Members of Greek Life welcome new ECU students to the annual convocation and welcome before the startup of the fall semester. Palooza and Student Convocation were held Aug. 23. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


Convocation, Palooza prepare students for new semester

Aug. 24, 2015

ECU News Services

East Carolina University alumnus Scott Avett encouraged approximately 4,200 incoming students to make the most of every moment during a keynote presentation at the annual Student Welcome and Convocation at Minges Coliseum Aug. 23.
Scott Avett

A member of the popular musical group, the Avett Brothers, Avett shared his personal experiences as a student who faltered at first, then got his life back on track. His grade point average dropped to a dismal 0.9 GPA, then rose to a 4.0 GPA in the process.

“This is the place where you can make your dreams happen," Avett said. “Everything I have, my career, my family, my success, all started here at East Carolina University.”

Avett encouraged the new Pirates to step out of their comfort zones while on campus to become the best that they can be – whether that’s educating others, performing or whatever career path they choose.

Convocation was just one of the events designed to energize students as they begin the fall semester, following activities such as Honors College Service Day and residence hall meetings since move-in began on Aug.19.

Interactive entertainment prior to the convocation keynote address included lip sync competitions, audience participation games and an ECU administrator/coaches standoff in Catchphrase, a game in which team members try to guess a word or phrase. In the heated Catchphrase competition, ECU coaches Cliff Godwin and Julie Torbett bested Provost Ron Mitchelson and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy.
Provost Ron Mitchelson and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy urge students to choose them as the winners of the Catchphrase game.

Then basketball coach Heather Macy led the women’s basketball team in a head-to-head lip sync battle against football coach Ruffin McNeill and ECU Pirates football players. View Macy’s team performing “Hit the Quan” from iHeart Memphis here. View McNeill and his players performing “Whip/Nae Nae” here.

A pep rally with coaches, cheerleaders and ECU mascot Pee Dee the Pirate focused on ECU sports traditions, while further cranking up audience enthusiasm as the convocation closed.

Following convocation, more than 5,000 students poured into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the 15th Annual Pirate Palooza, which includes live band karaoke, large inflatables, interactive athletic games, free food and giveaways. Students who posted tweets and photographs to social media using the #ECUPalooza hashtag saw their posts display on the stadium scoreboard.

Pirate Palooza wrapped up around 8:30 p.m., providing students ample opportunity to prepare for the first day of classes Aug. 24. More than 4,300 first year students and 1,800 transfer students are expected in this year’s class.

- Chris Stansbury contributed to this story.

May 2015 ECU graduate Shonn Greene sings Phillip Phillips’ hit “Home” at the end of the pre-convocation festivities.

An incoming ECU student competes in a cornhole game, one of the popular activities offered at Pirate Palooza.

ECU Honors College students Caitlyn Palmer, left, and Ashley Weingartz help students make stained glass from paper as part of annual Service Day activities.
Honors College Service Day

Freshmen join in community service

New Honors College students spent their first full day at East Carolina University off campus helping others.

Incoming freshmen participated in Service Day, which introduced students to the importance of community service, a core part of the mission and values of Honors College. It was the fifth year for the event held Aug. 20. 

A total of 110 students volunteered at 11 local nonprofits: the American Cancer Society’s McConnell-Raab Hope Lodge, Building Hope, Center for Family Violence Prevention, Community Crossroads Center (formerly called Greenville Community Shelter), Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, Golden Living Center, GO-Science, Habitat for Humanity, Help Them L.A.S.T., Ronald McDonald House and the Salvation Army.

At GO-Science, students led hands-on experiments to get children excited about science or STEM courses in support of the regional science center’s mission. The center recently opened in a permanent location on Dickinson Avenue in Greenville.

“With these kinds of experiences, (the kids) can learn about science in an interactive and fun way. It’s not boring,” said Joshua Parker, freshman biology major. “I wish I had something like this growing up.”

Roger Conner, executive director of GO-Science, said the organization likes partnering with ECU to engage Honors College students in working with area schoolchildren and families.

“These individuals are the best and brightest coming to ECU and this gives them a positive community experience,” Conner said. “ECU is dedicated to service and regional transformation, and the Honors College students have a four-year, or longer, commitment to service in the community and region.”

Beyond service, ECU students enjoyed getting children involved in learning activities.

“Kids can feel the science. It’s hands-on plus listening, so they can experience the product,” said Talen Piner, freshman musical theater major. “They are learning rather than just hearing. These activities keep their attention.”

Parents said they liked having ECU students working with their children.

“I think that this gives them good role models and hands-on experience, especially at such a young age,” said Emily Chambliss, who brought her 2-year-old to participate in the science experiments with ECU Honors College students. “The kids think that they could be here one day as a (college) student.”

Service Day sets the stage for the academic experiences that are just around the corner for Honors College freshmen. Each fall, honors freshmen enroll in their first of four colloquia courses, a component of the college’s specialized curriculum. The course focuses on service and leadership and charges the students with making a positive impact in the Greenville community as an engaged citizen.

“Honors College Service Day creates an important foundation for our incoming class of Honors students each year,” said Dr. Todd Fraley, director of EC Scholars and interim associate dean of academic programs in the Honors College.

“Throughout the day, students connect with one another, Honors College faculty and staff and community leaders who strive to make Greenville a strong and vibrant community. ECU is committed to developing servant leaders and the goal of HC service day is to support students on this journey by showing them the positive impact they can have.”

- Jessica Nottingham contributed to this story.