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ESCC Fine Arts adding Digital Multimedia program

ESCC Fine Arts adding Digital Multimedia program

Enterprise State Community College will offer a new Digital Multimedia program through the College’s Fine Arts Division starting this Fall 2021 semester.

“This program was actually the brainchild of Dr. Jean Johnson, retired ESCC Fine Arts Division Chair,” current ESCC Fine Arts Division Chair Dr. Ken Thomas said. “Since her retirement, we have been working to get this program up and running.”

This program will help meet the growing need for graphic designers, producers, and other multimedia artists. According to the 2021 Statewide List of In-Demand Occupations, Graphic Designers, Music Directors, AV Equipment Technicians, and Producers and Directors are listed as in-demand careers, with median annual salaries ranging from $33-58,000. Additionally, Graphic Designer is also listed on the Region 6 In-Demand Occupations list.

Thomas said the program would also provide skills training in a field of interest for many in the area.

“After many inquiries from prospective students, Vice President/Dean of Instruction Daniel Long encouraged us to start the program, so we revised the program curriculum and submitted the application for approval,” he said.

Digital Multimedia will be a two-year associate degree program that is designed to prepare students for a variety of careers using multimedia, including graphic design, digital animation, motion graphics, 3D visualization, game, and interactive media design, music and sound design, video production, web design, and photography.

The program will consist of 65 credit hours. Classes in this program will include Two-Dimensional Composition, Digital Photography, Computer Graphics I, and Digital Video Production. Students will also learn to use video and audio recording equipment and software as part of the program.

Practicum Field Experience will be required to graduate from the program. This will be completed through projects completed with various College departments or with outside industry partners if requested.

“The program will certainly add to the Fine Arts technical programs, and we are excited about getting started,” Thomas said.

Scholarships are currently available for this program. Students interested in applying for a fine arts scholarship can contact Dr. Ken Thomas at kthomas@escc.edu.

Cutlines: Art Instructors Lynn Ledbetter, left, and Leslie Gibson will be teaching some of the core classes that will be offered through the Digital Multimedia program.

Fine Arts holding virtual spring showcase

Fine Arts holding virtual spring showcase

Enterprise State Community College’s Fine Arts Spring Concert and Student Art Show will offer a showcase of the arts virtually.

This annual ESCC event is traditionally held on campus in the Fine Arts building for visitors to see student talent and work from the spring semester. This year, the event will be offered virtually as a pre-recorded concert and art show that will be available online starting May 6 at 6 p.m. The event will be featured on ESCC’s Facebook and Youtube pages.

Fine Arts Division Chair Dr. Ken Thomas said the spring showcase is a way to highlight the hard work the students put in for their performances and projects throughout the semester.

“It is important for our students to set and meet their goals,” Thomas said. “Although there have been many challenges this academic year, our students have continued to meet or surpass their individual and collective goals.”

This year, the concert will feature performances by the ESCC Camerata, ESCC Concert Choir, ESCC Entertainers and ESCC Jazz/Show Band, ESCC Percussion Ensemble, and the ESCC Concert Band. Musical pieces performed by these groups will include: “Sing to the Lord,” “O My Love’s Like a Red, Red Rose,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” “Total Praise,” “Psalm 100,” “Ride On, King Jesus,” “Land of a Thousand Dances,” “Seasons of Love,” “Jump,” “Hot, Hot, Hot,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Tallis’s Canon,” “Non knobs, Domine,” and “Flow, O, My Tears!” Percussion pieces will include: “Taiko A La Tom-Tom” and “Red Rock Canyon.” There will also be piano and vocal solos performed by students and instructors.

In addition to the musical performances, student art will also be featured, with the pieces being recorded as they hang in Forrester Hall prior to the event.

“Our students receive first-class instruction, second to none,” Thomas said about the fine arts educational experience at ESCC. “This is evident through their artwork and performances.

“The students have amazed me with their tenacity. They look forward to the limited time they have been able to come to the campus for instruction and rehearsal. This is a testament to the commitment our instructors have to our students and their artistic abilities. The arts and music will live forever.”

