Pirates Enjoy Hurricanes Game

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It was another memorable night for ECU alumni, friends and family as they descended on PNC Arena in Raleigh on February 21 to watch the Hurricanes play against the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the East Carolina Alumni Association’s “Bring the Whole Crew” series.

Attendees were treated to a pregame buffet and had access to numerous seating locations at a discounted price. Ashley Lewis ’06, who is now a registered nurse for Vanceboro Farm Life elementary school, used the event to meet more alumni.

“I really wanted to connect with other ECU alumni and I also enjoy watching the Carolina Hurricanes play,” said Lewis. “[But] my favorite part of the night was the ECU alumni buffet. They had excellent food along with some great company in fellow Pirates!”

Although the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2, the night was a big success as 69 people attended the event, with 29 of them also participating in the pregame buffet. The event left attendants like Lewis eager for more.

“I will definitely attend other ECU Alumni events in the future,” said Lewis. “I recommend that other Pirates do [the same]!”

By Michael Avila

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Balancing Her Life: Meet Melissa Harrell ’95

Melissa Harrell.jpgThough many students leave college with an idea of what they want to do, sometimes life has another plan for them. This was exactly the case for ECU alumna Melissa Harrell, who found her true passion while pursuing a degree in other another field.

“I graduated from ECU with a bachelor’s in dance education, but my teacher commented that I was drawn to the emotional needs of my students,” said Harrell, who graduated in 1995. “[She said] I should consider pursuing school counseling, and that planted the seed. So I worked using my dance education degree while I completed my master’s degree in school counseling.”

Along with her genuine interest in others, Harrell also knows first-hand about how to handle emotional needs and overcoming tragedy.

“I grew up watching my mother and grandmother battle severe depression. It ultimately led to their premature deaths, and my mother was only 52 when she died,” said Harrell. “Trying to wrestle with my own grief and helping my friend’s family cope led me to seek special certifications in grief counseling. While difficult, helping people in their darkest hour continues to be one of the greatest privileges of my career.”

Since graduating, Harrell has stayed busy. She currently owns a counseling center in Goldsboro, N.C. and runs two support groups in Wayne County: H.E.A.R.T and Footprints.

H.E.A.R.T., which stands for Helping Engage Area Resources Together, is a support group for mothers with prenatal mood disorders. Footprints is a support group that was created for families dealing with a miscarriage or the loss of an infant. Both groups provide a safe place for members to share their feelings and experiences with people dealing with similar situations.

AfricaZOEbookAlong with that, she has also written a book entitled “Elizabeth and Stella meet ZOE.” The book talks about her mission work with ZOE, which stands for Zimbabwe Orphan Endeavors, and the experience she had with one little girl in Kenya.

“I traveled to Kenya to meet the children in our group [and] I immediately fell in love with these children and this model of empowerment. We went to visit Stella at her home and I was so touched that this young person, who has so little compared to American standards, wanted to share what little she had with us,” said Harrell. “When I returned home, I began to work on the book. After two years of writing, rewriting, and prayer [the book was born].”

Despite all of her success, Harrell decided to come back to ECU and complete her master’s in public health, with a certificate in ethnic and rural health disparities. She is currently a full time grad school student.

“Traveling to Kenya and working in missions for the past five years has opened my eyes to public health issues, both global and in our own back yards,” said Harrell. “I was led back to ECU because of the commitment this university and [the Brody School of Medicine] have for the underserved of eastern North Carolina. What I learned [at ECU] has been invaluable in helping families navigate through the school system, especially my clients with special needs.”

Though Harrell has done a lot for her community, she still believes she can do more. After graduation, she wants to use her public health degree to help bring more awareness to mental health issues and help reduce the poverty and health disparities in eastern North Carolina.

Harrell also stressed the importance of taking care of oneself, a reflection of both her hectic lifestyle and her background in mental health.

“No matter the career field, find a way to balance your life,” said Harrell. “Take time to enjoy things for yourself, as well as nurturing the relationships you’re in.”

By Michael Avila

More Pirate Proposals!

Thanks to all the Pirates who have shared their love stories with us in honor of Valentine’s Day! Here are a couple more stories of ECU alumni who met and/or proposed at ECU.

Engagement 1Blake and Katie Eason, class of 2005

Blake says… “Katie and I met in 2004 during the first year of our English education classes. Specifically, I sat beside her in EDUC 3200 because she looked smart and I figured she would let me copy her notes (instead of taking my own). We became fast friends during our internship at J.H. Rose, but did not date because we were both in relationships at the time.

