College ceremony honors scholarship recipients, donors

With a family history attached to East Carolina University, Ben Hawkins knows he’s in the right place. A general engineering scholarship is helping him continue his family’s tradition.

“It’s important to me because a lot of my family has come to ECU, and it’s pretty cool to get a scholarship for doing what I want to at a school that’s meant a lot to my family,” said Hawkins, a junior engineering major from Hobbsville.

Scholarship recipient Asar Edmudson enjoys the festivities during the ceremony

Hawkins was among 67 scholarship recipients recognized during the College of Engineering and Technology’s Robert and Betty Hill Recognition of Excellence Awards Ceremony at the East Carolina Heart Institute.

Not only did the ceremony provide an opportunity to recognize student achievement, but it also provided the college’s students, faculty and staff the opportunity to thank donors who contributed to nearly $102,000 in student scholarships this year.

“I received scholarships when I was a student, and that was a blessing,” Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the college, told the roughly 200 people who attended the ceremony. “So many of our students are paying for college on their own, and student debt is a huge issue, so these scholarships do so much to relieve stress, relieve financial burden and help reduce that student loan debt so students aren’t carrying such a heavy burden on their backs as they go off into the world and pursue their careers. … We’re deeply grateful to all of the individuals and companies that have been so generous in providing scholarship funding.”

Robert and Betty Hill attended the event they have supported since it began in 2009.

“I can’t believe that it’s been that long,” Betty Hill said in speaking to attendees.

She thanked donors and said she and her husband can relate to the variety of students who make up the College of Engineering and Technology. Robert Hill came to ECU as a 17-year-old while she began her collegiate education after their daughter was in kindergarten.

“He can identify with the 17-year-olds, and I was 30 when I graduated from college, so I can identify with the older students,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. We had a child. He was working and I was able to go to college. But he is so thankful for what East Carolina did for him because it allowed him the opportunity to do that, to send me to college and to have a nice life.”

Kennedy Henderson, a senior construction management from Raleigh, received the Retail Contractors Association Scholarship.

“It’s knowing that my hard work in all my classes is paying off,” she said of the scholarship. “It’s helping me continue my education.”

She hopes to land a job as an assistant project manager for an underground utilities company, a career she said wouldn’t be possible without ECU.

“It’s been great,” she said. “All the professors have been super helpful, not only as great teachers but also just helping students make connections and get their names out there. Like all my best friends in the program, it’s brought me amazing opportunities.”

Zachary Willer stands with Dr. Harry Ploehn, dean of the college, after receiving the Sgt. David J. Smith United States Marine Memorial Leadership Award.

Zachary Willer, an engineering major with a concentration in biomedical engineering, will leave ECU with undergraduate and master’s degrees as part of the accelerated program. He received the Sgt. David J. Smith United States Marine Memorial Leadership Award that honors the industrial distribution and logistics major who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.

“It’s a huge honor to be given a scholarship in the name of a fellow ECU Pirate,” Willer said in thanking Smith’s family and friends. “I know David lived his life with leadership, integrity and service, and I’m proud to have this opportunity to follow in his footsteps. This scholarship means a lot to me. It’s going to allow me to do a lot of great things here at ECU.”

Anyone interested in supporting College of Engineering and Technology student scholarships can go online to the college’s website and click on the giving tab.

Department of Computer Science scholarship recipients include Asar Edmundson and Kenly Montes.

Department of Construction Management scholarship recipients include Madison Byrd; Robert Ellis; Elmer Mateo-Estrada; James Harper; Nathaniel Hanselman; Morgan Dixon; John Pendergrass; Abel Contreras-Ramirez; Courtney Baker; Mystery Knope; Christian Batchelor; Kennedy Henderson; Shelton Hankins; Brady McKay; Joshua McCarter; Dayton McDonald; Robert Smith; Jakob Nilsson; Devin Rivenbark; David Styron; and Carson Haithcox.

Department of Engineering scholarship recipients include Christopher Pietryk; Awesome Akinbanjo; Ariel Lineberger; Ben Hawkins; Madison French; Brielle Wagner; Kenechukwu Nwadiaro; Devon Rhodes; Jackson Grimes; Lindsey Moore; Anthony Corprew; Daniel Franklin; Nathan Sossoman; and Hannah Sowers.

Department of Technology Systems scholarship recipients include Kaleb Janson; Brittany Barwick; Kendra Chestnutt; Andrew Shell; Damaris Jackson; Jared Tyndall; Savannah Nelson; Star Pridgen Crocker; Anisah Suraleigh; Jonathan Pittard; Che Morrissey-Miles; Jacob Pleasant; Miles Mayer; and Zachary Korosi.

College of Engineering and Technology scholarship recipients include Emily Lusk; Miles Mayer; Zachary Willer; Hannah Blackburn; Awesome Akinbanjo; Hannah Sowers; Kaleb Janson; Kenly Montes; Jacob Pleasant; and Joshua Williams.

For an entire photo gallery from the awards ceremony, go to the college’s Facebook post.

Scholarship recipient Kendra Chestnutt speaks to scholarship donor Timothy Gomez during the ceremony.