SECU PFI News
Read more about our SECU Public Fellowship Internship Program experiences.
It’s the ideal scenario for a Pirate voyaging to a career with an environmental focus: a summer internship with an organization that works to protect, restore and preserve our state’s coast. ECU senior Dietrich Downing came to the SECU Public Fellows Internship program looking for a professional development opportunity that blended his love of geography, maps and the environment. When he landed an internship with the NC Coastal Federation, he said, “It was pretty much perfect.”
Going from a mostly online, data- and coding-focused environment to an in-person environment that deals with human emotion and well-being can be a hard transition to make. But rising ECU senior Jasmine Johnson found the experience inspiring. A psychology major with a deep interest in technology, she enjoys learning coding and software programs. And, she knew the work being done at One Place was of great benefit to the community.
Ashr Burgess has pursued photography during his time at ECU and has an interest in alternative processing, a more creative approach to the medium. With his sight set on graduation and potentially opening his own business, he wanted a chance to step into the art world he hoped to pursue outside of school — but without all the pressure. When Burgess received an email about the SECU Public Fellows Internship program from a professor, he jumped at the chance to apply for the position with the Greenville Museum of Art.
Edwards connects with Weldon in Action’s mission
We’ve all driven through, grew up in, or may even live in a small town that used to be the bustling, lively hub of the region. But now, the streets are lined with vacant, crumbling buildings. Businesses are sparse, and the lasting residents are left feeling forgotten. Experiencing the bottom of the life cycle of a community is not a problem unique to rural NC. Luckily, many community leaders and organizations are picking up the torch to spur a comeback. This effort is something SECU Public Fellows Internship Program participant Alex Edwards witnessed at the ground level.
Williams learns ins and outs of nonprofit, service
It’s morning, and you place your feet on the ground to start your day. What do you do first? Open the windows to see the sun streaming in? Start the coffee and prepare your breakfast? Jump in the shower? Run through the day’s schedule in your head? Now consider opening your eyes each morning to darkness. You carefully get ready with items placed in specific, routine spots. You have little control over your schedule because you rely on services or others to get you from one location to another. But you hope there will be a chance to connect with someone — maybe take part in an activity. Enter ECU’s Constance Williams.
Martinez-Santoyo moves from the lab to the field
Encouraged by a lab director to apply, biology major Ivan Martinez-Santoyo shared his love of science with young campers as an intern at A Time for Science in Grifton. There, he found the summer internship to be a huge change of pace from work in an office or lab but benefitted from the experience and found his voice.
Turner teaches value of environment, service
Introducing the next generation of potential Pirates to the joys of the environment is just a part of what drew Brittany Turner to the Pitt County-based Love A Sea Turtle (LAST) organization where she’s been a volunteer for the past six years. This year, Turner was able to partner with LAST as an intern through ECU’s Public Service Internship program sponsored by the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union. The change in title came with a change in responsibilities, but Turner didn’t shy away from the challenge.
Shingleton monitors environmental health of region’s rivers
Will Shingleton, an environmental health major and Centennial Fellow in the ECU Honors College, spent much of the summer handling river samples, kayaking down eastern North Carolina waterways and sometimes soaring above the Tar-Pamlico River Basin. His love of the outdoors led him to the Public Fellows Internship (PFI) program where he connected with the Washington-based nonprofit with the mission of protecting the region’s watersheds.
Kemp partners with NC CIVIL to support West Greenville community
Specializing in outreach, citizen engagement and partnership development for community-based initiatives, NC CIVIL found a perfect partner to help advance its work — the Public Fellows Internship (PFI) program at ECU. Rising senior Emma Kemp, a political science major in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, was nervous about finding her role with the organization. But, as the summer progressed, her passion for community engagement was stoked by NC CIVIL and its director Jermaine McNair.
McManus develops entrepreneurship resources for library
Libraries aren’t traditionally the place you go for small business support, but one East Carolina University student is changing that perception in Wayne County. Accounting major Dejah McManus, an Indian Trail, native helped the Wayne County Public Library launch Project Click! this fall as part of her State Employees’ of North Carolina Public Fellows Internship (PFI). Project Click! is a grant-funded program that assists aspiring business owners in the county by providing training and equipment to help get their new business off the ground. The program offers entrepreneurship training through the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, virtual marketing webinars, access to a job and career accelerator database, and digital photography equipment and editing software.
Smith shares nonprofit’s message with region
Moving around during childhood can be stressful for any student constantly boxing up and uprooting their lives. After more than four moves and a constant reshuffling of schools and friends, Detroit native Nathaniel Smith finally settled in Charlotte. Smith has found a new home in eastern North Carolina with the Eastern Carolina Vocational Center (ECVC) thanks to the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Public Fellows Internship program.
Modi emphasizes giving back to others
For many nonprofits, it’s not just their mission that defines them, but the connections they build within their communities. East Carolina University sophomore Vedika Modi learned about the importance of those connections during her internship with the Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children this fall as part of the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Public Fellows Internship (PFI) program. The public health and English double major, who has aspirations of pursing a medical degree, stepped out of the classroom and navigated COVID-19 restrictions to help strengthen the partnership’s connections with parents and children across its two-county service area.
