What led you to ECU?
I came here as a freshman from New York state, which is snow country. When I visited colleges in New York, it was in the springtime, and there was snow, sludge, and ice everywhere. If you know anything about the north, your winters are pretty much gray and dingy, and you barely see the sun. When I came to ECU to visit, it was late March. The sun was shining, there was a fountain, and beautiful flowers were everywhere. I turned to my mom and said, “I am going here!” and she agreed. So, I became a freshman and graduated with a dual degree—a BFA in dance and a BS in elementary education. When I did my internship my senior year, it was quite interesting because I was teaching dance three times a week to first and second graders, and I was also teaching elementary school math, science, and reading. It was like doing two internships in one, and it was a great experience.
Then you attended graduate school at ECU?
I didn’t feel like teaching elementary school was what I was supposed to be doing at that point in my life, so I decided to attend graduate school at ECU for my master’s in counseling education. I started going to school and working full time in the SGA office. I was their administrative assistant and this was a hybrid position. I did a lot of accounting for student organizations, approving budget requests, facilitating the travel and funding process, and doing a lot of financial work. There was also another component of advising the Student Senate. It’s a group effort when you work in SGA. It takes a few people to empower the students and make all their dreams come to life. This was a great position for me because I was an involved student when I was in college here, and it was a perfect fit to whet my appetite. I wondered, “What is this job called Student Affairs? I could do this.” I fell into the profession, as people say, and I have loved every minute of it.
You have been at ECU for a while. What has kept you here?
The spirit of the campus. We really do breathe purple and exhale gold. It’s also the environment; the students are always engaged and involved. They are the ones seeking out opportunities, and they are the ones I enjoy working with most. It’s all about advising the students and guiding them through their journeys in life. This is truly fulfilling for me, and I know this is what I needed to do with my life because I always wanted to make a difference—someway, somehow. I have found my calling.
Tell us about the committees you advise.
This first one is the Films Committee, which brings the film series that shows in Hendrix Theatre, as well as any kind of special educational films. We do some documentaries every year and tie in educational components with panels. This year we are bringing the film "Bully". We are going to build an educational component around bullying, cyber bullying, and all the different types of bullying and how to overcome that if you have been bullied yourself or if you know people who have been bullied. At the end of the showing of the film, we are going to have an educational panel.
Another committee is the Visual Arts Committee, which is responsible for maintaining the gallery upstairs in Mendenhall—the Second Floor Gallery. Through this committee, we bring different exhibits that feature student artwork, as well as professional art work. Facilitating that process and learning the contracts has been challenging but fun. Every show is a little different and when you deal with any kind of artist, whether it’s a speaker, graphic designer, or pottery artist, all of those mediums are different. It’s been really exciting to see that gallery and to see the response to it.
The last committee is the Initiatives Committee. Through this committee, we work with bringing educational speakers to campus that will empower students, faculty, and staff. We want to bring hot topic speakers that will be of interest to students. I work with the students to decide which speakers to bring and go through the process of getting them approved. The other piece of the Initiatives Committee is overseeing the DiversiFYI events. These events allow students to explore and enhance cultural awareness through activities and workshops. The most popular workshops have been sushi rolling, salsa dancing, and henna tattoos.
Who is one of your favorite speakers you have helped bring to campus?
Last year, we brought Benjamin Mee, who is the man the movie We Bought a Zoo was based on. We brought a petting zoo to campus to go along with his talk. It was really cool just to hear students walk by the Brickyard Area talking on their cell phone and say, “Hey, mom! There is a camel on campus! It was great to hear these conversations and to know they were enjoying the zoo. It was really awarding to be part of the experience. It was truly a perfect day. Benjamin was able to bring his children with him and our students could interact with them as well. We had pre-health students, pre-biology students, and pre-med students meet with him, talk about what he has done on his plantation, and what he’s learned about that experience.
What do you love about your job?
Making a difference every day. Seeing the students and how they have grown and are becoming the people and the leaders they are going to be in the future. I also enjoy seeing them successful and out in the real world after they have graduated. I’ve had several students that have graduated and still keep in contact with me. It’s been really fulfilling.
You teach a COAD 1000 class, as well. Tell us about that.
I have taught COAD 1000, a seminar course for freshmen, for three years. I really look forward to teaching this class every year. It’s an opportunity for freshmen to take a one-credit-hour class. The COAD classes meet two days a week for an hour each and students are given resources on campus on how to succeed in college, not only in their freshman year, but throughout their college career. We teach things such as university policies, how to replace grades, academic probation, how to stay in good standing, and the judicial guidelines as a student. We also teach about balancing one’s time and ECU traditions. Every instructor is different on how they teach the class, but we do have some core guidelines we follow. It’s really interesting because I also present for some of the other instructors, so I am able to go into their classrooms and see how they have structured their classes and what their students are like.
What makes you proud to be a Pirate?
Traditionally pirates have overcome obstacles, and I think I fall into that category too. Everybody has things in their life they have overcome. Everyone has faced challenges they have learned from. That is part of being a Pirate. It is making the best out of situations and it’s having that pride for your university, your sports team, your athletic club, and your student organization.
Tell me about an experience you have had at ECU where you really learned something.
My dad was a lawyer and my mom was a teacher. So, when I was growing up, I always wanted to be either a teacher or a lawyer. I decided I didn’t want to be a lawyer and wanted to be a teacher instead. Then when I decided not to pursue teaching after all, I realized that was OK. At the time it was a really crucial decision I had to make in my life. It wasn’t necessarily giving up on a dream, but it was putting it aside for other priorities, like getting my master’s degree. I have learned that it’s OK to change your mind about your major. We have students in their second and third years come in and day and say, “I don’t think this major is for me anymore.” I tell them I had that epiphany too. You really just need to figure out what’s going to inspire you every day to get out of bed and do that because then it’s not work anymore.
You are really involved in the community. Tell us about your favorite service projects and organizations.
I’ve recently joined the Greenville Jaycees, so I am getting more involved with them. The Jaycees is a locally based organization that does different service in the community for nonprofit agencies. Being in this organization is a really good way to meet people in your community and to give back to others. This is a great organization, and I am excited about doing more with them.
I am also a member of the New Professionals Group and Chamber of Commerce. I am really involved in professional associations. Last year, I was the president of NCCPA—the North Carolina College Personal Association. It’s great being involved with this group of people because every time we meet, it feels like I am home. Everyone in this group works at different campuses across North Carolina; we have members from public institutions, private institutions, and community college. When we meet up, we understand what the others are going through at their campuses.
We might have the same concerns or highlights, and it’s really a learning experience. We share best practices of what works on our campuses. This is truly a great group to be a part of.