Month: May 2024


Silgan Employee Completes Center for Workforce Development Apprenticeship

May 30, 2024 | Campus News

Silgan Plastics’ Casey Thornton recently completed an Industrial Maintenance Technician apprenticeship through the East Central College Center for Workforce Development (CWD), providing a significant boost to his training and career path.

Thornton, who has been employed at Silgan in Union for nearly 10 years, seized the opportunity when the manufacturer sought additional maintenance personnel. The apprenticeship, offered through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) apprenticeship program and coordinated by ECC’s CWD, played a crucial role in advancing Thornton’s career and enhancing his understanding of industrial processes.

Reflecting on his experience, Thornton said he acquired valuable basic maintenance tech skills early in the program, which laid a solid foundation for his career. “I was able to apply the different philosophies taught in the courses at work and expand upon them there,” he added. “I also learned to better collaborate with other people on projects I am involved in.”

Thornton highly recommends the program to anyone seeking to advance in the industrial maintenance field. He praised the program’s flexibility, which allowed him to balance work, family, and education seamlessly.

Thornton is the second employee at Silgan to complete the apprenticeship, and according to Silgan officials, participants have shown accelerated progress toward becoming qualified mechanics, increased engagement, a positive attitude, and readiness to take on challenging tasks.

Melissa Richards, ECC’s CWD Apprenticeship and Business Training Coordinator, emphasized the impact of DOL-registered apprenticeship programs, which span over 1,000 occupations and continue to expand.

“Our focus extends beyond technical apprenticeships; we’re expanding into healthcare and information technology fields,” she said. “Every dollar invested in an apprenticeship yields approximately $1.50 in return on investment for employers.”

ECC’s CWD is committed to delivering industry-leading training solutions to meet both national and local needs. For more information about apprenticeship programs, contact ECC’s CWD at or 636-649-5800.


Union Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Earns Top 100 Honors

May 28, 2024 | Campus News

The East Central College Chi Delta chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society boasted amazing accomplishments this year, including being named a Top 100 Chapter.

The chapter earned Top 100 honors during the annual PTK Catalyst (International) Convention held in April in Orlando, Fla. Phi Theta Kappa has about 1,300 chapters across the globe, placing the Chi Delta chapter in elite company.

Although this is not the first time the ECC Union chapter has earned this distinction, it is the first since PTK changed program formatting several years ago, said Chapter Advisor Kevin Dixon.

“This is a goal that ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer asked us to work toward in a meeting with the advisors a few years ago, and we were honored and proud to achieve that status once again,” Dixon said.

The Top 100 status is earned through a combination of the scores from the students’ work on the Hallmark Awards for their College Project and Honors in Action programs.

Melanie Dixon, also a chapter advisor, attended the PTK Catalyst Convention with students Kylie Napier, Elijah Long, Ethan Sandstrom, and Nicholas Rucker.

Additionally, the Chi Delta chapter received a Hallmark Award for College Project, a recognition given to only the top 30 chapters in PTK each year. It is the first International Hallmark Award under the current format. The college project was developed by the chapter officers and spearheaded by Maxwell Reeves, chapter vice president.

ECC PTK member Nicholas Rucker received an individual award, the Distinguished Chapter Member, an accolade that just 30-40 members in all of PTK earn. Rucker was nominated by chapter officers in recognition of his participation in chapter programming last year.

The Chi Delta student officers for the 2023-24 academic year were Mary Daily (President), Maxwell Reeves (Executive Vice President), Sarah O’Bannon (Vice President for Public Relations/Fall 2023 graduate), and Enoch Schloeman (Vice President for Chapter Programs/Spring 2024 graduate).

In addition to Kevin and Melanie Dixon, Dr. Wendy Pecka also served as an advisor for PTK at ECC.

About PTK

Students must have at least a 3.4 GPA and be a full-time student for one semester to be invited into PTK. Members must then maintain an overall GPA of 3.2 once they are inducted into the honor society. Membership is open to all majors throughout the college, including anyone working toward a degree or certificate.

To learn more about PTK and to find contact information for advisors, visit


New ECC Program Aims to Combat Respiratory Therapist Shortages

May 28, 2024 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Over the next year, East Central College and four partner community colleges will launch groundbreaking Respiratory Therapy programs to tackle the pressing shortage of respiratory therapists in Missouri.

Recently, ECC secured a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop this Allied Health initiative, aimed at boosting healthcare education and workforce development across predominantly rural regions of the state.

According to Dr. Robyn Walter, Vice President of Academic Affairs at ECC, the U.S. Department of Labor grant signifies a substantial investment in healthcare education and workforce development.

