Category: Campus News


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Rolla Students Awarded for Academic Success, Leadership and Excellence


May 12, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

East Central College Rolla students were recognized for their academic excellence, perseverance, and contributions to a culture of student success, both in and out of the classroom.

The Office of Campus Life and Leadership and the Rolla Engagement Council recently held the annual Student Achievement Night ceremony to award these students for their accomplishments.

Outstanding Student Leaders

Bryan Lambeth and Elise Jeffers were named Outstanding Student Leaders for Spring 2023. Lambeth was nominated by Joannie Blakely, Nursing program coordinator in Rolla and the advisor for the Rolla Student Nurse Organization.

Jeffers was nominated by Dr. Beth Rozema, Biology faculty member and the advisor for the Beta Omicron Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.

Collaborative Excellence

Mary Romine and Briannah Tiarks were selected as the recipients of the Collaborative Excellence Award, which highlights student leaders whose collaborative spirits prove essential to the success of the club and the maintenance of an encouraging environment.

Romine was nominated by Blakely and Tiarks was nominated by Rozema.

Club Officer Awards

These awards are given to student leaders to recognize their contributions as stewards of student engagement on campus. Students are nominated by their club.
The following students were nominated for their service as club officers:

  • Kelsea Smith, Student Government Association President
  • Briannah Tiarks, Student Government Association Vice President
  • Alaina Sy, Student Government Association Public Relations Officer
  • Jessica Cook, Student Government Association Chief Recording Officer
  • Elise Jeffers, Phi Theta Kappa President, Beta Omicron Phi Chapter
  • Alicia Ramirez, Phi Theta Kappa Vice President, Beta Omicron Phi Chapter
  • Kelsea Smith, Phi Theta Kappa Public Relations Secretary, Beta Omicron Phi Chapter
  • Mary Romine, Phi Theta Kappa Recording Secretary, Beta Omicron Phi Chapter

Academic Distinction

Awards of academic distinction are given to students in recognition of academic excellence. Though these students will likely have a high mark in the gradebook, a student chosen for this award should also demonstrate an understanding of the course material, be an active participant in class, and contribute to the larger culture of succeeding and high-level thinking in the classroom.
The following Rolla students were given awards for academic distinction:

  • Kelsea Smith, Nursing
  • Logan Metzen, English
  • Lindsey Nichols, English
  • Madison Brown, Radiologic Technology
  • Makayla Mullins, Radiologic Technology
  • Shelby Henson, Radiologic Technology
  • George Bacon, Human Anatomy & Physiology
  • Roger Crossgrove, Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II
  • Jessica Cook, Introduction to Human Anatomy & Physiology

Spirited Falcon

Spirited Falcon awards are presented to students to recognize perseverance, a consistent willingness to learn and improve, and measured improvement. This award is designed to honor students who, despite any obstacles they may face during their semester, demonstrated a continued commitment to their education and success as a student.
The following Rolla students were given Spirited Falcon awards:

  • Avery Akers, Nursing
  • Dennis Robinson, English Composition
  • Laura Wyatt, Radiologic Technology
  • Amber Collins, Radiologic Technology

Outstanding Student Organization

The Office of Campus Life and Leadership selected the first-ever recipient of the Outstanding Student Organization, the Rolla Student Government Association. Their active group of officers, along with advisor Tracy Mowery, have reactivated this organization and its contribution to the student experience.

NAE Honor Society

Adult Education and Literacy students who were recently inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society were honored at Student Achievement Night.
The following students were inducted into NAEHS:

  • Alex Miller
  • April Durbin
  • Bryttanie Nelson
  • Grace Tiesaa
  • Hui Juan Liu
  • Maricel Piedrahita
  • Marissa Benfield
  • Omar Rendon
  • Zoe Thompson


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Strong Turnout at ECC Earth Day After Three-Year Hiatus


May 12, 2023 | Campus News

Organizers of the East Central College Earth Day celebration didn’t miss a beat despite a three-year hiatus between in-person events.

That’s according to Dr. Parvadha Govindaswamy, who said the April 29 event returned as strong as ever.

“Considering that we are doing this event after a three-year gap, the attendance was very good,” she said, adding that there were about 250 people in attendance.

Govindaswamy added that there was a wide variety of events and activities that reached attendees, from children to adults.