Stamper finds purpose with Hope Restorations
You might think the life of a pageant queen is all glitz and glam, but East Carolina University junior Bailey Stamper is changing that perception with hammers and nails as an intern at Hope Restorations Inc. in Kinston. The 2018 Miss Goldsboro Pageant winner found a home with a ministry that builds homes, offering second chances to those that have stared down their demons. The organization, founded in 2016 by Sharon United Methodist Church Pastor Chris Jenkins, provides home renovation jobs for men who were incarcerated or recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Stamper, whose father is a minister, saw Hope Restorations as the perfect fit as part of the SECU Public Fellows Internship Program.
Dixon bridges communities through arts council
Art has a special way of bringing communities together, often bridging economic and racial classes despite innate differences between contrasting groups. Rising East Carolina University senior Christina Dixon used her summer internship with the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston to explore ways to link divergent factions through artistic endeavors, hoping to unite communities around one-of-a-kind works produced by regional artists. What she found was a community rich with talent, but struggling to connect with local residents that are vital to keeping the arts thriving in Kinston and Lenoir County.
Patel helps refugees at New Bern ministry
Across the globe, more than 24 million refugees faced political, cultural and religious persecution in 2018. With help from East Carolina University intern Nilam Patel, one New Bern organization is helping some of those refugees start new lives in eastern North Carolina. For more than 25 years, Interfaith Refugee Ministry has dedicated itself to helping the world’s most vulnerable people rebuild their lives after fleeing their home countries. Patel, who’s partnering with the ministry through the SECU Public Fellows Internship Program, has seen what it’s like up close and personal for refugees trying to start anew in a strange country.
Whittington shares tales of Beaufort County businesses
Behind every successful business venture there’s a story. Rising East Carolina University junior Hunter Whittington spent his summer telling those stories as an SECU Public Fellows Intern with the Beaufort County Economic Development (BCED) Office. A double major in political science and economics, Whittington wouldn’t say he’s a natural storyteller. However, his unique way with words, combined with the BCED staff’s innate number-crunching skills, allowed him to tackle economic development in a new way.
Interns find home in Columbia community
Tucked away on the banks of the Scuppernong River just off the Albemarle Sound, Columbia, N.C., is a little less well known than its South Carolina counterpart. That anonymity hasn’t been a problem for East Carolina University interns Aleix Murphy and Liz Garrett, who’ve spent their summer at the Pocosin Arts Center as part of the SECU Public Service Fellows internship program. The center has operated a teaching studio and gallery in Columbia since 1995, providing the community with art programs, workshops, summer camps and festivals over the past 20 years.
Neurobiology to Marine Biology
Between hosting interactive exhibits and hand feeding aquatic animals as part of her internship at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, rising East Carolina University sophomore Emily Scott has one specific interest on her mind. Neurobiology. “I’ve been interested for a while in neuroscience and genetics, specifically neurodegenerative diseases,” Scott said. “When I was a kid, I was interested in marine biology, but as I got older, I shifted from that interest to neurobiology.”
Internship gives Jamadar chance to learn about self, others
The knowledge and skills gained from summer internships aren’t only useful in business settings. Some opportunities transcend traditional learning experiences, offering the chance for students to learn more about themselves and their personality – fundamentally changing one’s perception of the world. That type of adventure was just what rising senior Shamin Jamadar was looking for this summer as part of her SECU Public Service Fellows internship with Greenville’s ACES for Autism.
Coleman educates at aquarium
A hush falls across a darkened room at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island in Manteo. Seated in front of the aquarium’s “Graveyard of the Atlantic” exhibit, a group of children huddle together as schools of fish dart in and out of the exhibit’s sunken warship. Led by East Carolina University undergraduate Jynx Coleman, the aquarium’s visitors are treated with a presentation on the three species of sharks and nearly 100 different fish that call the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” exhibit home.
Rowe fighting regional erosion
Rising East Carolina University junior Nathan Rowe knew that his summer internship with the Tyrrell County Soil and Water Conservation District wouldn’t be boring. He just didn’t know quite how exciting it would be. “So here we are, coming back to the truck after a day of spraying for alligator weed, and we realize the water in the sound is kind of rough and choppy,” Rowe said. “Next thing I know, we’re riding down a ditch alongside the road, churning up mud and water as we try to make it back. That’s when I knew I wasn’t going to be bored this summer.”
Stanton planning Uptown’s future
Pitt County residents love the amenities Uptown Greenville has to offer. From dining at a local restaurant or walking through the weekly Umbrella Market in the summer, there’s plenty to due in the growing business district. What visitors love a little less? A lack of parking. East Carolina University rising senior William Stanton is trying to alleviate that pain point, among others, during his internship with Uptown Greenville. Stanton’s internship is part of ECU’s Office of Community Engagement and Research’s SECU Public Service Fellows internship program.