by Mary Tom Bass

Eighty-four Edgecombe County high school seniors declared their intention to attend Edgecombe Community College this fall at ECC Signing Day held at high schools in May.

ECC Signing Day at North East Carolina Preparatory School

Signing Day is a national initiative to celebrate students for making a commitment to higher education.

Students, parents, and College and high school officials attended ECC Signing Day events on May 15 and May 16 at North Edgecombe, SouthWest Edgecombe, and Tarboro high schools, and North East Carolina Preparatory School.

Fifteen seniors at North Edgecombe, 29 seniors at SouthWest Edgecombe, 26 seniors at Tarboro High School, and 14 seniors at North East Carolina Prep officially joined the student body of Edgecombe Community College.

ECC Signing Day at North Edgecombe High School

“When you start, we’ll be there. When you’re working toward your degree, we’ll be there. When you graduate, we’ll be there,” assured Michael Jordan, vice president of student services at ECC. “We are looking forward to having you, and we want you to know how much we appreciate you.”

Among the 84 seniors were 54 EDGE Scholarship recipients. Through the EDGE Scholarship, students with a 2.6 GPA in high school or college and who meet other criteria receive full funding at the level of in-state tuition – after all other sources of funding are exhausted – for up to a three-year period. The EDGE Scholarship is based on President Obama’s America’s College Promise initiative.

ECC Signing Day at Tarboro High School

Taye Jones, from North Edgecombe, plans to study Electrical Systems Technology at ECC. He took a guitar-making class at the College this past spring and loved it. The class combined STEM skills with the arts. “The guitar class really stood out,” he says. “When I first came to class I was nervous, but as the weeks went by I knew ECC is where I want to be.”

Lillie Barnes, from SouthWest Edgecombe, plans to enter the Nursing program. A Macclesfield resident, she chose Edgecombe Community College because it’s “close to home, and the nursing facility is awesome.”

ECC Signing Day at SouthWest Edgecombe High School

Barnes was referring to the Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center on the Rocky Mount campus. The cornerstone of this facility is a simulated hospital environment in which students work together as teams to assess and treat patient manikins.

Through the Career and College Promise program available at the high schools, Trey Lancaster, from Tarboro High School, has taken so many ECC classes that he will be able to earn an associate degree from ECC in one year. Associate degree programs typically require two years of study.

Following completion of his College Transfer degree at ECC, Lancaster plans to transfer to East Carolina University to study construction management.

College graduates have more opportunities than those who choose not to pursue their education past high school. According to Georgetown’s Center on Education and Workforce, college graduates may earn 84 percent more over their lifetimes than high school graduates.