Grateful for Gateway: the Honors Student Perspective

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

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The first class of Gateway Hall moved into East Carolina University’s premier residence hall in August. Boasting a number of amenities from music practice rooms to basketball facilities, Gateway sits atop College Hill as the new home of the Honors College Living-Learning community. Now, after a semester of dorm living, both Honors College freshmen and upperclassmen are sharing why they are proud to call Gateway home. (Photo, left, by Patrick Fay.)

The Lucky Ones

As told by Shamin Jamadar, Honors College Freshman

“‘Oh my gosh, you’re so lucky!’ is most definitely a phrase every resident of Gateway has become accustomed to hearing. It also goes without saying that this is a very accurate statement. From both lounges and study rooms on each floor, to wide closet spaces, Gateway has it all; although, what is even better than Gateway itself is the people that inhabit it.”

New Dorm Provides a Learning ‘Gateway’ atop College Hill

As told by Jason Schodt, Honors College Freshman

study rooms

Photo by Patrick Fay

“Living in the new Gateway dorm atop College Hill was an experience that I looked forward to before I entered ECU in August. I anticipated I would find a modern dorm that would be comfortable and an enjoyable living environment. However, Gateway is more than just a new and spacious living space. It is also an incredible learning environment that has assisted my academic development as an Engineering and Music student.

The multiple study rooms that can be found on each floor are an incredible resource for my fellow Honors College students and I. These rooms are a great place for Honors freshmen to meet with their community service groups from Honors 2000. My group and I meet each week to discuss the progress of our work with a community organization. Additionally, housing the Honors College students together facilitates collaboration and discussion. I have several Honors College students on my floor who are also Engineering students and they are an excellent collaborative resource.”

Second Year Perspective: a Light-Hearted, Heart-Felt Review of Gateway

Roommates Kevin Nguyen and Cameron Worthington finish unpacking in their new home!

Roommates Kevin Nguyen and Cameron Worthington finish unpacking in their new home!

As told by Kevin Nguyen, Honors College Sophomore

“If I could say one thing about Gateway, it would be that it’s gigantic. If you haven’t seen it, it’s five floors full of the smartest people you’d ever have the pleasure to meet. Coming from my last dorm into Gateway, there’s no comparison between the two. Literally no comparison. Gateway has an elevator, albeit you can’t jump in it, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that we have an elevator. Very handy. The washing machines are fantastic and not old and will not leak water all over the floor, which is generally just very agreeable. However, I’d have to say that the best part about Gateway is the fact that people rarely stay in their rooms. I can’t say if this is a result of Gateway or the people, but it is quite enjoyable and honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had in a dorm. I may have had only two years of experience with one of them being Gateway, but that’s no matter. Gateway, at its core, is the people in it. And the people in it are some of the best I’ve ever befriended.”

Grateful for the Gateway Experience

As told by Tricia Malcolm, Honors College Freshman

Inside of Gateway

Photo by Patrick Fay

“I love living in Gateway. It is the best place to live on campus. I am so thankful to be in the Honors College so that I can live in that beautiful dorm. If I was not in the Honors College, I would have had to live in an older dorm with rooms that aren’t nearly as nice. Gateway has big rooms with tall ceilings that do not make me feel confined. Gateway also has very clean bathrooms with plenty of showers and toilets.

My experience living in Gateway has been overwhelmingly positive. The Hall Government and RA’s put on little events with free food all the time. The events can be informative or even just a dance party. There was this one time when they held a “Netflix and No Chill” event–they also provided free chick-fil-a nuggets and sauce. That was a lot of fun. Sometimes people gather in the lobby to watch football games or Harry Potter.