Thomas said those who are interested in completing a fine arts program at the College can still apply for a fine arts scholarship.

Scholarships are available to qualified students through a music and theater audition process and/or an art portfolio review. Interested students can contact Dr. Thomas at kthomas@escc.edu or they can complete the Enterprise State Community College Scholarship Application at escc.edu/scholarships.


Piano: ESCC Fine Arts student Connor Howell, left, and Instructor Carol Windham perform a piano duet as part of the Spring Concert and Student Art Show.

Percussion Band: ESCC’s Percussion Ensemble will perform pieces such as “Taiko A La Tom-Tom” and “Red Rock Canyon” during the spring concert.

Concert Band: ESCC’s Concert Band will perform such pieces as “Knockout” and “Grooved Pavement Ahead.”

ESCC welcomes Gibbs, Hess as new recruiters

ESCC welcomes Gibbs, Hess as new recruiters

Enterprise State Community College has added two new members to its recruitment team.

Cassie Gibbs will serve the College as the recruiter for the Alabama Aviation College, a unit of Enterprise State. Gibbs has been at the College since August 2019, where she served as the Communication Marketing Specialist in the Public Relations Department. She will bring her knowledge of ESCC and AAC to her new position as well as her skills in communication, marketing and social media management. Previous to her time at the College, she worked as a staff writer for The Southeast Sun/Daleville Sun-Courier.

A native of Sweet Water, Gibbs received both her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in Strategic Communication from Troy University.

“I am very excited to join the recruitment team at ESCC and the Alabama Aviation College,” Gibbs said. “While I’ve been at the College the last year and a half, I have seen firsthand just how much this College has done and can do for its students and community. I am so ready to meet potential students so I can share all the great opportunities available to them and help them take those first steps toward their future.”

Cayden Hess is serving as the newest recruiter for the ESCC campus. Previous to joining the ESCC team, Hess worked as a brand specialist for Crazy Cool & Company and graphic designer for Enterprise Printing and Signs. She is bringing her skills in media management, marketing and event planning to the role.

Hess is a 2019 graduate of ESCC, where she received her associate degree. While attending ESCC, Hess was an active member of the Camerata, Concert Choir and ESCC Entertainers; Phi Theta Kappa; Student Government Association; and the WOW Team. After attending ESCC, Hess received her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Troy University. She is currently completing her master’s degree in Strategic Communication from Troy University.

“I am so honored to be back at Enterprise State Community College,” Hess said. “My time here as a student challenged me to dream big and pursue more, so I cannot wait to help students do just that while taking those next steps in furthering their education. I cannot wait to meet you all. Go Weevils!”

Gibbs and Hess are joining current ESCC Recruiter and Career Coach Emily Baker. Both recruiters started their new roles on April 7.

ESCC President Matt Rodgers said both Gibbs and Hess will be great additions to the ESCC recruiting team.

“We here at Enterprise State and the Alabama Aviation College are committed to recruiting students from the schools and communities in the Wiregrass, and I am excited to have Cassie Gibbs and Cayden Hess join our recruitment team,” Rodgers said. “Along with their personal connections to the College, Cassie and Cayden both have a strong desire to provide our students with opportunities to further their education and enter the workforce. They are going to work well with our lead recruiter Emily Baker, and I know we will see amazing things from this group.”

Cutline: Cassie Gibbs, left, and Cayden Hess joined ESCC and AAC as recruiters on April 7.

ESCC to reopen scholarships, increase funding

ESCC to reopen scholarships, increase funding

For a second year, Enterprise State Community College has reopened its scholarship application and increased scholarship funding by $150,000.

ESCC offers a variety of scholarships for academics, technical and career interests, and participation in fine arts, athletics, and leadership activities. The $150,000 increase in funding will affect all areas.

“Over the last two years, we have increased our scholarship offerings here at Enterprise State by $250,000,” ESCC President Matt Rodgers said. “Thanks to enrollment increases, grant opportunities, and being good stewards of our money, we have been very fortunate, so we’re taking that money and investing it back into our students and our community.”