“Someone who visited every booth would have had plants, recycled paper with wildflower seeds, seed bombs, Strawberry DNA, animal crayons and bird feeders to take home with them,” she said.

“They would have fished pollution out of the ocean, peered through a telescope, traced the path of vegetables and fruits into and out of the U.S., learned some nature terms in Spanish, picked up tips and information about summer internships with the Endangered Wolf Center, Webster Groves Nature Society and Missouri Stream Team.”

In addition, there were demonstrations on ocean erosion, solar energy at work, and worm composting.

There were 30 different activities for different age groups during Earth Day, ranging from making crafts and building collages, to learning a new language, learning geography and hearing about internship and volunteer opportunities

“It was a good mix of activities that required one to stop and think as well get in there and do hands-on activities – both much needed for learning and engagement,” Govindaswamy said.

Holding community events like Earth Day, she noted, fits the College’s goal of promoting lifelong learning.

“This is one of the many efforts this college offers that help us share knowledge with our community about various topics that interest the community, and those that are important and relevant to current times,” Govindaswamy said. “Classroom teaching, when supplemented with such extracurricular activities, can enhance our understanding of and engagement with the world around us. And what better way to do that than opening our campus to have the community come over and self-guide their exploration and learning of different topics?”

Hosting Earth Day celebrations at ECC is one way of giving back to the community that supports the College.

“Since this event is geared towards all age groups it allows us to engage with and provide service for a larger cross section of this community,” Govindaswamy added. “Which is always exciting to us.”


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Students Recognized for Leadership, Academic Excellence and More


May 9, 2023 | Art Campus News Media Music

East Central College faculty, staff and administrators recognized many students for their outstanding accomplishments in the past academic year, both inside and outside the classroom.

The ECC Campus Life and Leadership’s annual Student Achievement Night on May 4 was an opportunity to recognize students for leadership, academic excellence, club engagement, success in the classroom and as student employees.

Academic Excellence Award

The Vice President’s Academic Excellence Award was presented to Caroline Miller. This prestigious award recognizes one student each year who demonstrates exemplary academic excellence during their time at ECC.

The recipient must maintain a minimum of a 3.4 GPA, and they must be nominated by a department chair. All nominations were submitted to the College vice presidents for consideration.

Outstanding Student Leader

Maggie Sikes was chosen as the 2023 Outstanding Student Leader. She was nominated by Lisa Hanneken, Business/Accounting faculty member and the club advisor for the Christian Club.

The award recognizes one student for exceptional leadership skills and abilities. Sikes also was chosen as the recipient of the Collaborative Excellence Award, nominated again by Hanneken. This award highlights a student leader who may not always want to be at the forefront as a leader, but whose collaborative spirit proves essential to the success of the club and the maintenance of an encouraging environment.

Club Officer Awards

The awards for club officers are given to student leaders for their contributions as stewards of student engagement on campus. Students are nominated by club advisors.
The following students were recognized for their service as club officers:

  • Brooklyn Hyatt, Student Government Association President
    • Theo Krummel, Student Government Association Vice President
    •             Megan Pritchard, Student Government Association Public Relations Officer
    •             Taylor Sikes, Student Government Association Recording Secretary
    •             Augast Haddad, Outstanding Student Government Association Member
    •             Parker Williamson, Art Club President
    •             Abby Stanfield, Art Club Vice President
    •             Lacy Buchanan, Art Club Secretary
    •             David Braun, Art Club Treasurer
    •             Carolyn Horst, Art Club Social Media Representative
    •             Maggie Sikes, Christian Club President
    •             Carly Hamlyn, Phi Theta Kappa President, Chi Delta Chapter
    •             Victoria Plocinski, Phi Theta Kappa Executive Vice President, Chi Delta Chapter
    •             Kaitlynn Myers, Phi Theta Kappa Vice President for Public Relations, Chi Delta Chapter
    •             Annika Brunner, Phi Theta Kappa Vice President for Recording & Finance, Chi Delta Chapter
    •             Riley Klekamp, Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Member, Chi Delta Chapter
    •             Annika Brunner, Rotaract Club Vice President
    •             Hunter Sperry, Rotaract Club Secretary & Treasurer

Academic Distinction

Awards of academic distinction are given by faculty members for students exhibiting excellence in academic.

