Chaniya Tingley didn’t know Capt. Chris Cash but her father, Craig, served in the same N.C. National Guard infantry battalion as Cash in Iraq.

Captain Christopher Cash (Contributed photo)

Now an East Carolina University junior, Chaniya Tingley has been awarded the Captain Christopher Cash Memorial Scholarship, given annually in remembrance of Cash, who died June 24, 2004, in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Cash received a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science and a master’s degree in health education from ECU.

Tingley has been involved in several clubs and activities at ECU including the student conduct board and Air Force ROTC, which instilled great leadership skills, she said. She’s now preparing for the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidates School program and recently changed her major to university studies to combine her previous major of interior design and merchandising with psychology and leadership. She will graduate in 2019.

Tingley said her father is happy she received the scholarship, which means a great deal because of her family’s long service in the military. She grew up in Fayetteville near Fort Bragg. In addition to her father, who is now retired, her mother, brother and sister-in-law serve in the military. “In retrospect, I knew I wanted to serve and be a leader that people could follow,” Chaniya Tingley said.

Tingley was barely in elementary school when her father – a paratrooper – served his first tour in Iraq. Craig Tingley didn’t know Cash but his company commander and several others in the unit did.

Chaniya Tingley is majoring in university studies at ECU.

Chaniya Tingley is majoring in university studies at ECU.

“Listening to them speak, I heard he was a soldier’s soldier who possessed the respect and admiration from the lowest ranking soldier to the highest ranking one in our battalion, and especially to those that were closest to him in the company that he commanded,” Craig Tingley said. “He was the kind of leader who led from the front and never asked his men to do anything he was not willing to do himself. He was a great husband and wonderful father.”

Craig Tingley said it’s fitting that the scholarship was named for Cash. “It brings much honor and respect for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy,” he said.

Chaniya Tingley said she is grateful for the scholarship, which has helped her persevere through struggles like changing her major and paying her way through college. She also had advice for other students facing similar challenges.

“It’s never too late to put yourself in a better position,” she said. “Everybody’s path is different. I didn’t believe it at first but now I do.”

She said she admires Dawn Cash-Salau, who created the scholarship to honor her husband. The annual Reindeer Dash for Cash 5K and 10 Miler – now in its 13th year – helps pay for student scholarships at ECU and N.C. Wesleyan College, where Chris Cash also was an alumnus. This year’s event will be held Dec. 2 in Greenville.

“For her to do this dealing with everything and her resilience – it’s inspiring,” Tingley said.

Tingley and other scholarship recipients in the College of Health and Human Performance will be honored April 20 at the college’s Winner’s Circle Scholarship Breakfast sponsored by the Pecheles Automotive Group.

Chaniya Tingley’s father served in the same N.C. National Guard infantry battalion as Capt. Chris Cash.

Chaniya Tingley’s father served in the same N.C. National Guard infantry battalion as Capt. Chris Cash.


Running, swinging, dancing and jumping are more than human movement. They’re biomechanics. And they’re fun.

That’s the message that Dr. Paul DeVita and other East Carolina University faculty and students wanted to share on National Biomechanics Day.

DeVita’s brainchild, the day is now in its third year bringing awareness to high school students around the world.

He came up with the idea in 2015 after hearing from undergraduate students who were afraid of biomechanics because of the physics, math and science involved. “I said this isn’t right. We need more people coming to the university excited about biomechanics,” said DeVita, the Leroy T. Walker Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology and director of the ECU Biomechanics Lab in the College of Health and Human Performance.

At right, Grayson Bauer, a J.H. Rose High School baseball player, prepares to swing.

At right, Grayson Bauer, a J.H. Rose High School baseball player, prepares to swing while wearing equipment to record motion data used in ECU teaching instructor Patrick Rider’s research.

Since then, close to 10,000 students have been introduced to the science of human movement.

“Humans are moving in all kinds of ways. It’s the physical nature of our lives,” DeVita said. “We use muscles to generate energy and use particular muscles to do that in a skillful way.”

ECU celebrated the day in the Biomechanics Lab in the Department of Kinesiology, in the Human Movement Analysis Lab in the Department of Physical Therapy and will hold an event with dancers from the School of Theatre and Dance today.

In the Biomechanics Lab, four stations helped introduce J.H. Rose High School students in Alicia Carawan’s anatomy and physiology class to some of the work and research taking place at ECU.

