Alumnus Andy Ferrell ’90, ’93 Visits Campus


Alumnus Andy Ferrell ’90, ’93 returned to East Carolina University on September 14 to talk with students about the many career opportunities in engineering, especially bioprocess engineering.

Bioprocess engineering is the creation of biological products such as vaccines and certain medications using live organisms and enzymes rather than inorganic chemicals and reagents, as in chemical engineering. It is one of six areas of concentration within the engineering major in the College of Engineering and Technology. The program is looking to expand and recruit more students through alumni visits.

An industrial technology graduate, Ferrell often hires bioprocess engineers as the founder and president of Pharmaceutical Calibrations and Instrumentation. Since 1996, PCI has provided compliance services for the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry. With more than 200 clients, the company is based in Raleigh with seven satellite offices across the country.

“We’ve grown tremendously in the last 10 years, which mirrors our industry,” Ferrell said. “While overall enrollment at ECU has grown, this concentration has remained the same.”

Originally from Wilson, Ferrell was accepted to multiple universities in North Carolina, but ECU “felt like home,” he said. ECU prepared him very well for his career; in fact, the idea for his graduate school thesis eventually became his company.

“At East Carolina, you learn a lot of skill sets that will help you across the board,” Ferrell said, adding he would love to hire more bioprocess engineering graduates from ECU. “We need some more purple and gold in my office.”

Ferrell remains very active with ECU, serving on both the College of Engineering and Technology Advancement Council and the Engineering Advisory Board. He also hosts events and raises money to generously support ECU.

Click here to read more about bioprocess engineering at ECU.

By Jackie Drake

Networking Reception in Norfolk on October 20

The East Carolina Alumni Association is coming to Virginia! We’re hosting a networking event in Norfolk on Tuesday, October 20 for all ECU alumni. Join us and meet fellow Pirates in your area as you expand your professional and social networks.

The Norfolk Networking Reception will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Supper Southern Morsels, located at 319 W. 21st St. The cost is $20 for alumni association members and $30 for non-members, which includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and beverages. A cash bar will be available. Advance registration is required by October 14.

Attire is purple and gold business casual. Don’t forget to bring multiple business cards for a door prize drawing and to exchange with other attendees.

Our networking events are open to all alumni and friends of East Carolina. Members of the alumni association are eligible to pay a reduced price. Those who wish to join the alumni association to take advantage of member pricing on this and future events may do so directly on the event registration form available on our website.

Please note that advance registration is required by the stated deadline. Early registration is strongly encouraged, as space is limited depending on the venue. Some events may reach capacity before the registration deadline. Our events are contingent upon adequate registration numbers. Events that do not reach minimum registration requirements are subject to cancellation, in which case refunds would be issued.

Our networking events are a great way for alumni to tap into the power of the ECU alumni network and meet fellow Pirates in their area! Each event is led by featured alumni who are leaders in their industries and communities. We hold networking events in various cities throughout the year, so be sure to check out all our events listed on our networking event page!

Andree Taylor ’96 on Cover of Charlotte Magazine

0815cover_450-af0760c7Accounting for both money and time was one of many lessons Andree Taylor ’96 learned at East Carolina University.

“It was a good place to make that transition in life,” Taylor says. “I learned about multitasking and figuring out the best ways to spend my time. I have so many good memories of my time at ECU.”

Learning how to account for his time has served Taylor well. As a vice president and senior financial analyst at Bank of America, Taylor was featured on the cover of the August edition of Charlotte magazine. Taylor was able to keep advancing his career despite the ups and downs of the banking industry. Click here to read more about Taylor’s career in the Charlotte magazine article.

Originally from Delaware, Taylor initially considered ECU because it was just far enough away from his parents to jump-start his independence. A friend who was doing the same thing recommended ECU to him.

“Once I got there, I thought ‘this is where I need to be.’ It just felt right,” he said.

Taylor came to ECU on a track scholarship, but switched to football. He played cornerback and special teams, and played in the 1994 Liberty Bowl. He greatly enjoyed debating in a business law class. He lived in Aycock Hall his first year, and fondly recalls going to Barefoot on the Mall.

“We were out and about a lot more; there was no cable or social media,” he commented.

