Kaitlyn Hunt will be living in Fletcher this fall in the first year experience program, one of several living-learning communities and theme housing available at ECU. She and her mother Tammy Hunt of Mooresville were on campus June 18 for orientation. Kaitlyn Hunt plans to major in nursing. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)


ECU students bond over majors, interests in housing communities

Aug. 9, 2012

By Crystal Baity and Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Jarvis Residence Hall may be the oldest housing available for students at East Carolina University, but it plays host to a new and increasingly popular college experience.

Opened in 1909, Jarvis Hall will house more than 100 students participating in the Jarvis Leadership Program this fall. It is one of nine living-learning communities at ECU, with the first programs launched in 2009.

Living-learning communities evolved from theme housing, said Janet Johnson, associate director for Residence Life. But they are distinct in that students in living-learning settings must take two courses together in the residence hall. Some are major-based – like music and the new College of Business living-learning communities – while others, like Jarvis, stretch across academic disciplines.

More than 380 ECU students will enter living-learning communities this fall. Students must apply for admittance, but there are numerous benefits associated with the model, Johnson said.

ECU Housing Communities

Bio Living-Learning Community*
College of Business Living-Learning Community*
Engineering Learning Community
Future Pirate Nurse Living and Learning Village*
FX: First Year Experience
Honors College
Jarvis Leadership Program
Music Living and Learning Community
Wellness Living Learning Community

*New in Fall 2012

“It’s kind of like having family support,” she said. “Studies show students (in these communities) are better engaged, better with time management, and faculty and staff can come in and interact with them. It gets them involved.”

Three living-learning communities are new at ECU this year. Among them is the Future Pirate Nurse Living and Learning Village, where 27 intended nursing majors will live in Umstead Residence Hall.

Students typically apply to the College of Nursing in their sophomore year and begin as juniors, said Dr. Janice Neil, associate professor and chair of the undergraduate nursing science junior division in the College of Nursing.

Living in the village does not guarantee admission, but the environment will provide encouragement, support and enrichment activities toward the pursuit of a nursing degree, Neil said. Many of the students will take pre-requisite classes together.

“It will give people insight into what nursing is before they apply,” Neil said. “We’re going to include them in many of the College of Nursing activities and have them interact with our students. One of our goals is to produce a diverse group of intended nursing majors.”

Also living in Umstead are 65 students participating in the Engineering Learning Community, which faculty members agree could lead to collaborative research opportunities between the two groups. The engineering and nursing programs are among the most rigorous on campus, said Karen De Urquidi, coordinator of advising and retention in the Department of Engineering.

“These are people who really need to study,” De Urquidi said. “We want to make it an atmosphere where they can be serious about their studies and get the sleep they need.”

De Urquidi said students living in the community earned higher GPAs in past years. And it’s convenient, students said.
ECU students will soon be moving in to residence halls across campus for the fall semester. Living-learning communities offer a unique opportunity for students to share spaces near fellow students with similar interests.

“I love being just across the street from classes, as well as being in between dining halls,” said rising sophomore Curren Blake, an engineering major from Surf City. “Having the engineering students live together made forming study groups and asking questions quick and easy.”

Housed in Garrett Residence Hall, the Wellness Living & Learning program is geared toward students who have an interest in healthy living. The students are ambassadors for healthy living, and take a health risk assessment as part of a behavior modification project that they choose, from getting more sleep to eating better or exercising more.

“We take it a step beyond and teach them how to give back to the community,” said Tywanna Purkett, assistant director of campus wellness and co-creator of the program. “We are empowering them to make smart decisions about their health and wellness.”

Rising sophomore Ashley Adair of Harrisburg helped teach a group of elementary students about eating healthy in a service project this spring. She was drawn to the wellness community and liked getting to know fellow students before classes started last fall.

“I will have friends here for years and years and years,” she said.

Those already in the program will mentor freshmen in Garrett Hall, where about 40 students in the wellness community are housed. Students in the Honors College and new Bio Living-Learning Community also live in Garrett.

“I think it’s good for students to have another student to connect to, especially when they first get here,” Purkett said.

Johnson said that’s the goal of all living-learning communities, and of housing at ECU.

“Our intent is for them to feel like this university is home now,” she said. “It’s a more welcoming environment.”

More information about living-learning communities is available online at www.ecu.edu/campusliving.

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