2014-15 Outstanding Students

phi beta kappa

Students Honored by the ΦΒΚ Alumni of E. NC

Erin Cottrell (Psychology and Hispanic Studies)
Sara Kurtz (Fine Arts and Hispanic Studies)
MacKenzie Alyn Mull (Hispanic Studies and Elementary Education)
Jessica Rassau (Classical Civilization)
Sara Sipe (Chemistry and German)

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Departmental Award and Scholarship Winners

Outstanding Achievement in Level 1004
Outstanding Minors and Graduating Seniors
Scholarship Award Recipients
Awards for Outstanding Research Paper
and Delta Phi Alpha Inductees

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Research and Creative Week Presentations

Aenia Amin (BA Hispanic Studies) "The Association Between Metabolism and the Expression of Circadian Regulatory Genes" (Oral Presentation)

Kyle Binaxas (BA Multidisciplinary Studies: Russian Studies) "Soviet Animation Before and After Khrushchev's Thaw: Historical and Critical Analysis" (Poster)

Kimberly Bostick (BA Hispanic Studies) "Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Food Insecurity in Obese Pediatric Patients" (Poster)

Charles Jauss (BA Hispanic Studies) "Understanding Cultural Self-Efficacy Among Medical Students" (Poster)

Jessica Rassau (BA Multidisciplinary Studies: Classical Civilization) "The Training and Decisions of King Leonidas" (Oral Presentation)

Alix Rothbart (Hispanic Studies Minor) "Stress, Burnout and Coping Mechanisms among Health Professionals working in Pediatric Oncology" (Poster)

Sarah Sipe (BA German) "Intensity of Amyloid-beta (A) peptides and the exposure of their hydrophobic residues in forming amyloid plaques" (Poster)

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Jessica Rassau 2014

Undergraduate Research Award Winners

Jessica Rassau, senior in Classical Studies and the Honors College, and Kyle Binaxas, a double major in Russian Studies/Psychology, have received Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) Awards in support of their research. Jessica is studying abroad in Italy and Greece, researching ancient Spartan military culture and Spartan participation in the Persian Wars. Kyle's project grew out of his spring 2014 readings with Prof. Murenina on Aesthetic Choices in Soviet Animation and the Thaw of the 1960s. He is currently working with Prof. Hernandez in the Dept. of History.

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Cultural Ambassadors

Cultural Ambassadors

For many years, ECU Hispanic Studies majors have been selected as Cultural Ambassadors to teach English in Spain. In 2014-15, Robert Colson and Mario Becerra are serving as language and cultural assistants in Spanish schools. These cultural exchanges are transformative experiences, often leading our majors to pursue graduate education in country.

Cassidy Ann Cloninger: Úbeda (Jaén)
Erika Nassar: very close to Granada, capital

Robert Colson: El Palmar de Troya (Sevilla)
Mario Becerra: Mallorca, applying for MA programs in Spain
Erika Nassar: very close to Granada, capital, accepted into an MA program in Spain

Students often pursue opportunities like this for a gap year between undergraduate and graduate school. They receive a work visa (apply from the Consulate in D.C), medical insurance, and a monthly stipend of ca. $1,000. The work commitment is approximately 12-16 hours per week.

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Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award Winner and Phi Beta Kappa Honoree:

Rachel Mehaffey

M. Rachel Mehaffey, EC Scholar
BS Chemistry, BS Applied Physics, Hispanic Studies minor
Future Plans: Pursuing a PhD in Chemistry and Physics at UT Austin

Phi Beta Kappa Honoree:

Mariah Richards, BS Hispanic Studies Education
Future Plans: Graduate School, MA in Spanish and Latin American
Linguistic, Literary and Cultural Studies, NYU in Madrid