If you are a sports lover, Gateway is a great fit for you. We are right beside the football stadium, so if you want to head on over to a game you do not need to walk far! If you are not into football, you still have the feeling of school spirit as you walk down the hill toward campus on almost any day. You will pass the school’s marching band rehearsing, the dance club dancing, and several groups practicing. It is a lot of fun to walk past and listen to the band’s rendition of several James Bond songs on the way to my Chemistry Lab.”

first class

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Meeting CNN Security Analyst Peter Bergen

By: Madeline (Madie) Fleishman, EC Scholar and Honors College Freshman

Picture1The following blog post details a unique opportunity for a handful of Honors College students to meet with CNN Security Analyst Peter Bergen.

Many extremely interesting events are advertised at ECU, but they don’t necessarily offer insight into my unique career goals; so when Peter Bergen’s name came across my email, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to meet him. Peter Bergen is a CNN Security analyst, among many things, who has spent the majority of his life studying, traveling the world, and focusing on major threats to our security. Most famously, this led him to become the first person to hold a televised interview with Osama Bin Laden. Needless to say, Peter Bergen was an incredible person to ask probing questions about national security.

The first question to be answered and ultimately the one on all of our minds was, “what was it like to interview Osama bin Laden?” What struck me was the calmness with which he answered the question while describing the terrifying layers of security he endured in order to meet Bin Laden. Little did Mr. Bergen know who bin Laden would eventually become, but using his education in Security Studies, he was initially suspicious of the power of this man. From there, a discussion erupted about the future threat that ISIS poses to our world. The discussion was both a rousing debate and a chance for us to learn from Mr. Bergen. He shared first-hand information about ISIS that is almost impossible to find on one’s own. Other topics discussed in the session included the future of our cyber security and the current European refugee crisis.

All in all, the information session was incredibly useful tool that allowed me to learn about world security threats from a first-hand perspective. Often it is difficult to understand the full perspective of world issues from Greenville, NC, but Peter Bergen allowed us to gain a needed understanding of our world.

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An Epic ECU Lip-Sync Battle: This Girl is on Fire!

By: Jackie Curtis, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

Convo_45“My advice for incoming freshmen: don’t be afraid to try new things!  Step out of your comfort zone a little bit – you’ll be amazed how much you can learn about yourself!”  So I wrote as I sat in my room thinking about the millions of things I could say to the incoming freshmen at Convocation.  Out of all the ideas I had come up with, this one seemed, rather ironically, very fitting for the occasion.

A week before, I had received an email asking for volunteers to compete in a lip-sync battle at ECU’s Convocation.  The email was from an Honors College faculty member, so instead of doing my homework and confirming the details, I assumed that the email was referring to the Honors College Convocation.  I responded to the email saying that I would like to participate, thinking that a solo performance in front of a relatively small group of my Honors College peers would be a beneficial transition from my past experience with choirs and musical theater chorus ensembles.

At some point, as I was reading through the long stream of emails that ensued regarding the lip-sync battle, I came to the startling realization that it was not, in fact, the Honors College Convocation at which I had volunteered to lip-sync.  It was the general college Convocation – the one that close to five thousand freshmen would be attending.

To give some personal background, just about anyone who knows me would say that I am shy, quiet and reserved.  I am an introvert.  I like listening more than talking.  I don’t want to be the center of attention.  My agreeing to take center stage in front of what I thought would be around two hundred people was a pretty big deal.  Needless to say, I was slightly unnerved when I realized my misunderstanding.  The idea of performing in front of thousands of people was not especially appealing.

Fast-forward to the day of Convocation: I showed up at Minges a few hours before convocation began to run through my routine.  I had a great time watching my fellow competitors rehearse, watched as thousands of freshmen poured into the arena, took a few deep breaths before I went onstage in front of everyone, and then proceeded to have the time of my life.  I absolutely loved every second I was performing.  I never could have imagined that I would have so much fun doing something so far outside my comfort zone.

I will never forget the feeling I had while I was onstage performing.  I will also never forget the lessons I learned through this experience.  Number one: read emails thoroughly before agreeing to do things.  Number two: “step out of your comfort zone a little bit – you’ll be amazed how much you can learn about yourself!”