Carawan said the field trip complemented a recently completed unit on the skeletal and muscle systems. “There’s a lot of things you can do with this besides being a doctor,” said Carawan, who has brought classes to ECU since National Biomechanics Day started. “Many say they didn’t know it existed. The kids get really excited.”

J.H. Rose senior Je’Nya Taylor, who will attend ECU in the fall, said it was the first time she heard about biomechanics. “It’s something I would think about,” said Taylor, who plans to become a nurse.

ECU student Kelsey Reeves puts a sleeve on a high school student during National Biomechanics Day.

ECU student Kelsey Reeves puts a sleeve on a high school student during National Biomechanics Day.

Many professions including nursing use biomechanics, said ECU teaching instructor Patrick Rider. A Greenville native, Rider became interested in the field after discovering engineering wasn’t exactly what he wanted to study in college. “For high school students who like engineering and sports, biomechanics is a great way to combine these two interests into a career,” Rider said.

At ECU, Rider uses 3-D motion capture to study ways to help athletes perform better and reduce injury. To demonstrate, Grayson Bauer, a J.H. Rose baseball player, wore markers to record his motions while batting. “We can track each dot and measure how it moves through space,” Rider said.

The applications of biomechanics range from popular sports video games and running analyses to exoskeleton devices for people with spinal cord injuries. In a published study on weight loss, ECU’s Biomechanics Lab found that for every pound a person loses, the pressure in each knee is reduced by four pounds, DeVita said.

Jessica McDonnell, a doctoral student in ECU’s sensory motor integration lab, talked with high school students about her research of the synchronicity between the brain and body and motor learning.

“I hope they get an appreciation for how cool the body and movement is and how it can impact everything,” McDonnell said.

On a big screen in the lab, social media posts using #NBD2018 poured in from universities across the state, nation and world showing students in different activities throughout the day.

DeVita, past president of the American Society of Biomechanics, said the day offers a glimpse of the future. “We will be the breakthrough science of the 21st century,” he said.

This is the third year for the event started by ECU’s Dr. Paul DeVita.

This is the third year for the event started by ECU’s Dr. Paul DeVita, director of the ECU Biomechanics Lab, the Leroy T. Walker Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology and past president of the American Society of Biomechanics.


East Carolina University interior design students are competing to create a new showroom design in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

The showroom design contest is sponsored by furniture manufacturer Knoll, where alumna Scarlett Salter is an account manager in Raleigh. She recently visited the student teams in ECU’s design studio to provide feedback on their work before the contest ends April 12.

Salter came up with the idea to give ECU students the opportunity to redesign a Knoll showroom at NeoCon, a 50-year-old show that connects 500 companies with an estimated 50,000 design professionals each June in Chicago.

“I really wanted to bring Knoll to ECU,” Salter said. “I wanted something really interactive. I’m so excited to see the phenomenal ideas that have come out of this contest.”

Once all student work is submitted, Salter and colleagues will pick the top two or three teams to present final designs. While the winning team will not actually have its design at NeoCon, the work will be shared with Knoll, which is celebrating its 80th year in the business.

“We will see how close they are and what elements they may use that are actually there,” Salter said. “To have this insight from the next crop of designers is invaluable. They’re definitely making a great go at it.”

An interior design student hangs drawings by her team for a hypothetical showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

Charles Gustina, associate professor of interior design and merchandising, said the contest puts students in touch with a strong ECU graduate in the field. “Interior design is really about leadership,” he said. “You have to lead an entire team. They need all kinds of technical skills but also leadership skills – both from naturals and those who learn it over time.”

The class was divided into seven teams of three. For student Hannah Wiser of Goldsboro, it was the first time she worked on a team project of this size. “We could bounce ideas off each other and we built off each other,” she said.

Each project has resulted in weeks of research leading to a theme, concept drawings and a detailed floor plan down to the size of tables, the number of chairs, type of flooring and interior accents.

Salter gave suggestions incorporating current design trends, palettes, materials and finishes. “Make sure it looks modern and clean – always go back to that,” Salter said. “There’s no office of the future – only change. That’s a corporate belief we have.”

Interior design is much more than picking pillows or colors – a common misconception, said Katie Warren of Williamston.

“We can’t just think of colors. We have to look at how lights interact with surfaces, how someone might walk in a space and if it makes sense,” Warren said. “How do you tell people where to go without a sign?”

The students have researched WELL building standards, a complement to LEED which is a widely used green building rating system. WELL focuses on the health and wellness of people in buildings.

“Our professor says it’s creating an experience, not just an environment. It’s every single aspect of the space,” Wiser said.

