Honors College Navigation
The mission of the Honors College at East Carolina University is to
prepare tomorrow's leaders through the recruitment, engagement, and
retention of exceptionally talented students of character in a diverse
intellectual living-learning community and to challenge them to attain
high levels of academic achievement.
A main tenet of the Honors College spirit is the way its students keep their fingers on the pulse of administration, faculty, and peers on campus as leaders to create enduring change for all students. If you had to ask any student about goings-on in campus administration, EC Scholar Dana Shefet didn’t just have her finger on the pulse—she was the heartbeat! “This was one of the most unique, individualized opportunities so far in my college experience,” she says.
On April 11th Dana was chosen to act as the inaugural “Dean For A Day” at ECU’s largest college—the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. “My mathematics major is located within the THCAS, allowing me to interview for the opportunity to take on Dean William Downs’ role,” says Dana. While Dana took over the Dean’s desk, Dean Downs took a seat in all of Dana’s classes, à la Freaky Friday.
In this position, Dana represented all Honors College and College of Arts and Sciences students to gain insight into the administrative side while introducing positive change from the student perspective. “Acting as Dean gave me the ability to see the leadership required in running the largest and most diverse academic college at ECU,” Dana says. “My three main goals I wanted to accomplish as Dean were making students feel like more than just a number within the college, showing students the career opportunities they have present with their degrees, and allowing more department access to teacher reviews written at the end of the semester about courses.”
Like the beginning of any turbo-charged day, Dana enjoyed breakfast with the Dean’s office staff before diving into her responsibilities as head honcho. The Thomas Harriot administration certainly gave her the full experience: Dana was in demand, booked all day for meetings! She immediately began with John Stiller, Chair of the Faculty, then met with her Department Chair in Mathematics, Dr. Johan Hattingh—now from the other side of the desk. Dana spoke with College Advising and held an interview with The East Carolinian on her experience as a rare Student Dean. Before the morning was through, even Provost Dr. Ron Mitchelson stopped by.
Luckily, her packed schedule broke for lunch with Dean Downs and five students Dana hand-selected from within the College of Arts and Sciences to represent their peers. The hefty check-ins didn’t let up in the afternoon. She first met with Dr. Derek Maher, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, and then with Career Development Counselor John Stowe. Dana tied up the afternoon neatly with a Dean’s Student Leadership Council meeting and discussed the insight she gained with Dean Downs.
With the shoe on the other foot, someone needed to take notes and answer questions for the classes that Dana would miss in her newfound position. Dean Downs substituted for Dana in her Chemistry 1160 class, his first chemistry class in thirty-four years. After the fact, Dana said Dean Downs was certainly taught about the realm of a department he hadn’t been exposed to as a political science major. “Although the class deemed challenging for Dean Downs, he gained a serious appreciation for students in my class who were mastering electrochemistry principles,” says Dana, laughing.
Dana’s “game plan” she prepared beforehand translated this opportunity into keen insight to maximize her experience. She feels the insight she gained can create a positive impact with the collaborative power of fellow students on campus. “The aspect that most surprised me after meeting with different members of the college was the complex system of positions that make up the college. If more students knew about the structure and the different people they could turn to for help besides their advisor within the college, they could be a lot more successful and feel like more than just a number. The faculty within THCAS and ECU in general is here to assist the students and truly want to learn what is best for the students to succeed and thrive.”
After seeing administration operations from the inside, Dana attests to the strength of Thomas Harriot’s degree versatility—one of her three goals. “Students believe that if you major in Biology, you either become a teacher, a doctor, or work in a lab. There are so many career paths available through your degree here that pursuing what you truly want to spend your life doing feels incredibly accessible with the administration’s help.” Dana speaks highly of the communication between the college and students, however she noticed where students can engage with campus administration to enhance this connection. “The post class surveys we take to assess professors was only ever seen by the professor himself and no one else in their department. Whether students are praising a professor or leaving remarks for improvement, change will not be made or monitored unless another party is involved to ensure their students are receiving the best education possible.”
After Dana’s day as Dean closed, the influence from the student-administration collaboration was already felt. During their morning coffee alone, Dean Downs and Dana spoke at length on how to further integrate the Honors College into the College of Arts and Science, resulting in adding an Honors College representative position on the Dean’s Student Leadership Council. Dana’s enthusiasm to employ her newfound experience into lasting change is electric:
“I gathered so many good suggestions and made amazing connections with faculty throughout ECU. I am eager to start implementing them in the college with the help of Dean Downs and the rest of the super supportive faculty I met being Dean. As the day developed, it was an invaluable experience for both Dean Downs and I to learn about life on the other side. I highly recommend everyone to apply to be Dean For A Day!”
