A Welcome from our Director
Welcome to our Fall 2018 newsletter!
As always, thanks for your ongoing partnership, commitment to our students, and work toward making our communities more just and equitable for all. This semiannual newsletter provides us with an opportunity to showcase some of the stories of impact and involvement across our institution and in our local and regional communities. This semester, our newsletter focuses on animal welfare.
In 1977, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the “Animal Welfare Act” to ensure the highest standards were in place for the treatment of animals. Since that time, local leaders -- students, concerned citizens, faculty -- have worked to educate the community on issues of ethical animal care, the positive health benefits of human-animal interaction, and the seemingly intractable problem of over breeding of domestic pets. In this semester’s newsletter, you’ll read about some local animal welfare efforts of citizen-leaders, including Michele Whaley, director of the Pitt County Animal Shelter and ECU graduate, and Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, Ph.D., ECU kinesiology professor who specializes in the connections among animal welfare, the health benefits of dog walking (she was even featured in a New York Times article), and service-learning pedagogy.
Included in this newsletter are a few additional stories about recent student-led Hurricane Florence recovery and rebuilding efforts. The collective effort to come together as a community in the face of devastation -- in a spirit of service -- was profoundly inspiring this past semester in the wake of Florence’s devastating path. Also, we share a story about Avery Trump, a 2017 ECU graduate and all-around student leader who lives out the value of ‘servire’ by working with women-owned businesses and helping them build up their leadership abilities and skills.
Woven through all the stories are the threads of deep learning from one another and working toward the well-being of our communities. I hope you find these stories as inspiring as we do, and I hope you share them with others. In these stories are the best of what ECU has to offer.
The CLCE newsletter highlights brief narratives of community partners, alums and faculty colleagues who are making a difference in the lives of our students. These strong faculty and community partners help us to accomplish our mission. The newsletter is published two times per year and is designed to briefly showcase impactful work in the community. All stories are written by students with the editorial assistance of professional staff members. If you have suggestions for future stories, please send them to email@example.com.
Mission: The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) at East Carolina University, in partnership with local, regional, and international communities, seeks to foster an environment where individuals learn about themselves and their community, take action through service, and advocate for lasting social change.
Developing Passion for Animals and Service Through Dog-Walking
Dr. Melanie Sartore started teaching in East Carolina University’s department of kinesiology in 2007 after receiving her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. During graduate school, she focused mainly on learning about gender and sexual orientation in sports and physical activity. While this work was limited to humans, she has now expanded her focus to include all species. ECU’s mission of giving back, specifically to eastern North Carolina, was a major draw for her. Dr. Sartore hopes that she can embody that mission of public service with the ‘more-than-human’ world as well as with her students.
Because of Dr. Sartore’s passion for engaging with students and serving the community, she has been teaching a service-learning course that caters mainly to students nearing graduation. The course, which was highlighted in a recent New York Times article, introduces the basics of fitness walking with companion animals. Sartore notes that one of the main goals of the course is to promote healthy lifestyles while doing good for the community. According to Sartore, “we know from research that college students become more sedentary over the course of their time spent on campus, and those lifestyle choices carry over into adulthood. So, this course is important for helping them understand the basics of fitness walking as well as connecting with companion animals… my hope is that they are going to see that this is a way to get physical activity throughout the rest of their lives.”
From Dr. Sartore’s perspective, giving back to the community in which her and her students live is of the greatest importance. The Pitt County Animal Shelter is the only open admission location in Pitt County, which was one of the reasons she chose to partner with this organization. Open admission means that the shelter has to accept any animal that comes in unless they are at full capacity. Participating in her course can be challenging because there is no guarantee that the same dogs will be there from week to week -- the animal may have been adopted or euthanized for a variety of reasons. Students often express how emotionally challenging this particular learning experience can be; however, the benefits outweigh this challenge. The stories that these students share in their reflections prove that the greatest purpose and reason for continuing their volunteerism is serving the animals and giving back to their community.