While Taylor majored in accounting, most of his career has been spent more in accounting systems and corporate support than strictly accounting work. But he says his accounting classes gave him a great start.

“That foundation has been a great platform for me. It really helped me grow my career.”

Taylor’s experience at ECU prepared him not only for his career but life in general.

“Outside of what I learned in class, a big lesson was relationship-building. Learning how to interact with a diverse crowd helped me tremendously, and still does to this day. It was the people that really helped prepare me.”

Taylor continued, “I have lifelong friends from ECU, and that has made a big difference in my life. Knowing I had an ECU family in Charlotte made that transition easier when I first came here. Pirates have a great support network. I’m so glad I went to ECU.”

By Jackie Drake

2015 Black Alumni Reunion

The Black Alumni Chapter of the East Carolina Alumni Association presents the 2015 Black Alumni Reunion, which will be held from Friday, October 16 to Sunday, October 18 as part of Homecoming at ECU.

On Friday, join us for the second annual BAC Golf Outing at 8:00 a.m. at Ironwood Golf and Country Club, and then the “Arrrgh” Meet and Greet at 8:00 p.m. at Shogun Japanese Restaurant on Arlington Blvd.


Saturday offers a full slate of events including the alumni association’s general Homecoming Breakfast at 8:00 a.m., the BAC business meeting at 10:00 a.m., the homecoming football game, and finally the BAC Awards Banquet & Gala. For the football game, the BAC will have a block of seats under “BAC.” Football game tickets must be purchased separately through ECU Athletics. Kick-off time has not yet been announced. The banquet will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. at the Hilton Greenville. Join us as we come together to honor the recipient of the first Laura Leary Elliott Endowed Scholarship and recognize the recipients of the Dr. Andrew Best Trailblazer Award, the Laura Marie Elliott Courageous Leader Award and the Ledonia S. Wright Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award.

On Sunday, close the reunion weekend with an ecumenical service at 9:00 a.m. at Mendenhall Student Center, and brunch at Winslow’s from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

A portion of the proceeds from various reunion events will benefit the Laura Leary Elliott Endowed Scholarship.

The registration deadline for all events is Thursday, October 8.

The official hotel is the Holiday Inn Express, located at 909 Moye Blvd. in Greenville. Use block code “EG2” when making reservations. Be sure to reserve your rooms by September 25. An information desk will be open at the hotel from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Friday.

For full details and to register, click here or call 800-ECU-GRAD.

The BAC is composed of alumni and friends who advocate for the mission of the university and the alumni association. In addition to a reunion every year, the BAC enhances access to and attainment of education for African-American students through raising funds for scholarships and providing networking opportunities with alumni.

Cheryl Sharp ’96, ’01 Wins National Award for Mental Health Advocacy

Voice Awards-2015Cheryl Sugg Sharp ’96, ’01 was once told she was “too fragile” to handle college. But now this mental health advocate can add a national award to her three degrees (two bachelor’s and a master’s) from East Carolina University.

Sharp received the Voice Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The award honors leaders in their field who educate the public and their peers about mental health.

“Receiving this award was the proudest moment of my life,” Sharp said. “I was really honored. It was such a gift to be on that stage with so many people working to make a difference in our field and in people’s lives.”

As the senior advisor for trauma-informed services at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, DC, Sharp works with organizations around the country to coordinate suicide prevention and crisis services efforts. The council is the central industry association for America’s mental health and addictions treatment providers. With 2,300 members, the council serves more than eight million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders.

Mental health issues and trauma are things Sharp has experienced first-hand. Her mother died as a result of mental health challenges, and then she dealt with challenges of her own. But eventually she decided that she was going to get her education so she could make a difference in the lives of people like her.

Sharp came to ECU as a “late learner” in her early 30s, balancing family with her studies. After completing two years of community college, she transferred to ECU, an easy decision since she was commuting every day from her hometown of New Bern. One of her community college professors was an ECU graduate who encouraged her to continue her education.

“I didn’t get a chance to ‘be a Pirate,’ but I still received a rich educational experience,” Sharp said. “I’m absolutely glad I went to ECU. I was a person, not a number, and the staff and professors really invested in me.”