To learn more about how Honors College students are engaged with the campus and community, you can contact us at 252.328.6373, email us at email@example.com or visit us on ECU’s campus at the Mamie Jenkins Building. To keep up to date on Honors College events and student stories like Dana’s, follow us on social media.
Meghan Boop graduated from the ECU Honors College and EC Scholars Program in 2016 with a B.S. in Nursing. She offers her perspective on nursing as a profession and major, the ways leadership manifests in the hospital, and how to find balance when your calling is caring for others. Follow her self-care Instagram mindfully_meghan for tips on taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
Right after graduation, I worked at Duke Children’s Hospital for one year before finding my way back to Greenville. I now work at James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital and have been here for almost a year.
Nursing is filled with so many important moments in lives, both yours and your patients. As a bedside nurse, you are the one that is there at a very vulnerable time in people’s lives. You help guide them through their medical journey, whether it’s just an acute issue or something more prolonged. Your demeanor as a healthcare professional can really make or break someone’s hospital experience, and I always try to keep this in mind when taking care of all my wonderful kiddos. One of my most memorable experiences was when I was involved in the care of a teenage girl and it was her first visit to the hospital. She had a major surgery and was recovering from it, and you could tell by her mannerisms that she was definitely nervous and stressed. I noticed she had a Harry Potter pin on the backpack she brought with her, so I started to ask her about the series, since it’s one of my favorites, too. For the next three shifts that I worked (since I was working three in a row that week), this patient and I would talk about Harry Potter, which then turned into life conversations in general. She told me her hopes and fears for her upcoming school year, the name of her favorite pet at home, her best friend’s name and what they liked to do together… the list could go on and on. By engaging her in a conversation about something familiar (i.e. Harry Potter), I was able to break down the anxious and stress-filled wall she had built regarding her hospitalization. By the end of my third shift that week, I discharged that patient home with a big hug and a wave goodbye. Later that month, my nursing manager pulled me into her office with a big smile. On her desk was a thank you letter from this girl and her mother and it was one of the absolute sweetest, most sincere notes I had ever read. And, of course, it was complete with an illustration of Hermoine Granger (a character both me and my patient loved). My nurse manager pulled out a gold star pin and handed it to me. This gold star pin symbolizes excellence in patient care and is given out to nursing staff that exemplify this behavior. What I learned from this interaction is that even the smallest thing (like talking about Harry Potter) can have the most profound effect on those we take care of so make sure to remember that the little things DO matter.
As a major, some of the pros of nursing are that its an undergraduate program, so you get to graduate with your bachelor’s degree and already get to work in the hospital doing what you love whereas many other medical professions are graduate programs. Also, as a nursing student, you get to spend time with patients and in the hospital at clinicals as an undergraduate, which helps solidify your reasoning for this career path. Some of the cons of this major are that it is an extremely demanding and stressful degree program. You have multiple clinical days each semester, you are on a 7-point grading scale, and you are strictly on the Health Sciences campus, so you may feel secluded from non-nursing friends. However, our mantra for nursing school is: if you can make it through nursing school, you can make it through anything!
As a profession, one of most-liked things about nursing is the 3 12-hour shifts a week. Working 3 days a week makes it very easy for travel. I have traveled a lot in my first two years of being a nurse without having to take off much time at work to do so. However, the schedule can also be a con. I alternate between night and day shifts, which can take a toll on the body and lead to weird and unhealthy sleep patterns. I have to work weekends and holidays, which makes me miss out on a lot of social events and family gatherings. My workweek changes from week to week, so even though it is not as monotonous as a 9-5 desk job, it does get frustrating not having a routine you can get comfortable with.
However, as a nurse, you get to touch the lives of so many patients, just as they have touched yours. It truly is a blessing to get to be that person who helps others through a trying time and help them cope with what is to come.
As a nurse, my schedule is definitely all over the place. I work nights, days, weekends and holidays, which can lead to a toll on your body, mental health and social life. I think it’s so important to find a balance between your work and personal life to help curb the burnout that many nurses face from the stress of our jobs. Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of strides in my own self-care and mental health to help find this balance. I have focused on meal prepping before strings of shifts in a row to make sure I’m nourishing my body with what it needs, and not what it wants when it’s stressed at work.