Based on the successful pilot at ECU, Salter plans for the Knoll competition to expand nationally in a couple of years.

Interior design students in another Gustina class have been working with alumna Jennifer Turner, who is the director of interior design for MHAworks Architecture. Turner also created a hypothetical project for ECU students using a building that MHAworks is renovating in Durham.

ECU alumna Scarlett Salter talks with interior design students in the Rivers building studio.


Nelson Cooper always worked to help students in East Carolina University’s Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies to succeed. Now former students, colleagues, friends and family will celebrate his life and legacy at the first CoopStrong Race on March 24.

The Cooper family, from left to right, Nelson, Mary Ann, Jefferson and Bailey. (Contributed photo)

The Cooper family, from left to right, Nelson, Mary Ann, Jefferson and Bailey. (Contributed photo)

It’s fitting that the 4-mile run and ruck and 1.5-mile support walk will be held on ECU’s Admitted Student Day. It’s also Cooper’s birthday; he would have been 51. Cooper died on May 18, 2017, after a brave fight with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affects the nervous system and weakens muscles and physical abilities.

The race is the first fundraiser for the newly founded CoopStrong nonprofit organization, which honors Cooper’s legacy by providing ECU student scholarships, supporting research and helping local families living with ALS.

“He made such an impact on the people he knew and was so open with his journey of being diagnosed and living with ALS. His relationships just continued to grow,” said Nelson’s wife, Mary Ann Cooper. “We wanted to do something to carry on the work that he started.”

The ECU connection runs deep for the Coopers, who were family friends with the late ECU baseball coach Keith LeClair, who had ALS. Their kids went to the same preschool and their families attended Oakmont Baptist Church. “It helped us to know what ALS is,” Mary Ann Cooper said. “Then to face it ourselves, it was so unexpected. The knowledge we had helped prepare us, and if there is anything that we can do to help people facing that now and to find a cure, we want to do that.”

Daughter Bailey is a junior at ECU and she and her brother, Jefferson, recently threw out the first pitch for the 15th annual LeClair Classic.

ECU baseball coach Cliff Godwin fist bumps Nelson Cooper. (Contributed photo)

ECU baseball coach Cliff Godwin fist bumps Nelson Cooper. (Photo by Savanah Elkins)

The race will start at 9 a.m. at Branches, the medical clinic and youth building where Nelson and Mary Ann Cooper volunteered with Oakmont teenagers and college students, and will continue through the Tucker neighborhood. Charlie Justice, a longtime runner, coach, ECU staff member and good friend of the Coopers, designed the course.

Jane Jarrett, instructor for ECU’s recreation and event programming classes in the College of Health and Human Performance, was one of Cooper’s students. “Coop was my professor, mentor and friend,” she said. “I’m able to keep his memory alive by sharing the lessons he taught me with my students.”

Nine of Jarrett’s ECU students have worked on planning and implementing the race. “This event is a service learning opportunity for the students,” Jarrett said. “This is where they are able to apply their knowledge of recreation and event programming into actions and be fully engaged with their learning.”

Student Luke Burch has been focused on course logistics and risk management. Under Jarrett’s and Justice’s guidance, he said he has learned more about organizing and the amount of time required to produce a successful race.

“We have learned about every aspect of risk management which includes more than just the participants’ safety,” Burch said. “I have never helped organize an event like this before and have only participated in running in a 3K once. I have learned a lot so far about Dr. Cooper and who he was as a person and how much the community loved him and his family.”

Michaela Langley has been working on sponsorships and marketing the event, which has become more than a class project after learning about ALS, she said. “There isn’t a cure and the cost can be extreme,” she said. “Dr. Cooper was invested in the lives of his students and those that didn’t even have his class and because of this investment I want to help make this event the best that it can be so I can say I was a part of something that makes a difference in people’s lives no matter if my part is big or small.”

Offering time and service to students is an important lesson that Jarrett learned from Nelson Cooper. “I could see how much that meant to the students and I had such a good role model to follow for my own teaching style,” Jarrett said. “Even when he was sick, he would still ask ‘what can I do to help?’”

It’s not too late to sign up to run, walk or ruck by March 22 at There is a discount for youth, high school and college students.

The F3 ENC workout group that Nelson Cooper helped start in Greenville in a moment of prayer.

The F3 ENC workout group that Nelson Cooper helped start in Greenville in a moment of prayer. (Contributed photo)


East Carolina University social work students are using a virtual environment to talk with life-like teenagers about their parents’ drug use.