Opening the Doors for Volunteers through Service-Learning Partnerships
The Pitt County Animal Shelter’s partnership with a service-learning course has greatly benefited the organization through an increase in advocates and volunteers. Each new class provides ten more advocates who help raise awareness about the reality of how our society treats animals. Michele Whaley, director of the Pitt County Animal Shelter, says that “the more the shelter and its staff can educate the students, the better the partnership becomes.” This mission of educating the entire community -- with many stakeholders partnering together -- is how this organization strives to achieve its goals of promoting humane treatment and mitigating cruelty.
A majority of students who have taken the dog walking course come back later to volunteer with their sorority, club or organization, bringing in more people to love and care for the animals at the shelter. The class opens the door for students to volunteer in many different ways. Students have returned to foster dogs or make and donate handmade toys. The class has a far reaching impact because students see the ways that they can help, and they take the initiative to start making a difference in the animals’ lives.
The partnership with ECU initially began with an idea of incorporating fitness walking with the animal shelter's needs. Michele would like to broaden the program to include a “check-out a dog” time during the lunch hour. Additionally, she would like to explore the opportunity of offering a veterans program with emotional support animals. The shelter also hopes to expand their elementary education program and extend their reach past the five schools they are currently in.
When discussing her role as a co-educator, Michele said that she “can’t take credit for the success of this program.” Michele described that it “has been a team effort, but the majority of the program’s success is due to Dr. Sartore”. The overall goal of the Pitt County Animal Shelter, in conjunction with the dog walking class, is that students will realize the impact they can make on the animals and the shelter as a whole.
Campus Involvement Makes All the Difference
Avery Trump has been an ECU alum since 2017 when she graduated from the College of Business with a B.S. in hospitality management, concentrating in convention and special events management. Avery currently lives in Washington D.C. working as the Product Manager of Events for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs.
While at ECU, Avery sought to enhance her leadership abilities by attending LeaderShape and participating in the Chancellor’s Student Leadership Academy. Her involvement in these leadership programs ultimately prepared her for her career by teaching her how to collaborate with diverse groups of people and giving her a sense of confidence. Avery described that ECU shaped her work ethic by teaching her that “you have to work hard to get the outcome you want” and sometimes “you have to speak up when you see room for improvement.” These leadership programs also helped Avery make lifelong connections and gave her a peer support system that she still can rely on even after graduation.
A word that Avery strives to live by is Kaizen, which is Japanese for continuous improvement. The motivation that drove her to get to where she is now stemmed from her continual effort to grow. She learned that this required stepping outside of her comfort zone by putting herself in uncomfortable positions. Avery practiced this when she first joined the Student Activities Board (SAB) because she knew she needed to take the chance to get involved. She also stepped up as a student lead for the Pirates Give MLK Day of Service. Avery's involvement with the CLCE and SAB instilled in her a desire to continually chase growth and improvement.
Avery wishes she would have gotten involved on campus sooner because she feels that the advantages and resources could have made all the difference. Additionally, she wishes she could tell her former self that “it’s okay to not have it all together” and to remember that “you’re in the process of figuring it out.”
Cultivating a Culture of Service
More than 5,000 structures were damaged and 750 homes destroyed in New Bern after Hurricane Florence. The clean-up and rebuilding process will be long and requires many helping hands. ECU teamed up with relief agencies to do this work; one of them being Baptists on Mission. This is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is well known for its disaster relief efforts. The CLCE, with support from Campus Living, transported buses of students to New Bern on October 13 and October 27. Nearly 50 student volunteers worked alongside Baptists on Mission volunteers on these Service Saturdays doing debris removal and clean-up in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in New Bern.
These weekend opportunities were offered in addition to the four days of service planned by Pirates Give (Fall Day of Service, Make a Difference Day, MLK Day of Service and Earth Day of Service). Pirates Give is a signature, student-led organization in CLCE that hopes to cultivate a culture of service at ECU, living out our university motto of “servire.” Pirates Give leads the national days of service, coordinates one-time service opportunities throughout the academic year, and supports and equips the ECU community to lead and facilitate one-time service events.