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First day back: ECSU students return to class

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Elizabeth City State University students Mykal Polite (left) and Davaye Butler-Taylor (center) walk with Butler-Taylor’s 13-year-old brother, Devin Butler-Taylor, near the new STEM Complex on the ECSU campus on the first day of classes, Tuesday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Students at Elizabeth City State University returning for the first day of classes on Tuesday said they noticed more students on campus, upgrades to campus facilities and an uptick in activities for students.

“They’re trying to get more students involved in activities,” said sophomore Jade Mitchell.

Over the weekend there were a number of recreational and social activities for students who had moved into campus residence halls for the semester, Mitchell said. One activity that Mitchell said she especially enjoyed was a kickball game held on the softball field.

One of the more obvious things Mitchell has noticed since returning is that more students are on campus.

Mitchell said she’s looking forward to her fall semester classes. The Elizabeth City native said she is majoring in physical education and plans to teach health and physical education in middle school. Her long-term goal is to become a school athletic director.

Even students who aren’t studying aviation are enjoying the new airplane replica on the lawn in front of the STEM Complex, Mitchell said. The building previously known as the Pharmacy Complex is now the STEM Complex, and in front of it is a one-tenth scale model of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet.

For aviation science major Noah Gunter, a junior from Sanford, the jet replica is a symbol of the progress the aviation program has made just in the time he’s been at ECSU.

“It’s beautiful,” Gunter said of the replica aircraft. He said it’s especially appropriate on a campus that hosts the only four-year aviation science degree in the state.

Gunter noted that when he started in 2017 the university had only two airplanes for flight instruction. The fleet has since grown fivefold.

“If that doesn’t show devotion right there I don’t know what does,” Gunter said.

Gunter said he came to ECSU because of his interest in aviation and has enjoyed being part of the program’s growth. His career interest is in aviation management.

Gunter said he also has enjoyed being involved in a variety of student activities at the university.

Many classes Tuesday included an explanation of what to expect this semester.

For instance, Melody Brackett, professor of social sciences and director of the university’s social work program, told students in the fundamentals of interviewing class Tuesday afternoon that they would be doing a lot of role-play activities during the semester. She said the activities are designed to hone students’ skills in listening; questioning; relationship building; recording; technology; observation; oral and written communication; problem solving; and critical thinking.

Mykal Polite, a freshman from Elizabeth City, said he is familiar with the campus because his mother works at the university. That familiarity was a factor in his deciding to come to ECSU, he said.

Polite is majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing. He also plays trumpet and is looking forward to being a part of the Marching Vikings at ECSU.

Polite said he likes the variety of student activities on campus.

“The campus tries to keep students engaged,” he said. “This whole week is welcome back week.”

Polite said he missed the grand opening at the bowling alley Friday night but looks forward to spending time there.

“Bowling is one of my hobbies,” he said.

Chancellor Karrie Dixon said the grand-opening at the bowling alley was a lot of fun. She said she was there with students until 10:30 p.m.

Davaye Butler-Taylor, a sophomore from Elizabeth City, is majoring in kinesiology. He said he would like to be a physical education teacher and teach in the Elizabeth City area.

“There’s not many male teachers around here,” Butler-Taylor said.

He said he has noticed a lot of upgrades on campus this year, including the new STEM Complex.

“And they’ve got chairs out here for people,” he said, pointing to some outdoor courtyard seating that has been put in place in the past year. “It just makes you feel more at home.”

Like other returning students, Butler-Taylor also has noticed a lot more students on campus this year.

His 13-year-old brother, Devin Butler-Taylor, was on campus with him Tuesday afternoon and is already making plans to follow other family members by attending ECSU.

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