Though these students will likely have a high mark in the gradebook, a student chosen for this award should also demonstrate an understanding of the course material, be an active participant in class, and contribute to the larger culture of succeeding and high-level thinking in the classroom.
The following students were given awards for academic distinction:

  • Nathaniel Wissman, Nursing
  • Joelle Phillips, Welding
  • Jacob Feth, Welding
  • William Herbst, Business
  • Katarina North, Accounting
  • Terry Ahrenhoersterbaeumer, Accounting & Business
  • Michael Buhr, Business
  • Sean Merriman, Accounting
  • Shane Kearbey, Business
  • Stephen Casey, Music
  • Joshua Liebhart, Music
  • Madalyn Montgomery, Music
  • Owen Borcherding, Business
  • Ian Meyer, Business
  • Olivia Vandegriffe, Business
  • David Kelch, Accounting
  • Grace Hoerstkamp, Business
  • Adam Creasy, Media Studies
  • Riley Klekamp, Humanities
  • Caroline Miller, Humanities
  • Emma Thomas, Humanities
  • Max Johnson, Humanities
  • Adam Vancil, Humanities
  • Zack Hill, English Composition
  • Katarina North, The Doyle Stricklin Memorial Award for Outstanding Performance in Accounting
  • Brianna Gildehaus, Outstanding Performance in Business Award


Spirited Falcon Award

The ECC Spirited Falcon awards are given to students in recognition of perseverance, a consistent willingness to learn and improve, and measured improvement.

This award is designed to honor students who, despite any obstacles they may face during their semester, demonstrated a continued commitment to their education and success as a student.
The following students were given Spirited Falcon awards:

  • MacKenzie Rolf, Nursing
  • Rose Adams, Reading Composition
  • Sean Merriman, Accounting
  • Kevin Corley, Humanities
  • Crystal Smith, Humanities
  • Julia Sampson, Business

Student Employees

The student employees at ECC go above and beyond in their efforts to balance coursework and their student work opportunities.
The following students were recognized as Outstanding Student Workers:

  • Hugh Steinman, The Learning Center
  • Kyley Henry, The Learning Center
  • Chase Schroeder, The Learning Center
  • Ian Meyer, The Learning Center
  • Julio Gonzalez, The Learning Center
  • Miguel Gonzalez, The Learning Center

NAE Honor Society

Adult Education and Literacy students who were recently inducted into the were honored at Student Achievement Night.
The following students were inducted into NAEHS:

  • Arellana Zepeda
  • Ashley Watson Carrell
  • Athena Burke
  • Christina McKean
  • Gorette Nyirasebura
  • Griselda Gonzales
  • Heather Mertell
  • Jagdish Prasad
  • Lauren Hoey
  • Mikela Lackey
  • Mirwais Amiri
  • Mukesh Lnu
  • Naresh Jatav
  • Rajpoot Lnu
  • Rita Mauer
  • Shelly McMullin

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Chirban Named Missouri ADN Educator of the Year


May 8, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

The day before she was recognized as an Educator of the Year, Julie Chirban said to her colleagues, “It is the neatest thing to see my students growing and that I get to be part of their story.”

That level of care and dedication to teaching and her students is why, in part, she was named the Missouri Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (MO-OADN) Educator of Year. Chirban, a nursing instructor at ECC-Rolla, was nominated by Joannie Blakely, ECC-Rolla Nursing program coordinator.

“Julie said she is so blessed that she has just a moment of your life, and she is part of your story,” Blakley said to the students who gathered for the award announcement. “She thinks that’s the most amazing thing.”

Chirban, of Rolla, was presented the award in front of coworkers and the first- and second-year nursing students.

“It is so cool that I get to have a footprint in your path,” Chirban said to the students. “To me it’s such an honor and blessing and I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do.

“You’re going to do amazing things and I am so excited that I get to have a part of your story.”

Challenging Students

To be considered for this award, instructors must have three years of teaching experience in an Associate Degree Nursing program and spend more than half their time with students in classroom or clinical settings.

“She embraces new teaching strategies and technologies to reach every learning style within her classroom,” Blakely wrote in the nomination. “Julie makes learning fun while engaging and challenging students to critically think and make clinical judgments.

“She maintains the highest standards personally, professional, ethically and academically for herself and her students,” she added. “Julie is devoted and passionate about nursing education and preparing future nurses for the workforce.”

Innovative Teaching

Chirban implements innovative instructional methods that encourages critical thinking and motivates students to perform at the highest level.