The ECU School of Social Work has teamed with the College of Education’s Mursion lab to provide the simulation for graduate students. Organizers believe it’s the first training focused on substance use disorders for MSW students in the UNC system, said Michael Daniels, teaching instructor of social work.

“This is an innovative way of teaching skills before they actually sit down with patients,” Daniels said. “Anxiety is reduced as a result of participating in the lab.”

Although the ECU graduate students are already working in clinical internships, not all work with children or provide group therapy. But the skills are transferable for all clinical settings, Daniels said.

Recently, an eight-minute simulation tested each of the ECU students’ skills as they counseled five adolescents whose parents abused alcohol, drugs or both — a growing concern as the nation faces an opioid crisis.

Social work faculty member Michael Daniels talks with students in the Mursion lab in the College of Education.

Social work faculty member Michael Daniels talks with students in the Mursion lab in the College of Education.

The teens shared their feelings and thoughts on the impact of having a drunken father who bet large sums of money on sporting events or a mother addicted to pain medication. “If he’s drinking, he’s angry and if he’s doing drugs, he just sleeps,” a teen named Ethan said. When asked how that made him feel, Ethan responded, “I don’t like it.”

Another young man, Dev, said he felt like he was the grown-up when asked how his mother’s behavior has impacted his life. He cooks, cleans and does the laundry since his mother continues to take pills since her accident.

The experience goes beyond traditional role playing or programmed scripts, Daniels said, by providing students a safe space where they can practice what they have learned in the classroom or on the job with live interactors portraying the teen avatars in the therapy session. The interactors and ECU students see body language and hear the tone of voice, Daniels said. “After about 10 seconds, they are fully immersed and into their role,” he said. “It’s real life for them.”

Janieyah Collins is interning with Uplift Comprehensive Services, which offers individual, home-based therapy. She said practicing her skills in a group setting was helpful. “It was a challenge keeping everyone engaged and trying to prioritize time to get to everyone,” she said.

Talking with avatars didn’t seem too different than interacting with actual human beings.

“It’s the same, and I didn’t think it would be. The kids were going off topic talking about Star Wars. It’s in synch with what happens in a session,” Collins said. “That extra practice outside the field is really beneficial. It helps you get the jitterbugs out before you see a real client.”

Collins, who grew up in the small town of Monroe, said she wants to be a social worker like her mother. “I got to see her impact on lives first hand. I want to be that same person for someone else.”

Jazmin Gonzalez agreed that the simulation is realistic.

“Once you’re sitting in the chair, you forget they’re made-up characters,” Gonzalez said. She is working at South Light Health Care in Raleigh, making the drive to campus twice a week from her home in Clayton.

“Even though I only work with adults, there were quite a few similarities with what I experience at the Mursion lab,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve had a lot of individual practice. Today was literally my first group experience. It’s really great to do that before doing the real thing. It really helped with my interviewing skills.”

Sherri Langley is a mobile crisis worker for Integrated Family Services, where she sees a range of ages from children to older adults. “Our goal is to de-escalate and get them the services that they need,” she said.

She said the simulated scenario helped her to stay focused on the clients. “The interactiveness was really challenging,” Langley said. “They can see your facial expression and body language so you have to be aware of what you’re saying and relaying to the client.”

In addition to instant peer and faculty review, the sessions are videotaped for further analysis and feedback.

The Mursion lab continues to expand and is open to all schools, colleges and departments at ECU, said Christine Wilson, Mursion coordinator.

A social work graduate student participates in Mursion, an interactive learning experience.

A social work graduate student participates in Mursion, an interactive learning experience with virtual scenarios that gives students a safe space to practice what they have learned in the classroom with direct feedback from peers and their professor.


Researchers in the Department of Kinesiology at East Carolina University are using virtual reality to study balance control in concussion and recovery.

From left to right, kinesiology’s Nick Murray and Zac Domire are using virtual reality to perturb balance in a study on concussion and recovery.

From left to right, kinesiology’s Nick Murray and Zac Domire are using virtual reality to perturb balance in a study on concussion and recovery.

Concussions are most often caused by a blow to the head or body that affects brain function. Although usually temporary, a concussion can cause headaches and problems with concentration, coordination, memory and balance. Athletes of all ages as well as military service members can be sidelined from a week or two to much longer while the brain rests and recovers.

The two-year, approximately $600,000 study is just getting underway, but long-term goals include determining when it’s safe to resume activity and preventing repeat concussions. The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research is partnering with ECU on the project.