Over the next four years, the grant will provide resources for ECC and its partners to establish a comprehensive respiratory care program that addresses the pressing need for skilled healthcare professionals in the region.

In collaboration with four community colleges—Moberly Area Community College, North Central Missouri College, State Fair Community College, and Three Rivers College—ECC is leading this program through an existing consortium dedicated to providing respiratory therapy training in underserved areas of Missouri.

These institutions will each offer an Associate of Science in Respiratory Care, providing students with a pathway to fulfilling careers in healthcare.

“Individually, we would have difficulty maintaining the student enrollment to sustain a program financially,” Walter said. “To ensure sustainability, each member of our consortium contributes student enrollments and promotes the program’s viability.”

Furthermore, the consortium’s partnership with Central Methodist University offers students the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Health Science, further enhancing their educational and career prospects.

Walter emphasized the program’s potential to address critical workforce shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As healthcare providers continue to grapple with staffing challenges, initiatives like this play a crucial role in bolstering healthcare capacity and resilience.

The new respiratory programs grown through this grant will reach 70 predominantly rural and low-income counties across Missouri. This collaborative effort underscores the dedication of the consortium member schools to address critical needs within underserved communities.

Walter further highlighted the importance of training students locally, emphasizing that they are more likely to stay and work in the communities where they receive their education. By nurturing local talent and fostering connections with healthcare facilities, ECC and its partners aim to strengthen healthcare infrastructure and support economic growth in rural communities.

“If students train locally, they’re more likely to stay in the area, and at area health care facility they have experienced their clinical education,” she said. “This expands the regional healthcare workforce and helps create more stable staffing for our healthcare partners.”

The grant’s funding will cover essential aspects of the program, including staff positions, equipment costs, and student expenses, ensuring that students have access to quality education and resources.

Funding began May 1, making ECC and its consortium partners now poised to make significant strides in addressing the critical need for respiratory therapists across Missouri.

To find out more information about ECC’s Allied Health programs, visit


ECC Nursing Program Celebrates 31 Graduates

May 20, 2024 | Campus News ECC Rolla

East Central College celebrated the achievements of 31 graduates from its Nursing Program during a pinning ceremony on May 11. This time-honored event brought together graduates from the Union and Rolla campuses along with their families, friends, faculty, staff, and administration.

Highlighting the ceremony, five exceptional students were honored for their outstanding commitment and excellence both in the classroom and in clinical settings. The ECC Outstanding Nursing Students recognized were Bryan Lambeth from Rolla and Summer Fisher from Union. Additionally, the Spirit of Clinical Excellence Awards were presented to Josie Obermark (Mercy), Gracie Sohn (Missouri Baptist Sullivan), and Mary Romine (Phelps Health).

The pinning ceremony, a cherished tradition in nursing, symbolizes the transition from student to professional nurse. Each graduate received a unique ECC Nursing Program pin, marking their entry into the community of nursing professionals.

Dean of Health Science and Director of Nursing Nancy Mitchell commenced the ceremony with welcoming remarks, followed by an inspiring greeting from ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer. Class of 2024 graduate Caitlyn Linders then delivered a warm student welcome.

The guest speaker, Dr. Connie Wissbaum, Director of Nursing Excellence at Mercy Hospital Washington and former ECC nursing instructor, shared invaluable insights and encouragement with the graduates. The ceremony concluded with poignant remarks from 2024 graduate Bryan Lambeth and closing comments from ECC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Robyn Walter.

The Nursing program graduates are:

Lori Anderson, Josie Obermark, Taryn Curtis, Michelle Parker, Emma Davis, Sarah Parker, Summer Fisher, David Pauly, Joey Guyton, Sarah Price, Dalton Halloran, Laura Roesner, Taylor Hanger, Mary Romine, Sophia Howell, Madelyn Ruszala, Allison Huddleston, Gracie Sohn, Gabriel Killian, Macie Steffens, Maria Krull, Claire Strubberg, Bryan Lambeth, Kalyn Thompson, Rebekah Lewis, Grace Turilli, Caitlyn Linders, Allison Wilson, Rachel Lottes, Ariana Young, and Shaniah Marlatt.

Nursing Awards

The ECC Outstanding Nursing Student award is given to those whose lives were significantly impacted by the college, often helping them realize their dreams of becoming nurses. These awardees have excelled in both academic and clinical settings.

Additionally, Spirit of Clinical Excellence awards were given by ECC’s healthcare partners: Mercy Hospital Washington, Phelps Health in Rolla, and Missouri Baptist Hospital Sullivan. These awards honor graduates who demonstrate exceptional care, compassion, inquiry, critical thinking, and organizational skills.