“Julie has a love of technology that shines in her classroom, whether it be face-to-face or online,” Blakley said, adding that Chirban recently had students create a TikTok video that showcased specific medications.

“This technique challenged students to collaborate with one another to create a teaching presentation video highlighting their medication. Students voiced the benefit of this technique especially when asked to recall apply medication knowledge.”

Chirban also is a role model as a professional nurse, she works closely with her with colleagues to the benefit of the Nursing program; and she is involved in college, professional and community activities.

“Julie collaborates with the local hospital to teach newborn classes to expecting parents and continuing education to fellow nurses and physicians,” Blakely wrote. “Julie also developed a summer community course for school-aged children on caring for newborns.”

About the OADN

The mission of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) is to provide visionary leadership in nursing education to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities served. OADN ensures that Associate Degree Nursing remains a pathway for a diverse spectrum of students, enriching the profession and meeting the health care needs of patients, families and communities.


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TLC Reading, Writing & Math Courses Bridge Skills Gap to College


May 7, 2023 | Campus News

The Learning Center (TLC) at East Central College has free courses available to help students bridge the gap between high school and college, or assists those returning to college after an extended period.

The Summer Bridge courses are non-credit sessions available at TLC designed to close the skills gap high school curriculum and the beginning of college. The courses are free and offered online, in-person, and in hybrid formats.

Recommendations for the Bridge program are based on student scores on the Accuplacer test, which evaluates the mathematics, reading, and writing skills of test-takers.

There are Summer Bridge courses reading, writing and mathematics. The courses combine student test scores and college curriculum to help students adjust to college-level courses and improve course placement.

Ideally, students who complete these courses will move more quickly into college-level classes and use less financial aid or out-of-pocket funding for college. Each of the Bridge courses include Accuplacer practice questions. Students can retake the Accuplacer free of charge after taking the Bridge courses.

Reading Bridge

The Reading Bridge is for students who scored 244 or below in the reading section of the Accuplacer. It works with reading courses for a better grasp of college reading courses.

To learn more about the Reading Bridge, contact Jake Little or call 636-584-6688. To learn more about TLC or to view additional resources, visit www.eastcentral.edu/learning-center/.

Writing Bridge

The Writing Bridge is for students who have scored 244 or below in the writing section of the Accuplacer. The class focuses on reading and writing strategies expected in college courses.

To learn more about the Writing Bridge, contact Jake Little or call 636-584-6688.

Math Bridge

There are two Math Bridge courses offered for free this summer at TLC.

The Pre-Algebra Bridge course is for students who placed 259 and below on arithmetic or below 236 on the quantitative reasoning sections of the Accuplacer.

The multi-session Pre-Algebra Bridge program reviews key concepts and college study skills to help students prepare to be successful in math courses including fractions, integer operations and ratios.

The Intro to Algebra/Fundamental Concepts Bridge course is for students who score 260-300 on the Accuplacer in arithmetic or 237-249 in quantitative reasoning.

This program reviews key concepts and college study skills to help prepare students to be successful in college-level math courses, including order of operations, linear equations and exponents.

To learn more about the Math Bridge courses, contact Rheann Spier or Jon Noelker, or call 636-584-6688.


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Co-Champions Conquer the ECC Regional Spelling Bee


May 6, 2023 | Campus News

Daisy Fearn and Scott Harriman traded off spelling words head-to-head for several rounds, with neither showing signs of being stumped.

That’s why, for the first time ever, there were co-champions of the East Central College Regional Spelling Bee.

Daisy, a fifth grader at Pacific Intermediate School, and Scott, an eighth grader at St. Francis Borgia Middle School, both earned the top prizes of a trophy, a $100 cash prize, and the Spelling Bee title for the calendar year.

The Bee, the first at ECC since 2019, was held April 29 in the John Edson Anglin Performing Arts Center at ECC. It was hosted by the ECC Foundation and sponsored by hth Companies, Inc., Union. Hoffmann Hillermann donated plants for the stage.

The other trophy winner was Otto Ploch, an eighth grader at St. John’s Gildehaus Grade School. Otto placed third in the competition because there was no second-place slot. He received a $25 cash prize and a third-place trophy.

There were 26 total participants, which slowly dwindled over 24 rounds until just Daisy and Scott remained. Three hours after the Bee started, and more than 10 rounds between the co-champions, organizers determined that the remaining pair of contestants were not budging.

