|Transcript of James Mauldin Interview|
|Date of Interview:||April 20, 2008|
|Location of Interview:||Raleigh, N.C.|
|Length:||MP3 - 82 Minutes; 20 Seconds|
There were four people that lived in the house.
Okay, today is Sunday, April 20th. My name is Marty Tschetter and I'm here to interview Mr. James Mauldin. Do you mind about--about--it's for the ECU Oral History Project on First Generation College Graduates; do you remind if we record this?
No; that's fine.
Okay, so this is your story and we do appreciate you letting us--allowing us the opportunity. So I guess we'll start off if you could tell us more about your background, like your family and where you grew up, I guess we'll start there and then you know how you--how you made the way to ECU and that kind of thing?
All right. Well I grew up in Jonesville, North Carolina, which is 45-minutes west of Winston-Salem. There's about I don't know probably 6,000 people there; there's too many people to know everybody by name, but there was enough people that if I saw you I could tell whether or not you were from town basically. And I grew up in a couple of different houses, mainly spent most of my time with my grandparents; my grandma lived on--on Cherry Street and my great-grandma and great-grandfather lived on River View Road and I spent all of my time at
those two places. Didn't like school; hated school. [Laughs] School was--but the funny thing about that was--was I was good. I made good grades up until like the eighth grade I made straight A(s) all the way through and I was an AG and took honors courses in high school but I just didn't like school. I hate it; I was lazy.
So you think like motivation--or was it like lack of--you didn't get pushed--or not necessarily pushed but challenged maybe?
I don't know; I--in third grade once I stopped doing my work. I just didn't do it anymore and after about a couple of weeks my third grade teacher, Miss James, called me in or called my parents in and they asked me--and I don't remember this. This is just the story, but they asked me, "Why aren't you doing your work?" And I said, "Because I already know all this stuff." But I guess I did just enough to get by. I remember one day in fifth grade it just dawned on me that I hated homework, I despised homework, and it just dawned on me one day, you don't have to do this. [Laughs] And so that was the last time I did homework; I don't remember really doing homework again until I got to college.
But my--my dad when I was growing up worked in a series of--I wouldn't call them menial jobs. I mean they had their purpose; he worked in a laundry for a while and he was the manager of a few service stations. My mom managed a couple of restaurants for a while but they never really--never really made I guess much money. They spent most of their time working to try to pay the bills. I just remember not having much when I was growing up. I mean we had--I didn't walk six miles uphill both ways in--in snow with shoes with holes in them or anything but didn't have the things that I thought maybe I should have had at that age. Of course now that I'm a little bit older I realize I didn't need them.
But my mom--my dad dropped out of high school when he was--well I guess 18; my mom finished high school and then got married to get out of my grandma's house and I was born about 12-months later and then she went to college for a little bit and dropped out just short of--of completing everything. So I watched my parents you know struggle basically to pay the bills. And so I mean that was when I was 10 years old, my parents separated and divorced. My dad moved to Charlotte; my mother stayed in Jonesville and I mean I guess the rest is kind of history. I went through high school--I found things that I enjoyed doing; I liked theater and I played football and I was in the band for a year and I was in chorus and I did--I did a bunch of stuff, but I really didn't focus much on my grades. I kind of just did what I had to do to get by; I did other things that I enjoyed more.
Yeah, that's a tough age because you've got--there's a lot of new things and there's you know a lot of you know with--with all the material stuff kids you know have and trying to find your place and all that stuff, too.
Well I mean when I got to high school it wasn't necessarily that bad. I found some people who had the same sort of interests that I did that didn't really care one way or the other what you had and what you didn't. And I don't want to say--I mean I had a car when I was 16 so I mean we had it pretty good; I just--. But in grade school I--God, grade school was horrible. I didn't like grade school at all. Even though I went to the same school from kindergarten through eighth grade which now if you asked--if you tell somebody you went to the same school from kindergarten through eighth grade it--that boggles their mind. My wife, for example, grew in up in Winston-Salem. She went to preschool and then she went to kindergarten through like fifth grade and then she went to junior high and then she went to high school. I went to two schools
and she went to four and they were all you know--and she didn't even move. So it was just kind of weird that I knew the same people from the day I started school until the day I graduated and it--you--it was never--you were never able to get out of that you know. It's like that you are who you are on this day and that's going to follow you until your final day. But there were 400 people in my elementary school and there weren't that many more; there was only like 600 people in my high school. There were 135 in my graduating class and to put that in perspective, Lauren's high school graduation--her twelfth grade graduation had almost as many people in it as my entire high school had in it.
Yeah, a small town--yeah.
Very small; so--. Jonesville is just a little--I mean literally the only thing you know about Jonesville is that it's right across the river from Elkin and you probably don't know anything more about Elkin.
Actually I have some good friends from Elkin.
I just saw them, yeah.
No kidding. Oh wow! The most--the only way I could explain it was people would say, where's Jonesville? Well have you heard of Mayberry?
Is that Wilkes County?
No, it's in Yadkin County actually. It's right in the upper northwest corner of Yadkin County, just a little--little bitty town. There's nothing to do.
Hmm. Well how--how--tell us--or tell me a little bit more about how you made your way to East Carolina, I guess.
I got into the Drama Club in my high school and the summer between my well--I guess my--my junior year--I was really good. I mean I don't want to sound like I'm bragging but I was--I was pretty damned good.
Yeah, and my Theater teacher nominated me for Governor's School which is--it's--how long is it--a six-week summer enrichment course that's held--they've got two campuses. They've got one in Winston-Salem and then they had one in Laurinburg; now it's at Meredith here in Raleigh. But I got nominated to go for that. I went through the audition process and got accepted. And the first day there I was hanging out with this guy--this random guy that was in the dorm because this was at Salem College where we were staying and I met this guy named Tristan and I was hanging out with him and we were just acting like idiots and this girl--and the way Lauren tells it, she just heard us and she had--she had to meet us. And so she comes walking around the corner and I--that's how I met Lauren and Lauren is the way I got to ECU. So we--you know we hung out for most of the year. At the beginning I don't think I really liked her and she didn't really like me but by the time we left it was we were almost inseparable.
And it turns out that luckily she lived a half-hour from me. I mean technically the road that I lived on went straight into the road--into Winston on the road she lived on, so we grew up almost down the street from each other I guess, but--.
It's meant to be.
Yeah; it seems like it. But everybody--out of all the--the people that--that went to Governor's School and--and were considered as--as dating as much as you can be dating at 16 years old in a place where you don't have a car and aren't allowed to go off-campus we were the
only two that actually stayed together. Subsequently, two others have gotten together and gotten married, but we were lucky enough to live literally a half-hour apart and so we stayed together. And her family--a lot of her family--I think her mother's first cousin, her first cousin, her sister and a couple other people in her family actually went to East Carolina and I had never heard of ECU. I mean I grew up--actually for some reason--I remember thinking this the other day, I never even really put college--like college, you know I never thought of college. Now I grew up and I was a Carolina football and basketball fan and so I knew there was--there was a University in Chapel Hill. I knew there was in Winston; I mean Wake Forest is in Winston but I never put two and two together that these people playing on this football team actually go to college. And so it never occurred to me that I could really go to college until I was in high school and then I thought I was going to go play football in high school because I played--I wasn't even--I was just barely mediocre but I played on a team where you know the coach was the winning(est) coach in the state history. We'd had four or five guys from my hometown go pro; at least 10 people every year got scholarships to go somewhere to play football so I just thought I was going to go play football at college.