The first round of scholarship recipients – those who applied by the March 1 deadline – were notified of their award on Friday, April 9. If a student previously applied for a scholarship but did not receive one, his or her name will be kept in the applicant pool for consideration after the June 1 deadline.

During the first round, ESCC awarded 73 technical, career, and academic scholarships. Additional scholarships, such as leadership or student organization scholarships, have also been awarded.

The scholarship application reopened on April 12 at escc.edu/scholarships. The new deadline to apply will be June 1. With the reopening of the application, high school valedictorians and salutatorians are encouraged to apply for the Presidential Scholarship, which covers all tuition costs.

“These Presidential Scholarship offers are on the table,” Rodgers said. “We are proud to offer them to our local valedictorians and salutatorians, and we would love to have those students join us in the fall.”

Prior to increasing total scholarship amounts for the first time last year, ESCC previously increased scholarship amounts for athletics and fine arts as part of an initiative to increase participation. These areas will also see an increase this year as part of the $150,000 total increase.

The College offers athletics scholarships for baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s basketball. While the College has continually increased athletic scholarship funding for the past three years, ESCC will offer the maximum amount of scholarships for each sport per NJCAA recommendations for the Fall 2021 semester: 24 baseball and softball scholarships and 15 scholarships for men’s and women’s basketball.

“We want to give our coaches the best resources to develop strong, successful student-athletes,” Rodgers said. “By investing in our students and our athletic facilities, we’re showing our community that we are here to compete at a high level.

“Additionally, our Fine Arts Division does great things for our campus and community,” he said. “Dr. Thomas and our Fine Arts Department staff are second to none, and they do a fantastic job teaching and leading our students, who are great ambassadors of our College not only on campus but across the Wiregrass and nation as well.”

For students who are interested in attending Fall 2021 classes but who have not already applied, applications are being accepted at this time. The College’s free application can be found at escc.edu/apply. Individuals who would like to learn more about the College and its programs or take a tour of campus can visit escc.edu/admissions to reach out to a recruiter or take the College’s virtual tour.

In addition to the scholarship application, students who plan to attend ESCC/AAC during the fall semester are encouraged to complete the 2021-22 FAFSA at studentaid.gov and use school code 001015 for ESCC/AAC. For more information about the FAFSA and ESCC financial aid, visit escc.edu/financialaid.

For individuals interested in getting a head start on their degree or training, summer classes are an option at ESCC. Open registration for Summer 2021 will begin Thursday, April 15. Students are encouraged to speak with their adviser before registering for summer classes through their myESCC account. Once summer registration begins, summer pell grants will start being processed. For transient students who wish to take summer courses, visit escc.edu/admissions to begin the enrollment process.

“While the pandemic has been difficult, we are coming out of this time even better than ever,” Rodgers said. “We have kept up our momentum with facilities upgrades, the additions, and new programs and, now, offering our students additional opportunities for scholarships for school. We want to help anyone who wants to go to college for a degree or training to have that opportunity.

“Exciting things are happening here at Enterprise State,” he said. “We would love to have you take part and join us.”

Cutline: New Brockton: Members of the Enterprise State Community College team presented New Brockton High School’s Valedictorian Haley Jones and Salutatorian Jordan Boland with Presidential Scholarships. Pictured, from the left, are Director of Financial Aid Dr. Kevin Ammons, Vice President/Dean of Instruction Danny Long, Jones, Boland, Recruiter Emily Baker, and President Matt Rodgers.

ESCC plans for in-person graduation services

ESCC plans for in-person graduation services

Enterprise State Community College will hold a socially distanced, in-person graduation service on Thursday, May 13, from 6-7 p.m.

This year’s ceremony will be held “Under the Oaks” on the main quad in front of the Wallace Administration Building. Safety protocols will be in place during the event, according to ESCC President Matt Rodgers, including a mask requirement. All faculty, staff and graduates will receive a mask with the College seal for the ceremony.

