Heart, Mind, & Eyes Wide Open: India Study Abroad

By Kayla Daughtry, junior EC Scholar

Daughtry meditatingHello everyone! My name is Kayla Daughtry, and I am an EC Scholar who majors in neuroscience. Although my line of study focuses mainly on sciences and medicine, I am incredibly interested in world cultures and religions, but have felt that I don’t have the time to dedicate to such study. Luckily for me, the perfect opportunity arose, and I made the decision to travel to India for five weeks this summer with Dr. Derek Maher to do Religious Studies research about the Buddhist Holy Land.

Stepping out of the airport in New Delhi was the hugest culture (and heat) shock that I have ever experienced. Throughout my time in India, I was constantly in awe of the differences in infrastructure and quality of life in comparison to the United States. During the trip, we traveled to various sites that had importance in the Buddha’s life and teachings, including Sarnath, Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Shravasti, and Nalanda. My research was done in the Spring semester in an honors seminar, and I specialized in the place of the Buddha’s death, Kushinagar.

It was such an interesting experience to perform extensive research and create a plan for documentation for a location that is unfathomable from halfway across the world. Once in Kushinagar, as well as at all of the other holy sites, we photographed, documented, and made observations about the monuments that were placed to commemorate the importance of the life of the Buddha. Dr. Maher taught lessons and told stories at each site that provided us with more information about Buddhism and all that occurred in the locations during the time of the Buddha and what has occurred afterward. It was so neat to walk in places where such an influential religious figure spent time and taught the foundations of what we now know as Buddhism. We even got to spend time meditating beneath the tree where the Buddha was enlightened! Our trip was part of the first steps of the research project and the hopes for the future are to create a huge database for religious studies students to utilize for highly accurate information about Buddhism and the life of the Buddha.

One of Kushinagarmy favorite parts of the trip was meeting a female monk in Kushinagar (pictured left), who took me and two other students to the Buddhist temple for women that she is building all on her own. She expressed to us that her goal is to combat the oppression of women’s freedom in India, and has already accomplished a by being such a powerful presence and enforcing her own right to buy land, build, create, worship, and become ordained as a monk, which are all incredible feats, especially in such a patriarchal society. My eyes were truly opened on that day, to the extreme oppression that Indian women face in aspects of life that I take for granted.india elephant

In addition to Buddhist holy sites, our group visited New Delhi, Varanasi (the holy city on the Ganges River), Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located), and McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala which is positioned in the lesser Himalayas. In these places I learned of so many things, such as Hindu traditions and worship, ancient Mughal tradition, Tibetan medicine and arts, human rights activism for Tibetans and Tibetan refugees who have come to India, Tibetan occupation by China, and the crisis that the country faces in attempting to preserve its culture and humanity.

In just five short weeks, I have seen, learned, felt, and experienced a vastly different culture in all of its beauty and difficulty. These experiences have made me feel angry and sad at times, but also the most elated and joyful that I have even been in this lifetime. These emotions, paired with so much new knowledge, have widened my eyes and greatly impacted my view of the world, cleared my mind and allowed my heart to be entirely full of love, increased my sense of international activism, and given me an urge to go back to India as soon as I recover from the 24 hours that it took to travel back to the U.S.

I would like to sincerely thank the Honors College and EC Scholar program for providing me with this opportunity, the friends I made on the trip for keeping me sane, and Dr. Derek Maher for being such an amazing mentor and teaching me the most valuable lesson: everything is subject to change… the ability to adapt is what matters most.

India flowersdaughtry taj mahalIndia coast

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Global Health and Innovation Conference: Cutting Edge Solutions to the World’s Most Pressing Health Problems

By Sahiti Marella, junior in the Honors College

GHICThe Global Health and Innovation Conference held annually at Yale University is the world’s largest global health conference, hosting more than 2,000 attendees from more than 55 countries. This conference is made possible by Unite for Sight, a leading nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to health care globally.

