Grant Funding Will Help Enhance Student Learning Experience in Science and Music

PCC's Michael Stephenson, left, will lead an effort to bring professional musicians to campus to enhance learning opportunities for music students, while Brian Gray heads a student STEM research project featuring chemostratigraphy. Both initiatives were made possible through grants PCC was recently awarded.

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College has received a pair of grants it will use to offer students unique learning opportunities in science and music.

According to PCC Grants Management Director Jamie Mitchell, Pitt received a $4,000-grant through the esteemed NC Space Grant program to fund a student STEM research project in the months ahead. She said a $1,600-NC Grassroots Arts Grant the college was recently awarded will allow its music department to bring in professional musicians from the region for performances and educational activities that benefit students, employees and members of the community.

“We’re excited about the learning opportunities these grants have created,” Mitchell said. “While some of our students will gain invaluable hands-on research experience in the field of geological science, others will benefit from enhanced musical education and cultural experiences.”

Pitt’s NC Space Grant funding comes through the N.C. Community College Research Pathways Program, which aims to bolster research capabilities at community colleges statewide through unique, hands-on STEM research projects that follow NASA guidelines.

PCC received the grant last year as well and used it to fund student research at an eastern North Carolina geologic formation. Pitt Geology Instructor Brian Gray, who served as the project’s faculty advisor, said students learned a great deal researching Flanner Beach Formation, including how to use new equipment, conduct lab sampling, and enter data into charts and graphs.

Gray says this year’s research will build upon the successes of last year’s lithostratigraphy project. He explained it will feature chemostratigraphy, which involves a handheld X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer to conduct elemental analysis on collected samples.

“I’m enthusiastic about the potential of this research endeavor and fully anticipate the chemostratigraphy aspect will correlate with existing data, including lithostratigraphy, gamma-ray stratigraphy, and magnetic susceptibility stratigraphy,” Gray said. He added the project would culminate with a final report and poster presentation by students during the 2024 NC Space Symposium March 22 in Raleigh.

Mitchell said the NC Grassroots Arts Grant PCC received is part of an initiative of the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts, which “believes that a great nation deserves great art.” She said the project’s goal is to ensure a diverse and inclusive cultural landscape in North Carolina through support for arts programming in all 100 counties.

PCC’s grant, which the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge supported, will expose students to a variety of professional musicians to broaden their musical horizons and deepen their understanding of musical styles. PCC Music and Drama Coordinator Michael Stephenson will lead the project, which will feature artists representing a wide range of musical genres and backgrounds. The lineup includes musicians Carlo and Marlo Rouse, bluegrass band Hank and Pattie, and jazz/rock performer Devin Frasier.

“We want to inspire and empower PCC students through encounters with accomplished musicians, who will share their artistic life experiences to offer valuable insights and encouragement to the next generation of musical talent,” Stephenson said. “The goal is to establish a vibrant and inclusive musical education environment at Pitt Community College.”