Since his first visit to ECU, Zackery Hawkins felt the welcoming energy of the university where instructors would do everything they can to help him be successful.
“I took several [other] campus tours and I never felt as welcomed as I felt at ECU,” Hawkins said. “Here they really embrace you.”
Hawkins now regularly welcomes prospective students to campus as an ECU Ambassador and orientation assistant. He became an Ambassador during his freshman year and said the main focus is giving back to the community. The Ambassadors also travel to different welcoming events for incoming ECU freshmen.
Always proud to be a Pirate, Hawkins said the biggest thing that gets him excited is the school spirit that students share and the atmosphere on campus. “I think it is great to see so many people behind ECU all across the country and the world,” he said.
For the past three summers, Hawkins has served as an orientation assistant to help incoming freshman learn more about the university to make a smooth transition from high school. “It’s our job to greet them on the campus and make them feel more comfortable,” he said.
Hawkins also works to develop leadership programs for students at the Center of Student Leadership and Engagement, where he’s a student leadership assistant and involved with ECU’s Leadershape, an extension of a nationwide leadership program that teaches students how to develop the personal leader within. Hawkins said sharing ideas with students across campus and seeing them grow as leaders is his favorite part.
“It was cool to see everything from behind the scenes and then participate in the program to see everything come together … all the hard work was worth it,” he said.
Hawkins originally wanted to become a dentist, but realized that finance was a better match. He said ECU has prepared him for a successful career in a big way, “by offering different lecture series to hear professionals speak about what they do and how they got to where they are.”
After graduation this May, Hawkins hopes to attend law school or become a financial analyst in New York City.
Tell me about your major and why you chose it.
I was always really interested in business as a whole, like the stock market and things like that. I would either like to go to law school after graduation, become a financial analyst for Wall Street or a stock trader.
What did you learn as an orientation assistant?
I definitely learned that in helping people you not only help them better their knowledge, but you also have to be very specific with people because they can often be misled. I’ve learned better ways to explain things to people and also I’ve learned to help people in a more efficient way.
What do the ECU Ambassadors do?
The ECU Ambassadors is a community service organization and we do a lot of community service on campus as well as in the Greenville community. We have a spaghetti dinner to help a family with Christmas and buy gifts for them. In the spring we always have a special populations prom at the Boys and Girls Club. It’s just a good time. It’s a really rewarding way to give back to the community.
What made you choose ECU?
I really chose it for the dentistry school but then my interests changed and I decided to go to business school. But from the moment I stepped on campus, I felt like I belonged at ECU. The campus is really welcoming. I felt that they would do everything they could to help me be successful.
What makes you proud to be a Pirate?
My biggest thing is just the atmosphere of the campus and the school spirit that all the students share. I think it’s really important to have that support behind the university in order for it to be successful. I think it’s great to see so many people behind it all across the country and the world.
Is there anything at ECU that you wish everyone could experience?
I would love for everyone to be able to experience game day at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in the student section –just to experience the chills that you get when the team runs out or makes a touchdown. It’s a feeling I can’t describe.
What would you tell a student who wants to attend ECU?
I would say that ECU offers so many opportunities for you to get involved in and to get acclimated to the campus. You can meet so many friends as well as succeed academically. You can have the best of both worlds…academics and people who become your family away from home. It’s just very welcoming and it helps you succeed academically.
What will you miss most about ECU when you graduate?
I’m going to miss seeing my friends every day; that’s always difficult to handle. Also the academic freedom that you can experience by being in college and taking a variety of different classes that interest you and learning so much information in a concentrated amount of time.
Written by: Jamitress Bowden
Photography by: Jay Clark