This past April, I had the opportunity to attend and be part of a movement focused on positive health related change across the world. The Global Health and Innovation Conference not only brought together leading experts from all branches in the field, but it also was a gathering ground for international global health leaders, healthcare professionals, graduate representatives, and students. There were a number of attention-grabbing topics addressed through various sessions, panels, and discussions. I was able to sit in on presentations given by founders of major health focused nonprofits, listen to pitches for cutting-edge global health innovations, and network with individuals who shared a common passion for improving our current global health status.

Attending this conferences was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to college. For longer than I can remember, I’ve wanted to become a physician, but recently I began questioning if there was something more. I was asking myself “could I take it one step further?” Being a native of India, my family members were only a few among hundreds of thousands of individuals who succumbed to the difficulty of a less than ideal healthcare system. There are a number of people working towards making sure marginalized populations are able to receive adequate medical assistance, yet the problem is incredibly persistent. How do we begin to address and tackle huge problems such as lack of access to healthcare or high incidences of communicable disease?

By attending the Global Health and Innovation conference, I was able to dip my toes into a world that fell at the intersection of providing healthcare and developing and implementing cutting-edge solutions to the largest health problems. I met individuals who were doctors or surgeons but they were also able to take their knowledge on one specific issue and pioneer a solution that addresses the problem in a more effective manner.

Whether you were a student, an admissions director for a top-notch graduate program, a physician, or a CEO of a major nonprofit organization, the Global Health and Innovation Conference was a hub for idea sharing and development on any scale or platform. Everyone in attendance came together to celebrate passion, drive, and vision to take a step forward in global health change. I was able to network with some of the most unique individuals with amazing stories and passions and I left Yale feeling truly inspired.

This conference taught me the importance of not just doing research but taking the knowledge and putting it forward in a way that benefits society. There is always more to learn and more ways to improve and expand on what is already out there, you just need the right tools. I learned that whether its through an unexpected connection, an inspiring idea, or thought provoking conversation, the beauty of research and innovation is that you never know what can help you to grow and expand your work into something that really impacts a population. I encourage everyone, regardless of where your passions lie, to take advantage of every opportunity and every open door because you never know where either of those can lead you.

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The Array of Opportunities with a Business Degree

By: Rachel Eker, junior in the Honors College

ekerI always knew I was going to be a business major. Both my parents were business majors and like any other kid, I wanted to be just like my parents. As I got into high school, I despised dissecting animals so I knew a science career was out. Poetry and writing were never my thing so that eliminated English as a career path also. It seemed like business was a good choice after all. I would be able to find a job after college and be able to relate to my parents.

Through my journey the last two years at ECU’s College of Business and the Honors College, I have interacted with many business professionals and I always ask them what they studied in college. For the most part, I get an answer that explains how they were studying a different part of business than the one they are in now. These conversations led me to realize how versatile a business degree is and I’ve come to appreciate that.

Business incorporates marketing, economics, management and finance. It’s impossible to separate one from the other while working in a business setting. I am thankful to have been chosen as a Business Scholar, where I have had the opportunities to understand the scope of a business degree.

Currently, I am studying accounting and finance. Next summer, I will have the opportunity to be an intern at Dixon Hughes Goodman in my hometown, Jacksonville, FL. I aspire to get my CPA after graduation and work at an accounting firm, but eventually transition into a finance position for a corporation.

With my business degree, I know I am not tied to a CPA position and can really go anywhere. I’ve always liked to be adventurous and I know I have chosen a degree that can let me take risks and will give me the chance to accomplish whatever I want.

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Honors Students Revised NC Highway Marker

By Jessica Nottingham, coordinator for communications and marketing

Alex and Victoria

A class project led two Honors College students to changing the historical memory of a dark time in North Carolina’s history, according to professors Drs. Margaret Bauer and Karin Zipf.

As part of a class project, Alex Stoehr and Victoria Bishop revised a Fayetteville historical highway marker along I-32 that recognizes Charles Chesnutt, an African American author.

“They revised the Charles Chesnutt marker to better reflect his accomplishments as one of North Carolina’s African American writers and educators,” said Bauer, chair of southern literature and distinguished professor in the ECU Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

Rising sophomores Stoehr, an art major, and Bishop, a business management intended major, were enrolled in Bauer and Zipf’s spring Honors College seminar course titled Fact into Fiction: The 1898 Wilmington Coup D’Etat in History and Literature.