ECC Nursing faculty from Union and Rolla campuses presented the awards, recognizing the graduates’ dedication and achievements.



ECC Students Named to All-Missouri Academic Teams

May 17, 2024 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Four standout students from East Central College have been recognized for their exceptional academic achievements by being named to the 2024 All-Missouri Academic Team.

The honorees are Hayden Loeb of Owensville, Donna Neulinger of Rolla, Chloe Nissen of Union, and Jagger Wood of Washington. These students were recognized by the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) and the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) National Honor Society during a special ceremony sponsored by MCCA in April.

In recognition of their accomplishments, each student received a medallion, a certificate, and a cash scholarship sponsored by the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). The PTK, in partnership with corporate sponsors, organizes the Academic All-USA competition for students from two-year colleges across the nation.

The selection process is rigorous. PTK evaluates applicants on a national scale and forwards the top Missouri candidates to the MCCA. From there, the 40 highest-ranking students in the state are designated as Academic All-State award winners. These include 10 students on the first team, 10 on the second team, and 20 on the third team.

East Central College nominates two to four students from each campus annually for the All-USA Team, making them automatic contenders for the All-Missouri Academic Team. The nomination process requires a comprehensive scholarship application, detailing the nominees’ campus and community activities and including a letter of recommendation that highlights a significant endeavor they accomplished during their time at ECC.

Pictured are three of the four East Central College students named to the All-Missouri Academic Team. From left, are Jagger Wood of Washington, Donna Neulinger of Rolla, and Chloe Nissen of Union. Not pictured is Hayden Loeb of Owensville. Wood and Nissen attend classes at the Union campus, while Neulinger and Loeb are based at ECC in Rolla.


Carhartt and Metallica Foundation Award ECC $50,000

May 17, 2024 | Campus News

The band Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation (AWMH) and Carhartt are awarding East Central College $50,000 through Carhartt’s “For the Love of Labor” grant. Carhartt logo

The “For the Love of Labor” grant will support women seeking education in the skilled trades programs. Five community colleges nationwide will each receive $50,000 to bolster women in career and technical education programs and promote the Metallica Scholars Initiative.

“This award acknowledges the work ECC does to provide Manufacturing career opportunities for our area’s business and industry.” said Joel Doepker, ECC Vice President of External Relations. “There are great opportunities for well-compensated positions with benefits, and this award increases our ability to focus on women pursuing a career in Manufacturing.”

The grant is funded by a single day of online sales of Carhartt women’s apparel earlier this year.

AWMH is working with Carhartt to shine a light on and address the skilled trades gap and highlight the women entering these essential jobs. The organizations are pushing against the narrative that women are less capable of handling work in the trades.

ECC will spend a large majority of the award on scholarships for women registered in Welding, Heating and Air-Conditioning, Industrial Engineering Technology, and the Precision Machining programs in the fall 2024 and spring 2025 semesters. The scholarship will assist students with the cost of tuition, fees, books, toolkits and provide a student stipend.

A primary reason ECC was selected is due to the number of women receiving a scholarship through the Metallica Scholars program, which provides scholarships in ECC’s Advanced Manufacturing programs.

“We were impressed with the number of women enrolled in the programs they profiled,” said Renee Richardson, Director of Philanthropy at Metallica’s Foundation, All Within My Hands. “It’s important to provide opportunities for women in the advanced manufacturing programs, and we think ECC will use the funding well.”

The Carhartt “For the Love of Labor” scholarship application is available online at



Mary Romine Receives President’s Spirit of ECC Award

May 16, 2024 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Although East Central College Nursing program graduate Mary Romine received her diploma for Associate of Applied Science in Nursing on May 11, she has already been pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) for five months.

Romine, from Rolla, who attends classes at ECC in Rolla, is described as a leader among her peers and someone who consistently exceeds expectations in every aspect as a student. Additionally, she excels academically and demonstrates leadership within the Student Nurse Organization.

During ECC’s Commencement Ceremony, Romine was recognized for those qualities, and more, with the President’s Spirit of East Central College Award.

ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer presented the award to Romine, noting that she was graduating that day cum laude, and as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Bauer added that Romine is active and holds leadership positions in multiple student organizations while maintaining an outstanding 3.58 GPA in nursing school.

“Her commitment to giving back to the community is evident through her volunteer work with school-aged children, where she shares her passion for the nursing profession,” he said.

In addition to the President’s Spirit award, Romine received the Phelps Health Spirit of Excellence in Nursing award during the Nursing program pinning ceremony earlier that day.

