Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences

Harriot College Honors Scholarship Recipients, Thanks Donors

Inaugural Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Luncheon

October 4, 2016

By Lacey L. Gray
Director of Marketing and Communications
Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences

Charles Saunders
East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences hosted its inaugural scholarship luncheon September 23, 2016.

At the event, 156 scholarship recipients for the 2016-17 academic year were honored, and 68 donors who provide the financial gifts that fund the scholarships were formally thanked.

“We are starting a tradition of saying thank you with this inaugural event,” said Dr. William M. Downs, dean of the THCAS. “The college is dedicated to student success and growth, and scholarships allow us to attract the best and brightest and enhance our educational experiences.”

Christopher Dyba, vice chancellor for University Advancement, congratulated the scholars and touched on how gifts from donors make an ECU education accessible and attainable.

“Scholarship support and student success gets to the core mission of the university,” said Dyba. “Your giving makes a difference.”

Mr. Charles Saunders, ECU and Harriot College alumnus, scholarship donor and member of the THCAS Dean’s Advancement Council, presented the keynote address.

Saunders, who said he was excited to attend the luncheon and be on the campus “where it all began,” received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history from ECU in 1989 and 1983, respectively. He then went on to teach history at Pitt Community College prior to his retirement.

“I went to work at the same place for 31 years, and I loved it,” said Saunders. “I hope that for all of you; that you can be that fortunate.”

In his opening remarks, Saunders said that the path through life is not an easy, straight line.

“From the day you are born, until the day you die, everything in between is a learning process. There are curves, bumps and obstacles in the road of life,” said Saunders. “Life is a process.”

Saunders said there are two things that really mattered most in his life; his “beloved parents,” who adopted him a few days before Christmas in 1960; and East Carolina University, who provided Saunders with scholarship support that covered three years of his education. Therefore, in honor of his parents and the impact ECU played in his life, Saunders created three scholarships: The Miriam Perry Saunders Education Scholarship Fund, The Saunders Business Scholarship and the Charles Edward Saunders Scholarship.

“When your life is more settled, look back. See what ECU has done for you and consider giving back,” said Saunders. “I think you will see, like I did, that ECU was a very big part of your life’s process.”

Following Saunders’ remarks, two Harriot College scholarship recipients formally thanked their donors and expressed their sincere gratitude for the opportunity provided them.

When she learned she had received the Harvey S. Wooten Study Abroad Scholarship, Genesis Burgos said, “I screamed so loud. I felt like I just won the Mega Millions.”

Burgos, who is majoring in Spanish and photography, said this was the first scholarship she has ever received. It provided her the opportunity to travel beyond the East Coast and outside of the country for the first time and to experience a different culture.

“If it wasn’t for this scholarship, I’d never have gotten to go to Spain,” said Burgos.

Looking at Ms. Wooten, Burgos said, “I want to say ‘thank you.’ You don’t know how much this means.”

Taylor Forbes, who is majoring in chemistry, biochemistry and applied physics, is a recipient of the Franklin Kizer Scholarship.

“When I found out, I was extremely overjoyed,” said Forbes.

In discussing her scholarship, Forbes said she is awed that someone donated their money to help a stranger. She is encouraged that someone believes in what she is doing, and now she has more time to dedicate to her studies.

“I am able to pursue my dreams and make a difference in other people’s lives like the Kizers have done in mine,” concluded Forbes. “I am humbled and eternally grateful.”

More than 150 scholarship recipients, donors and department faculty attended the inaugural Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Luncheon, held in Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center. Also at the event, recipients had the opportunity to have a professional photo taken together with their donors to memorialize the day.

Downs, who was pleased with the message of “thanks,” plans to make the luncheon an annual event.

Photos are viewable and available for download in a gallery located at

Scholarship Recipients and Donors