2014 Research and Creative Activities Week Presenters:

  • Anna Lawrence (at left. BA-Hispanic Studies) Paper: The Personified Cultural Contrast in "Blancanieves"
  • Joshua Mangum (2nd major BA-Hispanic Studies) Poster: An Information-Theoretic Approach to Cellular Decision-Making Strategies
  • Jennifer Moser (BS-Hispanic Studies Education) Poster: The Effects of Implementing Authentic Materials in a Foreign Language Classroom
  • Laura Pons (2nd major BA-Hispanic Studies) Paper: Blancanieves: The True Hero
  • Jessica Chirico (Classical Studies Minor) Poster: New Technologies in the Public Library
  • Megan Mehaffey (Hispanic Studies Minor) Poster: Insight into the Location of DNA Xenobiotic Damage by Mass Spectrometry
  • Sandra Ross (Hispanic Studies Minor) Paper: Comparison and Contrast of Sethe and Scarlett as Independent Women
Graduate School Fellowship Recipient: Samantha Belmont, MA in French Studies, LSU

Micheal Veale, DAAD Scholarship recipient for study in German, 2013

Michael Veale 2012

This year’s recipient, MICHAEL VEALE, is a junior from Charlotte double majoring in Theatre Arts and German. Thanks to the award, Michael is spending this academic year as a student at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany, where he is taking advantage of the educational and cultural opportunities available to him as a resident of a major European city. ECU’s program in German is 1 of only 5 in the United States to have had an undergraduate receive a DAAD Undergraduate Scholarship in each of the last four years, and the only program in the entire Southeast to do so. These four scholarships represent approximately $45,000 in external funding for ECU undergraduates to pursue their studies in German and other fields of interest at an institution of higher learning in Germany. In Michael’s case, the German faculty would like to thank the faculty and staff of the School of Theatre and Dance, in particular Prof. John Shearin, Prof. Hector Garza, and Prof. Gregory Funaro. Their support of Michael’s candidacy was unwavering and much appreciated.

Mario Becerra and Briceida Rodriguez at the Spanish Linguistics in NC Conf.

Students present at SLINKI Conference

On February 8, Mario Becerra and Briceida Rodriguez, who are completing a BA in Hispanic Studies and are student members of the SoCIOLing (Study of Community Involvement and Outreach & Linguistics) Lab, presented the poster ‘A sociolinguistic analysis of morphosyntactic phenomena in the Spanish of Pitt County: A pilot study’ at the SLINKI (Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina) Conference held at Appalachian State University, and again at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) in North Myrtle Beach in March. Under the mentorship by Dr. Stephen Fafulas and Dr. Ricard Viñas-de-Puig, the students summarized the results of the research project in which they investigated the expression of future and clitic doubling constructions by native Spanish speakers from Pitt County.

Research and Recognitions 2013

  • Mary Conlin (BA in Hispanic Studies) and Megan Mehaffey (BS Chemistry/Applied Physics, Hispanic Studies Minor) were recognized by the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Eastern NC for their Outstanding Academic Achievement.
  • Drew Jester worked on an undergraduate research project with Prof. David Smith, which was published in the fall 2012 edition of Explorations. The Journal of Undergraduate Research for the State of North Carolina.
Research and Creative Activities Week:
  • Heather Wiles (Hispanic Stud Minor) Poster: "Comparison of Mental Health Between First-Year College Students Residing in Living Learning Communities and Traditional On-Campus Housing."
  • AlexandraTerry (Hispanic Stud Minor) Poster: “An Examination of Women’s Roles and Status in the Aztec Empire”
  • Stormy DeLucia (German Minor) Poster: “Aztec Music Education Before and after the Spanish Conquest”
  • Jeffrey Coleman (Double Minor Russian Studies and Hispanic Studies) Poster: “The Effects of Self-Deprecating Humor on Candidate Approval when Appearing on Late Night Comedy and Soft News Programs”
  • Cara Carr (Hispanic Stud Minor) Poster: “The Effect of Lithium Chloride When Combined with a Mineral Mix in a Rat Model of Mania”
  • Kristen Williams (BA-Hispanic Studies) Poster: “The Mindful Motherhood for Pregnant Women Project”
  • Kimberly Opsal (BA-Hispanic Studies) Oral Presentation: “Dietary Patterns of Female Hispanic Immigrants”
  • Kathleen Erb (BA-Hispanic Studies) Poster: “Mineralogical Record of the Change in Direction of the Brazil Current and the Fate of Amazon-derived Sediments during Periods of North Hemisphere Glaciation”
  • Michelle Collins (BA-Hispanic Studies) Oral Presentation: “Effect of Implicit Theory of Personality and Big 5 Personality on Responses to Biased Statements During Intercultural Communication”

Kendra Beaty (German) had her paper, "German Television: Really “German” or Forever an American Reproduction?," approved for presentation for The National Conference on Undergraduate Research in 2012 at Weber State University in Ogden Utah.