But I had never heard of East Carolina ever until I met Lauren, and as the relationship progressed her sister was in--was at ECU during the--during [Hurricane] Floyd and that was really the first experience I had with ECU was listening to Lisa's stories about the flood and that kind of stuff. I--when I decided I wanted to go to school right after we graduated from college--from high school--I got a letter telling me that if I had applied to Savannah College of Art and Design and got accepted I would get a scholarship to go down there and I--this I wanted to be--and this was past my football phase; I wanted to be an actor. And we went to Lauren's mom, and I, and
Lauren's sister went to Savannah, toured the college and did all their, you know open house stuff, really liked it; we both applied and we both got in but Lauren also got into N.C. State. And so she started in the fall and I was going to start at Savannah in January but I didn't really want to go to Georgia. I mean it was $30,000 a year to go to school there; the scholarship was only $5,000 a year; I wasn't able to accept any other scholarships from the school. At that point in time I didn't know anything about the financial aid process, but luckily she didn't like State. And so I would go from Winston to NC State every weekend. I mean at this point I had moved out of my parents' household right--I mean right after graduation. I mean I would almost say I was planning to move out before I graduated from high school. But I moved out of my parents' house and I moved to Winston-Salem. I was working 40 hours a week. She was in school; every weekend I worked--I worked at GAP. I worked it out so that I could go to Raleigh every weekend. And she just didn't like it down there. And I didn't like being away from her and I didn't want to go to Georgia and be that far away from her. And so she came back home and we decided we would go to school together and so we both applied to Carolina.
Well neither one of us--I don't know if she got in or not; I didn't get in. As a matter of fact, they sent me this letter saying due to the unusually high number of qualified applicants this year, blah-blah-blah, we are sorry to tell you--. Why couldn't they have just sent me a phone call saying hey look dude you didn't get in; better luck next time? But I didn't get in there and we had both decided you know we can't stay out of school that much longer because we'll get out of the groove. But we went to community college for a semester and a half or two semesters or something like that and--.
Excuse me. Did you go to Surry?
Forsythe Tech--Forsythe Technical Community College--really just to keep myself from getting any further out of the school groove. And then Lauren said, "Well, you know why don't we--why don't we apply to East Carolina?" And that was right after--I think that was right at the time when they had started the One Stop thing where you could apply online and you'd get a--you know you'd get a reply very quickly. And so I said okay; well let's do that. So I had all my transcripts sent to East Carolina and like three days later I get an email saying, congratulations; you've been accepted to East Carolina, and I had never ever stepped foot on the campus. I mean I really didn't know that ECU was in Greenville; I didn't know how to get to Greenville; I had never been there. I didn't really even know that Greenville is on the way to the beach if I remember correctly.
Excuse me--I know western North Carolina, I saw--I mean sometimes in western North Carolina you can even go down to like South Carolina to the beach and that kind of thing.
Uh-hm; oh yeah we went to Myrtle Beach all the time. We never--my parents I think took a trip to Wilmington once but I didn't go and so I--I knew nothing about eastern North Carolina--nothing. And I had gotten into the school which surprised me for some reason and I'm not sure why but I think we--we worked the rest of that summer and then it came time for orientation. And we went down there with her mother and I think her sister went too and we stayed at the--the Hampton Inn on Greenville Boulevard right over by the Mongolian Barbeque place and went to--we got in there late that night and we went to orientation. I remember driving in on 264, and this is the one I remember the most vividly is driving in on 264 right before you get to the exit that takes you to Rocky Mount, and there's that big sign that says East Carolina University is standing there and I don't know why but I got goose bumps looking at that sign.
You know I--it probably is because I mean seriously I was about to do something that nobody in my family had ever done. Some of them had gone to Surry, none of them had finished, and as a matter of fact since I've graduated from ECU my sister is the only other person to ever finish a college course and she got an Associates at Surry Community College. Nobody--nobody wanted you to go to college where I was growing up. My grandma literally told me I was getting above my raising by going to college.
Excuse me; what--what do you think she meant by that?
Well she just you know--son, you can't afford to go to college. You need to go to work; you need to get some money; you need to start a family. My parents--my mother was 18 years old when I was born. My grandma was 20 when my mother was born. My mom's sister had a baby at 19. It's just--my dad's brothers and sisters all had children young. I mean the most--the most successful person in my family is on my dad's side, my Aunt Sherry, and she's never gone to college. She's now the manager of a Farm Credit Union in Yadkinville, but she never went to college. She had a baby young. She said you were supposed to go to college. When I was born my dad was working at Chatham making big thick blankets; I mean that's what they made. Everybody in my family had worked at Chatham at some point or another. My grandfather--my great-grandfather started there when the plant started and retired from there you know. And then my mom's younger sister, Carol, when she was in high school she worked at the Candle Factory and then she went to Unify which is a textile plant; you just went--and that was considered good money. I mean Carol was making $13 an hour and I can't even imagine [Laughs] what $13--at that point in time I couldn't imagine what $13 an hour could buy. I mean that just to me sounded like so much money and you were just supposed to go to work. I mean that's just the way you
Did--did people in your family discourage you--it sounds like they kind of did or--?
Some of them did and some of them since have accused me of being a little haughty from--for going to school. One--and there's a big point of contention that I moved even from Winston to Raleigh because I was getting too big for my britches I guess. My grandma didn't want me to go to college; she didn't actively dissuade me but she just said look you're not supposed to go to school. Rich people go to school; we don't go to school. And this is I mean you don't think that these places still exist but this is the country at least as far as I'm considered. You graduated high school and you go to work. I mean you were considered successful if you completed the basic law enforcement training course at the local community college. It's just nobody went to college. My uncle told me I didn't need to go to college. My parents urged me to go to college. My mom and dad were both very supportive of it and they're like--they said look; we cannot help you pay for this. There is no way we can help you pay for this but we'll do whatever else we can to get you to go to school. But the family--I don't think the family members--it's one of those things where my opinion is they never did anything and so they don't want other people--they don't want to see other people doing things because that makes them feel bad about themselves. I don't know that that's actually the case; I love my family and I think they love me. But not a lot of them wanted me to go to school.
Huh. Do you think that--I lost my thought; sorry. I lost my thought. Do you think that they--I don't know. I've forgotten; sorry.
I lost my thought. Hold on a second. [Pause] Do you think that they--your family
didn't understand it?
I think probably they didn't understand it. I mean I don't know--my grandma--basically all of my family were good old Southern Baptist Democrats growing up and--and I was a Southern Baptist Democrat and I had gone off to Governor's School and I questioned my faith a little bit and I let that be known. And so I think that was the first step for them thinking look; this is not going to be good for our family for him to go off because he's already gone to Governor's School; he's already come back questioning things. I went--I mean overnight at Governor's School I went from being a Southern Baptist Democrat to an agnostic conservative [Laughs] and I don't really know how but I think it probably had something to do with it. I mean my--my uncle was on the Town Council, a big Democrat. I mean and this was--I don't want to turn it into a political thing; I mean it's obviously not. But this is--in the South if you're a southern Democrat you're basically a Republican--a [diet] Republican. And I think that's what they--he's getting too big for his britches. He's going to start thinking these lofty ideas and I started having conversations with people in my family and was told, boy; you're not old enough to talk to me like that. You know I would question my uncle's thoughts on things; you know why do you think this is a good idea? He wanted to have the City pay to pave his road and I didn't think that was right; I didn't think it was the City's job to pave his road. And I questioned him and it was not well-received, you know. You need to keep your nose out of these things; you're not old enough to talk to me like that. And part of it was that I was--I didn't like doing the school work but I was always a pretty smart kid. I was more well-spoken than some of my 20-year old cousins when I was 10 years old. Part of it was that I--I think not my immediate family, not my mother, my grandmother, my dad, my sister--part of my extended family always kind of looked
at me as sort of too good for it and this was just another sign. I think my uncle had higher hopes for me than that. I think that he thought that college was the place where you went and they filled your head full of--of crap basically. And you came back and you were too good for everybody. But you know in his defense, I mean his son drowned when he was 16. His son never had a chance to do this kind of thing. I was four years old when Scott drowned and I was the only son basically because James--my Uncle James and my Aunt Pam had three kids--two daughters and a son and basically when Scott drowned I was the only other boy in the family and I spent a lot of time--because he lived right across the creek literally--right across the creek from my grandma, I spent a lot of time with him.
