Month: December 2020


Students Named to 2020 Fall Semester Vice President’s List

December 22, 2020 | Campus News

East Central College recognizes students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement each semester.

Upon completion of at least 12 semester credit hours with a semester grade point between 3.50 and 3.84, students are acknowledged by placement on the Vice President’s List.

For the Fall 2018 semester, there were 164 students on the list!


President’s List for Fall 2020 Semester

December 22, 2020 | Campus News

East Central College recognizes students who have demonstrated exemplary academic achievement each semester.

Upon completion of at least 12 fall semester credit hours with a semester grade point average of 3.85 or greater, students are acknowledged on the President’s List.

There were 134 students named to the list from the fall semester!



From Homeschool to Honor Society, Siblings Learn Together

December 21, 2020 | Campus News

Belle area siblings Kya and Jace Nilges were homeschooled together, and now they are continuing their education together at East Central College in Rolla.

They both took time off after high school to work before enrolling at ECC. They decided to take the plunge and enroll in Fall of 2019.

The siblings agreed that attending ECC turned out being an easier transition than either of them thought.

“I was worried about coming to college, but it ended up being totally fine and I wished I had done it sooner,” Kya explained.

“I was kind of worried I’d be out of my depth,” Jace added. “I expected it to be much harder than it was.”

Jace, who is 15 months older than Kya, said they both recognize the value of attending ECC because of the short drive from their hometown and the affordability of classes.

“We chose ECC for the proximity and the price. It’s also a good stepping-stone in getting credits to transfer. It makes it a lot easier and more efficient,” added Kya.

Kya plans on completing an associate degree in liberal studies, then she hopes to transfer to Stephen’s College to pursue Fashion Communication or Communication Design. Jace is leaning toward an associate degree in Radiologic Technology through ECC and the Rolla Technical Center.

Students with Honors

The duo was invited into Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges, based on their impressive GPAs. While neither one of them quite expected being inducted into an honor society, they both embraced the opportunity.

“I didn’t really know much about Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) before I was sent the invitation,” Jace said.

“It was kind of a surprise but then thought ‘well yeah, this sounds good!’ I’m glad I was invited.”

Kya noted that she was aware of PTK but she did not expect to be part of the organization. They were inducted into PTK in November. 

“It’s really amazing to be a part of it,” she said. “I did not expect this good of grades. We were both homeschooled so I had no idea what my grades would be like starting out — It was unpredictable.”

They attribute part of their success to holding each other accountable in their schoolwork. Going to school with a sibling gives the opportunity of always having a study partner.

“It’s nice to have someone built-in to study with. You always have someone there to talk it through with. A lot of other people don’t have that,” Kya commented.

They also attribute some of their success to having chosen ECC.

“Attending ECC has given me a lot more opportunities and I have become way more confident in myself.” Kya said.

Jace had parting advice to those considering enrollment at ECC:

“Going to college seems scary but the scariest part is taking that first step. Once you’re actually in school, it just becomes normal. You are more capable than you think you are.”


After Four Years, Returning Student Completes Degree

December 18, 2020 | Campus News

It occurs often in life that we need some encouragement and support to help us.

That was the case for Mercedes Mangrum. East Central College sent her a text, a postcard, a letter, an e-mail, showing her the value of finishing her college degree. And she made up her mind that this 2020 fall semester would be the time to do it.

“My decision to complete this semester was solely to give myself options for future endeavors.”

Mercedes graduated from St. Clair High School in 2012, enrolled at ECC, and took classes off and on until 2016 when she paused for personal reasons.

The 26-year-old spent the last four years working and is currently an administrative assistant at a counseling facility in Creve Coeur. She needed only four classes (12 college credits) to complete the requirements for an Associate of Arts degree. She’ll have the degree at the end of the year, knowing her effort was worth it.

“As an older student, I did feel more focused and ready to complete my degree. ECC classes were affordable for me which made achieving my degree possible.”

She’ll be an ECC graduate, but she’s not stopping her education. She is considering Harris-Stowe State University for a more diverse experience and to learn more about her heritage. Her mother is Cambodian, and her father is African American.