The competition had never gone for as long as it did this year, according to ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer, who was the word pronouncer.

“We’ve done this for many years, and this is as long as we’ve gotten,” Bauer said. “We could not stump these two. At this point, it would be really unfair for either one not to be champion.”

Spelling Bee Participants

Each of the Top 10 finalists received a medal. The top 10 in the competition were:

Addison Edler, Sullivan Elementary School; Areeba Shaikh, South Point Elementary and Tyler Emmons, Immanuel Lutheran School; Steven Reincke, St. Bridget of Kildare School; Alaina Bates, Black Hawk Middle School, and Kaden Baston, Union Middle School; and Alivia Christiansen, St. Francis Borgia Grade School.

Also participating in the Bee were Kaya Strubberg, Caleb Pich, Eddie Peters, Cole Lashley, Ruby Hill, Eli Schneider, Wyatt Johnson, Avery Pollock, Daniel Meadows, Owen Austin, Sydney Wilson, Brynn Butenhoff, Easton Ray, Jade Kresse, Sloan Romanoskie and Leo Gilbreath.

Participants in the Spelling Bee are determined at area elementary and middle schools, which send their school spelling bee champion to compete in the ECC Bee. Schools hold independent bees throughout the winter to select the top speller to represent them in the region.

Bee competitors are students in grades four through eighth grades. They do not advance to competition following the ECC Spelling Bee, but the regional bee gives students a chance to compete after the school-level competitions.

Judges, Organizers & Past Winners

The Spelling Bee judges were Pam Kaiser, program coordinator for ECC’s Center for Workforce Development; Sue Henderson, director of assessment and accreditation at Maryville University and former associate professor of English at ECC; and Linda Barro, ECC associate professor of English.

The Spelling Bee 2023 Steering Committee members are Jennifer Baker, Jennifer Hawkins, Bridgette Kelch, Patty Kellmann, Dawn Kitchell, Eric Lause, Hannah Masek, Terri Ogle, Eric Lause and Dot Schowe.

Past Champions of The Bee

2019 – Matthew Blomberg, Our Lady of Lourdes
2018 – Gabbie Helm, Our Lady of Lourdes
2017 – Max Grimes, Washington Middle School
2016 – Kelci Moore, Riverbend School
2015 – Samantha Doepker, Clearview Elementary School
2014 – Emily Braun, Union Middle School
2013 – Emily Braun, Union Middle School
2012 – McKenzie White, Meramec Valley Middle School
2011 – Ashley Roberts, St. Francis Borgia Grade School.

Future ECC Regional Spelling Bees are slated for the last Saturday in April each year. For more information, contact the Foundation at Foundation@eastcentral.edu or 636-584-6506.


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Winners of ECC Art & Design Student Exhibition Announced


May 3, 2023 | Art Campus News

Many talented and creative students were recognized April 27 during a reception for the East Central College Art and Design Student Exhibition.

Jennifer Higerd, assistant professor of art and gallery curator, and Sean Barton, graphic design instructor and art and design department executive, presented awards to the winners of each category and recognized those receiving honorable mentions.

“It was a delight to welcome students, their families and friends to celebrate the work they’ve done over the past year,” Higerd said. The art and design student exhibition closed May 3.

The highest recognition, Best of Show, was awarded to Milo Guile, Washington, for his wire art piece, “Coat Hanger.”

Listed below are the winners in each category:

Digital Design — Jon Queen, “Osamu Tezuka”

Printmaking — Miriam Bondor, “Adventure Awaits”

Digital Photography — Miriam Bondor, “In Bloom”

Watercolor — Chloe Eades, “Medusa”

Sculpture (3D Design, Ceramics) — Milo Guile, “Thunder”

Functional Ceramics — “Lacy Buchanan, “Curvy Vase”

Painting — Zoe Meyer, “Egg”

Drawing — Parker Williamson, “Hand Study”

Figure Drawing — Abby Stanfield, “A Study of Light”

2D Design — Mackenzie Rieger, “Season of Stripes”

Illustration — Emmalyn Henderson, “The Rigid Reflections of Blackthorn Wood”

Honorable Mention

“Parasomnia,” Kimber Clement-Thompson

“The Home as it Pertains to the Vessel,” Elijah Uffman

“Pumpkins and a Silver Fork,” Megan Pritchard

“Unrealistic Standards,” Elijah Uffman

Patron’s Picks

Listed below are artworks purchased by the ECC Foundation to be added to the college’s art collection:

