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Welcome to the Honors College at East Carolina University
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The mission of the Honors College at East Carolina University is to prepare tomorrow's leaders through the recruitment, engagement, and retention of exceptionally talented students of character in a diverse intellectual living-learning community and to challenge them to attain high levels of academic achievement.

Review our prospective student information sheet to learn more about the outstanding opportunities and programs in the Honors College at East Carolina University.

ECU Alumnus Scott Avett Inspires Honors Students

By: McKenzie Shelton, EC Scholar and Honors College Junior

Scott Avett PicSpirited dancing and head-banging, cheering fans, dripping sweat, and subwoofers pulsing with heavy bass–perhaps this is the most familiar audience to North Carolina native Scott Avett of the successful folk-rock band The Avett Brothers. On Sunday, August 23, 2015, Scott addressed a somewhat different crowd at the East Carolina University Convocation ceremony. Nervously giddy freshmen (and certainly many fans) awaited the introduction of the inspiring ECU alum after several amusing hip-hop dance routines from our beloved college athletes. It is hard to say what the new members of Pirate Nation were thinking at this major collegiate event, but I remember distinctly what I was thinking and feeling. As a film major in the art department at ECU, I had been selected by the ECU Honors College to attend convocation as well as an intimate question and answer session with Scott. I was eager to meet someone as renowned and talented as Scott Avett. It was hard to believe that I was going to have the privilege to sit down with a man who had “made it;” a fellow artist who had struggled through the muck of the industry, and was now cruising the seas of accomplishment. Although I had grown up hearing of his band, I was only vaguely familiar with his music. I prepared myself for convocation by listening to The Avett Brothers exclusively and doing a bit of digging on his personal life. From first impressions via internet, the man seemed to be a balanced Southern rockstar.

Perhaps you will notice my casual use of Scott’s name as opposed to the more formal Mr. Avett, Sir, or the equally appropriate Your Esteemed Honor. I take the liberty of familiarity because I can confidently attest that Scott would prefer it that way. After his speech, which was filled with insight, honesty, and advice about artistic and academic diligence, Scott spoke cozily with ten other students and me in the Murphy Center. Aside from his appearance–an expertly fitted suit, rugged facial hair, and scorching blue eyes–it was obvious to everyone in the room that Scott Avett had it. I am not talking about the kind of it with which movie stars command the screen, but the kind of it that commands a room. He was at once friendly, intellectual, and entertaining. He told stories about botched film auditions with Anne Hathaway, moving tales of his father’s love, and spoke to us about the challenges of balancing family and life on the road. He moved us to tears with the sincerity with which he spoke of his love of living, learning, art, and family. We all came away from the experience as if from a baptismal—renewed in the faith of our chosen paths.

Scott’s brilliance lies in his devotion to leading a purpose-driven life. He implores us to believe that he is not on the other side of “making it.” He has not “arrived,” or any other dichotomy of the learner vs. the learned. Scott, with his humility and lust for life, indicates to us that we are always on the journey. We are always looking for the next opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our world while finding a way to serve others. Scott Avett is pleasantly and unexpectedly down-to-earth, honest, composed, and kind. He is a role model to myself and all of those who have the pleasure of his company. From this experience I feel more at peace than ever about pursuing what I love, making a difference in the world around me, and simply being happy. Thank you so much to East Carolina and the Honors College, for making this experience possible for me and my classmates.


Making Music in the Mountains of Colorado

By: Allison Flowers, EC Scholar and Honors College Junior

Allison 4During the week of June 15 through 19, I had the opportunity to visit Colorado State University to take part in the Lift Clarinet Academy. The Lift Clarinet Academy is an annual intensive that invites aspiring professional clarinetists from around the country to study with notable clarinetists and improve their own playing. I was one of 24 clarinetists selected from universities throughout the Unites States and Puerto Rico to attend the intensive. The goal of the academy is to “take your playing to the next level” through a variety of group and individual activities tailored to fit your needs as a musician, and I feel that I have benefited greatly as a clarinetist by taking part in this opportunity.

While attending the Lift Clarinet Academy, I was able to take private lessons from its distinguished faculty, which consisted of clarinetists Dr. Wesley Ferreira, Dr. Jana Starling, and Dr. Diane Barger. During the intensive, I also participated in a clarinet quartet, attended seminars and concerts, networked with fellow clarinetists, and performed in a masterclass. Through all of these experiences, I was able to learn more about my abilities as a clarinetist and also improve my musicianship by increasing my knowledge of practice and performance techniques.

Allison 3Though I was able to take away a lot of useful information from the activities I participated in during the Lift Clarinet Academy, the activity that I enjoyed the most was performing in a masterclass for Dr. Wesley Ferreira and my peers. All in all, this was my favorite experience of the week because I was able to perform one of my favorite pieces for clarinet, “Rhapsody” by Willson Osborne, and receive advice on how I can improve my performance abilities. This was such a satisfying experience in that I was not only able to do something I love–performing–but was also able to learn how to better myself in the process.

