Meet Us in Charlotte, Wake County, and DC!

Ahoy there, Pirates! Do you want to meet fellow East Carolina University alumni in your area this summer? The East Carolina Alumni Association has several events this month around the Pirate Nation!

The Charlotte Chapter is holding an interest meeting this Thursday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Old Mecklenburg Brewery located at 4150 Yancey Road. No registration is required. If you’ve been looking for ways to get more involved and stay connected to ECU, this is a great way to start! If you can’t make it and still want to be involved, e-mail or follow the Charlotte Chapter on Facebook.

The Wake County Chapter is holding a casual meetup next Thursday, July 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Blackfinn Ameripub in Morrisville, NC. These meetups are held twice a month alternating between Morrisville and Raleigh. There’s no need to sign up ahead of time but e-mail  or follow the Wake County Chapter on Facebook for more information.

Finally, join us for a professional happy hour in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 28 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Flight Wine Bar located at 777 6th Street NW. Be sure to follow the DC Metro Chapter on Facebook!

All of the alumni association’s upcoming events can be found here.


Vasti Rodriguez ’11 ’15 Named First Year Teacher of the Year

Vasti7336When ECU alumna Vasti Rodriguez left the Dominican Republic for the United States, she already had an idea of what she wanted to do. Driven by her knowledge of the difference between the countries’ two different education systems, Rodriguez wanted to help students who need more individual attention.

“My experiences as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic helped [me] understand English language learners and ESL students,” said Rodriguez. “I understand the importance of using differentiation during a lesson and providing testing accommodations to students.”

Already 13 years old when she moved, some would think Rodriguez would struggle. But instead of struggling, Rodriguez has flourished. She currently works as a teacher at Wake County Schools and is already getting noticed for her hard work, as she was nominated for the county’s “First Year Teacher of the Year” award.

“I feel honored and surprised to be nominated for the “First Year Teacher of the Year” award. This whole year has been a learning process in instruction, classroom management, and developing my leadership skills in the classroom,” said Rodriguez. “Fuquay-Varina Middle School has a group of teachers that collaborate and enjoy teaching; their care for students’ education is contagious and motivates me to continue to grow as a teacher.”

Rodriguez is not only a great teacher, but also a devoted pirate. She completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at ECU and credits a lot of her success to the time she spent at her alma mater.

“[ECU taught me about] “differentiation” and how we all learn differently. I need to provide different ways to teach a lesson and allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge in their best capabilities,” said Rodriguez. “I continue to use strategies from my experiences as a graduate assistant and from my internship.”

With the early success and recognition it may be easy for many to stay focused on the present, but not for Rodriguez. She’s already focused on other goals, and hopes to achieve her dream job: a university professor position at ECU.

“I plan to continue working as a teacher while pursuing my doctorate degree. So far, I am interested in international comparative education and education psychology,” said Rodriguez. “I still haven’t decided [about leaving Wake County for ECU]. It would be a privilege to return to my alma mater as a university professor.”

With a successful start to her career, everything is looking up for Rodriguez. She had a message that she wanted to share with her fellow Pirates:

“I thank God every day for the support I received from teachers in the College of Education who helped me graduate and persevere through difficult circumstances,” said Rodriguez. “ECU is a great school! Take advantage of the opportunities!”

By Michael Avila

Young Alumnus Elected to District Board

matt_aboutBy Sara Strickroot

Matt Overby ’13 was recently elected to the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

Overby is one member of a five-member board that governs the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District. The district board helps fund conservation practices that help improve water quality. It also gives support to landowners and land users by assisting in managing water, soil, plants, and animals.

Overby is passionate about protecting North Carolina’s heritage. “I want to preserve North Carolina as our fathers and grandfathers knew it and raised us to love it. I felt that serving as a soil and water supervisor was a good way for me to help preserve that part of who we are as a people,” he says.

His biggest challenge is educating people on why soil and water conservation is so important. “Most people care about the values that we are trying to preserve once they know what it is that we do,” says Overby.

“I’ve always had a love for the culture and people of eastern North Carolina, from everything from country music, to barbeque, to the beach. East Carolina was a perfect fit for me. I also knew ECU had a great liberal arts program which was appealing to me majoring in political science,” says Overby.

While studying at ECU, he was a member of the ECU College Republicans organization.

“I am very proud to be a Pirate. I still have many friends that I met at ECU and keep in touch with some of my political science professors,” Overby says.