Each day after class we would walk and chat until we got close to the sidewalk, at which time we would go our separate ways. There was a tree close to the road that typically marked the point we would begin our division.

In 2008, three years after graduation, and both single, we reunited for a weekend with fellow English interns and immediately rekindled our friendship, and more! I had permission to propose on Bagwell Field at Dowdy-Ficklen, but it was under construction and Katie was afraid of getting arrested for trespassing. Plan B was the tree by the Speight Building on campus that routinely signaled the end of our daily conversations years ago.

She said yes and we married a year later on May 21st, 2011!”

 

Chris Amidon ’86 and Lisa Goldston Amidon ’88

Chris says… “Lisa and I met on a blind date my senior year at ECU. Although, turns out it wasn’t as blind as we thought. Lisa decided to bring a friend along with her to our meeting place in downtown Greenville. That friend happened to be a girl I had previously dated at ECU. Additionally, I realized that I had actually met Lisa six months earlier. I had been stranded in Greenville without a way home to Havelock. Lisa, her then boyfriend, and that same friend were heading to the beach so they gave me a ride home on their way. I can still picture today Lisa’s eyes in the rear view mirror. Anyway, needless to say, that first blind date didn’t go anywhere.

A couple weeks later after the Christmas holiday, I decided to give it another shot and asked Lisa to go out on a date. We had a great time going to a movie and talking for hours in my car as I dropped her off at her dorm. That was back in 1986. I graduated and moved to Dallas. Two years later Lisa graduated and moved out to Dallas as well. Just a year or so later we broke up and Lisa moved to Charleston, SC. I ended up moving back to North Carolina. After many years of being apart, I had a couple phone calls with Lisa and asked her to stop by my house is Raleigh on her way back home to Richmond for the holidays. That was the beginning of the rest of the story. The spark was rekindled, Lisa moved up to Raleigh, and we began dating again.

After a couple more years of dating, I think we both knew we were meant to be together. I planned a trip back to Greenville, under the cover of going to see a basketball game. We had a mini picnic on the lawn (complete with ‘vintage’ wine from 1986 when we first met). We strolled around campus reminiscing. Towards the end of our visit, I drove up to her old dorm, to the site of our long talk that first (real) date. I put in the same cassette (yes cassette) that we listened to over and over that first night. Then, we got out and went over to the fountain at the center of campus (now gone) where I did the traditional kneel and propose. Now 30 years after that first blind date, I have Lisa, two awesome kids, many great memories and a lot to be thankful for – and it all started at ECU.”

Pirates Enjoy Cheering on the Hornets in Charlotte

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ECU alumni, friends and family gathered in Charlotte to watch the Charlotte Hornets take on the Washington Wizards as part of the East Carolina Alumni Association’s “Bring the Whole Crew” series.

Participants were treated to a delicious pregame meal, which was served by Queen City BBQ, and also had VIP access to the pregame shoot-around.

“I thoroughly enjoyed both the dinner and game; I couldn’t pick one thing,” said Glovette Shannon ’07. “I also liked that it was a ‘Bring the [Whole] Crew’ event. It was a great chance for my family to enjoy the Pirate experience.”

Dominique Womack ’05, who is an account executive for Enterprise Holdings, used the event to catch up with some old friends.

“I found out about the event through a few of my ECU Marching Pirate alumni friends that I try to meet up with monthly. I thought it would be awesome for us to go,” said Womack. “When they said ‘let’s go to Charlotte,’ I put on my fun hat and got on the road!”

The event was a huge success, with 73 attendees descending on Time Warner Cable Arena as they watched the Hornets defeat the Wizards 108-104 in a hard fought contest.

By the end of the evening, everyone left satisfied and excited for the next event.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the opportunity to participate in the event,” said Shannon. “I now check the calendar regularly for similar events.”

Womack echoed a similar response.

“If I had a chance to do it all over again, I definitely would,” said Womack. “Food, drinks, Pirates and sports are my favorite pastimes!”

By Michael Avila and Jackie Drake

Potters find love at ECU

Potters01Many ECU alumni are married to a fellow Pirate. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share the story of Shelby Lane Cook Potter ’14 and Joshua Lee Potter ’12, who met in the Boneyard at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. (Remarks edited for clarity).

