ECU engineering and technology graduates recognized at ceremony

Shouts and smiles, tears and tassels, proud parents and plenty of purple — it’s graduation day for the College of Engineering and Technology at East Carolina University.

Graduate Grace Krell, left, stands with fellow graduate Hannah Roberson.

“I’m very excited for the day, but it is bittersweet,” graduate Grace Krell said. “Getting my engineering degree was extremely hard, and I am glad to have gotten through all of the tough classes, but I will miss ECU.”

Saturday’s college recognition ceremony — a day after ECU’s main commencement celebration — allowed more than 415 spring and summer graduates to hear their names announced and to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas to cheers from family and friends.

“There is a lot to be excited about regarding this particular moment in college,” said Dhruv Atma, an information and computer technology graduate with a concentration in computer networking. “It is all about being able to celebrate the accomplishments that I have achieved during my four years at ECU.”

Atma, from Chapel Hill, is the first in his family to get a college degree.

“Being a first-generation college graduate means a lot,” he said. “It feels terrific to have this title on my belt.”

He thanked his parents for their support and inspiration.

Dhruv Atma is a first-generation college graduate.

“They dreamed that it would happen, and it did happen,” he said.

He said his best memories are of classes, projects, football games and the friends he made along the way.

“But, of course, I would not have been able to get the experience I got without the professors and the guidance they have given me during my four years,” he said.

Dr. Jason Yao, associate dean of the college, filled in on stage for Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the college, whose own children were graduating from college this weekend. He welcomed parents and family members to the ceremony and reminded the graduates to show appreciation to all those who helped them reach this milestone.

“Earning a degree from ECU, in the College of Engineering and Technology, is certainly an unforgettable journey in your life,” Yao told the graduates. “Now you are ready for new, bright chapters ahead of you. Whether it’s a new job, a next job or grad school, you have new horizons waiting for you, as Pirates, to go and capture. I want to encourage you to be bold, keep trying and never give up. We have every reason to believe that you will triumph in your next adventure.”

For Krell, her next adventure will be working as a certification engineer at Collins Aerospace in Winston-Salem, which is near her hometown of Clemmons. She leaves ECU with double concentrations in industrial and systems engineering as well as biomedical engineering. She has minors in music and mathematics.

When she came to ECU, she joined the Society of Women Engineers student organization and served on its executive board. The group’s annual STEM Fundraising Gala resulted in $20,000 in donations going to support STEM education in Pitt County.

“I will never forget the feeling of being able to hand over a large donation toward this cause every year,” she said.

She said she would always cherish her memories of ECU.

“My time at ECU has been some of the best years of my life,” Krell said. “From engineering to music, I have been able to experience so much that this campus has to offer. ECU gave me my best friends, my favorite memories and the tools that I need to succeed within my career.”

For Atma, he’s considering job offers but does know one thing for sure.

“I will always bleed purple and gold forever,” he said. “Also, I am glad to be a part of the graduation class of 2022. Lastly, I want to say that once an ECU Pirate, always an ECU Pirate. Go Pirates!”