I just--I think that people in my hometown were afraid of what they didn't know; they didn't know what I was going to learn, they didn't know what I was going to come back as. The people that they had met that had gone to college they always viewed as arrogant, obnoxious, and I wasn't that way. And I think it's since changed. I mean if you talk to my family members now my grandma considers it the greatest thing I ever did and she was the one who told me not to go. And you know I can have conversations with them now and talk to them about things you know specifically politics or--or theoretical things or--or theological things or whatever you know and they value my opinion now. They actually listen to me; even if they don't agree with me but previously I think it was one of those things where you're getting too big for your britches. This is not--you need to stay in your place and--and do things the way your mom and dad did when they were coming up.
Yeah; no that's interesting. That's a really good insight I mean to that thought and what was going on. What--okay; so you--you were at orientation at ECU.
Yeah; I was at orientation at ECU and you know I don't--it's all a blur. It happened--the only thing, I remember taking my ID picture and I looked like--I looked like hell in that picture but I remember taking the ID picture. And there was a party that night in Mendenhall and I remember running into the sister of a guy I had gone to Governor's School with. And we saw her; we had never met her in our lives and we saw her and said she has to be a Polich and his name was Joe Polich and it turns out that yeah she was Danielle, his sister Danielle Polich. There was no way that was not going to be--they were not going to be related. And so that was--that was a plus because you know now we--we know somebody down here who knows somebody we know.
Lisa, Lauren's sister, had driven us around town; I mean we had seen--I remember she drove us through Tar River and they hadn't yet replaced all the--the houses that had been flooded. I remember seeing that and that's not something that you would see on an orientation tour--most definitely.
Excuse me real quick; what about--what year is this when you did the orientation?
Two thousand one--I started in January of--no, no; this was 2002. I started in August 2002 so this was summer 2002, yeah. I remember--I remember it being hot; oh my God do I remember it being hot. I remember thinking I was upset that we didn't stay in the dorms but one of the dorms that they were letting students stay in I think was Fletcher and at the time Fletcher didn't have air-conditioning and by the time we left I remember thinking God, I'm glad we stayed in a hotel because it gets hotter than the surface of the sun in Greenville. It's like there is no wind movement in Greenville ever. If the wind is blowing something is wrong, and so the heat just kind of settles and sticks to you; it's disgusting. Having said that--I still want to move
We left and I tell you--I swear, driving out of Greenville I was almost depressed because I didn't want to leave but I was so excited that I was getting ready you know--in a month's time I was going to come start school. Oh we also registered for classes that day and I--since I wasn't going to Savannah I decided that I was going to do Acting or Theater Design Production at ECU. So I went and met John Shearin who is the head of the Theater Design and Production or Theater Department and I spoke with him and I was--I was going to do my registration right then and there with him. And then something hit me you know--you're not going to make any money doing this; you're--you're not going to move to New York. I had thought about moving to New York. You're not going to move to New York okay; just let's be honest with each other. You're not going to make any money doing this in North Carolina. You might as well think of something else.
I didn't know what else to do so I went [Laughs] to the Philosophy Department and I thought maybe I could be a lawyer and ECU doesn't really have a Pre-Law program but they have a Pre-Law curriculum. So I went to the Philosophy Department and I talked to one of the Philosophy professors there and registered for my classes and I started as--as an intended Philosophy major. Little did I realize that I didn't want to write the papers; so I got a semester--I got a semester in as a Philosophy major actually.
But we came back from Greenville and stayed in Winston for the rest of the summer and I worked a little bit and saved up a little bit of money and just at--at that point in time it was like it was real. I was excited; I had goose bumps; I was ready to go. And it seemed like the next month and a half was over in two days really. After we came home from orientation to the day
we started I didn't even remember anything that happened in those--that week and a half--or month and a half because all I was focused on was starting school.
Wow; did--did--so well let me--when you--so did you do any acting or anything or did you get involved? Did they have a pretty good Theater Department?
I wanted--I wanted to and for several--for one reason or another I never did it. I don't know why. Part of the reason was it requires a lot to be in the Theater Department even if you're just you know being on--onstage and I spoke with--with John Shearin about that and he said look, if you're going to audition and I got somebody who is just as good as you and they're a Theater Major they're going to get the part. I wasn't going to be a Theater Major, so I didn't do--. I did--I worked for the radio station; I was a DJ at WZMB. As a matter of fact--
--I was News Director and Production Director at WZMB in different--different times. I drove for the Student Transit Authority.
When you did WZMB what--what were the names of your show?
Well I did the "Drive Time Show" for a while and then I did a show of--of Metal music called "Music to Annoy the Narrow Minded" and that was at 10 o'clock every night.
I remember that--that; they had that same show when I was there.
Yeah; that--that's still probably my favorite show. A lot of my music taste still comes from that show. But doing the "Drive Time Show" was a lot more fun because I actually got to produce stuff, little spots and I remember spending three weeks trying to come up with the intro because it was me and this other girl named Jennifer were doing the "Drive Time Show." And it took me three weeks to come up with a 30-second intro that I was happy with but that was a
blast. And when I got there I went from Philosophy to Political Science to Communication and so the Communication Degree that I chose was Broadcasting and I had learned to do all that stuff anyway. I was working with soundboards and audio editing equipment and that kind of stuff, so it just kind of segwayed into a job at the Station. I'm still surprised at how many people worked at the Station--not even just with me but I'll talk to people who graduated in the '70s--'60s and '70s and they worked for it when it was in different iterations all those years. And so it's--I'm surprised that it was that popular.
Yeah; yeah it was a good college station. You know you--you get exposed to a lot of new music and genres and all that and that's all part of the experience I guess.
Yeah; and well we got to run it too. I mean it was student run from the top down; we had an Advisor. Her name was Miss Alice and I think it was Miss Alice, and she was basically the Secretary/Den Mother but the--I meant it was completely student run. Our General Manager was a student, the News Manager, the Music Director--everybody was a student and I think that was the best part of it because if you go to a school--. Like Carolina has a Broadcasting program and their stations--their TV and radio stations are--are kind of run with a heavy influence of the faculty and WZMB it was--if you wanted to do it and it was within FCC regulations you did it and it was perfect because you'd get to learn a lot of new stuff. You got to learn how to use industry quality material. I did seven or eight band interviews while I was there; that's--who can say they've interviewed bands you know? But I got to do that and that was fun. I'm just--I'm happy to see that it--and we did stuff the old way. I mean there was no automation. There was no MP3(s) or anything like that; it was--you put the CD in and you wait for that CD to stop or you fade it out and then you with your--with your left hand and then with your right hand you're over
here starting the other CD. And so it was not just hit the play button on the computer and let it do itself. You had--we had to do everything.
Was there vinyl?
We had vinyl; we had actually a guy who would come in from like 12:00 to 3:00 every night and spin his own techno. I mean he would do it on the fly. So there was vinyl; there was CDs; we had some tapes. We had some--we had some MP3(s). I mean if we had to edit something we'd put it on--as an MP3 but even still you would have to manually click play on the computer. It didn't just automatically start up. So it was fun; I had a blast. As a matter of fact, they--they had a--speaking of vinyl, they had probably 500 records of all genres in that--in the basement in Mendenhall--more vinyl than I had ever seen in my life. But yeah; it was fun.
That's cool. Yeah; that's--I remember that pretty well for sure. Did--what--what--so let's see; so what the fall of--or you started January of 2002?
No; I actually started August 2002.
Okay; and now where--where did you and Lauren stay? Did you all live together or--?
No; I stayed in Fletcher. I stayed on the sixth floor of Fletcher right across the hall from the elevator. And Lauren stayed in--there's Fletcher, White, Clement--
In the older area?
Yeah; we were over--this was before they put the new dining hall in and before they tore out the amphitheater so yeah; we were over there right next to downtown actually, right off Cotanche Street.
In a high-rise?