Zac Domire, the study’s principal investigator and associate professor of kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, will recruit about 100 research participants ranging from healthy individuals to those who have had a recent concussion.

In the visual motor lab in Minges, Honors College student Maggie Marshall demonstrated tools that researchers will use for the study. Wearing a virtual reality headset, the student’s balance and brain activity were measured as she tried to steady herself on a lifelike tall, wobbly bridge.

“As she’s seeing movement in her environment, she will shift her balance accordingly,” Domire said.

Data on brain activity is collected in the visual motor lab in Minges

Data on brain activity is collected in the visual motor lab in Minges.

A computer screen shows how the student’s brain is processing activity. A second scenario had the student mimic the feeling of floating in a space station. Researchers also examined the brain from the perspective of looking down from the top of her head, with different colors showing activity and communication in different parts of the brain.

“Ultimately we want to work to an augmented reality and actually have the room as a moving environment,” Domire said.

The student stood on a platform containing a force plate to assess pressure under her feet and the shift of weight under different parts of her feet.

Researchers also will look at other factors that could perturb balance, such as fatigue or plantar sensitivity.

Previous studies have shown that concussion can affect balance for months after an occurrence. “There is a struggle about when is it safe to return to activity,” Domire said. “The recovery time of concussion is still not well understood.”

The research has the potential to help athletes from children to adults in many sports as well as military service members. “Once you’ve had a concussion, you’re more likely to get another one,” Domire said. “We hope to really prevent those second concussions that have the potential to impact the long-term health of individuals.”

Kinesiology’s Nick Murray and Chris Mizelle are co-principal investigators on the study. Patrick Rider is serving as the lead virtual reality developer for the project. Post-doctoral scholar Caitlin O’Connell will handle data collection and processing. Rose Brock, a senior exercise physiology major, and Gustavo Sandri Heidner, a doctoral student, are looking at brain imaging.

ECU faculty members Chris Mizelle, at left, and Nick Murray, at right, adjust an electroencephalography or EEG cap on ECU student Maggie Marshall’s head.

ECU faculty members Chris Mizelle, at left, and Nick Murray, at right, adjust an electroencephalography or EEG cap on ECU student Maggie Marshall’s head.


Online graduate programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing at East Carolina University have been ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

The magazine announced its 2018 Best Online Programs on Jan. 9. ECU’s online bachelor’s degree program also was recognized.

“ECU is known as North Carolina’s leader in distance education,” said Dr. Ron Mitchelson, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We have invested heavily to make sure that our online offerings are of the highest quality. We have excellent infrastructure and faculty who prioritize student success. These rankings help to validate our efforts.”

ECU’s criminal justice graduate program placed the highest in North Carolina and tied for 14th out of 67 schools ranked, up one spot over last year in a larger number of programs. There are 69 master’s students enrolled in the online criminal justice program, which is the second largest graduate program enrollment in ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

ECU students complete fingerprinting in a forensic science class.

ECU students complete fingerprinting in a forensic science class. The criminal justice online graduate program ranked the highest of all such programs in the state.

“This ranking, by such a prestigious organization, validates our efforts to provide the highest quality graduate education possible. Moreover, it affirms our mission to ‘educate the next generation of criminal justice leaders’ as our students and alumni are actively contributing to improving public safety in our communities,” said Dr. William Bloss, professor and chair of the criminal justice department.

The College of Education’s online graduate education programs tied for 18th out of 292 schools. This year, 720 total students are enrolled in 11 online education graduate programs.

“The College of Education was a pioneer in distance delivery and this ranking reflects the maturity of the program,” said Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education. “This recognition is truly a testimony to the commitment and hard work of our faculty and staff, and the excellence of our students.”

ECU’s College of Nursing graduate programs were ranked 34th out of 154 schools. Only master’s programs were ranked; it does not include ECU’s doctoral programs. ECU’s online graduate programs in nursing also ranked the highest in the UNC system and 14th overall in US News listing of the best online programs for veterans. A school must have been ranked in the top half of the best online programs, certified for the GI Bill and have enrolled at least 10 veterans or active service members to be recognized. In 2016-17, 389 students were enrolled in the college’s online master’s degree options.

“A key component to our mission of preparing highly-skilled nurse leaders is giving professional nurses more opportunities to advance in their careers,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing. “The seven master’s programs that we offer online give nurses convenient ways to further their careers without leaving the workforce or relocating to our campus.”