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A Simply Delicious Living-Learning Experience

By: Matthew Chilton, Honors College Freshman 

Matt 1On October 25th,  I traveled with members of the Honors College on a Living-Learning Experience (LLE) called Simply Delicious. These LLEs are opportunities for students to explore outside the University and are a chance to build relationships with donors, business leaders, and fellow students. This trip was focused on agricultural business in Greenville and the surrounding cities.

Students eagerly loaded onto the bus at 2:30 p.m. at Minges Coliseum. The first half took place at the Starlight Farm on the outskirts of Greenville. The farm, owned by the Boutilier family, is used to supply their restaurant Starlight Café here in Greenville. The Boutiliers pride themselves in their all organic, low-impact farming. Mr. and Mrs. Boutilier guided us through planted mounds and pecan trees. The field was a little less than a quarter acre, which was a surprise to me to see that only a small plot of land is needed to stock a restaurant. (They do, however, use products from other local farms for their restaurant as well.) The Boutiliers explained various farming techniques that they employ in order to produce a high yield.

The modern farming industry, they pointed out, has an array of technologies that allow a single individual to operate a vast amount of land while using less labor. Tractors allow for plowing, combines are great for harvesting, and pesticides ensure that plants are bug free; however, the Boutiliers have adopted farming techniques that have been around since the Middle Ages. The goal of this is to grow crops for quality rather than quantity, which saves the owners money on supplies and land. Tactics like drip irrigation waters plants directly at the basal root and saves an exponential amount of water compared to a sprinkler. Also, caring for plants by hand allows them to inspect the crops for disease, something that mega farms can rarely do.

The Starlight farm grows an array of crops: beats, turnips, artichokes, tomatoes; and an array of herbs like basil, mint, and rosemary, to name a few. They also have a number of animals on their land, such as cows, sheep, chickens, apiaries filled with bees, and some friendly farm cats. They explained how to care for each animal and their significance to the farm; for instance, the sheep that they care for are an endangered breed that the major farming industry has discarded because of its wool properties. It seems that everything on the farm is carefully thought out in order to have a positive ecological impact. The Boutiliers recognize that it is a lot of work for two people, but they take immense pride in their work because they can produce something that can be shared with the community of Greenville.


After saying our goodbyes, we loaded back into the bus to go to Ayden where the Simply Natural Creamery is located. We were greeted with the smell that let us know we were certainly in the right place. Simply Natural Creamery is a brand new creamery owned by the Moye family. The creamery utilizes the family-owned dairy farm comprised totally of Jersey Cows, a fact they proudly display on their products.

The tour started with a video presentation of the milking process. The creamery has state-of-the-art technology that ensures that the milk is pasteurized and filtered properly, then separated to make certain dairy products. We then proceeded on a tractor ride throughout the facility and were shown the various feed types that the cows eat depending on the stage of the cow’s development. All of the feed is grown and separated on site, lending to the “Simply Natural” name.

21882878073_5b8699a7a0_oThe next stop was my favorite: “Calftown USA” is what the Moyes call it. Since the type of milk can be affected by the cow’s health, the Moyes ensure the health of all their cows by raising them from birth on site. Calftown is a plot of land that is sectioned off in order to provide a safe place for the calves to develop in their first few weeks. Each calf is placed in a dog house and given a square meter of outside space fenced off. We were allowed to go up to the calves and pet them. They were very docile and loved to be rubbed on their heads and necks. They acted like dogs in that they licked anyone nearby. The guide explained to us how they assist the mother cows giving birth. We then proceeded to the birth pen, where a one-hour-old calf was standing and gathering its bearings.

After leaving Calftown, we went to the holding and milking parlor and watched the milking process in-person. The parlor smelled sweet with the aroma of milk. The cows appeared calm and looked like they were enjoying the process. We learned that a single cow can deliver over five gallons of milk a session and that they have two milking sessions a day. Given that they have over 180 cows milked a day, the average day can yield anywhere from 1,800 to 2,000 gallons of milk, which can be sold the same day in a carton on the shelf of their store.