Yeah; and sixth floor--I remember it was so hot in that room that--and they have vinyl mattresses. I don't know what they had when you were there but in the dorms and everything they had vinyl mattresses and you would lay on that thing and it's just like cellophane. It's like putting cellophane over a bowl and sticking in the microwave. It does not let the heat get away and some nights in Greenville it's--the low is 85 degrees. So you're laying there sprawled out on this vinyl mattress. You've got one fan and you've got two fans in the window; one is pushing air in and the other one is pushing air out so you're trying to create this circular effect and it doesn't do any good. And you go take a shower and it's so hot that the cold water is hot. All summer nobody took a bath--or took a shower and actually used the hot water because the hot water--the cold water coming out of the cold water spout was so hot you didn't need it. But we had a blast on that Hall.
I probably shouldn't be talking about this but we [Laughs]--we used to play fruit tennis. We had--you would take apples or oranges or something from Mendenhall and God, the ladies--the cleaning ladies had to despise us; they had to. We had the reputation--sixth floor of Fletcher had the reputation of being the worst floor I think on campus. We went through three RA(s). People would start and just get sick of us and quit. So we would play fruit tennis; we would try to knock fruit back and forth down the wall until finally it just exploded through the tennis racquet and it went all over everything. I never--I never broke anything personally. But one of the guys down the hall went nuts one night and broke the door--like literally destroyed the door. The doors on these dorms are thick. They're like an inch and a half thick; they're solid wood. You--you'd think you wouldn't be able to break them but he destroyed his door. We used to have Tecmo Bowl tournaments and--and this is like 2002-2003 and so you would
think people all had a PlayStation and all that stuff. No man; we would sit around with the original Nintendo and play Tecmo Bowl for like five-six hours at a time.
That's funny. Well do you remember this--the people that you met? I mean they--where they were from and stuff like that?
Yeah; this one guy Matt was from Raleigh and as a matter of fact he ended up leaving halfway through. He came in late, at least to the dorms late, and his roommate never showed up so he had a room to himself. And he ended up being decked out as far as dorm rooms go; as a matter of fact he used to smoke cigars and I never had--I never had smoked a cigar until I met Matt and then I started not regularly but I've smoked several cigars since then. We had four Dave(s) on the hall; there was Artsy Dave because he was an--an Art Major; there was Gay Dave--he was gay; there was Dirty Dave because we were positive he never took a shower and there was Little Angry Dave because--Little--Little Angry Dave you could piss this guy off yeah at the drop of a hat. And we used to do it every--it was--it was fun; I mean we used to have contests how can--who can get Dave pissed off the quickest. And so he earned his name Little Angry Dave.
Was he a northeasterner from the North?
No; he was from South. He was from Angier, you know. The guy I lived with, Michael Dupree, he was originally from the North but he--he lives in Cary now. I remember he and I didn't really get along that well. I mean we lived together; we had to but I thought--I remember thinking he was kind of arrogant. We once had a conversation about--he--he was Italian or he is Italian or somebody in his family is Italian and so according to him that makes him some Mafia boss. We got in an argument one night about the Mafia wasn't real. The Mafia
wasn't real; they were just around to help each other out. [Mocking] I don't know; and I remember him--as a matter of fact, Fletcher I think was one of the only dorms on campus where you had girls and guys living on the same floor. We just lived on different sides of the building.
Huh; I thought it was like four by four.
No; at Fletcher it kind of goes--does a lightning bolt shape and so the--it's--the thing in the middle is the--the laundry room and the elevators. And so on I guess the north side of the building is the guys' hall and on the south side of the building is the girls' hall. And so--and I was dating Lauren at the time but it was always fun to have girls around at least for the fact that there's always somebody doing something stupid, you know. We--we would get--we--we sat in the--in the elevator of Fletcher once for four hours and played cards. We put a little table in there and some camp chairs and there were two elevators so we didn't block the whole elevator, but we would just go up and down the floors playing cards all night.
That's hilarious; never heard of that.
Yeah, I remember one time we taped--this was one of the elevators that had the buttons that weren't recessed that the button actually stuck out about a half-inch from the door and we taped that shut and called all the elevators to the top or to our floor and they couldn't go down. That didn't go over real well at all. [Laughs]
Doing pranks is funny.
One time we took--there was about a two-inch recess from the--from the wall in the hall to where the door actually caught the door frame when you shut the door. So we taped cellophane on this guy's door once and there was that two-inch gap between the cellophane and the door and filled it full of packing peanuts so that when he opened his door all the packing
peanuts came out and that was a trip. [Laughs]
We had this thing where you wouldn't--you were scared to take a shower because every time you would take a shower somebody would come in there and like scare the crap out of you. I remember--I remember [Laughs] doing this to Michael; he was in the shower and [Laughs] I walked into the--the bathroom. I was as quiet as I could and I just--I don't know; maybe I hit the shower curtain or something and went ah, and he--in the corner, he got in the corner and kind of got up in the standing fetal position and screamed but we had already taken his clothes, so there was no way that he could like dry off and come out. So he took the shower curtain down, wrapped it around himself and walked down the hall cussing until he got to the room to change. [Laughs] God--we were evil to each other.
Yeah, you guys were pretty brutal.
Yeah, there was another guy that ended up being a Transit Driver with me and I can't think of his name but now I can see his face. We used to sit in his room and play X-Box--Crazy Taxi on X-Box through the campus internet system which it was the first time I had ever played anything online which was really kind of cool. But I'm surprised that I got any work done living in Fletcher. Every night we were up until like 3:00 in the morning doing something stupid. Thankfully nobody ever got hurt but we just I don't know; we did stupid stuff. It was typical--
Well what did you think--did you go downtown Greenville much?
I didn't; I never did like going downtown. I don't like that many people--we went downtown for Halloween one year and I remember everybody being mad at me because I wouldn't dress up. I hate Halloween and I don't like downtown and so now you're making me go downtown and I was miserable the whole time, but--never--I never understood the allure of
going downtown. I used to watch--I mean these girls would go across town. It was like February and it's cold in February in Greenville; I don't care who tells you it's not. And they would go downtown with like a yard of cloth on their body going--what's the point of that; you know I never got that.
Yeah; it's kind of--that was--it's the--and it's kind of a crazy scene for sure--definitely meat market and all that.
Well I remember Dirty Dave went downtown like every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to the point where he was 20-some odd years-old, he had been there for three years and he was still a freshman you know. And what was the point of that? And he eventually got kicked out.
You--I remember--Lauren says she remembers somebody saying once they had just gotten kicked out. It was like their second semester their freshman year and somebody said man, you just paid like $8,000 for a party. And the guy goes no, I didn't pay for it; my dad did. You know what kind of attitude is that to have--you just wasted you know a chance to go to a really good school and get a really good education and make something of yourself?
And I'd personally like to see the statistics on how many people actually make it somewhere once they get kicked out of school but whatever. I just never did like going downtown.
Whole other study in itself.
Yeah; I did like Cubbie's though. I spent a lot of time at Cubbie's and Boli's
, but I--the only time we ever went downtown we went to The Attic, which I don't even think it's The Attic anymore.
Yeah; that's not--yeah.
To see The Breakfast Club and I've seen them like six times at The Attic. That's the only time we ever went downtown.
Hmm; yeah I was just curious. Yeah; that--that was [Vinnie's] for a long time but it's something else now. What--so let's see so you lived in what Fletcher your first year?
I lived in Fletcher my first year.
Do you remember where else did you stay I guess?