“I was utterly shocked to have received these awards…” she said. “When we took our seats at the commencement ceremony, I saw a section of the program that was all about me! I was so honored to have received both awards, and I was emotional because all my hard work paid off.”

“I live by being kind to each individual I meet and trying my hardest at everything I do,” Romine added. “Spreading this positivity and devotion aids in developing trust with others. To be appreciated and recognized meant the world to me, and I appreciate everyone involved in nominating and choosing me for these awards.”

Healthcare Field

Romine is already working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Phelps Health in Rolla, and she will work as a full-time registered nurse now that she’s graduated. She plans to graduate with a BSN in May 2025. Meanwhile, she will study for the Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) exam.

Her next step will be to apply for the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) three-year program at MSU.

“If everything goes according to plan, I expect to graduate with my doctorate in 2029,” Romine said. “My end goal is to be a DNAP at Phelps Health Hospital. I love the Rolla community and want to build my dream home and family here in my hometown.”

“I want to thank everyone in my support system, including my family, fiancé, mentors, instructors, friends, the Rolla community, and the One Life ministry,” she added. “None of this would be possible without God, my number one supporter, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'”


Sandy Lucy Named ECC Outstanding Alumni

May 15, 2024 | Campus News

Sandy Lucy of Washington was honored with the 2024 Outstanding East Central College Alumni award during the College’s 54th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11. Lucy, a member of the Class of 1976, was celebrated for her pioneering contributions to her community.

Notably, she made history as the first female mayor of the City of Washington, serving in this role for 12 years.

Prior to that, she broke barriers as the first woman elected as chairperson of the Washington Chamber of Commerce. These achievements, along with her numerous other exceptional contributions to local politics and community service, led to her selection for the prestigious East Central College Foundation award.

Presented by ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer, the Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an ECC alum by the East Central College Foundation. It recognizes individuals who have brought honor to the College through their professional accomplishments, leadership, and community impact.

Drawing upon her experience as a transformative leader, Lucy delivered a message of empowerment to graduates, emphasizing the importance of being present in shaping the future.

“The world belongs to those who show up,” she said. “As life goes on, you will have many opportunities to get involved and participate — be someone people can count on.”

About Sandy Lucy

A graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, Lucy embarked on her educational journey at ECC, where she earned an associate degree in general studies before obtaining a degree in speech pathology and audiology from the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg.

Lucy’s commitment to serving others has been evident throughout her career. Following her academic pursuits, she worked as a speech and language pathologist in rural schools in Lincoln and Pike counties, positively impacting the lives of countless students.

Mayor Lucy

During her tenure as Mayor of Washington from 2010 to 2022, Lucy made significant strides in economic development and transportation growth, including overseeing milestones such as the opening of the new Missouri River Bridge.

Lucy’s leadership, characterized by respect, integrity, and a focus on community well-being, has earned her widespread admiration. Her dedication to ECC extends beyond her time in office, as she has served on the Foundation Board since 2005 and actively contributes to the ECC Alumni Association.

“It’s rare that our elected leaders are held in high esteem by the majority of their constituents,” her nomination read. Sandy Beste Lucy is one of those rare leaders.”

“She is a woman of exceptional character who shows everyone respect and leads with an eye focused on the big picture.”

In addition to her involvement with ECC, Lucy’s philanthropic endeavors include establishing an endowed scholarship in 2021 and serving on various community committees, including those for tourism, historic preservation, and the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Managing the Gary Lucy Gallery, which she co-owns with her husband, Lucy is also engaged in organizations such as St. Francis Borgia Parish, Washington Rotary Club, and the Mercy Hospital Foundation Board.

Lucy’s impact on her community and alma mater is immeasurable, making her a truly deserving recipient of the 2024 Outstanding Alumni Award.”

Past Recipients

2023 – Ina “Cookie” Hays – Union – Higher Education
2022 – Tim Unnerstall – Washington – Business Management
2021 – Eric Park – Washington – Financial Planning
2020 – Scott Breckenkamp – Washington – Banking
2019 – Dorothy Schowe – New Haven – Public Relations
2018 – Ron Unnerstall – Washington – Engineer
2017 – Audrey Freitag – New Haven – Nurse
2016 – Dave Arand – Union – Attorney
2015 – Anthony “Tony” Kreutz – Union – Business Admin
2014 – Amy Wildhaber – Beaufort – ER Dept Manager
2013 – Joseph Purschke – Union – Attorney at Law
2012 – Linda Mahon – Union – History/Educator
2011 – Ted Coburn – Villa Ridge – Probation & Parole
2010 – Ann Schroeder – Union – Political Science
2009 – Chris Stuckenschneider – Washington – Journalism
2008 – Ken Schmidt – Union – Engineering
2007 – Tammy Watz – Sullivan – Allied Health
2007 – Dr. Frank Miller – Washington – Allied Health
2006 – Deborah Koelling – Washington – Education


Kolb Presented with Emerson’s Glass Apple for Excellence

May 9, 2024 | Campus News

Leigh Kolb’s unwavering dedication to her students and her contributions to the academic community have earned her the prestigious 2023 Emerson Excellence in Teaching award.