“We missed honoring our graduates in person last year, but thanks to the work of a great team of people, I believe we have developed a plan that will allow us to gather together safely to celebrate this milestone for the members of the class of 2020 and 2021,” Rodgers said. “However, while I look forward to celebrating in person, we will remain flexible and adjust our plans based on changing virus conditions or changes in public health guidelines. The College is prepared to shift our plans should circumstances surrounding the pandemic change or worsen. We will provide everyone with updates as needed leading up to commencement.”

The College is renting a stage, two screens, a sound system and 850 chairs. The chairs will seat up to 80 faculty/staff members, 108 graduates and 662 visitors, with 24 chairs being reserved for handicapped individuals.

The chairs will be placed six feet apart to maintain social distancing. Graduates, faculty and staff will be located closer to the stage with visitor seating located behind the graduates. The two screens will allow audience members to view the stage from a distance.

“Commencement is a pivotal occasion for our students, their loved ones and our community,” Public Relation and Marketing Director Stephen Schmidt said. “The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remain our top priority, and we will continue to work in partnership with health officials to make safe choices to celebrate our students’ collegiate accomplishments.”

According to Schmidt, the decision to move forward with in-person commencement ceremonies was made possible by having the event outside and following social distancing guidelines.

“As our safety team and committee began discussing the event, we looked at possible sites on and off-campus,” he said. “Knowing the desire to have graduation on our campus, our facilities director, Michael Helms, took the time to measure the front quad to determine if it was the best location. We are pleased to report that the area was suitable for the ceremony and able to offer social distancing.”

Additionally, the College will rent equipment to livestream the event for those community members who wish to view the ceremony from home. The livestream will be found on the Enterprise State Community College Facebook page.

A professional photographer will take pictures of graduates on stage after they receive their diplomas. The College will not host a reception following the event, but graduates and visitors are encouraged to take pictures with William “Bo” Weevil, located at the front of the campus, after the ceremony.

During the ceremony, both Spring 2021 graduates from ESCC and the Alabama Aviation College, a unit of Enterprise State, and Spring 2020 graduates – recognized during last year’s virtual graduation ceremonies – will be recognized. Last year’s graduates were invited by Rodgers to attend the next in-person graduation ceremony held at the College and be recognized first in the ceremony as honored guests.

ESCC will also host GED Graduation “Under the Oaks” on Wednesday, May 12, from 6-7 p.m. Last year’s GED graduates are also invited to attend this year’s event.

This event will follow the same safety protocols and feature the same socially distanced layout as the College’s graduation event. Similarly, a livestream of the GED graduation will be available on the Enterprise State Community College Facebook page.

A photographer will take photos of the graduates on stage after they receive their GED, and all graduates and visitors are encouraged to take pictures with William “Bo” Weevil after the ceremony. There will be no reception following the event.

“Graduation is a special time for us to recognize our students’ achievements,” Rodgers said. “We are very much excited to hold this important event for our students and their families on our campus once again.

“Congratulations to all those being recognized. You have worked hard to get where you are today, and all of us here at Enterprise State and the Alabama Aviation College is proud to join you in celebrating your many accomplishments.”

Cutline: During one of the last graduation ceremonies held “Under the Oaks,” 2016-17 SGA president Katie Sullivan (at podium) spoke during the 2017 ESCC graduation ceremony held in front of the Wallace Administration Building. During this year’s graduation, safety protocols will be in place for event-goers and graduates, including masks and social distancing. The event will also be available to watch live on the ESCC Facebook page.

ESCC adding new LPN program, welcoming Phillips as coordinator

ESCC adding new LPN program, welcoming Phillips as coordinator

In Spring 2022, Enterprise State Community College is increasing its healthcare program offerings with a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program.

“We are all too aware of the need for more licensed nurses in our state,” ESCC Vice President/Dean of Instruction Danny Long said. “Locally, we are seeing new medical facilities coming to our area, and we know that our current area healthcare facilities have a need for LPNs to help provide patient care. We already offer pathways into the healthcare sector through our Medical Assistant Technology (MAT) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) programs. This LPN program is the next step in supporting our healthcare community.”

