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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.

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.

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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.


From Hobbiton to Harbour Bridge: Exploring New Zealand and Australia

By: Ashley Wilford, EC Scholar and Honors College Sophomore

Ashley 41New Zealand and Australia are two nations I never would have imagined having the chance to travel to, but this summer, I was fortunate enough to spend part of my summer in both of these wondrous countries. The two week tour organized through ECU’s Summer Study Abroad Program stopped off in Rotorua and Auckland in New Zealand then Cairns and Sydney in Australia before rounding off in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Our first day in Rotorua, New Zealand included traveling on a gondola, luging down a mountain, exploring a village built around thermal energy, riding ogos (those big plastic hamster balls!) down hills, and attending a Maori cultural performance and “hangi” feast – Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of the day!

After a relaxing mud bath hot springs spa, we later ventured to Auckland where we toured the set of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, Hobbiton! Sadly, I had only watched the first Hobbit movie and bits and pieces of the other Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies before the trip. However, Hobbiton was just as scenic and breathtaking as the movie portrayed! I doubt very much digital enhancing had to be done for the set!

The landscape consisted of lush green hills, pine trees, deciduous trees, ponds, and sheep. Apparently, the directors paid so much attention to detail that the sheep on the farm were hidden behind the hilltops and replaced with black “stunt” sheep when filming because they looked more appropriate!

Ashley 3

While snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia was an entirely nonpareil experience on its own, one of my most memorable experiences on my study abroad trip was a free day spent in Sydney. During this free day, I chose to tour the Sydney Opera House, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and attend a Waratahs versus Crusaders rugby game.

While I had a wonderful time learning about the architecture and engineering behind designing the Opera House, I enjoyed the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb tour even more. On our way climbing up the bridge, our tour guide shared stories about the building of the bridge and its history. When making the ascent, I had not even realized how high up we had already climbed, and it was not nearly as frightening as I had imagined!

One of the reasons I am fascinated with Sydney is because of its landscape of both beaches and mountains surrounding the cityscape. Once we reached the top of the Harbour Bridge, we were able to see this entire view, which was spectacular! I could see Sydney’s entire skyline, past the outskirts of the city, from the mountain range to the sea, and the various neighborhoods in between.

Also, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of only a Ashley 1handful of bridges around the world that allow people to climb it. This made the climb even more meaningful to me since I knew that it was really a once in a lifetime experience! Climbing the bridge was well worth it, because the climb was fun with friends and the top view was amazing.

The conclusion of my adventure-filled day was spent attending my first rugby game and exploring downtown light show Vivid!. Rugby reminded me of football combined with soccer (but don’t tell Rugby fans that!). It took a while for me to be able to follow what was happening in the game, but it was a fun experience that was a must do in Australia.

Each year, Sydney puts on a two-week long display throughout downtown of projected lights, color, and music each night called Vivid!. Apparently the locals enjoy this exhibit just as much, if not more, than their New Years celebration. Judging by the crowds of people flooding the streets for a chance to explore the different light spectacles, I have no trouble believing this. The light shows were so perfectly synced in time to the music and were constantly changing up their images to make it so you didn’t want to miss anything!

I’m appreciative of the opportunity I was given through the EC Scholars Award Program to travel to these two countries and only hope that I will one day be able to return to see more of what these cities have to offer!


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