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ECU Notes: Students spend summer learning on the job

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Glenesha Berryman

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ECU News Services

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Some East Carolina University students are turning summer vacation into a vocation at internships across the United States and beyond.

From teaching to public health, from weaving to writing, students have been learning about their intended professions while gaining valuable on-the-job experience before returning to campus this fall.

"Related work experience that adds to a student's academic preparation pays great dividends," said Jim Kuras, associate director of ECU Career Services. "Many of our students will complete multiple internships prior to graduation, and the experience, contacts and recommendations that they develop will definitely help launch their careers."

Employers use internship and co-op programs as a tool to recruit and retain students as potential post-graduation employees, making offers to nearly 73 percent of their interns and co-op students. Of those, about 60 percent will become full-time employees, Kuras said.

For English education major Glenesha Berryman, her summer internship has helped solidify her plan to work with underserved students after graduation.

The 19-year-old EC Scholar secured an eight-week teaching internship with Breakthrough Collaborative in Texas to help middle school students develop a plan to become the first in their family to attend college.

"I know that I have a passion for college access and working with high-achieving students that come from high-risk communities," Berryman said.

Logging more than 50 hours a week, Berryman teaches three classes of English and language arts at Manor Middle School in Manor, Texas. Her classes are comprised of 25 sixth-graders with Brazilian, Mexican, Hawaiian, Sudanese, Vietnamese, African-American and Thai backgrounds.

"I knew I would learn about teaching, but I have learned so much more about how to create a positive work culture that makes for a successful organization," Berryman said.

In some cases, summer internships have helped students identify the things they really enjoy, and the things they like less, about potential jobs.

Jaleel Kuteh, a public health studies major, landed a competitive internship with Project Imhotep, a partnership between Morehouse College and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Kuteh's hometown.

"This is one of the first major steps I have taken in my career," Kuteh said.

The 11-week internship is designed to develop skills in biostatistics, epidemiology and occupational health and safety. The internship started with two weeks of rigorous public health courses at Morehouse and instruction at the CDC.

From there, Kuteh was paired with a mentor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health where he helps research ways to disseminate key cancer findings between community members, researchers and stakeholders to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in eastern North Carolina.

Kuteh, 22, who wants to be an epidemiologist, said the most challenging aspect of the internship has been reading articles needed for the research and writing literature reviews.

While acknowledging research is significant in the public health field, Kuteh said he prefers doing hands-on work in the community.

"I am more inclined to the practical side of public health," Kuteh said. "I would like for the majority of my career to take place away from my desk."

Senior Emily Feege said working this summer at Valdese Weavers in western North Carolina has strengthened her decision to pursue a career in the textiles and design field.

She said she didn't really know about textiles until she took a survey class in the School of Art and Design.

"I was so interested in the introductory dying, weaving and silk painting processes that I knew I wanted to explore textiles further," Feege said.

When she was looking for a field experience, she thought of her great uncle, who has worked at Valdese Weavers for many years. She contacted the company to find out about internship opportunities and applied.

"Right now, I am doing research and working with a designer from Valdese Weaver's Circa 1801 brand to create a fabric from start to finish," Feege said. "I hope to learn the entire process of how jacquard fabrics are designed and woven. There is so much work that goes into each fabric."

Another student transferring skills from the classroom to the real world is Sahiti Marella, a junior majoring in public health studies with a minor in psychology.

Marella, who wants to attend medical school and conduct global health research, is interning at ECU's Innovation and Design Lab, which opened earlier this year on Jarvis Street near downtown Greenville. The internship was the first at the site specifically designed for an Honors College student.

Marella wants to work with underserved communities to improve health outcomes, especially for children, and provide better access to health care, knowledge and resources.

With that goal in mind, Marella is developing an interactive website with a series of fun and informative lessons on public health education for third- through fifth-graders.

Professor’s forecast model predicts election results

ECU political science professor Dr. Brad Lockerbie has developed an election forecast model that has correctly predicted the outcome of each presidential election since 1996.

There are many factors that can be considered when developing a forecast model, including poll results, popularity ratings and economic conditions.

“Mine is a very simple model that says there are two major factors,” Lockerbie said. “The first is that the longer a party has been in the White House, the harder it is to retain it. The second is people’s economic expectations; if you think your outlook stinks, you’re not likely to vote for the same party.”

The forecast model has been accurate in predicting the national popular vote in each presidential election, he said. It does not take into account the Electoral College.

This year, Lockerbie’s model predicts a very narrow (50.4 percent of the two-party vote) presidential win for the Democratic candidate and zero seat change in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would result in a continuation of divided government at the national level.

Lockerbie’s forecast model will be published in “PS: Political Science and Politics,” a publication of the American Political Science Association. It will also be included in Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a compilation of election forecasts published online by the University of Virginia at www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball.

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