Many ECC Grads Began College During Pandemic

Many ECC Grads Began College During Pandemic

May 18, 2022 | ,

Grace Simcox planned to attend a large four-year school in the fall 2020, just a few months after graduating from high school.

But, like many in the East Central College’s Class of 2022, she started her college career under the dark clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, I thought it would be easier and safer to attend a school closer to home,” Simcox said. “I am so glad I made this decision.”

Simcox was one of 168 students who walked across the stage during the commencement ceremony on May 14. She received an Associate of Arts in Teaching.

There was a total of 484 students who earned their degree. Many of those graduates felt impacted by the pandemic — in fact, high school graduates in the Class of 2020 never had the opportunity to attend college without the coronavirus, to some degree, being a part of life.

Commencement speaker Aimée Appell, a human rights advocate, community organizer and pastor of Peace Lutheran in Washington, told the ECC Class of 2022 that each one of them should be proud for accomplishing what they have, when they did.

“I know that you can do big things against big odds. Wherever you have come from, and wherever you are going, you have succeeded in earning a college degree in the middle of a global pandemic,” Appell said. “You have nothing left to prove to me or to anyone else.”

Simcox Experience

According to Simcox she felt the pressure of the pandemic, but there was a silver lining. Simcox was at the right place when the pandemic occurred — ECC.

“I was very discouraged and felt disconnected from my peers through the pandemic,” she said. “East Central College did absolutely everything that they could to help me get the experience I wanted from my college experience.

“I have not only learned so much about teaching but also a lot about myself in these two years,” Simcox added.

She said she is thankful of Greg Stotler, assistant professor of education/teacher coordinator, for helping students in class, during the pandemic.

“He does everything in his power to make sure his students are where they need to be, handling everything that is thrown at him calmly and making it a positive,” Simcox said. “He is one of the people I will look up to, not only as an educator, but as a person that I want to be.”

Alyce Koch

Another member of ECC’s Class of 2020, Alyce Koch, also had her trajectory significantly changed by COVID-19.

“When I graduated high school in the fall of 2020, I had big plans to go away to a school and play volleyball — and then COVID hit, and all those plans had to be shifted and changed,” Koch said. “Luckily, in high school I completed the A+ program and was able to attend ECC.”

She added that her parents encouraged her every step of the way, and Koch played on the ECC Falcon’s Volleyball team her freshman year. She did not play the sport her second year.

“Because of ECC, I have completely shifted my life. I knew what I wanted to study but I now am a completely different person than I would be if I had gone to the original school I had planned to go to,” Koch said.

Koch’s next stop is Maryville University where she will continue her studies in its Speech Pathology and Audiology program.

“I am so thankful for my parents for always encouraging me to keep going whenever I am faced with a hardship and having unwavering support when life throws me off course a bit. ECC has given me wonderful opportunities and I am so thankful I decided to attend.”