I’ve focused on staying physically active, usually just on my days off and not before or after a 12 hour shift. On top of the usual physical activities I like to do like soccer and weight lifting, I’ve taken up yoga as a way to connect with my body and myself in a different way than I’m used to. I make sure to take time to myself everyday to do something stress relieving; for me, a lot of times this is reading a book or sketching an image on my iPad. I’m still learning on how to balance my hectic schedule with the other aspects and people in my life, and it’s definitely been a learning curve since I graduated. All I can really suggest to others looking for that balance is to not neglect yourself and your self-care. You can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself, so finding that balance is very important in the medical field.
I guess something that surprised me about life after graduation is that you don’t have to feel like you have it all together. I feel like many of us have this preconceived notion that we will have our lives “together” right after we graduate and that doesn’t have to be the case. Your 20’s are meant for figuring yourself and your career and your life out
, and you don’t need to compare yourself to those around you in an effort to feel like you’re where you are supposed to be.
One of the most important parts of nursing is being a patient advocate, especially when that patient isn’t able to advocate for him or herself. I think the confidence I’ve gained in myself as a leader from formerly being an EC Scholar and Honors student helps me better serve as an advocate for my patients. I’m not afraid to stand up and have my voice be heard if I think it’s in the best interest of those I’m taking care of. I also work a lot with the new graduates nurses and nursing students, and help serve as a preceptor for them as part of a leadership role at the hospital. These individuals get paired with me and I show them all aspects of nursing – how to perform a basic assessment, how to perform certain skills, how to document our interventions, etc. I am always looking for new ways to get involved on my unit, and I think I owe a lot of that initiative to the Honors College and its focus on leadership and service.
Being an EC Scholar has blessed me with some of the best people in my life. I still keep in touch with the director of the program, and many of the others I have met through it. I even met some of my absolute best friends through EC Scholars. The EC Scholars has helped shape me into the person I am today through the important lessons it taught me about leadership, service, academics, friendships and life. This program is more than just a scholarship – it’s a family, and I am so thankful to have been blessed with such a great second family.
I have always loved education, whether it was being in school myself or helping to teach others to understand a concept. I have always considered becoming a nurse educator, and when I found a yearlong masters program that I really liked, I decided it was a good time to go back to school so I can help teach others how to become the best nurse possible. I am going back to school to get my Masters in Nurse Education, and hope to find a job as a clinical nurse educator. In this role, I would work in a hospital and implem
ent all new graduate education and orientations, and also be in charge of the continuing education for hospital employees. With new research and technology always helping advance the medical field, nursing skills and hospital policies are always changing to match the new innovations. I would get to be at the forefront of making sure employees are educated on these new skills, equipment and policies. Both my mom and my sister are teachers, so I guess I just had to follow their lead eventually but in my own way. J
One last thing I would like to add to all those current and prospective nursing students is do NOT forget to take care of yourself in nursing school. Nursing school is a very hard academic program, but you do not need to spend every second of your school year studying. Take time for yourself, hang out with your friends, go to that football game. If you spend the entirety of your collegiate years in the library, you will miss out on so many important things and your mental health will deteriorate. Don’t snack on just junk food or miss out on meals because you’re stressed out. Fuel your body with nourishment, go out and be active, and take some time to do whatever it is that makes you happy. Your mind and body will thank you for it later.
Walk into through the Mamie Jenkins Building doors at the beginning of the fall or spring semester and see if a burst of laughter from the student study room or just down the hallway isn’t followed up by “You didn’t believe me, did you? Those Inca Trail porters are superhumans!”
Students fresh off the plane with their summer stories are always around, giving advice to students considering their first study abroad trip or nodding in a loose circle with faculty—all with the same knowing smiles. Students return to campus with more than just insight from their study abroad experience. Having seen the sun set on a new horizon, students are knit tighter into their community with a reforged call to action. The plentiful opportunities at ECU and in the Honors College to pursue a study abroad experience make it easy to find homecoming support, as well as a sense of traveler comradery you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
“This study abroad know-how from a student perspective was crucial for me while in Dakar. I look forward to helping other students prepare for their time abroad so that they can make the most out of it,” says Josh Gurganus. A sophomore EC Scholar, only weeks ago Josh was rolling across the West African savanna alongside lions and gazelles—breathtakingly close to bounding rhinos and swaying elephants. “It was the real-life Lion King.”