The final task on our agenda was to enjoy some complementary ice cream. Simply Natural Creamery has an assortment of flavors from Reese’s Peanut Butter to cherry vanilla. I enjoyed their cupcake-flavored ice cream, which was noticeably sweeter and lighter than store brand. It was the perfect end to an afternoon on the farms.

I am certainly thankful to have the opportunity to go on Living-Learning Experiences like this one. It is not possible to have such a great time off-campus without the support of the donors of the Honors College. I would like to express my gratitude toward those who put forth the time and effort in order for these programs to exist. Without their support, a unique educational experience such as this and countless others would not be possible. I am excited to hear about the next Honors College outing and will be sure to reserve a spot!

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Keerthana Velappan Receives Substantial U Award

By: Erika Dietrick, Undergraduate Director of Marketing and Communications

keerthana 3From the moment EC Scholar and Honors College student Keerthana Velappan stepped onto ECU’s campus, she was determined to change the world. It began with outstanding performance in her classes as a University Studies/Children’s Hearing Studies major and eventually transformed into leadership positions both on and off-campus: tutoring children of all ages in math, leading as treasurer of the Indian Student Association, and working as a summer research intern at the Kresge Hearing Research Institute (part of the University of Michigan Medical School). In between her service and research, she found time to make the Dean’s or Chancellor’s list every semester and was inducted into a number of honors societies, including Phi Kappa Phi, which nominated her for the Outstanding First-Year Student Award. However, something even bigger was brewing for this multi-talented scholar.

keerthana 5Her passion for feminism, education, and positive change eventually led Keerthana to establish the East Carolina University chapter of She’s the First during her sophomore year. The national non-profit organization sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, allowing them to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school and to break the generational cycle of poverty. In an earlier blog post from April of this year, Keerthana describes the origin of this powerful organization and how the ECU chapter raises hundreds of dollars on campus. Just six months later, her leadership in the ECU chapter has already surpassed their initial goals: instead of sponsoring two girls in Nepal and Uganda for a year at $720, the organization is very near being able to support four.

It is for this reason that she was anonymously nominated for the 2015 Substantial U Awards. Presented by Substantial Magazine and NC Civil, the award seeks to recognize a college student who dares to be different in order to change the world. As is apparent to everyone who meets her, Keerthana’s genuine compassion, tireless work ethic, and unique perspective shone through–she was presented the award in October 2015.

In an interview with ECU, Keerthana explained that her initial motivation for starting a chapter of She’s the First was the confusion around the feminist movement and the power of education. “Over the course of this year, I have become more involved in and informed about feminism and the feminist movement,” she said. “I strongly believe that education is the key to change. Educating only half of the world’s population should not be an option.”

keerthana 4Her role model, Emma Watson, embodies a similar mission to Keerthana: to show the world that feminism is about equality between genders, not the overpowering of one or the other. The inclusive philosophy was a central topic of discussion at ECU’s first annual Day of the Girl Conference. Hosted by She’s the First*{East Carolina University}, the conference focused on redefining and owning the word feminism and included lectures from several guest speakers, including a keynote lecture by Honors College Faculty Fellow Dr. Liz Forgarty about today’s feminist movement around the world.

As She’s the First*{East Carolina University} nears its one-year anniversary, the Honors College at East Carolina University would like to commend Keerthana for embodying our mission of leadership and service to the fullest. She is a stellar role model in the Honors College Living-Learning Community, and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next. Undaunted by challenges and unwilling to compromise, Keerthana Velappan will continue to inspire others with her vision, her achievements, and her heart.

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Professional photography from the 2015 Substantial Awards. Use #Substantial Awards when sharing or reposting their photos to give proper credit and spread their mission statement! 

Click here to make a donation to She’s the First*{East Carolina University}. If you are an ECU student, you can e-mail to get involved in the chapter.


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