as a massive shortage plagued occupied Europe). Heck, German U-boats (submersibles) patrolled up and down the North Carolina coast throughout the war, and the first German POWs sent to America were from a U-boat sunk off our coast. The captured soldiers were then promptly sent to Fort Bragg and Camp Butner, Fort Bragg holding the first POWs on American soil during World War II.

In the case of unfavorable (to some audiences) history, perspectives vary wildly in the historical community, and selective research is cherry-picked to be presented to the public. This is where the most interesting part of historical research comes in—and where the learning magic happens. You can’t trust everything you read, and my project touches on this. My research is on comparative history, historiography, and personal memoirs. Reporting from these events tend to be filtered through a biased lens, depending on motive, theses, nationalities, and other background context. Learning to properly research, be a skeptic, and analyze the clues and sources left behind by researchers are skills that can be applied to any writing for any field. Being thorough and critical thinking are a must for any kind of reporting or research.

Not only do I get to learn the ins and outs of my prospective field, I get to speak to other prominent historians that have earned their stripes…a position I hope to be in in the near future. With the help of ECU staff and that of the devoted Honors College, I’ve gotten to speak to several historians specializing in naval history and the fates of these Germans. Through the personal archives of one of these historians, I’ve gotten to see the humanity and generosity that the North Carolinians treated German POWs, which resulted in fond memories in most cases and their emigration to the United States after the war.

“What could possibly be better than tracking down each and every tidbit available for your research project? What ecstatic experience could hope to top it?” you’re all wondering, arriving back home from our brief but breath-taking adventure to History Land. The payoff for all that arduous work wafts off the page in the hot ink, you sitting back with disheveled hair and peering over each footnote, knowing that you held that story, and that story came from someone who crawled out of the mud and barbed wire cages and into the brisk autumn German air of 1945.

The alluring part of studying history is the realization that the story doesn’t stop after you print out that bibliography. The present only lasts for a moment, and then it’s history. History is made every day, and with what I’ve learned from my research project, more stories unfold every day as a result of the past. With that said, I can tell you without a doubt that I’m banking on hunting down each of those stories that I can get my hands on.

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