I stayed in Slay--I stayed in [DeVic] the summer between my--what I guess was my freshman year and my sophomore year I stayed in Slay and then I liked it so much that I asked to stay there in the fall. So I had to change my housing plan but I stayed in the very end of the building. Slay is like a U and it--that--that dorm is guy floor, girl floor--guy floor, girl floor--guy floor, girl floor, and Lauren stayed in Slay too. But we stayed on the very end right next to the out--the exit door and then right beside of us was the kitchen so there was nobody on us. And the cool thing about that was everybody in that--on that side of the hall was friends. I mean it was me and my roommate, Jason, and then Jimmy that lived across the hall and some guy that lived with him that was only there for a couple of weeks, but then there was Chris and Cliff, Robbie didn't have a roommate; there were you know a bunch of guys and we all hung--well all actually ended up being friends and living together at other places as a matter of fact. But Slay was probably the best living experience that I've had simply because there were so many people there and everybody always kept their doors open and we all enjoyed the same things. We
all enjoyed the same music and same TV shows and same video games and all that kind of stuff that even though we all came from different places there was no problem. I mean Jason was really--literally the only northerner I had ever met in my life until I got to college. And he and I ended up being such good friends that you know we still talk today. Cliff was from Northern Virginia--might as well be a Yankee [Laughs]. Jimmy is Greek but he's from Charlotte. I mean as a matter of fact his dad owns a restaurant in Charlotte that I used to eat at and could have met him there at some point in time after my dad moved to Charlotte and just never have known it.
Cliff and Chris--I mean Cliff is from--I don't know where Chris is from but he ended up going to Hawaii to be a sports reporter. I mean just bunch of a different people that I would never have ever had the chance to meet in my life. I had never met anybody who was Greek before.
I mean Jimmy's parents were fresh off the boat--Greek; I mean they spoke Greek and so that was interesting.
A good buddy of mine, he lived in Slay like this is like '88, '89, '90 and those first two years and they're--like those are his best friends still. I mean it's funny; that's like that Slay thing.
Yeah; it's just you know and--and the way that the--the dorm is broken up I mean it's a big U and so you really--you're friends--you're really good friends with the people who live on your side. I mean we knew everybody who lived on the other--other floors. I knew nobody who lived on the third floor that I can remember because we lived on the first floor, but I
knew everybody who lived on the other two wings but honestly, that whole end of the hall was just our enclave. It was--you--if you were there you were there to see us because you just didn't pass through for some reason. I mean we didn't actively try to discourage people from passing through but--it was fun. As a matter of fact, it was probably--I would really like to do it again [Laughs] now that I think about it.
That's funny; well how about--how about your third year?
Um, third year I ended up staying on Third Street in that big white house--the six--the six bedrooms. No; I don't know how many--there was six of us living there and I think yeah six bedrooms and six of us living there. That was a disaster; I think I lived there for four months and ended up spending $1,200 in the power bill--just my part of the power bill. If--
You remember which room you stayed in?
Yeah; if you're going toward the kitchen I stayed in the room between the pool room and the kitchen so there's that little pool room with a solarium kind of thing and then there's my bedroom which looked like it used to be a living room or something; there were two doors to it, and then the kitchen. We were sitting on the couch--this place was so run down and decrepit when we lived there that we were sitting on the couch one day and all of the sudden there was a swarm of bees in the living room--literally.
And I mean I'm not talking three bees; I'm talking hundreds of bees in the living room.
And my--my girlfriend--well my wife who was my girlfriend at the time I mean I
don't know what--I think we just opened the windows and sprayed them; that was about it. We had prehistoric bugs in that place they were so big. But it just got to where I couldn't afford it anymore. It was just too much money. And so me--and at this time it was me, Jason, Jimmy, Cliff, Chris, Robbie--yeah, me, Jason, Jimmy, Cliff, Chris, and Robbie--six people. Jason and Cliff and I decided to move out 'cause Jason didn't have any more money that I had. His family is from Massachusetts; he's down here by himself pretty much. So we ended up moving to Signature Place over by the hospital at Arlington and lived there until we graduated. That was fun too; we had a lot of--lot of fun over there.
We started a beer bottle collection and every time we would go to the store and we'd buy a different kind of beer and we would save one of the bottles and we had like 250 different beer bottles on a book shelf in the living room and we were so proud of that. And [Laughs]--I graduated a year before they did and so as I was moving out I was taking the book shelf and they didn't want to keep the beer bottles, so we lined them up on the sidewalk and they were like four across and all the way down because that's about all we could fit on the sidewalk and took a picture of them. And there were some kids out there going oh man that's awesome; that's cool. It's like no, no it's not; it's not cool. Never think this is cool. Don't drink; it's bad. [Laughs]
So we used to get together and--I was talking about this today--we used to get together on Thursday nights and it was me and Jason and Cliff and then a friend of mine, Nick that I worked at the Station with and we used to get together and get a big pan of wings from Wings Over Greenville and a case of Yingling and play Tiger Woods Golf all night and it was an every Thursday thing--so much so that Nick, they--they ran a promotion at Wings Over Greenville while we were there; it was St. Patrick's Day. They had a green wing; if you got the green wing
you got free wings for a year. And once Nick got the green wing and I--I probably ate twice my body weight in--in buffalo wings from Wings Over Greenville; yeah.
Wow. [Laughs] That's a trip. That's cool; that's all part of school man. What--how about--did you go to any football games and stuff like that--any sports games?
I missed one football game the entire time I was at ECU and it was during the John Thompson era and we hadn't won a game and I was in Dallas, Texas for a national college media association convention. 'Cause this was when I was production manager at the station. And I remember sitting in my hotel room with Philip Sayblack, who was station manager, watching--it wasn't even on ESPN, it was on the bottom, like the scroll at the bottom--I remember sitting there watching it and with like two minutes left to go we're up--It was Central Florida, as a matter of fact, that's who it was--two minutes to go we were up by like three points. And I'm thinking, "we're going to win this game, we're going to win this game," and the next time it came by we're still up by three points with a minute and a half to go. And the next time it came by we were up by three points with fifty seconds to go. The next time I saw it, we had lost by four points.
Central Florida had called a touchdown in the very back corner in the end zone--it turns out that they didn't even catch the ball. If you look at the pictures from that game the ball is clearly on the ground before it's in the receiver's hands. So technically we won that game; this is before Conference USA went to instant replay. That's the only game I missed the entire time. As a matter of fact my first year there I got taken to a hospital during a game . We were playing Tulane and Tulane was like 21st or something in the nation at that
time and this is like the last year of--of Steve Logan's tenure and we were down by five points I think and Tulane is down on--on our--down on their five-yard line; they're getting ready to score and the quarterback jumps back and does a pump fake and throws the same direction okay, and so our quarterback gets a jump on his receiver, intercepts the ball and runs all the way down the field 90-some yards to score a touchdown and we ended up winning the game. But I--at this point I'm like going out of my head. I'm--there's a Tulane player literally 20-feet from me. I'm at the--I'm in the front row at Dowdy; there's a Tulane player 20-feet from me and he's--he's down a little bit. And I'm screaming to this kid at the top of my lungs. I mean I'm talking all kinds of trash. I don't know what I called this guy. But I--my blood pressure shot way up; I--I blacked out a little bit. I had the world's worst headache. They had to cart me out of the stadium in the ambulance.
Wow; you like passed out?
I didn't even pass out; no. My blood pressure was 180/120 when they got me into the ambulance and they think that I was either screaming so loud and expelling so much oxygen that I gave myself a headache but they never did find out what caused it other than that. But we refer to that as the game with the aneurysm; as a matter of fact all of my friends do. And yeah; I--I've never missed a football game if I can handle it. The first game that I was--that I went to we played I want to say I can even remember; it's the game after we played Duke and it was raining. Yeah; I remember it being raining and sitting up in the stands with this god-awful hideous poncho on thinking this is heaven you know. I'm watching a major college--Division I college football team; it--somebody I actually have an interest in winning the game and just I never missed a football game. I barely missed a basketball game.
Wow; that's awesome.
I went to dozens of baseball games; I saw the first game played at Clark-LeClair.
It's a gorgeous stadium--very gorgeous. I even saw I think a track meet at one point. [Laughs]
Wow, impressive man.
So I'm a huge ECU--football fan, especially football fan and I like basketball--even though it seems like a practice in futility lately it's--I like basketball.
Yeah; well they beat State of all teams.
We beat State and we beat George Mason, who went to the Final Four two years ago which was--
Well Mack McCarthy I mean coached several Final Four teams--or you know did--did real well at Tennessee Chattanooga, so hopefully he'll do real well here too.
