April 3, 2014
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Senior track and field sprinter Ben McKinzie was one of five recipients of the 2014 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award as selected by the East Carolina Alumni Association. The prestigious award is presented to graduating seniors during annual commencement exercises.
The Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award recognizes academic achievement, service to both the university and the community, as well as both potential and demonstrated qualities of leadership.
"This award is an honor and a humbling experience," McKinzie said. "Without the support of my family, athletic administration and teammates, it would not be possible. I have learned that leaders are not born, but made on the days that bring adversity and challenges. I will be forever grateful for my experience at ECU that has shaped me into a leader."
McKinzie, who will graduate cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in information and computer technology with a minor in business administration, has been a four-year letterwinner on the ECU track and field team. In his career in purple and gold, McKinzie has recorded a career-best time of 48.10 in the 400-meter dash where he placed sixth at the 2013 Conference USA Outdoor Championships and helped the men's 4x200-meter relay squad capture first at the Penn Relays with a time of 1:25.10 in his junior year.
As a senior, McKinzie has continued to excel on the track as he was part of the men's 4x400-meter relay team that earned a second-place finish at the Dick Taylor UNC Challenge with a time of 3:20.59 en route to winning the inaugural Carolina Cup. Additionally, he has started the outdoor season with a third-place showing in the 400-meter dash at the Carolina Relays and ran the first leg of the 4x400-meter relay as he guided his squad to a second-place finish with a time of 3:18.63.
"We are extremely proud of Ben McKinzie for receiving this prestigious award," Head Track and Field Coach Curt Kraft said. "This has been one of many awards that Ben has received over his four years at East Carolina University. This could not have happened to a nicer and more deserving guy. Ben is the epitome of what a student-athlete should be. Having the opportunity to coach the Ben McKinzie's of the world is what is so satisfying and reward in the coaching business."
A team captain on the track and field squad, McKinzie is a leader off the field as well. McKinzie is president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and is a member of Phi Eta Sigma national honor society. He is also part of the Society of Leadership and Success as well as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. McKinzie made the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll in the spring of 2011, the Athletic Director's Honor on several occasions and is a four-year member of the Dean's List.
As a diabetic, he mentored a middle school student with Type 1 Diabetes this spring. He has also volunteered at the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
Following his graduation in May, McKinzie will work as a systems administrator at T. Rowe Price in Baltimore, Md., and plans to attend graduate school at the University of Baltimore.
Former Pirate baseball player, Nick Thompson, was also a recipient of the Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award.
2014 Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award Recipients
Ben Currie McKinzie, Jr. of Upper Marlboro, Md., information and computer technology
Megan Rachel Mehaffey of Clyde, N.C., chemistry and applied physics
Hannah Marie Potter of Marshville, N.C., multidisciplinary studies
Juliann Marie Stalls of Williamston, N.C., psychology
Nicholas Reid Thompson '13 of Chesapeake, Va., biochemistry