Scholars Host Extravaganza
By Vicki Luttrell
EC Scholars provided 30 Belvoir Elementary School students with an enriching day on East Carolina University’s campus in January.
The day was coined “Campus Day Extravaganza” and was hosted by the 2005 EC Scholars and the Office of the EC Scholars and Honors Programs. Activities included a tour of ECU’s campus; a Storybook Theater, put on by Professor Patricia Clark and students from the School of Theater and Dance; a trip to Joyner Library’s media center; and lunch, featuring a special guest appearance by Nancy Ballard, wife of ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.
The Belvoir children, who have been paired with an EC Scholar or ECU Honors student as tutor and “buddy” for this academic year, were given ECU sweatshirts, notebooks, pencils and a University Honors Program sticker to start their Campus Day event.
All the participants are part of a community engagement and academic service learning program in which ECU students are paired with children of migrant Latino families in the Belvoir Elementary School community.
“We want these children to become acquainted with ECU and know the university is a friendly place where they can come to learn,” said Dr. Michael Bassman, assistant vice chancellor and director of the EC Scholars and Honors programs at ECU. “I also hope experiences like this on campus will help spur additional curiosity for learning and support their ambitions to attend college some day. Since these students come from migrant families, they may not see college as a real possibility or as an opportunity in the future. We want to change that.”
The ECU students’ involvement with this community consists of tutoring the Belvoir School children in reading and writing. ECU students benefit by participating in service learning and immersion in the cultural and ethnic diversity in their own community. All of the children in the program and in the campus event are children of migrant workers.
“With their involvement in the Belvoir Program, the EC Scholars and ECU Honors students are developing positive relationships with the children while they gain a diverse cultural awareness and increased knowledge of the health and economic issues within the Latino community,” Bassman said.
The EC Scholars program is a four-year program consisting of a merit scholarship, research and community outreach programs. About 90 percent of these scholars are pre-med or are majoring in allied health programs.
Bassman said during his time as director of the programs at ECU, he discovered that because so many of the ECU students had advanced placement credits from high school, they were able to bypass many humanities and social science classes as undergraduates.
“Our students are extremely gifted and have wonderful opportunities ahead of them, but it is important to ensure they can gain a broad cultural knowledge,” said Bassman. “The students need to be exposed to rural communities, diversity and agricultural societies. Given the recent influx in our region of members of the Latino community, there is a great need for future health-care professionals to develop a comprehensive cultural understanding of this community,” he said.
Bassman noted that while serving the developmental needs of the EC Scholars, the project also serves critical educational needs of the Latino population in Pitt County.
For more information on EC Scholars, visit www.ecu.edu/honors.