ECU’s online Master of Business Administration program tied at 91st out of 267 schools ranked in the country. This spring, 784 students are enrolled in ECU’s MBA program.

“This recognition is emblematic of how the college and its faculty and staff are focused on student requirements, resource alignment, cross-functional collaboration and employee involvement,” said Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business. “We do all of this for the student who wants to be the next, impactful leader of tomorrow.”

Also this year, ECU’s online bachelor’s degree programs tied at 143rd out of 346 schools ranked. ECU’s online bachelor’s also tied for 85th overall in US News listing of the best online programs for veterans. ECU – the leading provider of distance education in the UNC system – offers online degree completion programs in various disciplines at the undergraduate level for students who can’t take classes on campus due to work and family obligations or geographical barriers.

“Offering practical options for our online learners makes ECU the logical choice for many students,” said Jennifer Baysden, associate director for credit programs in the Office of Continuing Studies at ECU. “Accessibility and affordability coupled with academic and student support greatly helps to sustain and empower the individuals we serve online and are key elements to ECU’s success.”

This fall, about 8,200 ECU undergraduate students took online courses, with approximately 3,300 of those students taking online courses only, Baysden said.

To develop the rankings, U.S. News evaluated a combination of areas including student engagement, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology, peer reputation and admissions selectivity.

The complete listing can be viewed at

ECU students make their way to class Monday, the first day of the spring semester.

ECU students make their way to class Monday, the first day of the spring semester. Online graduate programs in business, criminal justice, education and nursing and ECU’s online bachelor’s degree program have received top marks.


This year’s Material Topics Symposium in East Carolina University’s College of Art and Design will be the biggest in its nine-year history.

Scheduled Jan. 12-14, it’s the only annual event of its kind catering to the interests of the metalsmithing and craft community in the southeast region of the U.S. ECU also is the only school in the UNC system that offers a graduate program in metal design.

The symposium will bring 13 internationally known artists to campus, where they will lecture and demonstrate metalsmithing. More than 210 participants from 48 institutions and universities in 27 states from Washington to Florida are expected to attend.

Designed to enrich and inspire metalsmiths and makers, the event spotlights a range of materials, techniques and processes to appeal to a range of artists from novice to professionals, said Adam Atkinson, a second-year graduate student and co-chair of the symposium.

“The symposium consistently draws attendees from across the U.S. due to the caliber of artist presenters we showcase, who have been recognized and exhibit their work both nationally and internationally,” said Nadia Massoud, a third-year graduate student and event co-chair.

“Presenters from across our diverse field bring their artistic vision, process and technical expertise to our doorstep,” she said. “Our students gain exposure that would otherwise require extensive travel to acquire. Meanwhile the event maintains an intimate atmosphere, cultivating genuine connections with presenters and peers alike.”

ECU’s metal design studio is unique for graduate students in the UNC system.

The event regularly draws ECU metal design alumni, which helps foster strong bonds in the School of Art and Design.

The symposium – founded in 2009 by alumna Laura Wood – is organized and operated by ECU students, creating leadership and organizational opportunities through marketing, event planning, curating and hospitality committee work.

“Nearly every student in metal design is involved as a volunteer or attendee — and sometimes both,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson moved from Seattle, Washington, to attend ECU. He previously volunteered with the Seattle Metals Guild and other organizations. “Becoming a co-chair for the symposium felt like a natural calling for me,” he said. “This opportunity is part of why I came to ECU, and why I feel we have one of the best metalsmithing programs in the nation.”

Massoud said the first symposium she attended two years ago as a new graduate student was a pivotal experience. “The exposure to the vast array of techniques, materials, processes and conceptual approaches offered by the presenting artists was tremendously inspiring,” she said. “The opportunity to build relationships with those artists and with the broader community of attendees from across the U.S. has been exceptionally impactful.”

The symposium opens with a gallery crawl on campus and in downtown Greenville from 6-9 p.m. Jan. 12. Exhibitions and events will be held in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center in the Wellington B. Gray Gallery and Burroughs Wellcome Senior Gallery as well as the Erwin Gallery on ECU’s campus and at Emerge Gallery and Moxie Pop.

Bob Ebendorf, professor emeritus, internationally known artist and former Carol Grotnes Belk Chair in the ECU School of Art and Design, will give a gallery talk in Speight Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12.

The keynote lecture by Seattle-based metalsmith, educator and writer Andy Cooperman will be held at 9 a.m. Jan. 13. For more information and a full schedule, visit, the Facebook page @ECUsymposium and Instagram account @ECU_symposium.