My husband and I got married May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, NC. We met on the evening of November 19, 2011 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium while ECU was playing against UCF. I came to the game with my roommate with no plan for the evening, and chose a random spot in the Boneyard. Earlier in the day Lee was in Raleigh and made a last-minute decision to drive to Greenville to attend the game with friends. My roommate Calle and I were enjoying the game but could not help but notice a group of obnoxious, loud boys sitting a couple of rows below where we were sitting. We talked about how they looked attractive and we made awkward eye contact. It seemed to be nothing more than some funny boys drawing attention to themselves and we happened to be watching them. At halftime we went to the bathroom and took our belongings with us as though we might be leaving the game. Little did I know, Lee specifically was interested in me and telling his friend that I was attractive. Lee’s friends jokingly said, “you just let her walk away and did not say a thing!”

My roommate and I did return to our seats after the bathroom break and Lee was secretly excited to see me again. When returning to the row where we thought we were sitting, Lee and another friend Carlos were now sitting on this row too. Little by little Lee would scoot closer and closer to me on the bench. During this time, another friend Hannah approached Calle and me. Hannah noticed Lee sitting very close to me. Hannah asked me, “so, who is your friend?” (looking at Lee beside her). I replied “I am not sure who that is.” So after being called out, Lee and I introduced ourselves and started casually talking. I thought Lee was attractive and was a little shy to talk to this guy who was a completely random connection. As the Pirates continued to score points, Lee and I celebrated a Pirate victory. As the conversation was ending and the girls were looking to leave the game, I could feel the awkward vibe that Lee wanted to ask for my number so we would be able to see each other again…and I secretly wanted his as well. Lee’s friend Eric helped him out by saying “Dude, you should totally get her number in case we go downtown tonight,” and with that I gave Lee my number. Lee’s friends told him not to contact me until a couple of days had passed, but he could not resist and texted me the next day.

Needless to say, we are Pirates for life, and Pirate football is the one thing we wouldn’t turn down every fall. Dowdy-Ficklen holds a special place in our heart. We were introduced at our wedding reception with the bridal party to “Purple Haze” of course and ran through a tunnel of bridesmaids and groomsmen. During the reception we HAD to sing the fight song with our fellow Pirates and take a picture. And just as it was the night we met, Calle stood by me as a bridesmaid and Eric and Carlos stood by Lee as groomsmen.

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Meet Ashley Crossan ’11

All in.

For East Carolina University alumna Ashley Crossan, that was the mindset when she wanted to become a part of the entertainment news industry. This mindset, paired with some risk taking and her time at ECU, has helped this outgoing Pirate achieve the career she had always envisioned.

“My journey began on an impulsive decision to jump in a car with a friend and drive cross-country to Los Angeles,” said Crossan, who graduated in 2011. “I had the dream of making my way into the entertainment news industry, so I went for it. After two months of applying, I got a call from Entertainment Tonight to work as a night-shift PA.”

Since then Crossan has only gone up. She is now a producer for Entertainment Tonight as well as a host for ETonline. She has covered events such as the San Diego Comic Con and even interviewed movie stars like John Boyega, who played Finn in the box office hit “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

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“I’ve been a Star Wars fan my entire life, so getting the opportunity to cover that movie in any capacity was such a dream come true,” said Crossan. “My favorite moment [of Comic Con] was during the Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel, director J.J. Abrams surprised all the fans with a John Williams-themed concert outside. They handed out light sabers to everyone and played Star Wars scores into the night!”

As producer and host, Crossan’s responsibilities are constantly changing. From writing multiple video scripts to conducting on-camera interviews, no one day is the same. Crossan credits ECU and the School of Communication’s multi-faceted approach to education for helping her prepare for the hectic demands of her job.

“The great thing about the School of Communication at ECU is the push to wearing many different hats and trying out an array of classes,” said Crossan. “You may not want to be an editor, writer, or a public relations specialist, but it’s good to know every facet of the industry so you can understand how these areas work.”

For fellow Pirates interested in her line of work, Crossan shared some advice on how to create a good interview.

“Everyone gets nervous [interviewing people]. When you’re nervous, you tend to focus on what you’re going to say next, rather than listening to your subject and being in the moment,” said Crossan. “When you’re comfortable, focused and just having a conversation with someone there’s a good chance you’ll pick up on something that will lead to an unexpectedly great story.”

She also stressed the importance of reaching out and networking with other professionals.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with people,” said Crossan. “It’s something people are afraid to do, but they shouldn’t be! I will never turn down an opportunity to give some advice or at least look at their resume and give feedback. Most people feel the same way.”

By Michael Avila