Yeah, yeah I mean now--now he got the contract. I know he was kind of strung along for a while. How about did you watch the Bowl Game last--this past Bowl Game?
Oh god, yeah; I was in Winston for Christmas but I watched it and I actually don't think I've missed a game on TV that I--that was actually shown since I've graduated, but yeah I watched it and I remember sitting--I remember us leading the entire first half thinking this is too easy; something is going to happen because it's just kind of the way it happens. We lead off first half and then the second half it's like we don't even come out of the tunnel anymore or something. But I remember sitting on the edge of the seat in my mother-in-law's living room;
everybody else was gone, shopping, or something. And just like seriously sweating, waiting for this game to be over, you know. Hoping the clock would run down and we wouldn't screw it up. And then when it was over I think I was so tense at the final seconds of the game, that when it was over, I felt like I had run a marathon. I had like no energy left, my--I was sore from sitting, tensing up. It was awesome.
And the best thing about it was Carolina and State didn't go to a bowl game, and so I got to rub that in. "Not only did ya'll miss a bowl game, but we beat Boise State." [Laughs]
Yeah, yeah. I hope Holtz stays around; he has a good pedigree so you know--.
Yeah, his father has gone on record as saying that he doesn't think he'll leave unless there's something he can't turn down. And--and at that point I couldn't--I couldn't blame him. But Lou Holtz stayed at N.C. State until he--he told Arkansas "no" three times before he finally went. So maybe Skip will stay.
Yeah, yeah. I mean--I hope he puts in a few more years. I mean, ECU has always been that stepping stone school.
Yeah. Well, I mean, Steve Logan; well, he's doing Boston College. He's the quarterbacks coach at Boston College now and the Offensive Coordinator. And I guess that's good. But, I don't know how you go from being the Head Coach and doing really well at--at a school and being you know any Saturday you step on the field you can beat whomever you're playing to being an Offensive Coordinator for Boston College. I just--I don't get it; I guess it's maybe the ACC salary. He can make more as an Offensive Coordinator than he could as a Head Coach.
Yeah; maybe a few years turn it around and go somewhere else. But how about--do you--do you--are there any faculty members--? Let me ask; so you're a Communications Major?
Were there any faculty members that stand out that you can think of?
Yeah, Jim Rees off the top of my head was my Announcing Instructor and I had him for a Summer Session course and I remember thinking he was--I remember not liking him but I needed another Announcing credit and there was not another Announcing class and so I did an independent study with him and it turns out I mean I learned--I ended up learning more from that man about news announcing and about writing and that kind of thing than--than I learned from any other teacher at ECU. I ended up being really, really close to him and really you know taking a lot from him--so much so that, you know, I was sad not to be able to talk to him anymore. I emailed him a couple times, and we tried to stay in touch, but--. The man's a genius, he really is.
He actually just passed away.
I haven't heard from him in like six months so maybe that's why? When did he die?
I knew he had--I knew he had cancer and he wasn't doing well in the last couple of years. He wasn't doing well when I was there.
I didn't know--my dad is in that community, you know ECU community so I didn't--but I knew he was; we were in that neighborhood and I didn't know he was sick but--.
Yeah, he--he had prostate cancer I think and--what--what really--and you don't want to talk about the dead. He didn't really like his home life. Things weren't going well I mean with
him and his wife and that kind of thing and so he just kept teaching as a way to--to get away from some of that stuff and I think he liked--you know he was really proud of Maureen O'Boyle. She went to ECU; he taught her and he was you know--she was his prized student. And I think he wanted to find somebody else like that and I think that's why he stayed at it and I'm very sad to hear that he's--that he's now died.
I'm sorry; just you had mentioned and I thought it might be--.
Yeah; well he can't--can't be hurting anymore. He--the last time I talked to him he wasn't doing real well at all. I don't--I think he had maybe even stopped teaching regularly for a while. But he was a genius and that's a huge loss to that whole--I mean Dr. Auld retired right after I got in there and he was--I mean he was the Library Science guy but he was pretty much the backbone of the Communication Department for a long time. That was a big loss; I mean he's--I think he's Professor Emeritus now but--and Mr. Rees is gone too. So that's--
Yeah; I remember he had a big presence, like real distinct you know.
Oh you could hear him; you could hear him talking from one end of the hall to the next. I mean if he--he was in his office everybody in Joyner East knew he was there. It just--and he wasn't--he wasn't even that--that loud; it's just the way he--he spoke. It made you pay attention, so--but there's--. Larry Gillick was one of my Reporting Instructors. I really enjoyed his class. He subsequently went to American and now he's teaching at Shenandoah University. But Geoff Thompson--I still talk to Geoff Thompson a lot actually. We just had about a two-hour conversation a couple nights ago and it's surprising that I'm still talking to Professors. You'd think that they would have other things to do.
I was in his first Sports Media class and there was--there were 13 people in that class and it was the first class, which now he said there's so many people in it, it's a lecture hall class. It's lost--it's so popular it has lost what he wanted it to have which was a--a close intimate classroom feel. I--you know I don't really use my major but the--the instructors that I met and the things that I did not everybody can say that they worked at a radio station; not everybody can say that they did an internship at a top 50 TV news station which I did; not everybody can say that they can produce a professional quality video.
Yeah, yeah; well those are great skills especially in this day and age you know.
Or doing your own projects or whatever you know.
Well especially in the internet age, I mean if you're going to--I'm trying to teach myself Web Design now and I'm doing pretty well and I'm getting ready to do a--a website for my father-in-law who is a professional artist and we're going to film him painting it and--and giving workshops and put those on his site and that's not something that just anybody can do.
So I'm excited about that.
Cool; no those are skills--just like you said the internet age.
You know I don't think you can--I don't think you can underestimate the importance of going to college. Even if you don't--I don't really know anybody--I know one person--two people actually that are using their majors from school. I mean I have a friend who is a teacher--two friends who are a teacher and a friend who is an engineer. And that's what they went to school for. But I don't think you can underestimate the importance of just going to
school; I mean if it's just taking some major that you like. I've used countless numbers of things that I learned that I didn't think were applicable to anything but reporting since I got out of school.
Now what do you do--you graduated in--?
Two thousand five--graduated in 2005 and got married that same summer. As far as my first job, my first--I--I interned at WXII TV in Winston-Salem a couple of times; I did some producing and by the time I left there--I was there probably off and on for more than four months. By the time I left I was writing the entire C-block which is the very last part of the news--by myself. There was another girl there who went to Carolina; she and I both were working on the B- and C-block and then Executive Producer was writing the A-block. The A-block is the first 10 minutes; B- and C-blocks are--no, I'm sorry. B-block is the second 10 minutes and then the final part of it is the C-block.
It's just cut-throat man; I mean news reporters--it looks like a glamorous job and in some respects it is but they'll do whatever they've got to do to make Anchor and let's be quite honest. You got a reporter in Winston-Salem, even though that's forty-third largest television market in the country; they're not making that much money. And they all want to get--they all want to get part of that Anchor job. And so they'll do pretty much whatever they got to do. And the same thing with Producers and Videographers and Technical Directors and--you know it's--you've got to pay your dues but you've also got to have a little bit of conniving way about you.
And a drive and all that?
Yeah, and I wanted to go to work for WNCT and I really--one of the--the guy that
ran WITN, the General Manager for WITN was one of my teaches. He taught my Media Law course and I wanted to go to work for WNCT and do my internship, but for some reason or the other the company that owns WNCT would not allow ECU students to do internships. So I tried to do one with WITN. They're out in Washington you know--little Washington and I tried to get on with them when I graduated. Things didn't line up and I ended up moving back to Winston-Salem. I said forget this you know; I moved back to Winston-Salem, interviewed for a few radio jobs and nothing really took my interest and so the first thing that popped up I took a job as an--an Assistant Manager in a video game store. I mean I had a wedding coming up; this was June. The wedding was in September; I had to make some money somehow. So and my wife had gotten a job as an Assistant Manager for Walgreen's before she graduated. And so we did that for a while and I ended--I worked at Game Stop from June until December of '06 and did not like it and--oh no, I'm sorry--'05. I didn't like--the job was fun but it didn't pay well at all. I made like $19,000 a year and--.