“The Big Cheese,” Abby Stanfield

“Medusa,” Chloe Eades

“Mom’s Stew,” Elijah Uffman

“Medusa,” Emmalyn Henderson

“Winged Woman,” Hallelujah Medlock

“The Healing of the Oak Sprite,” Emmalyn Henderson

“Pumpkins and a Silver Fork,” Megan Pritchard

“Coat Hanger,” Milo Guile

“The Rigid Reflections of Blackthorn Wood,” Emmalyn Henderson

“Rabbit and Fox” (tiles), Megan Pritchard

“Forest Walk,” Milo Guile


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Nursing Students and Faculty Attend MLN Convention


May 2, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Students and faculty members from the East Central College Nursing program recently attended the Missouri League for Nursing (MLN) 10th Annual Nursing Student Convention.

At the convention, Union nursing student Nathaniel Temme, was awarded the MLN Student Scholarship for 2023. This is the third consecutive year that an ECC nursing student received an MLN scholarship.

ECC Nursing program instructor Brittany Clark described Temme as a “driven and determined student.”

“He maintains positive relationships with his peers and nursing faculty,” Clark said. “When in the clinical environment, Nathaniel always promotes patient safety and is able to effectively and efficiently provide nursing care.”

“He will be a great asset to any health care organization and the profession of nursing,” she added.

Students also took on leadership positions within the MLN, including Union student Scottia Burrows and Rolla student Kelsea Smith, who were selected as Student Ambassadors for the statewide organization.

Rolla Nursing instructor Jon Elias, left, and Rolla Nursing Program Coordinator Joannie Blakely, right, are pictured with Kelsea Smith, who was selected as a Student Ambassador for the Missouri League for Nursing (MLN) during the 10th Annual Nursing Student Convention.
Union Nursing Program instructor Brittany Clark, left, is pictured with Scottia Burrows, who was selected as a Student Ambassador for the Missouri League for Nursing (MLN) during the 10th Annual Nursing Student Convention.

Nursing faculty members also attended the MLN conference, including Brittany Clark, Judy Bieker, Joannie Blakely, Jon Elias and Dr. Connie Wissbaum, who presented on the “Strategies for a Flipped Classroom.”

MLN is a not-for-profit organization established in 1953 to support the delivery of quality health care by nurses and other health care providers through education, collaboration and information.

It is the leading organization for promoting excellent health care through programs designed to meet members and health care professional’s continuing educational needs.

MLN is committed to collaboration and networking with other professional organizations and coalitions across the state.  It is one of the top constituent leagues in the nation.

Union Nursing Students
Nursing instructor Dr. Connie Wissbaum, presented on the “Strategies for a Flipped Classroom.”

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ECC Students Named to Academic Teams


April 27, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Four East Central College students were named to the All-Missouri Academic Team, and one also was recognized nationally.

Kelsea Smith has been named a 2023 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and received a $1,500 scholarship.

Smith and Elise Jeffers, ECC Rolla; and Brooklyn Hyatt and Annika Brunner, Union campus, were named to the 2023 All-Missouri Academic Team. The students were recognized by Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) and the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society at a ceremony sponsored by MCCA on April 13.

Each student received a medallion and certificate to honor their achievement along with a $250 cash scholarship underwritten by MOHELA (MO Higher Education Loan Authority). The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society, along with participating corporate partners, sponsors the Academic All-USA competition for students attending two-year colleges.

PTK ranks applicants nationally, then forwards results for students to the MCCA. The top 53 students statewide were named Academic All-State award winners.

ECC annually nominates two to four students per site for the All-USA Team, which automatically qualifies the nominees for the All-Missouri Academic Team. Nominees complete a lengthy scholarship application, including information about their campus and community activities, and details and a letter of recommendation regarding a “significant endeavor” done during their time as a community college student.

Coca-Cola Academic Team

Smith’s Coca-Cola Academic Team honor is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, which recognizes 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze Scholars with nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each scholar also receives a commemorative medallion.

Smith and other Coca-Cola Academic Team members were recognized internationally during PTK’s annual convention, PTK Catalyst. Which was held in Columbus, Ohio, April 20-22.

“We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for recognizing these student leaders and for investing in their futures,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of PTK. “Scholarships like these are integral to the success of these students in reaching their educational and career goals.”

