Ready to join the Pirate family
-- Jeannine Manning Hutson
Before Kristalyn Gill arrives on the East Carolina University campus in August to begin her college career, she plans to lifeguard at her local pool and compete in the 76th Miss North Carolina pageant.
About the pageant, she said, “This progressing journey is a childhood fantasy come to life, no matter the outcome.” At age 17, Gill will be the youngest contestant in the scholarship pageant, which will be held June 18-22 in Raleigh.
Being on stage comes naturally to Gill, who plans to double major at ECU in dance performance and communications. Gill of Statesville will be one of 19 students entering ECU in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers.
Before her visit to campus, Gill didn’t have ECU on her radar. She thought she would attend Elon University with her sister, who is a rising junior. “To be honest, at first I wasn’t even going to apply to ECU. After seeing my sister’s experience, I thought that Elon had what I wanted,” she said. “It turns out that it may have been what I thought I wanted, but ECU proved to me that it has what I need.”
At the ECU Honors Weekend, Gill said she felt welcomed as part of the “Pirate family.” Her college choice was determined by two reasons – the people and the opportunities, she said.
The students and faculty in the program “felt like family from day one.” And “the opportunities to be active in numerous clubs, dance performances, scholar’s programs and study abroad trips are amazing. I knew that when I came down to it, ECU was the perfect fit for me.”
Gill said she “clicked” with the other honors scholars she met. “I felt as if we all had already been friends and knew we would all end up at ECU regardless,” she said.
“Being an EC Scholar means that I am not only a student but also a scholar who strives to learn for the simple pleasure of gaining knowledge. The Scholar’s Program is a one-time change that if given up would forfeit countless adventures that could be life changing,” she said. “By being part of this selective group of students, I am now able to learn academic skills, fitness skills, mental skills and social skills that I couldn’t learn anywhere else.”
Gill aspires to dance in a Broadway musical one day and to teach choreography classes for traveling dance competitions. “I cannot wait to get involved this fall (on campus),” she said.
But before then, there’s a stage and pageant in Raleigh calling her name. And she’ll be in good company; the reigning Miss North Carolina Arlie Honeycutt is a vocal performance major at ECU.