Jethro Libutan

When incoming Pirate Jethro Libutan steps on campus this fall, he’ll start his career at East Carolina University with a following – it just won’t be physically joining him in Greenville.

Instead, it’s scattered across the world on the social media platform TikTok.

Libutan, 18, the son of Jay and Erma Libutan of Durham, will join ECU as part of the newest class of EC Scholars.

EC Scholars is the most prestigious undergraduate award program offered at ECU. The four-year merit scholarship recognizes outstanding academic performance, commitment to community engagement and strong leadership skills. Recipients receive an Honors College scholarship and a stipend for study abroad for a total value of nearly $64,000.

Libutan brings his 72,000 followers – and growing – to campus. While he’s still searching for his niche on the app, he’s found a love of creating content that drives his passion for helping others.

“I’ve learned that I love making videos, sharing music, and making others happy and smile with the funny content I make,” Libutan said. “I feel like in today’s world where there is always bad news, negativity and unfortunate events, if I can make someone smile or feel a sense of happiness, even for a couple of seconds, I’ve won.”

A senior at the Durham School of the Arts, Libutan’s long-term interests lie in the field of computer science.

“Computer science has the unlimited potential to help others and make our lives easier,” he said. “Artificial intelligence, a branch of computer science, has captivated me. I believe that we are only scratching the surface of artificial intelligence capabilities. The unlimited potential of computer science is important to me because of its ability to solve problems.”

Libutan said he hopes to combine his passion for computer science with his skill in content creation to share what he values with others.

“I do know that I want to do something with computer science and marketing on social media,” Libutan said. “That could be building the next TikTok or Coinbase; or it could mean producing high-quality content on behalf of a business whose mission and products I believe in. That still remains to be seen.”

Libutan said ECU interested him because of the opportunities he saw in front of him as an EC Scholar.

“What drew me to ECU was the supportive community and family that the university and the EC Scholars program offered me,” he said. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to find that at any other university.”

As Libutan begins his journey at ECU, his followers will be along for the ride.

“My dreams include being a better version of myself, finding my purpose in life and supporting myself financially,” Libutan said. “I also dream of being able to make a positive impact on the world through my work. I don’t know how I want to change the world just yet, but I do know for a fact that I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it.”

“I don’t know how I want to change the world just yet, but I do know for a fact that I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it.”

High school: Durham School of the Arts

Intended major: Computer science

Hometown: Durham

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