At ECPI University - Where Dreams Become Goals
By David Brandt, Director of Communications, ECPI University
How does a dream become a goal? We all have dreams, but sometimes they remain just that, an abstract wish with little chance of actually occurring. However, there are those who dream with purpose. For them, dreams become goals when they take action. At ECPI University, we see students realizing their dreams every day.
Here, our students take control of their professional futures through daily, disciplined regiments of dedication and hard work. They know there are no shortcuts. By taking full advantage of the resources at their disposal, they are setting goals and making dreams come true. Here are three students who’ve done so in spectacular fashion.
When Matt Hammond was attending high school in Henrico County, Virginia, he learned that his school had a dual enrollment agreement with ECPI University’s Richmond/Innsbrook campus. A sophomore at the time, he knew he wanted to go to college and figured this would give him an advantage – earn some credits in advance and get his feet wet in the college environment. By the time he was 20, he had a degree in Cyber and Network Security and was working as network security analyst at the General Electric (GE) Security Technology Center in Richmond.
“Taking that first class was one of the best decisions of my life,” says Matt. “I’m a very practical person, and I quickly realized that ECPI University fit me perfectly. I really liked the hands-on learning. I had friends who attended more traditional schools and they were pretty much stuck with their text books. I, on the other hand, got to touch the routers and switches, not just read about them. And of course by the time I graduated, they were still in school and I was on the job making money!”
With a number of courses already completed – combined with ECPI University’s accelerated scheduling, Matt was able to complete his bachelor’s degree in less than two years. “The support I received was incredible,” says Matt, who says he felt more than ready to enter the workforce. His employer certainly agrees. “Matt may be the youngest person on our team, but he can more than hold his own,” says Matt’s boss, Security Operations Center Director Mark Lipin. “He has a great work ethic and came to us very well prepared. If ECPI keeps producing more like him, we are going to have a great, long relationship.”
When GyJuan Winslow graduated from high school, it never really occurred to him to go to college. No one in his family ever had. He figured the military made the most sense, so he joined the Air Force. “Joining the service was the best thing I could have done at the time,” says GyJuan. “It gave me discipline and forced me to grow up fast.” After 10 years, however, he was weary from frequent deployments and ready to move on.
Transitioning to civilian life was not easy. He and his family moved to Charlotte where he found a job but not a career. Then, he got laid off. Facing eviction, he managed to land a job doing electrical work in Charleston. Shortly thereafter, his world began to open up. A friend told GyJuan about a position with an aircraft parts manufacturing company. He interviewed and got the job.
While he enjoyed his work, he knew he could move up much faster if he got an education. “I took a look at the local community college but it seemed to be a long, drawn-out process and I knew I really needed a bachelor’s degree,” says GyJuan. “Having grown up near an ECPI University campus, I was already familiar with the school, so I decided to check it out. Earning a bachelor’s in 2.5 years drew me in. However, it was the people I met that day that convinced me this was where I was meant to be.”
GyJuan enrolled, and because he already had some college credit, earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering Technology in just two years. Now if the story ended there, it would be a good one, but GyJuan’s good fortune continued and he made the most of it. His company was purchased by Boeing and that opened up a world of opportunity.
His new bosses took note of his skill and dedication and encouraged him to apply for a management position. More than 100 people interviewed for the job. In the end, GyJuan came out on top. He now has 21 people reporting to him. “I look back on where I was just a few years ago and I cannot believe how things have changed,” he says. “Joining the Air Force and enrolling at ECPI University were the best decisions I ever made. I was so well-prepared for my new career. It really gave me a competitive advantage. Everyone at the Charleston campus was always so supportive, always pushing me to make the most of every opportunity. I am, and will always be, grateful.”
When she was just a little girl, Emma Mullet used to dream of becoming a nurse. Of course, it was just that: a dream. She was Amish and that meant no more than eight years of education and then it was time to be trained to become a mother and housewife. She married in 1995 and had eight children over the next eleven years. In 2007, her life became complicated. Her husband became very ill and could not work. She decided it was time to take control of her life. The family moved to South Carolina and Emma started working on her GED.
She was soon hired as a cook at the local school – at least she could be near her children. Emma then earned her GED in just one year and got a job in manufacturing but was injured at work and had to have surgery. During that time, she began thinking about college. “It was kind of funny,” she says, “I had talked with someone at ECPI University back in 2008 but told them I wasn’t ready and to call me back in four years. Can you believe it? They did just that and I enrolled at the Greenville campus in 2012.
“One of my first thoughts was ‘oh my, what have I gotten myself into?’ but I knew that with God all things are possible and if it was His will, He would help me make it through,” says Emma. "It took a lot of juggling to get to all my classes and still be there for the children. They also needed to make sacrifices for me so I had study time. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and everyone at ECPI University. They really worked with me to help me stay on course.”
In March of this year, Emma graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Science, Medical Assisting. She has since earned her RMA and CMA certifications and is now employed at Landrum Family Healthcare. “I am excited to see what my children will do after seeing what I was able to accomplish,” she says. “It’s never too late!”