Yeah; that's nothing.
And so I went--I ended up going to Walgreen's because I needed more money and I was there for about eight months and I despised that job too. And we were at the beach; we were at Atlantic Beach sitting out by Cape Lookout. My sister-in-law--my sister-in-law's boyfriend has a boat and every summer we go to the beach; we go out to Cape Lookout and to Shackleford Island and all that stuff. And Lauren and I were sitting there and we just said well why don't we just move to Raleigh you know? There's nothing in Winston; we don't like our jobs. [Laughs] We're not going to find any other jobs in Winston unless you're a doctor and why don't we just move to Raleigh? Three months later we're in Raleigh you know--we moved down here in
August--actually it's less than three months. I think we went July, August--yeah; we were down here less than a month. We took all--every day we had off we went to Raleigh to look for places to live. I came down here several times for a couple of interviews. Actually I came down here for two interviews. I was here three times for two interviews--for two positions. The second job I applied for I didn't even get to the belt-line and they called me back and wanted me to come in for a second interview. And so I came back in the next week and had the second interview and two weeks after that we--we were in--in Raleigh. We had moved over off of Edwards Mill Road and lived in a 900-square foot apartment and we've been here since then and we're going on our second year. This will be--this next month will be--we'll--we will have owned this house for a year.
And we've been in Raleigh since August of '06.
Wow, that's cool. So you're--you've been at the same job?
Yeah, I've been at the same job since I've been here. I work in--I do Financial Aid for ECPI College of Technology. It's a little, small, two-year technical school--well, actually, no, now we're four-year. We just got Bachelor's degree programs. It's a small, four-year technical school. It's really for students similar to me--a lot of our students are first generation college students. A lot of our students are more technically-minded. We offer Associate of Science degrees and Bachelor of Science degrees. Nobody in that class--nobody in that school's going to take, you know, a philosophy class; let's be honest. They're going to want to do things that are very technical and very hands-on, but--. I didn't even know I wanted to be in Education. I started out there in Admissions, as a recruiter; did really well in that. As a matter of fact, the
gentleman who was leaving whose place I took, I ended up beating him--or beating his recruitment goal by 30-percent in my first year.
And that was his--I beat his final year; he was there for four years. I beat his fourth year by 30-percent in my first year.
Wow, that's awesome.
And then I moved to Financial Aid and I've been doing that since--you get to see these people come in and--and a lot of times this is either their first try at college or they've tried college before and it didn't work for them and you know they're working at Bojangle's or they're you know Nurses Assistants or they're doing things that are very thankless and they're not making any money at it. And you get to help them go through this process and explain everything to them and--and help them--show them how you know an investment now in themselves is going to create much more opportunity in the future. It's a very fulfilling job; you get to come home most days and feel like you've made a difference for somebody.
Wow, that's good and you give them the direction--sometimes it's tough to know where to get that direction or who to talk to or how you do that.
Yeah; and that's the thing that I wish--I really wish ECU would go more toward a model like that but ECU has got 20-some odd thousand students. ECPI has 700-max, and so you really can't do that at a school like ECU and ECU it's more of a growing process though I think because you come in and you--you have an idea of what you want but you're not really sure. And you're even less sure of how to get what you want and by the time you leave you can set a clear path for what you want to do. I mean when I got to ECU I never really--I never really made
a long-term plan and stuck with it. I was forced to do that; I mean I was forced to figure out--the major I took was pretty much a self-structured major. I was forced to figure out which classes were going to get me to the--the career that I thought I wanted, what order to take them in; this is the first time I was on my own--really on my own. I had to pay all my bills myself. I didn't have parents to call up if I needed help because they were four hours away. And so there's--there's less hand-holding and then in some respects that's very good--that's very good because it forces you to kind of grow up. On other respects I think a lot of kids get lost in the shuffle through no fault of the school system. It's just that's the way it works and you know they come in and it's--they're overwhelmed in the beginning and it becomes too much for them to handle and they end up leaving and you know eventually what I'd like--. I would--I really would like to--as a matter of fact I applied for a position at EC--ECU in the Admissions Department for that specific reason. And it was you know helping people who were transferring from community colleges, being a little bit more of a--a hands-on advisor rather than just in somebody who is going to take your--your application fee and your application and look it over and tell you whether or not you made--you know you met the criteria. And eventually I really do want to work for the school in some capacity.
Wow, that's cool. No; that's good. Well again--good practical experience too now.
Yeah, now I'm a member of the North Carolina Association of Student Financial Administrators. That's a mouthful and so I've met some people from ECU through that going to different college fairs and talking and things like that. I've met you know--I've met a lot of people who stumbled into this career kind of just like the way I did. This was not what they thought they wanted to do but when you get into it--even the things that happened that would be
annoying to anybody in any job are diminished by the fact that you've got somebody sitting across from you who you can guide and show them exactly how they're going to be able to achieve their goals. And even if I don't remember the person who did my financial aid but if it hadn't been for them I would not have gone to school. And that's the thing is that they don't have to remember me; I don't care if they remember me. The fact is that they're going to look back and say that was the best decision I ever made and there were people there that helped me through it because it's my personal opinion that if you don't go to college and do something you're going to shoot yourself in the foot in the long run, and so at least some people are giving it a shot.
Yeah, no that's good. I mean everyone needs that help. I mean that's--I mean you have a need--I mean you have some--you can empathize in some sense and so--. Yeah; so that's an interesting--. Did--I lost my thought sorry. Well did your parents ever come down and see you?
My dad came down for Parents Weekend I think my first year there, October of '05. I don't remember who we played; I remember it being so hot band members were passing out and had to be carried off the field. [Laughs] It was like 85 degrees and we're sitting at the very top of Dowdy-Ficklen right like on the surface of the sun but my--my dad came down a couple times. My mom really didn't; my mom is disabled; she can't ride in a car that long. She's not disabled; she can walk and she can do things but it's just--it's still hard for her. She came down for graduation and probably that was about as much as I could have handled--the whole ordeal around graduation and trying to make sure my parents were you know having fun and comfortable and this, that, and the other thing. I'm almost glad they didn't come down anymore
than they did. But nobody else from my family actually ever came down. My sister came down to my graduation, my mom and dad, and that was about it.
Yeah, yeah--no, I was just curious. So how about let me ask you did you--or we're pretty close--did--did you ever have like when you were going through school--I mean you seem pretty confident in the way you convey yourself but did you ever have like what am I doing here; ever have like a sense of fear or--?
I had a--I had issues with the major(s)--plural--that I chose because I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I graduated. I mean I--I came in as a Theater Design and Production major and then I went to Philosophy and spent a semester in Philosophy and then I went to Political Science and spent almost two years in Political Science before I decided I wanted to do something else and went to Communication. And when I graduated I still wasn't really sure that I had chosen the right major. I mean in fact I never once doubted--once I got there I never doubted that I had made the right decision going to college and I never doubted that I had made the right decision going to ECU. The one thing that--that I loved about ECU is that it doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, what's your major--you're all family. And I can see people--I can walk down the street as a matter of fact--I was in North Hills Mall a couple months back wearing an ECU shirt and a guy walks by and goes "Go Pirates;" you don't--I mean you--you don't get that. People it's like we're--it's like we're a huge family; we--you know we all come from the same place regardless of what our background is. And so for that reason right there I never ever thought it was a bad idea. I never thought, "What am I doing here?" I never
thought this was you know--I never regretted it.
I do regret the fact that I never was--nobody ever sat me down and asked me literally--I never was--nobody ever--and made me explore that because I had no--I had no clue.
On how to go about doing it or figuring out what--?
