Burnette Payton

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EC Scholars - Class of 2015

Payton Burnette

Hometown/State: Asheboro, North Carolina

Incoming EC Scholar Class (year): 2011

Scholarship(s) Awarded: Bate Special Funds

Major/Intended Major: Speech and Hearing Science

Why did you choose to attend East Carolina University?

I chose to attend ECU because of its top rated programs and amazing staff. Upon my first visit to the spectacular campus, everyone I met went over and beyond what was expected to welcome me to the Pirate Nation. I knew that if they could take so much pride in their school, then ECU was something I wanted to be a part of.

What has your scholarship enabled you to do?

My scholarship has given me the opportunity to succeed in the classroom as well as invest time into things that are important to me without the pressure of having to work a job. It has also given me the chance to study abroad in England and Scotland, an experience that has been extremely impactful on my personal development and appreciation of culture.

What special undergraduate research opportunities have you experienced at the university?

I was given the spectacular opportunity to work under Dr. Thomson in the School of Communication on a project called “Puppet Shows That Make a Difference”. The purpose of the project was to research the creative process of writing and performing puppet shows with healthy living undertones for local elementary school students. I participated as a puppeteer, playwright, and materials gatherer over the course of the semester. Currently, I am beginning my first research project in which I will be the principal investigator, under the advisement of Dr. Kathy Cox in the School of Allied Health. In this project, we will be looking at the respiratory and phonatory similarities and differences between three groups of people: classically trained singers, musical theater singers, and non-singers.

What unique leadership opportunities have you experienced at the university?

Through volunteering with Building Hope I was able to lead the PhotoVoice Project with another intern from the United Way. Together we created a ten-week course in which eight high school girls were given digital cameras and asked to make art about the things that were happening around them. At the end of the project, the girls put on an art show so that they could share their works with the community and take ownership over the skills they had acquired in both art and personal communication. 

Getting to facilitate the development of these eight young women was both a unique and rewarding experience. Over the past four years, I have also had various leadership positions in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I have gotten to lead a bible study, a band, and I am currently serving as mentorship coordinator and member of the administrative team. Leading in Intervarsity is unique in that the positions are constantly able to be innovated. In every position I have been in, I have been able to mold it to best fit the needs of the chapter.

What are your career plans/aspirations?

As of now, I hope to become a Speech Language Pathologist. This field will allow me to work in a variety of settings with all sorts of people. The scope of practice is also so large that I know I will never get bored. I will be able to help people, travel, and be a life-long student. Who could ask for more?

What extracurricular activities have you participated in during your time at ECU?

In my time at ECU, I have participated in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, East Carolina Theater Association, Black Student Union, and Building Hope Community Life Center. In my volunteering with Building Hope, I have acted as an after school tutor as well as a lead teacher for the PhotoVoice Project, a collaborative arts initiative with the United Way. I also spent seven weeks as an intern with Casa Chirilagua in Alexandria, VA where I tutored children in English and spoke with senators about immigration reform alongside members of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

How have you made a positive impact while you have been at East Carolina University?

I know I have made a positive impact through the volunteering I have done in Greenville and through the research I have contributed to on campus. However, I think the most positive impact I have made has been through the personal relationships I have made with people at ECU. Whether it is through helping with homework or grabbing coffee, I am convinced that the best thing I can do to change the world around me is to assure people that they can be fully known and fully loved. By being the best friend I know how to be, I know the ECU will be left a little brighter when I graduate.