Mercedes is one of the hundreds of students with some college credits hours from East Central College who haven’t completed their degree. Many of them could finish in one or two semesters.

Mercedes has a message to those other ECC students who are so close to completing their degree.

“Keep going, there is no failing. Keep persevering toward your goal and keep learning. I believe knowledge is power.”

East Central College has a dedicated program to help those ECC students complete their degree. Visit or call Melanie Dixon at 636.574.7664.


AEL Instructor to Retire After 13 Years

December 17, 2020 | Campus News

Don Boettcher is hanging up his hat after 13 years as an instructor with East Central College’s Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Program.

Boettcher, 87, taught college and career readiness classes. That Includes assisting students who did not have a high school diploma prepare for the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), formerly called the GED.

According to Alice Whalen, AEL director, Boettcher cared deeply about his job as an instructor and each student he taught.

“Don has adapted to many changes in the adult education program over the years, but his care and support for the students has never changed,” she said, “He has always shown the greatest care and concern for their success.”

His AEL teaching career began after he got a call from ECC in 2007 to teach GED classes.

The college was offering high school equivalency classes in the Gerald area and needed someone nearby to teach evening classes.

Boettcher taught HiSET prep courses two nights a week at New Life Tabernacle in Gerald. He taught students a variety of subjects to help prepare them for the test.

After teaching students in the Gerald area for a few years, Boettcher taught at the Sullivan class site.

About Boettcher

Boettcher and his wife, MaryJane, live in Sullivan. He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. The couple moved to Missouri in 1965.

He had served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s, and later he worked as a market researcher for a Canadian-owned brewing company. When the couple moved to Missouri Boettcher was a market planning manager, and at one point he worked at an advertising firm.

AEL Program

ECC’s AEL program offers several programs to help adult learners with workforce training skills, English Language Acquisition, Communication and Customer Service Certificate Programs and much more.

AEL instructors must have a bachelor’s degree, pass a fingerprint background check and complete training for certification once hired.

Volunteers with the program must complete a Missouri background check and complete virtual training with the East Central Area Literacy Council.

To learn more about the AEL Program, people may visit

Area residents interested in becoming instructors or classroom assistants may call 636-584-6533 or email


Actor’s Showcase Performance Premieres Thursday

December 16, 2020 | Campus News Performing Arts Theatre

Every year the East Central College Theatre Department Acting I and II students present an onstage showcase of their work — and year will be no exception.

That’s according to Grace Austin, theatre director, who said the Fall 2020 Actor’s Showcase will premiere Thursday, Dec. 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

She explained that the acting students will perform, “The Way Home,” written by St. Louis playwright Will Bonfiglio.

“Will Bonfiglio has again written an original show for the students to perform based on found text and travel advice platforms,” Austin said. “The show covers all concepts of home, road trips, playlists, adventure and returning to where your heart is.”

The performance will premiere on the ECC Theatre YouTube channel at

Austin noted that the play was filmed over three nights in December, with three students joining the class remotely via Zoom.

The actors who performed “The Way Home” are Logan Head, Shania Wilson, Sebastian Monotowine, Grace Allagier, Faythe Anderson, Kennedy Smith, Isabelle Obie, Isaac Corum, Harley Vuocolo, Isaac Gibson, Alex Kreite, Jacob Fitts, Hannah Folk, Dora Bell  and Gavin Salsman.

The “run crew” includes Jarred Snider and Samantha Doepker with lighting design by Bess Moynihan and theatre management by Sylvia Sellers.


In-Person, Online and Streaming Classes at ECC this Spring

December 16, 2020 | Campus News

The spring semester at East Central College will look much like the fall semester, with a full range of class offerings and delivery methods.

According to ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer, not much has changed in course delivery from Fall to Spring, primarily because what the college has done has worked so well.

“The spring semester schedule includes classes offered in-person, online and/or streaming,” he said. “We plan to open the spring with this combination of delivery options.”

Dr. Bauer urged students to sign up as soon as possible for spring classes to ensure the classes they want will be available when they need them.

“The earlier you register, the more likely it is you can enroll in the type of classes you prefer,” he said.

