Nearly 90 students were recognized at the Robert E. and Betty S. Hill Ceremony

Nearly 90 students received honors during the College of Engineering and Technology’s Robert E. and Betty S. Hill Recognition of Excellence Awards Ceremony Sept. 26 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University.

Tucker Harrison Robbins speaks during the ceremony as Dean Harry Ploehn listens.

“This is a special day,” said Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the college.

Not only were the scholarship recipients honored during the ceremony, but also the donors who provided the funds for those scholarships were recognized.

“Your contributions speak louder than words and help keep students like me on the right path at pursuing their educational and career aspirations,” student Tucker Harrison Robbins told the gathering.

Robbins, a junior studying industrial distribution and logistics, received the Lemuel and Gail Clayton Scholarship.

“I will be the first one in my immediate family to obtain a four-year degree from a university,” Robbins said. “My parents and family members have always been very supportive throughout my academic career, so to receive this scholarship sheds light on my hard work and dedication over the years and gives me a boost of confidence to keep chasing my dreams.”

Jackson Alexander Gardner, second from left, received the David J. Smith Leadership Award.

Jackson Alexander Gardner received the David J. Smith Leadership Award, named in honor of a former ECU student who was killed while serving with the Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2010. Smith was scheduled to graduate in 2011 with a degree in industrial distribution and logistics.

“It’s truly inspiring to see how many lives David touched,” Gardner said. “David truly left his legacy in a lot of us, in his family and in his friends. His legacy lives on today in me and is something I’ll never forget. Hopefully, I’ll be able to graduate from here with an engineering degree and touch someone else the way their family has touched me and how David has impacted my life and allowed me to live my dreams.”

Gardner said the scholarship means he can continue to reach his academic goals.

“Growing up in a low-income household meant that a lot of my dreams may not have always been attainable, and even coming into college, I was worried about how I was going to pay for it,” Gardner said. “With this scholarship, it’s ensured that I can continue living my dream that I have had since I was a young boy of coming to college and making my family proud.”

Christopher Dujuan Lott enjoys the awards ceremony.

Ezequiel Jaramillo, who received the Barry Duvall-Timothy Gomez Teachers Choice Scholarship, said the awards provide the students with continued inspiration.

“It gives us a drive that someone cares for us,” he said. “It pushes us that extra mile.”

Jaramillo is in his last semester at ECU.

“I wanted to thank all the professors, the instructors and the deans because without you, we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “You are the backbone of our lives, our futures and our goals.”

Betty Hill speaks during the awards ceremony.

Betty Hill spoke on behalf of her husband Robert, a 1962 ECU graduate in industrial arts.

“He credits East Carolina with being able to provide us with a really good living,” she said.

She said her husband had a long career in the shipbuilding industry in Newport News, Virginia, and later at the naval shipyard apprentice school in Norfolk, Virginia.

“East Carolina has meant a lot to both of us,” she said.

More pictures from the event are available on the College of Engineering and Technology Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ecucet/.

— By Ken Buday, University Communications