Collaborative exhibits 

From Jan. 5 through Jan. 25, the Wellington B. Gray Gallery at East Carolina University will present the Materials Topics Exhibitions, five shows to be held in collaboration with the ninth annual ECU Material Topics Symposium.

A reception honoring the exhibitors will be held 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5. A special symposium reception will be held 5-7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12. The exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.

“Vitreous Voices” will be one of three exhibits inside the main gallery. Organized by ECU alumna Barbara McFadyen and retired ECU professor emeritus Bob Ebendorf, it is a juried exhibition of enameled works honoring the tradition that professor Linda Darty started at ECU.

“Spoon” is organized by ECU metal design professor Tim Lazure and is an invitational show of spoons of all shapes and sizes.

“Ripple Effect 168” is organized by ECU graduate student Adam Atkinson and Everett Hoffman, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University. This collaborative show between the metalsmithing programs at ECU and VCU is meant to foster connections and explore new work directions.

“Smitten Forum” will be located in the African Art Room/Special Collections Gallery at the rear of the main gallery. The work is by a group of invited artists organized by ECU alumna Marissa Saneholtz and Winthrop University faculty member Sara Brown.

On display Jan. 12-14 in the gallery foyer, the “Snail Mail Project Snail Mail Project” is a pop-up enameled decal show based on postcards from Ebendorf. It is organized by ECU alumna Kat Cole and Andrew Kuebeck, assistant professor and area head of the jewelry, metals and enameling program at Kent State University.

Artwork (pictured above) by Charity Hall, Sharon Massey, and Joanne Lang and Hailee Manipole, will be exhibited in Gray Gallery. Lang is an ECU graduate student and the others are ECU alumni.

Left to right, Adam Atkinson and Nadia Massoud co-chair the 2018 Material Topics Symposium.


Nine children from seasonal or migrant farmworker families have improved their health literacy skills through a collaborative project at East Carolina University.

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor of health education and promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance, and Leah Cordova, teaching assistant professor in Joyner Library, hosted the training with middle and high school students in October.

Dr. Joseph Lee, assistant professor of health education and promotion, talks with students about finding reliable health information.

“One part of health literacy is for an individual to be able to obtain basic health information,” Cordova said. “Through this effort, we were able to connect farmworkers and their families with high quality health information provided by the National Library of Medicine, empowering them to make decisions regarding their own health.”

The project was supported by a $15,000 National Network of Libraries of Medicine Health Information Outreach grant, which also funded training for health outreach workers across the state.

“Farmworkers and their families are a critical part of eastern North Carolina’s economy and future, and this effort by ECU’s Joyner Library and College of Health and Human Performance connects them with the wealth of consumer health information from the National Library of Medicine.”

The youth – mainly from Johnston and surrounding counties – are part of the Levante Leadership Institute college pipeline program through the nonprofit Student Action with Farmworkers.

Cordova instructed the students on how to avoid fake health news and find reliable information at MedlinePlus, a government website that provides health information in multiple languages.

Students were provided iPads and wireless connectivity for the training, and used the iPads to create news stories about their own lives while exploring media coverage of farmworkers. They also toured ECU for an introduction to college life. “We’re hoping they’ll apply to ECU,” Lee said.

Israel Mendez, an ECU senior in public health studies, has been interviewing the students as well as adult outreach workers to assess resources and identify gaps.

“While issues like substandard housing and low pay continue to be a challenge in improving the health of people who harvest food, farmworkers and their families are also sometimes disconnected from quality information about health,” Lee said. “By connecting youth with high quality information and helping them identify high quality health information, we help make eastern North Carolina healthier and stronger.”

MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health’s website produced by the National Library of Medicine with information on diseases, conditions and wellness issues. For more information, go to

To learn more about Student Action with Farmworkers and the Levante Leadership Institute, visit

Students participate in a health literacy training class at ECU.


An East Carolina University course is reinforcing table manners, business dress and effective communication as students prepare for spring internships and graduation.

Kelli Russell, instructor in the College of Health and Human Performance, began teaching the Department of Health Education and Promotion’s community strategies class last fall, when she added an etiquette luncheon component. This semester, 96 students are enrolled in the course which is supported by a $1,000 BB&T Active Learning and Leadership Grant.

Instructor Kelli Russell talks with students in the Croatan’s Green Room.

Students learn how to dress in business attire on a budget, communicate with people from various backgrounds and create a LinkedIn profile. A similar class has been required in ECU’s College of Business since 2011.

