Student snapshot-winter 2022

Doug Thomas

Hometown: Goldsboro

Major: Entrepreneurship and sports studies

Career goals: Launch his compact martial arts kit and run a martial arts studio

One could say the entrepreneurial itch for Doug Thomas began 30 years ago when he started martial arts training. That was nine years into a 26-year Air Force career. Upon retiring from the service in 2008, he landed in Goldsboro and began working at AT&T. 

A couple of years ago, he learned about the entrepreneurship certificate offered by the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and College of Business. He thought it would help him launch an idea that had been kicking around in his head since 2017. 

“I tend to train with martial arts weapons a lot,” said Thomas, a second-degree black belt in four different styles. “Since I teach and train in different locations, I have to carry my gear bag around with me, and it’s real heavy because of all the weapons I use.”

His idea led to a compact kit that could store 25 different weapons. He developed prototypes and pitched them in the annual Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. In the recent Overton Pitch Competition, Thomas’ martial arts compact kit idea won $6,000 to invest in the business, the most handed out at the competition. 

Thomas has participated in entrepreneurial programs such as RiseUp Academy, Accelerate Rural NC and I-Corps and been active in campus organizations such as the COB’s Peer Mentor Group, which serves first-year business students.

Then another entrepreneurial opportunity landed at his feet. 

“My (martial arts) instructor indicated to me that he was planning on turning his school over to me,” said Thomas. “All these opportunities popped up and kind of changed my life.” 

– Michael Rudd

The Playhouse Returns

The ECU/Loessin Playhouse returns to celebrate its 60th season this year after being sidelined in 2021 due to COVID.

Head Over Heels dress rehearsal.

School of Theatre and Dance students Camden Hare, left, and Lauren Moore perform during a Nov. 15 dress rehearsal for “Head Over Heels,” featuring music from the Go-Go’s. (ECU Photo by Cliff Hollis)