Well I mean I--I think that there are ways that you can help people figure out--. I think when people go into college they look too much at the job title that they would like to have and not as much as what do you want to do on a daily basis? You know and I really wish there was some way that--that could take place at a school as large as ECU. I mean there is a very small family atmosphere there; I've never been in a place with 24,000 people and actually felt that it was such a small place but I--I wasn't given any kind of real direction. It was more of a, "here are you options, son; which would you like?"
Is that like when--starting with--you had an advisor at the beginning, right?
I had an advisor. My--my first advisor I didn't remember her name but she was an English Professor and that was when I was taking General Education classes and she didn't really have that much time to sit down and spend with me. Let's be honest; she was teaching a full class-load. She probably had eight other--eight or nine other students that she was advising not to mention the fact that she was a doctor and she is a PhD and so she was doing research or writing or something for tenure. The system as a--as effective as it is it's not very efficient and it's not set up so that you get the maximum amount you can from each student because it can't be.
Yeah; yeah I understand that.
I mean State has 30,000 people. Could you imagine how long it would take for
an advisor to go through every one of those students? You'd have to have--it would have to be like a--a four to one ratio--four students to one advisor for that actually to work. And that's not possible, you know. And so, you kind of end up grasping at straws, if you don't know exactly what you want to do. And that's a problem. If I knew I wanted to be a doctor then there would be a clear path in front of me--but I really didn't know what I wanted to do so I was left to--oh this sounds interesting; let's do this for a semester you know. And I learned a lot; I learned a lot of different--different things but I kind of--a lot of different things--and more directed in my studies that I could be doing more now, so much so that I'm going back to school in the fall because I feel like I need more education.
Oh; what are you going--like Graduate courses or--?
No; I don't know that I want--I didn't--[Laughs]. I still don't like school. I enjoyed my classes at ECU because they were very technical and they were very hands-on and I was you know shooting video and editing video and editing audio, doing very technical stuff. Now I'm going back for Web Design you know because it is--again it's a very hands-on kind of technical shiny new toy kind of thing. I don't think I'm cut out for the Graduate classes kind of thing. I don't think I'm cut out for graduate classes. I looked into it. I even looked at possibly taking the LSAT, but that's just not the kind of student I am. I think partly what needs to happen with the American system, is that if a student doesn't specifically want to go into a field like Philosophy or be a teacher, they all need to be B.S. students; they all need to have those more technical courses. Because...
People learn different too.
True, true. But, you look at Cliff--one of my friends, Cliff--he is getting his Masters right now from Duke in the Classics. At ECU he was an English and Latin major; then
he went to study at the university of--well, somewhere in Sweden for his Masters.
And--that's what he wanted to do. But that type of, you know, degree course is really not going to help anybody unless it's what they want to do. I had no clue what I wanted to do and I wish there was more of a technical program at ECU or any college for that--for that matter that would have given me more hands-on skills so I felt like when I came out rather than being well-educated and well-rounded that I have a clear path to go down--because now I feel like god I know so much from that but I don't know how to apply anything, but I wouldn't trade it. I would not have gone anywhere else knowing what I know now--simply because there was such a nurturing atmosphere there and such a family atmosphere. Everybody is--that's what--I think that's what made the difference between me for me with ECU. It wasn't necessarily the education which was world-class and it wasn't necessarily the majors that I chose or--or didn't choose; it was you're a part of this family. Even though there's 26,000 of us we're all brothers and sisters and we're all in this together. The teachers were always available to me; I remember Larry Gillick we were in--I was in Joyner East one night with my group for a class literally overnight. I mean we stayed there all night and did not leave until after--the class was an 8 o'clock class; we did not leave until 9 o'clock that next morning. He came in--he was there until 12 o'clock that night with us and came in early to help us.
You know, and you don't see that; that just doesn't happen. And professors have other things to do but at ECU at least in the Communication Department they'll do whatever they got to do to help you out.
Wow, that's cool. Yeah, so a good observation. Let's see; one more question--so how about do you--you kind of alluded to this earlier I guess but kind of just wanted to wrap up a little bit, your--how do you think your relationship with your family changed--in your. Well, I guess you kind of said that, 'cause now you feel a little more like you can have conversations and stuff like that.
With a lot of them who didn't like the idea of me going to college in the first place, I do feel that way. There are some hold-outs who still don't--who still think that you know I look down my nose at them which is not the case. But a lot of them do feel--and as a matter of fact it's to the point now where some of the older people in my family are pointing to my younger cousins and saying he did it; Jamie did it; you can do this. My aunt--my Aunt Pam asked me to talk with one of my cousins last week or no--a couple months ago actually--about going to college, 'cause he didn't know if he wanted to go to college or not, you know. "What good is going to college going to do me." - that kind of thing. And so, I do feel like--I don't feel like I'm held to some higher--in higher esteem by anybody but I do feel like to a certain extent they do look up to me and they do think, "Look, you can make something of yourself." I mean I make more now--this is really sad; I make more now than my parents--at 26 years old then my parents made at the height of their earning when I was growing up. Even if you adjust--adjust it for inflation and so now you can look and say look; it--it paid off you know. He's--I have just as many troubles as everybody else paying the bills. I mean let's not--let's be honest.
That's tough man.
With gas at $3.45 a gallon or whatever, but I'm not having to work two jobs like my parents had to work and I'm not having to determine which bill I'm going to pay this month and
which I'm not and--. You're socio-economic status will change just by virtue of having a college degree. Because I can go into the same job as a guy without a college degree and do the exact same thing and make more money than him simply because I have that degree. It doesn't even matter what it's in; really it's just the fact you've put in the time and you've put in the effort. You've got these--these critical thinking skills even that somebody else who doesn't--that's not in your position doesn't have. And so I think my family looks up to me now or at least--
--respects the decision that I made, yeah--especially my parents. God my parents, every--don't get my parents started on me and my sister--the two that went to college because if you do you'll never leave.
Wow, that should make you feel good.
Well yeah, it does--it does--it really does. Unfortunately I live three hours away from everybody.
But that's the problem when you grow up in a small town; not only do you not go to school because it's not really expected but if you don't there's nothing for you to do and if you go to college and go back it's not cost-effective. So you kind of have to move out--move away and to find any opportunity.
Yeah, yeah, hmm. Is there anything else you want to add? You can think of?--I think you did a really great job. I mean, I know the university will appreciate this.
You know ECU is a very, very special place. It's--once you become part of that you'll always be a part of that and it's more than just the degree you hold or it's more than just
the football games you go to or the people you meet. It's--it's almost you feel compelled to let people know about the place because it's so special and since the day we moved out of Greenville on June 3rd of 2005, I wanted to go back you know and the school--100 years old and god let's hope it's around for 500 more years but you--you can't go through that and not take away something and that will be with you for the rest of your life and it's going to be with the people who experienced it with you; it's going to be with the people who experienced it before you and who experience it after you. It opens many, many, many doors; the lady who hired me at the job I have now she's a graduate of ECU.
You know and it's not like going to Carolina where it's a very prestigious school and the name alone gets you the job. At ECU if you graduate from ECU you know that you're in good company and we do things sort of subtly; we're not flashy. We're more down to earth but we're just as successful, just as powerful, and we help--we help each other out. I mean you can't be--you can't be an alumni of East Carolina University and do it all alone. I mean it took Leo Jenkins--it seems like you know the figurehead for ECU--but it didn't take just him to gain university status; it didn't take just him to get the Medical School; it took an effort that he spearheaded.
And even the people who you know in the first class in 1909 it wasn't just them; it was bigger than they are and you know Eastern North Carolina as a whole would not be what it is today if it weren't for the school.
Yeah, that school has done a lot for that area.
And I feel like once you are a part of ECU and once you're east of 95 you know--once an Eastern North Caroliner--North Carolinian once--always an Eastern North Carolinian. It's just--it feels more like home to me sometimes--most of the time than my own hometown.
Wow, no that says a lot and thank you so much for your time.
Well thank you very much. I appreciate it.
[End James Mauldin Interview]
Complete the fields below to post a public comment about the material featured on this page. The email address you submit will not be displayed and would only be used to contact you with additional questions or comments.