Through the new program, students will receive essential skills training in IV therapy, nasogastric tube insertion, wound care, head-to-toe assessments, medication administration, and more. The focus will be placed on educating students in such a way to ensure the quality and safety of patient care, all within the scope of practice for an LPN.

“I think the program has been a need for some time now, especially with the national shortage of all nursing staff,” Enterprise Health and Rehab Administrator Wes Averett said. “LPNs are no different. The opportunity for us to put more LPNs in the workforce would be beneficial not only for us here at the nursing home but also throughout the area with Medical Center Enterprise, physician’s offices, and others who certainly have the need for Licensed Practical Nurses.”

ESCC’s LPN program will join the College’s three healthcare-focused programs: Medical Assistant Technology (MAT), Emergency Medical Technology, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). There will also be a two-course sequence that will bridge the MAT and LPN programs.

The new program will be overseen by Nursing Program Coordinator Amy Phillips, who has over 20 years of experience in nursing and education combined.

“We are excited to bring this program to ESCC and help meet the need for LPNs in our community and state,” ESCC President Matt Rodgers said. “Mrs. Phillips is bringing a wealth of experience to the College, and under her leadership, I am confident that our students will be more than ready to join the workforce and provide top-tier patient care.”

Phillips received both her nursing degrees and her master’s in Clinical Nurse Specialist with a focus on adult health and education from Troy University. Before coming to ESCC, she worked as a nursing instructor at Wallace Community College for a little over eight years full-time and part-time as a clinical instructor prior to 2012. She also has 13 years of experience as a registered nurse, working in several areas of nursing to include Medical-Surgical, Infection Control, Home Health, Employee Health, and Staff Education.

She said she is ready to bring the new LPN program to life at the College to meet the needs of Enterprise and the surrounding communities.

“I recognized that ESCC was the perfect career choice for me after witnessing their continued efforts on college growth through student involvement and community outreach events,” Phillips said. “I admired their focus on community and their willingness to give back, and this new nursing program is a prime example of just such an initiative. For me to embark on this journey of implementing a nursing program will entail a lot of hard work, but I stand ready for the challenge.

“I consider myself privileged to be chosen as the Nursing Program Coordinator, and I look forward to working with ESCC faculty and staff in meeting the healthcare workforce needs of Enterprise and the surrounding areas that we serve.”

Cutline: Amy Phillips will oversee ESCC’s LPN Program as the College’s Nursing Program Coordinator. The new program will start during the Spring 2022 semester.

Dental Assistant program coming to ESCC

Dental Assistant program coming to ESCC

This April, Enterprise State Community College will offer a new Dental Assistant program, providing instruction and training for one of the fastest-growing healthcare positions.

Dental assistants work closely with patients and dentists. They perform clinical tasks, such as taking a patient’s medical history, talking to patients about oral care, and assisting dentists during a procedure by passing instruments and holding equipment. Dental assistants also perform administrative duties, including documenting procedures and scheduling follow-up appointments for patients.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dental assistants is projected to grow seven percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

“Locally, dental assisting is one of the 25 fastest-growing occupations in Region 6, a 10-county workforce region that includes Coffee County,” Director of Workforce Development and Adult Education Leigh Shiver said. “Clearly, there is a high demand in our area, and we pride ourselves on meeting workforce needs here at Enterprise State. We are excited to offer this program to our community to meet that need for dental assistants.”

The first class of the 100-hour program will be held on April 19. The program consists of 60 classroom hours and 40 clinical hours. Classroom hours will take place every Monday and Wednesday starting April 19 from 6-9:30 p.m.

In the classroom, students will cover a variety of topics, including the history of dentistry and dental assisting and the legal aspects of dentistry. During clinical, students can expect to be introduced to oral anatomy, dental equipment, the oral cavity, and related structures, sterilization, and more.