Sara Davis 2012

Sara Davis, Outstanding Senior in Classics, 2012

"I hope to go back to school in the future, but I have many interests so my plans are uncertain. For now, I am working for Homeland Security in the D.C. area. I am proudest of my thesis, my small role in Aristophanes' Lysistrata, and helping with the 24 hour recitation of Homer's Odyssey LIVE! I enjoyed every moment I had with the classics department. I am glad I took 8 levels of Latin. Also, speaking at the First Annual Classics Convocation. Foreign Languages open many doors. It allows you to communicate with and understand other cultures. It also makes you better at your own language. I learned more about English grammar and vocabulary from foreign languages than in any English course. I took 4 foreign languages at ECU & I loved each one in a different way."


Amber Heckart 2012

Amber Heckart, Outstanding Senior in Spanish, 2012

Amber is 2011-2012 Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Senior. "I plan on attending the Brody School of Medicine in the fall. After completing medical school, I hope to improve access to primary health care for underserved Hispanic populations in rural eastern North Carolina. I am proud of studying abroad in Santander, Spain in Fall 2009, graduating summa cum laude, as an East Carolina Scholar in the University Honors Program, receiving the Fullerton Foundation Medical Scholarship, being Inducted into the 2011 and 2012 ECU Servire Society for Community Service, being named 2011-2012 Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Senior Award, and being named 2012 Outstanding Senior for Hispanic Studies, and lastly of my senior thesis research project in physiology: "Protective effects of the soluble guanylate cyclase activator BAY 60-2770." Studying foreign language as a major challenges you to become immersed in a new language and culture different from your own. Through study abroad, your perspectives of people are changed and you develop into a mature, global individual."


Matthew West 2012

Matthew West, Outstanding Senior in French, 2012

I will be attending the University of Missouri in the fall to pursue a Masters degree in French. After receiving my MA, I would either like to teach at the high school level, or perhaps pursue a doctorate and enter the university level. My proudest achievement at ECU is the Fleming-Perry scholarship that I received in the spring of 2011. Majoring in a foreign language is important because it allows you to learn about another culture and communicate with people from that culture. Also, the job possibilities are endless. You can teach, work in international relations or affairs, or even be a professional translator. Lastly, learning, reading, and speaking a foreign language is fun! I wanted to add that the French faculty at ECU are so kind. I was so nervous during my first day of college, but the French faculty made that nervousness go away. The diverse backgrounds of the faculty made my French studies very interesting!

Scholarships and Grants

  • Chadwick Spence was awarded a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Undergraduate Scholarship ($12,000), for study at Universität Konstanz in 2011-12.


  • Marion Aitcheson, Stefan Haus, Patricia Musileck, Ekaterina Kiseleva and Alexander LaRocca. co-authored an article on Environmental Sustainability in Germany and the US, published in the 2011 issue of Valley Humanities Review, an online journal that showcases undergraduate research in the humanities.
  • Five students presented their research at the lecture “Germany Ascendant,” hosted by The World Affairs Council of Eastern NC.
  • Robert Hart had his abstract accepted for presentation at the Undergraduate Film Conference at UNC Wilmington.
  • Ekaterina Kiseleva presented her original research at the U. Pittsburgh Graduate Student Conference.


  • Ashley Hooper (B. A. in German and History) was named DAAD Young Ambassador ($1000), one of 40 in N. America. Ashley will attend all an expenses paid workshop in New York in August. She was also selected for the DAAD Alumni Association's Academic Excellence Award for her achievement in German Studies both at ECU and during study abroad in Leipzig (2010-11). The DAAD funded Ashley’s participation in the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) Academy (July 25-31, 2011) in Berlin ($1500). This Academy gives participants of all professional ranks the opportunity to discuss foreign affairs with officials from various governments with representation in Berlin and to tour embassies, German Parliament, and local cultural attractions. More information »»


  • Kenneth Pridgen and Daniel Stein completed full-time, semester-long internships with German firms in Europe under an ECU exchange agreement with the Duale Hochschule Mannheim.



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