On Oct. 25 and Oct. 27, health education students attended a catered luncheon requiring professional dress and interaction. Marilyn Ross, associate food services director with Aramark, presented dining etiquette during a three-course meal in the Croatan’s Green Room.

“Soon you’re going to be networking with individuals as you’re eating lunch or dinner,” Russell said. “Now’s the time to learn from your mistakes.”

Ross’ rules were straightforward. Be on time. Better to dress up than down. Make sure garments fit well and no undergarments show. If name tags are prepared, place on your left side for natural line of sight. Introduce yourself as people arrive at your table. Don’t rearrange place cards to sit closer to someone you know.

“Chances are, the person you’re sitting beside is someone who can help you or your company further down the road,” said Ross, adding the organizer has placed people together for a reason. “Always be courteous and gracious. You want to represent yourself well.”

Senior Ivan Ortega of Newton said afterwards that the class has been extremely beneficial. “We learn a lot of the things that you’re expected to know going into a professional field,” he said. “I went to a gala last year so it was like this. Otherwise I would be completely lost with all the cups and forks.”

ECU seniors Janice Pittman, at left, and Leslie Rivera listen as the instructor discusses table etiquette for a lunch or dinner meeting.

ECU seniors Janice Pittman, at left, and Leslie Rivera listen as the instructor discusses table etiquette for a lunch or dinner meeting.

Senior Janice Pittman, originally from Cape Verde, off the northwest coast of Africa, said the class prepares students to network with peers and supervisors. “It really emphasizes the responsibility that you have as public health professional,” Pittman said. “Every decision can impact the community you’re serving and the company you will work for.”

From government to nonprofit agencies, students will work with the public to create healthy behavior change and build self-efficacy, Russell said. Some duties may require networking over lunch or advocating with key community stakeholders or elected officials. “They need to be a chameleon and adapt to their surroundings,” Russell said.

She said it’s not unusual for one or two students each semester to confide that they’ve never sat at a table with a linen tablecloth or used more than one fork at a meal.

“You see growth from the first day of class,” Russell said.

Brianna Witherspoon, a public health studies major, said Russell’s class has helped in many ways. “This class is preparing us to communicate with people from various backgrounds and cultures. It is also providing us with the tools to better communicate with our clients as health education specialists,” Witherspoon said. “One of the best things I’ve learned in this class is respect. Everyone that I speak to has a different view about certain situations. Respect and understanding are key factors that contribute to successful interactions with the people around me.”

Marilyn Ross, associate food services director with Aramark, demonstrates the proper use of knives and forks at an etiquette class on Oct. 27.

Marilyn Ross, associate food services director with Aramark, demonstrates the proper use of knives and forks at an etiquette class on Oct. 27.

Gabriel Beattie-Sergio, now a public health master’s student, took the class last fall as an undergraduate.

“During my internship, I was invited to multiple lunch meetings, though not always as formal, I still knew how to hold and present myself in a professional manner,” Bettie-Sergio said. “Since being in graduate school, I have attended conferences where dinner was more formal and have had no problem remembering what I learned because it was all practical.”

During the luncheon, Ross demonstrated European or Continental and American-style use of utensils, and gave students pointers on the typical place setting, from bread plates to dessert forks.

“Electronics should be left in your car, in a bag or pocket,” Ross said. “Turn it off. If it’s on vibrate, you will still be tempted to check it. Your focus should be on the people there with you.”

The College of Business also offers a similar course for juniors and seniors, which is required for business majors before graduation. Each semester, 275-300 students participate, said Sharon Justice, teaching instructor in business.

Course objectives include being able to discuss why professionalism and business etiquette matter, to demonstrate appropriate workplace conduct, and to recognize that every encounter – whether in person, written or verbal – portrays an image.

“This course helps to prepare students for the transition from college student to professional employee,” Justice said.

Every student completes a practice interview with a recruiter or hiring manager and develops an “elevator pitch,” a succinct summary to create interest in an organization or individual. The semester culminates with two professional networking dinners, each attended by 150 students and about 50 business professionals aimed at allowing students to ask questions and get advice.

This year’s College of Business dinners will be held Nov. 6 and Nov. 9 at the Murphy Center.

ECU senior Ivan Ortega talks with others at lunch as part of course designed to prepare future health professionals for different situations in the workforce.

ECU senior Ivan Ortega talks with others at lunch as part of course designed to prepare future health professionals for different situations in the workforce.