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrates and empowers visionary leaders who are refreshing the world by supporting more than 1,400 exceptional college students each year.

PTK is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders.


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Community College Month—Op-Ed


April 27, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla
Jon Bauer, Ph.D.
President, East Central College

The trophy sits on a shelf in my mom’s bedroom. Only recently have I noticed that it resembles an Academy Award, with a gold-plated graduate standing on a pedestal in place of Oscar himself. The graduate wears a dress, a fitting tribute to the class valedictorian. Today—decades later, and after a few dents and dings picked up along the way—the award still represents the best academic performance of that year’s graduating class.

Mom chose this for her valedictory theme at commencement: “There is no security on this Earth, only opportunity.”

A moment in time, but times were different. Going to college—even for the class valedictorian—was no easy task. That was especially true for a young woman from a poor family. There were few scholarships, no federal assistance, and in Mom’s hometown there was no community college. So, after a taste of college, she went to work and raised a family.

Today, the opportunities to go to college would be plentiful. Assistance based on both merit and need would ensure the path a college campus. And today, a community college would likely be serving the Ohio county where Mom graduated.

April is national Community College Month, a time to honor our colleges, our students, and our faculty, staff, and trustees. It is also a time to reflect on the difference these institutions have made for generations of students.

Community colleges are uniquely American. Our oldest colleges were private institutions that replicated those found in Europe. Starting with Harvard, these colleges were places of learning and privilege. Men attended in preparation for life in the landed gentry or clergy. Eventually we adopted the university model, both public and private, derived from Germany.

But around the turn of the 20th Century, University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper proposed the notion of the junior and senior college, the former representing the first two years of a college degree. His idea first took root in Joliet, Illinois, with six students taking classes at the country’s first junior college.

Over the next several decades hundreds of junior colleges came and went. They were mostly extensions of high school. President Harry Truman first called for the development of a system of community colleges in 1947; he was also the first national figure to use the term “community college” in lieu of “junior college.”

In 1960, most communities were without a college of their own. That was true in Mom’s hometown. But that was about to change. States had taken up the challenge from Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and had begun to establish publicly-supported community colleges from coast to coast. At one point in the Sixties we were opening a new community college at the rate of one per week.

East Central College was part of this generation. Local leaders recognized the need for a community college to serve the students of the region and, in 1968, voters approved the creation of East Central Junior College.

We have come a long way in our history. Joliet Junior College—starting with those six students in 1901—serves over 30,000 today. East Central serves thousands of students each year. ECC’s students include juniors and seniors in our Early College Academy. They will graduate from college a few weeks before finishing high school. We serve those right out of high school, as well as those who have been away from a classroom for years, even decades.

Our colleges still serve the student who plans to transfer—Harper’s junior college model—at a fraction of the cost. And we serve those looking to go right into the workforce. These students include nurses, machinists, technicians, and chefs. Over time our mission has grown to serve those already employed, but in need of additional skills. ECC’s Center for Workforce Development works with companies throughout the region.

The Truman Commission called for the first two years of college to be free to students, just like high school. As a nation we are still working on “free community college,” but in Missouri those with the A+ benefit can attend a community college tuition-free. Around 90% of our full-time students have some sort of scholarship or assistance, and the neediest students qualify for the federal Pell Grant. At a community college, the Pell Grant will cover a student’s tuition, fees, and most additional costs like books. For many, it is the jump start to college.

Not only do students have a local, affordable option, but one marked with quality. Our transfer students have high GPAs at their next school. Those going to work often have jobs waiting for them once they graduate. Our faculty are experienced in the classroom, working at teaching-centered colleges. We are much more than the low-cost provider.

Today, more than four out of ten undergraduate students attend a community college.

Community colleges are no longer a novel idea; we are part of the fabric of our communities. We have been around for generations and will be around for generations to come. We are one of America’s best ideas.

Back in Mom’s hometown, a community college came to the area more than a decade after she graduated. Would she have been one of Southern State Community College’s students had the timing been different? I have no doubt. And they would have rolled out the red carpet. That’s what we do at community colleges.

In a few weeks we will graduate another class of East Central College graduates. And coming right behind them will be a new group of students with their own stories, dreams, ambitions, and awards. They will be ready for their best performance. And we will be ready for them.

Opportunity indeed.