After finding the five-week summer study in Dakar, Senegal, through International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) online, Josh seized the opportunity. He found support from the
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and ECU’s own French Priority Scholarship, and spent the summer at the Dakar Institute of African Studies. “After being back from Senegal, my perspective has changed on a lot of things. The way I view the world, home, myself, and just people in general has changed a lot. Everywhere I went was new to me and everyone I met was a new face. I love exploring and doing new things.”
Even in his “average” routine compared to his Greenville schedule, Josh loved that each day brimmed with the uniqueness Senegal offered. He would take a taxi to the Dakar Institute for his morning French class, then to one of his three internships: one at business school, another at a print shop, and the last at an environmental non-profit. His internship ended at one o’clock, so he had the rest of the day to immerse in the storied culture. He explored the city’s alluring beaches and cafés, “and just hanging out with other American and Senegalese students.” After exploring Dakar, Josh enjoyed the hospitality of more traditional Senegalese culture every night: dinner with his host family. “Every night at 9:00pm,” Josh remembers.
Of course, Dakar was not the only bearing on Josh’s map. When his classes and internships ended for the week, Josh joined excursions across Senegal every weekend. “The weekend field trips took us to St. Louis in northern Senegal, as well as Somone and Jaol Fadiout, which are south of Dakar. I got a pretty holistic view of the country with these weekend trips.”
Every student studying abroad finds a variety of surprises when each day is a newfound experience. Even time was a change in pace. “Everything was a lot slower there than in the US. Meeting times and duration of events were very delayed and flexible,” Josh says. “They speak Wolof and French in Senegal. I’ve studied French for five years, so I knew I could get around the city decently. However, a lot of people don’t speak French, and only spoke Wolof. So those situations were somewhat difficult to get through; however, the Senegalese students I was with often helped me out.”
Although each day abroad brings new surprises, some are itchier than others. “My host family didn’t have a laundry machine, so we had to wash our clothes by hand. The first time I washed my clothes, I had no clue what I was doing so I just splashed my clothes around in a bucket of water with a bar of soap. When I thought I was done, I put my clothes in another bucket to go dry them, but then my host mom threw some white powder on my clothes. I thought that maybe it was a drying powder, so I just hung up the clothes on our roof to dry. I found out later that that was powder soap and that I was supposed to wash my clothes twice. So, all those clothes got soap ingrained into them as they dried throughout the next day. I did not make that mistake twice,” Josh laughs.
Despite the adjustments that these surprises might bring, students are never alone when support from home, the Honors College, and around campus is always available. “My dad went to Senegal back when he was in the Air Force, so he was excited for me to live in Dakar like he did. My mom was probably a little more anxious about me going, but was also excited for me to travel the world like I’ve always wanted to do.”
As a Benjamin A. Gilman and ECU French Priority Scholar, Josh continues his work in global impact at East Carolina. He joined ECU’s Global Ambassadors and speaks at events and in classes to promote the worldwide impact that studying abroad brings. Of course, Josh is also one of the many students in Mamie Jenkins that could tell you a thing or two about studying abroad’s unparalleled value.
“My main goal when encouraging other students to study abroad is to discourage any doubts or worries that they may have. Studying abroad can be the most awesome and enriching time in your life. I want students to understand that studying abroad is doable for anyone. There are programs available for students in every major. You can go abroad during a semester, summer, winter break, or even spring break! Also, studying abroad can cost as much as or even less than attending ECU. There are a ridiculous amount of scholarships to help fund your time abroad. You just have to apply!”
“My advice to students would be to not just ‘get by’ while studying abroad. It would be easy to hide in a shell and just try to stick to what you’re comfortable doing. However, this experience shouldn’t be something normal that happens to you, and you return unchanged. You should make the most of every situation. Embrace the fun times as well as all of those awkward situations which are sure to happen. Every moment abroad will later become a memory you look back on. Why not give yourself some good times to remember?”
The ECU Honors College is dedicated to educating their students for global impact and translating their international experience into regional transformation. There are a vast number of study abroad opportunities and support resources easily accessible to students, adaptable to their unique academic programs.
The EC Scholar program asks each student to travel on at least one study abroad experience, and provides a $5,000 stipend to fund it. However, many students like Josh plan to embark on more than one adventure. “I plan on studying abroad every summer while I’m in college. The summer of 2019, I want to go to France. In 2020, I want to go to China,” Josh says.
To learn more about study abroad opportunities, you can contact us at 252.328.6373, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on ECU’s campus at the Mamie Jenkins Building. To keep up to date onHonors College events and student stories like Josh’s, follow us on social media.