“Karin and I have both been interested in this dark chapter of North Carolina history for decades,” said Bauer. “I had enjoyed Charles Chesnutt’s short stories and found the novel he wrote that was inspired by these events fascinating. I’ve taught it regularly since moving to North Carolina.”

The original marker described Chesnutt as “Negro novelist and short story writer, teacher and lawyer. Taught in a school which stood here.” The revised description reads “Lawyer and writer whose novels and short stories dealt with race and the ‘color line.’ Teacher & principal, 1880-83 at a school which stood here.” A photo of the old marker along with the new text can be found at the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program website.

“The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program is a public commemoration of significant state events to reflect our shared historical memory,” said Zipf. “By their successful revision of the Charles Chesnutt marker, Alex and Victoria have shown that through knowledge one can help shape that historical memory in the most public of ways and for all to see.”

Delivered by faculty members across campus, the Honors College offers its students an assortment of interdisciplinary seminar courses every year. Bauer is an English professor and Zipf is a history professor, and they came together because of a mutual interest in the Wilmington coup d’état.

“We used a lesser known topic for which we both have a passion, and formulated learning and writing strategies that exceeded the sum of our two contributions,” said Zipf. “The students learned to become experts in a topic and to apply that expertise in unique writing assignments that required the exercise of critical thinking skills at a very high level.”

This course will be offered again in the spring of 2017.

“These students have realized, for one thing, how history repeats itself,” said Bauer. “In the course of the semester, we found ourselves finding significant echoes of the politics that led to the 1898 coup in current events.”

 

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Views from the Mess: My Experience at ECU LeaderShape 2016

By Glenesha Berryman, sophomore EC Scholar

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Stay in the mess.

Out of all the cool quotes and sayings I learned at this year’s LeaderShape, this phrase is the one that I keep coming back to. Staying in the mess was our co-lead facilitator John Mountz’s way of encouraging us to embrace challenges and engage when we felt the urge to withdraw. The more he said it, the more it stuck with me. However, I was not always eager to accept his message…

Avoiding the Mess

When people told me that LeaderShape would change my life, I responded with what any self-respecting college student would: a whole lot of skepticism. On the first day, I met every icebreaker, every definition of leadership we wrote, every “So what’s your major?” conversation with the satisfaction of knowing that I was right—LeaderShape wouldn’t change my life. Yet, a part of me was disappointed that I would not experience the life transformation my peers had experienced. When I voiced these frustrations with a former LeaderShape participant, she told me not to worry—just trust in the process.

Getting in the Mess

Without realizing it, the icebreakers became dynamic team building experiences that challenged everything I believed about my purpose on a team; the sessions spent defining leadership turned into moments of eye-opening reflection and bold vision building; superficial small talk became taboo; deep talks about anything under the sun became normal dinner conversation. Every hard lesson learned and every vulnerable story shared helped create a family out of strangers.

Staying in the Mess

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Trusting in the process and getting super into the rock paper scissors tournament.

John Mountz called the things we were doing at LeaderShape a mess for a reason. Vulnerability, honesty, reflection, and growth ain’t easy—it’s downright messy. But by practicing all of these things and by staying in the mess, I was able to experience the life-changing LeaderShape my friends had promised me. Through deep introspection and adopting a healthy disregard for the impossible, I was able to challenge my career aspirations, sharpen my vision for the world, and discover my core values.

Looking back, staying in the mess is a testament to my LeaderShape experience, a reminder of the six days I spent participating in vulnerable conversations, fearless dreaming, and authentic relationship building. Before coming to LeaderShape, I could not have imagined myself willing to do these things. However, the fact that I did speaks to the power of LeaderShape, the power of re-thinking the status-quo, and the power of getting messy and staying in it.

Views from the Mess

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My LeaderShape Cluster Family #2AAllDay

Explaining a life-changing experience like LeaderShape with just words is impossible. How can they capture all the learning, the laughter, the tears, the joy, the hope that LeaderShape gave me?

The only way to know LeaderShape is to experience LeaderShape. So to all the skeptics, the dreamers, the movers, the shakers, the I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-lifers, I challenge you to embrace the mess at LeaderShape.

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