Student: Carter Cunningham

On a warm, early evening in late May, East Carolina University graduate student Carter Cunningham stepped onto an empty Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium for a photo shoot, the first of two scheduled for the day.

He was two days removed from the kickoff of the Greenville regionals, but he showed up after a heavy day of practice with a broad smile and plenty of energy left in the tank. Understanding baseball — no matter the level — is driven by history, traditions and superstitions, one was afraid to wish Cunnigham any sort of good luck because of any superstition or jinx that may be associated with it.

“I used to believe in all that, but I don’t know anymore,” said Cunnigham. “My faith guides what I believe.”

Since arriving at ECU more than two years ago from Florida Southwestern State College, Cunningham’s faith has driven his actions on and off the field, and in and out of the classroom. Cunningham is a graduate student in the immersive MBA program in ECU’s College of Business after earning a bachelor’s in business management in 2023.

Out of the Classroom

Carter Cunningham, pictured at the Arthur School’s April Set Sail Event, was a member of the first cohort of the Immersive MBA pathway. (Contributed Photo)

One of Cunningham’s first achievements was rekindling the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at ECU. The FCA had been inactive, and Cunningham’s efforts to revive it provided a valuable support system for student-athletes, promoting fellowship and spiritual growth.During a fall networking event sponsored by the College of Business, Cunningham connected with Jacob Parrish of ECU Health. That connection led to a tour of the hospital, including the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital. Why? Something was pulling Cunningham to act.

“I shadowed him (Parrish) that day, and we’re walking around doing a tour of the hospital, and we walk into the children’s hospital,” said Cunningham. “Essentially, God smacked me in the face and said you need to do something about this.”

What initially started as Pirate baseball teammates donating Christmas gifts for children resulted in the establishment of Homers that Help Foundation, where people pledged $300 and then added another $100 for every home run that the Pirates hit during the season. To date, almost $30,000 has been raised.

In the Classroom

With his faith, baseball activities and philanthropic work, Cunningham still found time to focus on his classwork.

In April, Cunningham was named an ECU 2024 Outstanding Scholar Athlete, and he’s one semester away from finishing the Thomas D. Arthur Graduate School of Business’ inaugural immersive MBA pathway, an accelerated, three-term MBA experience designed to get high-achievers into positions of leadership quickly.

“Carter epitomizes the Pirate spirit, and I’m proud to share his story with alums, donors and friends of the college,” said Mike Harris, dean of the College of Business. “His successful approach to both his baseball and college career serves as an inspiration to many.”

On the Field

Cunningham’s roster biography describes how he was a five-tool player during his three years as a Pirate. Words like ‘belted,’ ‘nearly perfect, ‘multi-home run,’ and ‘hitting streak’ can be found in an impressive haul of statistics that led to conference-wide recognitions: American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, AAC Player of the Year, and All-Conference First Team.

And he’s not done yet.

Cunningham has positioned himself for numerous opportunities once he leaves ECU. Prep Baseball Report lists Cunningham as the No. 5 first baseman available for the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. He and teammate Trey Yesavage have been named semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, college baseball’s most prestigious award that is given to a player that exemplifies high performance on the field, leadership, courage and moral character.

Cunningham appreciates baseball coach Cliff Godwin’s important role in his success, and acknowledges the College of Business, its leaders, faculty and staff for helping him get the most out of his educational journey.

Carter would tell you that all the Howser trophy traits are something to be proud of, but moral character strikes at something special to him because it’s intrinsically tied to what guides him daily.

“Just looking back at everything that happened in my life, God could only have done this,” said Cunningham.

“It’s not my doing.”

This Pirate’s success impacted both ECU and the Greenville community.


Name: Carter Cunningham

College: College of Business

Major: Business management, immersive MBA

Age: 23

Classification/Year: Graduate

Hometown: Haymarket, Virginia

Hobbies/interests: Golfing, rollerblading, fishing, anything outdoors

Clubs and Organizations: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Homers that Help Foundation


Favorite hangout: Student center

Favorite place on campus: Wright Fountain

Favorite place to eat: aTavola!

Favorite class: Organizational Behavior

Professor who influenced you the most: Lee Grubb

Favorite TV show: “Suits”

Favorite band/musician: Morgan Wallen

Favorite movie: “Talladega Nights”

Favorite app: Instagram


Dream job: MLB player

Role model: My brother

Your words to live by: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself.” — Philippians 2:3

What advice do you have for other students? Wear the Purple and Gold with a lot of pride. Take in every single moment you get at the best university in the world because you will look up and just like that the years are gone and you’re moving out.

What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? The Pirate network is incredibly generous, supportive, strong and connected. If you are an alumni of ECU, you have thousands of other Pirates out there who will help you accomplish your dreams!