The 2021 Spring semester begins Tuesday, Jan. 19. For some students, it will be their first taste of college.

“We have students who start their college education during the spring semester,” Dr. Bauer added.   “That’s really just around the corner, so don’t delay.”

For more registration information, visit or call 636-584-6588.

In-Person Classes

Dr. Bauer explained that ECC’s in-person classes have been successful because of the safety protocols in place.

“We will continue to have the COVID protections that we have now, including a mask requirement and reduced seating in classes in order to maintain social distancing,” he said.

In addition, ECC has stations at each entrance and other areas of campus with hand sanitizer and thermometers.

Students and employees are encouraged to stay home if they are feeling ill. The college has an employee serving as a COVID-19 contact to assist students and employees with questions about procedures, and also to follow up with local health departments to assist in keeping the campus safe.

ECC Rolla Classes

Christina Ayres, Director of the ECC Rolla sites, said fall semester students were able to schedule classes based on their comfort level, around work or home obligations.

The Spring semester will be much of the same.

“For every student it was a personal decision,” Ayres said. “Our students are absolutely committed to their education.”

She noted that for some students it was practical to stay at home because of their children or due to a family illness.

“We increased our online offerings so students could take advantage of learning at home,” Ayres said. “We want to offer options so students can make the best decision based on their circumstances.”


PTK Advisor Recognized for 25 Years with Chapter

December 16, 2020 | Campus News

Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Advisor Kevin Dixon was recognized for 25 years of service to the honor society at East Central College.

Dixon, associate professor of biology, has worn many hats in the Chi Delta Chapter of PTK since 1995, including co-adviser, adviser and contact advisor.

He got his start with the organization as a student.

“I joined as a student and a couple of the student officers asked me to get involved,” he said. “I kept going from there.”

ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer presented Dixon with a pin to commemorate the 25 years of service and time given to students.

“This is a great accomplishment and Kevin has done a lot for PTK over the years,” said Bauer, who also was a PTK member as a student.

Dixon added that PTK is an organization where students from all areas of study get involved.

“I like that I get a chance to work with students from majors all across the college,” he said.

Phi Theta Kappa honor society recognizes and encourages scholarship among two-year college students. The organization provides students with opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming. Dixon is associate professor of biology at ECC.

Students must have at least a 3.4 GPA and be a full-time student for one semester in order to be invited into PTK. After being inducted, students must maintain at least a 3.2 GPA.

For more information about PTK or to inquire about membership, email Dixon at, or Dr. Wendy Pecka at


Three Career Courses to be Offered at ECC

December 15, 2020 | Campus News

There are new career courses available to students who enroll in East Central College’s Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Program.

The Fast-Track classes begin in January 2021, so students must enroll quickly to complete the required AEL orientation prior to classes beginning. Local job centers will provide financial assistance for eligible students.

According to Alice Whalen, AEL director, Certified Nursing Assistant and Intro to HVAC courses are available at the Union ECC campus. A Maintenance Assistant (MA) certificate program will be available at the ECC Rolla North site.

“Students need to register now to begin these classes on time,” Whalen said. “The two-part orientation includes a meeting via Zoom followed by a day in person, masks required. Both steps must be completed.”

Proof of income and other documents are required if students are seeking a scholarship or funding assistance.

The Zoom orientation meetings are Monday, Jan. 5, from 5-6 p.m., or Tuesday, Jan. 6 from 10-11 a.m.

The in-person classes are Friday, Jan. 8, at ECC in Union; The classes are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In Rolla, the in-person class is Saturday, Jan. 9, at ECC North.

Complete the registration form at or call 844-322-4235 for more information.

Job Centers

To confirm funding eligibility for the Fast-Track programs, contact the closest job center.

Contact Kim Kopp at the Washington Job Center at or 636-583-9649.

In Rolla, contact Trish Rogers with the Rolla Job Center at or 573-364-7030.

For the Job Centers in Warren, Lincoln and Montgomery Counties, contact Janet Hickey at or 636-456-9467.

Certified Nursing Assistant

The Certified Nursing Assistant program is available at the ECC Union campus and classes will be held four days each week.