Kolb has been an Associate Professor of English and Journalism at East Central College for the past 15 years, thriving as a full-time faculty member during that time; while positively impacting countless students with her passion for literature, film, and journalism.

Her commitment to the craft of writing, coupled with her genuine care for each student, distinguishes her as an outstanding educator.

“Leigh embodies the essence of excellence in teaching,” remarked one colleague. “Her ability to connect literature with current events fosters engagement and personal interest in class discussions, leaving a lasting impact on her students.”

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program, sponsored by Emerson, annually recognizes educators in the St. Louis metropolitan area who are examples of excellence in their field. Recipients are selected by administrators of their school districts or educational institutions, and they receive a glass apple from Emerson.

In addition to her excellence in teaching, Kolb’s committee work and professional accomplishments are exemplary. She has demonstrated a commitment to enhancing the student experience through assessment of both formal curriculum and co-curricular activities.

As the co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, Kolb actively promotes an inclusive learning environment. She also spearheads the Film & Lecture Series, enriching communities through educational film screenings and scholarly discussions.

Additionally, Kolb continues to exercise her writing and critical thinking skills through contributions to pop culture and philosophy in magazines and books. Her recent work, “What Saves the World? Care and Ecofeminism,” is featured in the newly published book “Mad Max and Philosophy: Thinking Through the Wasteland.”

“Leigh is a passionate, dedicated, and effective teacher,” said one nominator. “She consistently creates an environment that encourages critical thinking and personal reflection, setting her students up for success both in and outside the classroom.”

The Emerson Excellence in Teaching award is a testament to Kolb’s commitment to academic excellence and student success.


Art Students Showcase Talents and Creativity at Exhibition

May 4, 2024 | Art Campus News

The annual East Central College Art and Design Student Exhibition showcased the remarkable talents of students from various disciplines demonstrating their creativity and skill.

The ECC Art Gallery buzzed with excitement during the April 25 reception as students and faculty gathered to celebrate the exceptional artwork on display.

Jennifer Higerd, Assistant Professor of Art and ECC Art Gallery Curator, and Sean Barton, Graphic Design Instructor and Art and Design Department Executive, presented awards to the talented winners in each category. They also acknowledged honorable mentions for their outstanding contributions.

Among the standout talents was Milo Guile, whose piece titled “Fallen Angel” earned him the highest recognition of “Best of Show.”

Milo’s achievement is exceptional given his previous success in last year’s exhibition with his wire art piece, “Coat Hanger,” which won Best of Show in the 2023 Exhibition.

The external juror, Sean Ramirez, a Senior Product Designer at Build-A-Bear Workshop, brought valuable expertise to the judging process. Prior to his current role, he contributed to the animation of beloved Disney films such as Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo and Stitch, and John Henry.

Below is the list of winners in each category:

Drawing — Maddi Jaegers, Bottles

Functional Ceramics — Christina Keeven, Fish Plate

Figure Drawing — Kayla Brinkmann, My Dome

Painting — Ash Marcus, Not an f* chicken*

2D Design — Angelique Holtmeyer, Catlusion

Illustration — Lann Remer, The Troll Emerges

Digital Design — Kayla Brinkmann, Moscow

Graphic Design — Hallelujah Medlock, Fruits of the Spirit

Sculpture — Carlie Shaw, Sweet Music

Film Photography — Miriam Bondor, Once upon a time

Printmaking — Hallelujah Medlock, Illuminated Tree

Honorable Mentions

Figure Drawing — Chae Keeney, Kimber

Painting — Amy Hervey, Shoes

Patron’s Picks

Continuing a tradition spanning over a decade, ECC’s Patrons of the Arts graciously supported our student artists by acquiring the following artworks to enrich the ECC Art Collection:

Ash Marcus – Not an f** Chicken

Carlie Shaw – Sweet Music

Desiree Delisi – The Overgrown

Hallelujah Medlock – Fruits of the Spirit

Hannah Pilarski – Brim

Lann Remer – Amalgamation of Consumerism

Maddi Jaegers – Mime

Connor Flaherty – Drift Away

Zoe Meyer – Sunset Clouds