In addition to participating in the musical aspects of the Lift Clarinet Academy, I was also able to attend social outings and do some sightseeing of my own. Colorado State University is located in the town of Fort Collins, Colorado, which is a charming medium-sized city outside of Denver. During the week that I stayed in the city, I was able to explore “Old Town,” which is Fort Collins’ picturesque downtown area. Through an outing with the faculty and students of the Lift Clarinet Academy I also visited the Horsetooth Reservoir, which is a man-made lake nestled at the foot of the nearby Rocky Mountains. While visiting Horsetooth, we were able to hike alongside the lake and observe the stunning natural beauty of the mountains and the water. Towards the end of the week, I visited Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was the sightseeing highlight of my week in Colorado.

Allison 2All in all, I am very happy that I had the opportunity to experience the Lift Clarinet Academy. Attending the academy helped to improve my skills as a clarinetist as I worked with its faculty and my peers. I received advice that I can use to continue my growth musically and professionally as I further my studies at East Carolina University and prepare to pursue a career of my own. Making friends with clarinetists who attend universities across the United States and getting to visit new places created memories that I will never forget. The Lift Clarinet Academy helped to take my clarinet playing to the next level, and I look forward to pursuing musical opportunities like it in the future.

Allison 1


Honors Students Learn from Leaders of Robotic Surgery

By: Jessica Nottingham, ECU News Services

The following article was originally published by ECU News Services and can be found here.

Every day had something new in store for two Honors College students who spent their summer working with East Carolina University’s leaders in robotic heart surgery.

Aenia Amin and Zachary Elliott, two recipients of the 2015 East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI) Robotic Surgery Internship, were able to observe robotic heart valve replacements, lobectomies and neonatal heart procedures, among others. The internship is a competitive program that exposes undergraduate pre-medical students to laboratory research methods, surgical treatments and an integrated cardiovascular disease program.

internship
ECU Honors College student Zachary Elliott completes a summer internship at ECHI by presenting a case study on heart valve replacement using medical imaging technology.

The interns rotated between the operating room and clinic throughout the six-week program. In the operating room, the days began with case conferences and observation of robotic and non-robotic surgical procedures.

“No two cases were alike in the operating room,” said Elliott, who is a sophomore neuroscience and public health double major and an early assurance in medicine award recipient. “Some days, a rare operation would show up, for example, an 8-month-old (infant) requiring a clot removal from around his heart.”

Getting a glimpse into the world of medical technology, the students learned that it’s ever-changing and will likely be a large influence during their careers as surgeons or healthcare providers.

“We witnessed training of new physicians on various robotic skills, the robotic device (Da Vinci SI surgical system) in action and observed minimally-invasive ‘robotically-assisted’ procedures,” said Amin, a junior triple major in neuroscience, psychology and Hispanic studies. “The capabilities of the robotic devices were astounding, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for robotic surgery and for medicine.”

Days in the clinic were spent observing the relationship between surgeons and their patients and staff, reading various scans and X-rays and learning more about each patient’s anatomy and conditions, according to Amin.

internship
ECU Honors College student Aenia Amin demonstrates the daVinci Si robotic surgery system in the ECHI Robotics Lab.

“It was neat seeing the full circle from pre- to post-operative visits for several patients, and it allowed us to experience what physicians experience on a larger scale. Overall, this was a very enriching, satisfying and enjoyable experience.”

The program is supervised by Dr. Wiley Nifong, an internationally recognized surgeon who helped pioneer robotic and minimally invasive cardiac surgery and values the importance of early medical experience. “We do this program every year to give students an opportunity to get into the hospital early,” said Nifong.

“Dr. Wiley Nifong and the rest of the surgeons were some of the most kind-hearted and enthusiastic people I have had the pleasure of being around,” said Elliott. “They would always take the time to explain the procedure, show me the anatomy of the patient and thoroughly answer any questions.”

To cap off the internship, Amin and Elliott selected and presented case studies that involved patients with complex social and medical histories.

“I chose my case because the patient has extensive drug use and medical conditions,” said Elliott. Amin’s case study involved a patient who had a history of homelessness, which had an impact on the patient’s ability to receive consistent professional healthcare. The cases exposed the interns to the intersection of medicine and social interactions that affect treatment planning and post-op care, said Nifong.

Each year, two ECU Honors College students and two N.C. State Park Scholars are selected to participate in the six-week internship which includes a $1,000 stipend.

“I know from this experience that there is nothing I would rather do with my life other than surgery,” said Elliott.

Elliott, a D.H. Conley High School graduate, is the son of Scott and Tammy Elliott of Winterville. Amin is the daughter of Drs. Saad and Sumayya Amin of Greensboro. She is a graduate of Northern Guilford High School.


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