ESCC’s Dental Assistant program meets the necessary requirements to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Radiology Health and Safety (RHS) exam as well as the National Workforce Career Association (NWCA) Dental Assisting (DACC) exam. These exams provide recognized certifications that will help graduates stand out to employers.

“Our goal is to make sure that our students are fully prepared to join the workforce,” Shiver said. “We want them to have the education and training needed to succeed, and with the addition of these two certifications, they will have a competitive edge when applying for jobs.”

Students interested in the program should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED. The cost for the program, which includes textbooks, is $1,499. The last day to register for the program is April 16.

To enroll or learn more about the program, visit escc.edu/dental-assisting or contact the Director of Workforce and Adult Education Leigh Shiver at lshiver@escc.edu or (334) 347-2623 ext. 2209.

ESCC excited about more students being on campus this fall

ESCC excited about more students being on campus this fall

Fall semester preparations are underway at Enterprise State Community College following a recent announcement from Alabama Community College System (ACCS) Chancellor Jimmy Baker regarding fall operations at Alabama community colleges.

ESCC President Matt Rodgers said the College will begin to move toward offering more on-campus classes in the fall, but all final decisions will be made with the safety of all students, faculty, and staff in mind and will be based on information received from the state and local health officials.

“We have and always will make the safety of our faculty, staff, and students our top priority,” Rodgers said. “We already have students safely taking classes on both of our campuses, and we will continue to make safety a priority as we move toward offering more in-person classes on our campus.

“We are looking forward to seeing more students who wish to take face-to-face and hybrid classes return to campus safely. We also have had a lot of students who have seen great success in our online classes, and we look forward to continuing to serve those students as well.”

For the Fall 2020 semester, students completed more online classes while a limited number of students completed reduced-capacity hybrid classes on the Enterprise campus. All students at the Alabama Aviation College completed classes by following staggered schedules and a modified block system, a system that has continued at AAC for the Spring 2021 semester. For the spring semester, ESCC increased the number of face-to-face and hybrid classes offered on campus.

“From the beginning of this pandemic, we have made sure that we kept our focus on both the quality of the education we offer and the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and we will continue to do so as more students return to campus in the fall,” Vice President/Dean of Instruction Danny Long said. “We have learned a lot during this time, and we are proud that we have been able to meet our students’ needs and support them in new ways.

“Because of the dedication our faculty and staff have to serve our students, we are able to provide them with more unique and creative options that meet their diverse learning needs. Whether they prefer the hybrid format, traditional face-to-face instruction, or an online class, we have options available that will fit the educational needs of every student.”

When classes transitioned online in March 2020, student support services also transitioned to an online format, including tutoring services offered through Boll Weevil Central. To meet technology needs, the College’s laptop loaner program provided students with laptops for their online classes. According to Dean of Students Kassie Mathis, these services will continue to be offered on campus and online.

“Although the college is transitioning back to more normal operations, we are aware that there are some students who still require and prefer some of the newer services that were implemented as a result of the pandemic,” Mathis said. “With this in mind, we will continue doing what’s best for our students by offering both in-person and online resources. Not only will our offices be open, but our students will also have access to online tutoring, the laptop loan program, and virtual appointments with faculty and staff.”

The Fall 2021 class schedule is currently being finalized; however, those planning to attend ESCC or AAC in the fall can take steps to prepare now.

Students can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at studentaid.gov, which connects students with federal dollars to help pay for college. Applicants must use their 2019 tax information for the 2021-22 FAFSA and school code 001015 for ESCC/AAC. More information is available at escc.edu/financialaid.

Additionally, students will be able to apply for Fall 2021 ESCC scholarships. The ESCC Scholarship Committee will review applications submitted by the March 1 deadline. The first round of scholarships will be announced before the application will be reopened. Announcements for the application reopening will be made on the College’s social media accounts.

The College offers athletic, fine arts, leadership, academic, and career and technical scholarships. Scholarships are also available through the ESCC Foundation. More information can be found at escc.edu/scholarships.

