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Musical Empowerment chapter members teach children weekly lessons

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Musical Empowerment is a nonprofit organization where college students offer K-12 free private music lessons.


By ECU News Services

Sunday, March 31, 2019

East Carolina University students are making music accessible to elementary, middle and high school students in Greenville through a new program called Musical Empowerment.

The ECU chapter is one of six in the country and one of the only ones with a dedicated teaching space.

Two years ago, Molly Lowder, a senior Honors College music scholar majoring in music performance and international studies, heard about the nonprofit organization based in Carrboro. College students teach free, weekly private music lessons to children in grades K-12.

The goal is to reach students who otherwise would not be able to take private music lessons. All necessary materials are provided at no cost including instruments, accessories, music, stands and other learning tools.

“We recognize that not everyone has access to private lessons, so we attempt to bridge that gap of privilege by offering them for free,” said Kelly Hruska, a sophomore music education major and co-president and co-founder of the chapter at ECU with Lowder.

Since becoming a chapter last spring, the program has continued to grow with regular participants ranging from kindergarteners to juniors in high school. There are currently eight students in the program.

“It’s just exciting to be in a place where the two years seem to have flown by and now, we are at a point where we have so many opportunities to grow,” Lowder said.

Lessons are provided weekly at rented studio space in Greenville.

The program is an opportunity for college students to have one-on-one relationships with K-12 students in the area.

“I believe in the importance of empowering mentorship,” Lowder said. “While we do focus on learning music and encourage excellence in our students, our mission is not to create an output of prodigy children. In the end, our program has been successful if our students leave it knowing that they are important, they are loved, they are smart, and that they are capable of being whoever they want to be.”

The student teachers also learn in the program.

“In a way it’s been empowering not just to my students, but also for me. I’ve realized that I am a very capable person and I can teach music to kids and that’s really cool for me,” Hruska said.

Students in the program are also offered free instruments during their lessons through the Instrument Lending Program associated with Musical Empowerment. After being in the program for three years, students are eligible to take home their instruments at no cost for the remainder of their time in the program.

“We really try to equip our families with what they need to help them get the most out of this mentorship program,” Lowder said.

The student teacher application can be found at https://festi-me.herokuapp.com/teacher/131 . The student enrollment application can be found at https://festi-me.herokuapp.com/parentguardian/134 .

Professor receives DAR History Award medal

ECU professor of anthropology Dr. Charles R. Ewen has received the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution History Award Medal. Linda Gill, Edward Buncombe Chapter representative of the organization, presented Ewen with the medal at a reception in his honor on March 20 in ECU’s Joyner Library.

“This is extraordinary. I am honored to be recognized by the DAR for my work in historical archaeology,” Ewen said. “I consider all my work to be public and am grateful to find that the public appreciates what I do.”

According to the society’s website, the medal is given to an individual or group whose study and promotion of some aspect of American history – on the regional or national level – has significantly advanced the understanding of America’s past.

“This National Office takes great pleasure in granting permission to award the DAR History Award Medal to Charles R. Ewen,” wrote Virginia Hudson Trader, historian general of the NSDAR, in a letter approving the award.

“Dr. Ewen is certainly a worthy recipient of the DAR History Award Medal,” said Dr. Randy Daniel, chair of the Department of Anthropology. “Apropos of this award, Charlie’s work in historical archaeology in North Carolina has undoubtedly advanced the understanding of America’s past both at a regional and national level.”

Ewen’s research interests focus mostly on historical archaeology, specifically the contact and colonial periods. However, he has worked on many archaeology sites from prehistoric villages to Civil War fortifications and 20th-century homesteads.

“Perhaps best known is his scholarship of the archaeology of piracy and the fate of the fabled Lost Colony of Roanoke,” Daniel said. “Charlie’s advocacy of the importance of American history, as can be seen and touched in the archaeological record, is always inspiring.”

Ewen serves as director of the Phelps Archaeology Laboratory at ECU. In addition, he teaches courses to undergraduate and graduate students and directs many hands-on field sessions.

The DAR was founded in 1890 and boasts nearly 200,000 members and 3,000 chapters across the United States and abroad. Their members dedicate themselves to historic preservation, promotion of education and encouragement of patriotic endevour. The national headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the DAR, visit https://www.dar.org .

Cavanagh named biochemistry chair

Dr. John Cavanagh has been named chair of the Brody School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology effective April 1.

Cavanagh currently serves as founder and chief scientific officer for Agile Sciences, a Raleigh-based company focused on providing solutions to antibiotic resistance. He also is an adjunct professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry. He has served since 2009 as director of the Jimmy V-NCSU Cancer Therapeutic Training Program.

From 2012 to 2014, Cavanagh served as N.C. State’s assistant vice chancellor for research development. He was interim president of the David H. Murdock Research Institute at the North Carolina Research Campus from 2014-2017, and he held the post of William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in N.C. State’s Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry between 2008-2016.

Cavanagh also has taught in Purdue University’s Department of Chemistry and served as director of the Structural Biology Facility at the Wadsworth Center, part of the New York State Department of Health. He was a senior research associate in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute.

Cavanagh earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Cambridge University in 1988, after which he completed an NIH post-doctoral fellowship at the Scripps Research Institute.

Cavanagh’s honors and awards include a 2017 RTI International Career Author Award, 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year at N.C. State, and an N.C. State Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award, among many others. He is the author of numerous international publications.