Fall 2022 graduates recognized during ceremony

From near and far, 280 students in the College of Engineering and Technology were honored Friday as graduates of East Carolina University.

One by one, names were called and walks were made across a stage to cheers and applause from family and friends during the college’s Graduate Recognition Ceremony at Minges Coliseum.

Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, speaks during the ceremony. (Photo by Ken Buday)

Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the college, congratulated the graduates and their families on successful journeys that will lead to life-changing careers in computer science, construction management, engineering and technology — or to perhaps graduate school or doctoral programs.

“Graduates, you have worked very hard, persevered and made it across the finish line,” Ploehn said, pointing out the support they have received from so many family members and friends along the way.

He thanked the college’s faculty and staff, and told graduates to stay in touch with them. “We will always be here to help you in any way we can,” he said.

As the new ECU alumni filed out of the coliseum, those faculty and staff members lined up, doling out hugs, high-fives and handshakes.

“Whether it’s a new job, the next job or grad school, you all have new horizons waiting on you, as Pirates, to go and capture,” Ploehn told the graduates. “Based on your accomplishments so far, we have every reason to believe that you will triumph in your next Pirate adventure. Congratulations graduates, and now, let’s celebrate.”


With his hardhat firmly on his head, construction management graduate Malachi Woods has a clear path — working with his father at Woods Construction Group in Maxton where he grew up.

Graduate Malachi Woods poses with family after commencement on Friday. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“My dad’s a general contractor, so I’m going back home,” Woods said. “I’m the oldest out of four, so I’ll be taking that over in a few years and will eventually get my general contractor’s license. We do a lot of commercial work.”

Woods said he enjoyed his experience at ECU but realizes the next step in life is ahead.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said of graduating. “I’m going to miss Greenville, and I’m going to miss my friends for sure, seeing them every day. But I’m just ready to go make some money now.”

Coming from a town with roughly 2,100 people to Greenville and its 88,700 people proved a big change for Woods.

“It was a whole big learning experience,” he said of his time at ECU. “I learned a lot about life and learned a lot about myself. I learned there is a whole lot more than Maxton, North Carolina. I grew up a lot in Greenville.”


Maycie McDougal’s parents traveled from Texas to see her graduate with a degree in engineering with a concentration in mechanical engineering.

Engineering graduate Maycie McDougal enjoys her time with family and friends before the ceremony. (Photo by Ken Buday)

“I’m really excited,” McDougal said. “I’m excited to not be living as a student and to get the opportunity to make some money and start my career.”

Not only did McDougal excel in the classroom, but she also found success as a member of ECU’s women’s soccer team, which enjoyed an 8-8-3 season that included a berth in the American Athletic Association conference tournament and victories over a ranked Southern Methodist squad and Southeastern Conference foe Florida.

“I’m really excited I went out on such a high note, and I think the program’s only going to get better,” said McDougal, crediting coach Gary Higgins and her teammates.

As for academics, she credits her “type A personality” with her ability to balance her studies with athletics as well as professors she said were understanding of missed classes and a few late assignments because of her commitment to soccer. She said the engineering professors care about their students and create a family atmosphere that made her decision to travel 18 hours from her home to attend ECU the right one.

“I’m just grateful to ECU, the Department of Engineering, all my soccer coaches and teammates and everyone who has made it such a positive place to be,” McDougal said. “I know it’s cliché, but it really is my little home away from home. It’s going to be weird not to come back here next semester.”


Hunter Leggett enjoyed the opportunity to hear his name called and to walk across the stage to receive his master’s in network technology, with a concentration in information security.

Graduate Hunter Leggett stands with Dr. Tijjani TJ Mohammed, chair of the Department of Technology Systems. (Photo by Ken Buday)

“I really enjoyed that I got to experience it because I was a little sad I didn’t get to do it with my undergrad (degree) because we were in the middle of COVID,” Leggett said. “I appreciate the safety steps they took, but still, going to college, you can’t wait to walk across the stage, and I finally got to experience that.”

Leggett was among the first recipients of the Dr. Tijjani “TJ” Mohammed Award for Academic Excellence, a new award that honors high-achieving graduate students in the Department of Technology Systems. Dale Drummond, Christopher Kirkland and Jonathan Taylor also received the award.

“It’s seeing all the hard work and all of the effort that I put into the classroom as well as a G.A. (graduate assistant) come to fruition,” Leggett said of the recognition. “It’s a brand-new award, so being honored to be one of the first people to ever get this award is just a very great and amazing experience.”

Leggett started at ECU in 2017, obtaining a bachelor’s in information and computer technology. In all, he spent 5 1/2 years at ECU, which included serving as president of the Information Systems Security Association student organization.

“It’s been a fun journey, but it hasn’t been without challenges,” he said. “When I came here as a freshman, I really didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t know what I was walking into. But throughout the journey, I’ve made a lot of good relationships with students and faculty. I’ve really been able to enjoy the community of ECU.”


Originally from Mumbai, India, but now working in Raleigh as an information technology architect, Narsimha Narayankhedkar came to Greenville Friday to receive his master’s in data science. As a working parent, he said ECU’s program in the Department of Computer Science offered a virtual option that fit perfectly.

Master’s graduate Narsimha Narayankhedkar poses with his family. (Photo by Ken Buday)

“I knew when I applied to this program that being a working professional with two growing children would be difficult and stressful because kids have their own schedules, and I would have to divide my time equally,” he said. “However, with better time management and dedicated study schedules, I was able to complete my master’s degree without falling behind on any of my coursework.

“Although I attended all the classes virtually, I really felt like I was on campus interacting with my classmates, and the professors were just an email or Teams message away to answer my questions. And somedays when work got busy, I was grateful that the class lecture recordings were available for a later viewing.”

He said ECU’s program included work on machine learning, artificial intelligence and data visualization that would help his career development.

“This program has really broadened my horizons, and I can see myself using the skills learned here in the future,” he said.

Narayankhedkar said he was proud of the hard work he had put in during the last three years to obtain his degree.

“I hope that seeing me receive my degree inspires my children to believe that they, too, can aspire to be anything they want if they put their minds to it,” he said.

For a list of College of Engineering and Technology fall 2022 graduates, click here.

A graduate waves to family and friends during the ceremony. (Photo by Ken Buday)