EC Scholars to participate in UNC System program

A pair of East Carolina University EC Scholars have been selected to participate in the Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program with the UNC System.

Starting this summer, rising senior Aurora Shafer and rising junior Tierney Reardon will work to further their knowledge of how higher education impacts North Carolina. The eight-week immersive and experiential program will allow Shafer and Reardon to develop leadership skills and better understand key issues facing public higher education.

East Carolina University EC Scholars Tierney Reardon, left, and Aurora Shafer will spend the summer as part of the UNC System's Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program.

East Carolina University EC Scholars Tierney Reardon, left, and Aurora Shafer will spend the summer as part of the UNC System’s Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program. (Contributed photos)

Shafer, who is from Orlando, Florida, is pursuing an entrepreneurship degree from the Miller School of Entrepreneurship. She recently completed a two-year fellowship with the Copeland Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship program. As part of the fellowship, Shafer attended diversity and inclusion-related events. Shafer also interned with ECU’s Department of Disability Support Services, where she worked directly with students, provided social media support and designed activities to engage students at an ECU event.

During this time, Shafer realized she wanted to stay in higher education and help incoming high school students who needed disability support accommodations when attending college. To complete her Copeland Fellowship, Shafer worked on a project called “Portfolio of informative materials for prospective ECU students seeking accommodations from Disability Support Services.”

“The idea for this project came from my experience as a disabled high school student seeking accommodations in college and interning with ECU’s Disability Support Services office,” Shafer said. “Both experiences made me realize the lack of knowledge high school students with disabilities have about what to expect from disability-related support in college.”

Shafer plans to get a minor in disability studies from the College of Education to go along with her entrepreneurship degree. She hopes this combination will give her the skills and creative problem-solving approach that can be applied during her future career in higher education.

“There’s a certain level of knowledge about the higher education environment that I want to have,” Shafer said. “This (Graham Scholars program) would be a great opportunity to jump-start that learning process.”

Reardon is pursuing dual majors and a minor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences: a Bachelor of Science degree in political science, a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and a minor in religious studies.

Hoping to attend law school once she completes her degrees, Reardon is spending the spring semester in a study abroad experience in London, England, where she’s received valuable career skills through an internship at Parliament. She also has held internships with ECU’s Office of Global Affairs and the Pitt County District Attorney’s office.

“Through my internships, I have learned more about other avenues in which to use my voice to advocate for meaningful educational changes,” Reardon said. “Participating in the Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program will allow me to reach a deeper understanding of the issues facing higher education and the perspectives of all those affected. Additionally, I hope to learn more about the intricacies of the government and how best to advocate for sound educational policy.”

Outside of her coursework, Reardon’s extracurricular activities include serving as a class representative for the EC Scholars spring 2022 summit. She participates in ECU’s philosophy and religious studies clubs, phone banks for NC Black Alliance, and on ECU’s Student Conduct Board.

Shafer and Reardon will be mentored by UNC leadership, spend time in the UNC System offices, travel to UNC campuses, and visit with key North Carolina policy leaders and elected officials in North Carolina and Washington, D.C.