Sharp double-majored in psychology and women’s studies in the first year that women’s studies was offered as a major in the mid-1990s. She was also one of the first people to graduate with honors in both degrees. She then pursued her master’s degree in social work, while raising her family.

After completing her degrees, Sharp worked for a time in hospice care and then social work, but became concerned about the state of the mental health system, and decided to start advocating for changes on a larger scale.

“Without a degree, my options would have been limited,” she said. “My degrees allowed me to gain experience in these fields and then enter advocacy work, and set me on a career trajectory from North Carolina to Washington, DC. At the national council, we support providers in doing the best work that they can.”

One of the most beneficial things about her education at ECU was gaining the ability to evaluate both quantitative and qualitative data, Sharp said.

“All my work today is based on taking research and theories to practices to implementation,” she said. “Having lived experiences with mental health issues, I can use my voice as someone who has been there. We’ve got to speak up and be who we are. Our goal is ensuring that all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life.”

By Jackie Drake

Meet Captain Spencer Slate ’72

mms95img99160209Whether he’s in North Carolina or Florida, East Carolina University alumnus Spencer Slate ’72 has always been at home on – or under – the water.

From his first dive in a rock quarry as a high schooler, he went to rowing on the crew team at ECU, and then to becoming the captain of his own fleet of dive boats.

Slate is the founder and owner of Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures, the largest dive center in the Florida Keys. He operates four boats taking scuba divers and snorkelers on various dives through one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, and the United States’ only living coral barrier reef.

Originally from Winston-Salem, Slate came to ECU because he’d heard good things about the school from his sister’s boyfriend, who attended here. He earned a bachelor of science in business education, graduating in 1972. After attending at job fair at ECU, he got a job teaching sales and marketing at a high school in Jacksonville, FL. He also taught scuba diving at the local YMCA. He opened his dive center in 1978.

“I really had a good experience at ECU,” Slate said. “ECU made me more proficient in business. I learned how to market my business, which I still do every day. All of that started at ECU.”

Slate rowed on the crew team for three years and was a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

“That was a great bunch of guys,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories of my time at ECU.”

With more than 12,000 dives under his belt and a goal of 20,000, Slate is a well-respected diving expert and leader in the Keys community.

His standing dive outings include a “wreck trek” to local shipwrecks and a “creature feature” where participants can see Keys wildlife up close. The “creature feature” dive, which runs every Friday and Sunday, has been covered by multiple TV shows, including 60 Minutes, Discovery, Animal Planet, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

As a notary public, Slate also conducts underwater wedding ceremonies where divers use pre-written signs to state their vows. Known as “the Justice of the Pisces,” some of his undersea ceremonies have been featured in People magazine and the Guinness Book of World Records.

Slate loves to represent ECU in his community and business, and often wears an ECU shirt or hat on his boats. He says, “I’m really proud that I went to ECU.”

By Jackie Drake

Charleston Alumni Find Fun on a Scavenger Hunt!


Fun was found by several Pirates who participated in a scavenger hunt in Charleston on Saturday, August 18, hosted by the East Carolina Alumni Association. The 15 participants were divided into three groups of six, five, and four – and PeeDee the Pirate made a special appearance!

Michael Dudley ’10 and his girlfriend Samantha Blake ’04, ’05 were among the participants. They have been in Charleston a little over four years now and recently began taking the lead for the Charleston chapter. Michael is an information analyst in the field of cybersecurity and Samantha is a fifth grade teacher in Charleston County.

“We decided to participate in the scavenger hunt for two reasons,” Michael said. “We wanted to network with local Pirates. Also, we enjoy the downtown Charleston area & thought the scavenger hunt would be a great way to explore it further.”

The event was well-organized and lots of fun, they said. “Many of the activities included interacting with the general public, and required groups to do silly things that helped alleviate the awkwardness sometimes experienced when meeting new people,” Michael said. “It was also very nice to have a meal planned after the event so we could continue networking and have time to relax together.”

Michael and Samantha plan to attend future ECU events in Charleston, and also recommend that other Pirates attend as well.

Michael says, “Alumni events are a great way for Pirates to connect with one another and share memories that only Pirates would understand!”

By Jackie Drake