Coming Home: Alumni to Speak to Graduates


Rick Atkinson ’74

Several alumni will return to campus to address graduates during commencement and other graduate recognition ceremonies May 6-7 at East Carolina University. For many, the visit marks a return to the origins of their careers and lives.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and military historian Rick Atkinson ’74 will deliver the main commencement address on Friday, May 6. After earning his English degree at ECU, Atkinson worked for 25 years with The Washington Post as a reporter, foreign correspondent and senior editor.

“It will be both an honor and a pleasure to return to Greenville as the 2016 commencement speaker. I arrived at ECU as a boy in 1970 and left as a scholar in 1974, and I’ll always be grateful for the role the university played in that transition,” said Atkinson.

Click here to read more about Atkinson via ECU News Services.

In addition, several alumni will be speaking at graduate recognition ceremonies hosted by units across campus both Friday and Saturday. These alumni say coming back to ECU is like coming home.

“Every time I return to ECU, a flood of memories come to me of all the great times that I had here both as a student and as an alumnus. It always feels like I’m going home,” says Brandon Ives ’03, who will be speaking at the School of Communication graduate recognition ceremony.

Ives is the co-founder and managing partner of Brasco Marketing and CEO at

“ECU taught me many things, most importantly how to communicate effectively on both an individual and group level,” Ives says.

He’ll be talking to the graduates about the importance of time. “I plan to touch on that point because learning time management and being aware of your time is critical to success,” he said.

Mary Carroll-Hackett ’98, ’99 will be speaking at the Department of English graduate recognition ceremony. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and anthropology and a master’s degree in creative writing. She is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. She is the author of multiple books and hundreds of literary journal articles, and the founding editor of SPACES literary/art online magazine.

“My time at ECU provided me the tools to succeed both creatively and professionally,” she said. “I learned discipline, how to think deeply and critically, how to take and use criticism, how to take on difficult material–reading it or writing it–and make it relevant to not only my life, but to the lives of others.”

Carroll-Hackett says she is very excited to return to ECU.

“I grew up in a little old trailer park out in the trees in eastern North Carolina. When I was a kid, ECU sat like the Emerald City from Oz in the distance, that place where my dreams could come true. And they have. So for me, coming back is literally coming home.”

Understanding the power of language is critical in any field or profession, she will tell the English degree graduates.

“I plan to tell them, as I do my own students here in Virginia, to remember, no matter your major, you will never possess a more powerful tool than the power of language. There is nothing more powerful than the power of words, and that is what those English majors have at their disposal, thanks to their faculty and the access they have to the fine education available at ECU.”

Alumni speakers at other units are as follows:

  • Department of Criminal Justice: Jeff Foster ’83, judge, Superior Court Judicial District 3A, alumni association board member
  • College of Business: Mark Copeland ’96, ECU trustee and executive at Ernst & Young
  • Department of Psychology: Dr. Garrett Hazleton ’11, clinical psychologist
  • Honors College: Linda Quick ’05, former EC Scholar, current professor of accounting at ECU

Visit for more information on the ceremonies.


By Jackie Drake



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s