The CNA training program prepares students for employment in a long-term care facility. It teaches skills in resident care under the direct supervision of a licensed nurse.

The state approved course requires 75 hours of classroom training, 100 hours of on-the-job training and successful completion of a two-part final examination, which includes a written (or oral) and practicum examination.

Some of the topics covered are basic nursing skills, fire safety, disaster training, resident safety and rights, social and psychological problems of residents and the methods of caring for the mentally confused residents, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease.

The cost of the program is $1,300.

Intro to HVAC

The Introduction to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) will be taught at the ECC Union campus four evenings or three days each week.

In this course students learn the safe operation of hand and power tools used in the HVAC industry. They will learn the proper techniques in the use of testing equipment of high-pressure refrigeration systems and the basic operation of components typically in air conditioning systems.

Students will also learn the safety precautions needed to work on electrical systems used in the industry, as well as the safety precautions needed to work on electrical systems, learn to design basic electrical diagrams and apply diagrams to industry standards used in the HVAC industry.

The all-encompassing course will cover much more. The cost of the program is $1,600.

Maintenance Assistant

The Maintenance Assistant (MA) certificate program course. Taught at the ECC North site in Rolla, will be four evenings per week, or two day/two night “combos.”

A Maintenance Assistants (MA) certificate prepares students to understand the skills needed to ensure that facilities are clean and in good operating condition. Maintenance assistants are typically under the supervision of an experienced supervisor of maintenance.

This training is the first step in a career path to a supervisory position. The responsibilities of a MA could include cleaning buildings and rooms, and performing general maintenance and repair of the building, grounds, and equipment.

The cost of the course is $1,600.



Staying Home the Right Decision for Future Teacher

December 10, 2020 | Campus News

Before the summer ended, Grace McKinnis had her next four years planned.

The St. Francis Borgia Regional High School graduate had been accepted into her top school, Truman State University, in Kirksville, where she would study English and education.

When she combines the two, McKinnis wants to teach grammar, literature, ‘or anything English” to high school students.

But, as it did for many, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted McKinnis’ plans. About two weeks before she was to move on campus at Truman State, she questioned the decision of leaving home.

McKinnis remembers the exact moment, while at home with her mom, when she realized that it was not the time to go off to college.

“My mom looked at me and I looked at her and I said, ‘It’s not going to happen,’ “ McKinnis said.

“It was a last-minute decision,” she added. “Everything was ready to go.”

Earning a Degree

At the time, McKinnis’ sister already was a student at ECC, and she had been encouraged by high school advisors to consider attending ECC because of the incentives, such as A+ funding and scholarships.

Initially, she thought she had too many credit hours due to dual credit classes taken in high school.

But when McKinnis called ECC to talk with Paul Lampe, vice president of student services, he told her that there still were general education classes she needed.

“Initially I thought I would have too many college credits,” she said. “But instead I was told that I had enough credits to get a degree in a year.”

McKinnis is taking 15 credit hours this semester and she is enrolled in 15 credit hours next semester. Since the courses are part of CORE 42— which transfer to any public four-year school in the state — she will have an associate degree in Liberal Arts when the spring 2021 semester ends.

McKinnis added that ECC is much like any other college campus and she has been taught by great instructors.

“ECC is such a great school,” she said. “The professors really care, and they know what they are talking about.

“They want you to succeed while giving you the independence of a college student.”

Staying Home

About midway into the semester, McKinnis was diagnosed with COVID-19. She was at home, going to school remotely for 12 days.

“I definitely knew I made the right decision when I got COVID — It was nice to be close to home,” she said. “All of my instructors were great as long as I communicated with them.”

English Teacher

McKinnis has known for a while that she wants to teach English to high schoolers.

“When I was growing up I had very limited screen time,” she said. “A lot of my time was occupied by reading — I love to read, and I also have found that I am a very good at writing.”

She noted that one of her favorite classes at ECC is Early American Literature.

According to McKinnis, the decision to come to ECC has taken her a step closer to her dream career. She learned from top tier instructors and she saved money by living at home.

“Coming to ECC was a really good decision,” McKinnis added.  “I really like this school, and I am saving a lot of money.”