Students can also prepare to register for summer classes, which will start June 1. Priority registration for students with 30+ credit hours will be held April 13-14. Registration will open for all students on April 15. Students can plan ahead for the spring semester by reviewing the summer class schedule at escc.edu/schedule.

For individuals who have not applied to ESCC or AAC, they can visit escc.edu/admissions to find the College’s free application or call (334) 347-2623 with any questions they may have. They can also learn more about the College’s programs and facilities by taking a virtual tour at tour.escc.edu or scheduling a tour with the recruiting team on the College’s Admissions page.

Paralegal program staying online at ESCC

Paralegal program staying online at ESCC

Thanks to new guidelines from the American Bar Association (ABA), the Paralegal program at Enterprise State Community College will remain an online program permanently.

When ESCC closed its campuses in March 2020, classes for the Paralegal program, like others, were adapted to an online format that followed virtual class requirements set by the ABA in response to the pandemic.

According to Paralegal Program Coordinator and Instructor Lydia Dillingham, students in the program “adapted extremely well” to the virtual environment.

“While the students may have initially missed the personal interaction of the classroom, they nevertheless adapted extremely well,” she said. “Faculty had to think outside the box, using technology to find innovative ways to teach and connect with our students, which has hopefully helped them to embrace the online environment.”

Recently, the ABA announced new guideline updates that include changes to the format of classes offered virtually. In a fully online program, students must be required to take at least nine-semester credits of legal courses through synchronous instruction.

“Before the pandemic, the ABA restricted programs from offering all of their legal courses in an online format,” Dillingham said. “A certain percentage could be online but not all of them. These restrictions have now been lifted, and institutions can now offer all courses through digital online delivery as long as three legally substantive courses [nine credit hours] are taught through what is called asynchronous format.

“Synchronous online learning is an instruction that includes real-time faculty-to-student and student-to-student interaction, which is about as close to face-to-face as you can get via distance learning.”

According to Dillingham, the ABA is the premier accreditation for paralegal programs nationwide. ESCC’s Paralegal program, which began in 1995, received accreditation from the ABA in 2017 after a three-year approval process.

“There is no higher accrediting body for an institution that offers a paralegal program than the American Bar Association,” she said. “The ABA is the same association that approves law schools for accreditation, so lawyers understand the scrutiny that schools must go through to receive this approval. JAG and governmental jobs in the legal field typically require a degree from an ABA-approved institution, and many law firms prefer one.”

ESCC is one of three Alabama community colleges that offer an ABA-accredited Paralegal program. Four Alabama universities also offer accredited programs.

Classes in the Paralegal program focus on a range of topics and essential skills, including various law specialties, legal theory, legal research and the procedural aspects of the law.

“It’s crucial that students understand the procedural rules of court regarding civil and criminal litigation,” Dillingham said. “Because they are allowed to assist in writing briefs, motions and other legally substantive documents, it’s important that our graduates also understand the law and legal theory as well. It’s also critical that they understand how to conduct electronic legal research.”

Students also complete general studies courses and an internship as part of the program.

According to Dillingham, the College’s Paralegal program has seen increased enrollment while classes have been offered virtually. Business and Computer Science Division Chair Jennifer Nelson credited the success of the program to Dillingham’s leadership.

“Mrs. Dillingham has always had a vision and unrelenting passion to provide a superior educational experience for the PRL program,” Nelson said. “She generates inspiration and motivation and leads her students to succeed and reach beyond their potential.”

The transition to a permanently online program, Dillingham said, could allow the College to reach more students interested in working in the legal field.

“Currently we are the only institution in southern Alabama that offers an ABA-accredited paralegal program,” she said. “The online program will not only benefit the college but will also open opportunities for potential students who would not have been able to commute to classes on campus.”

Learn more about ESCC’s Paralegal program at escc.edu/paralegal. The program offers students two tracks of study: a paralegal certificate and an associate degree. Both tracks will be offered fully online.

Paralegal program: Paralegal Program Coordinator and Instructor Lydia Dillingham, right, discusses careers as a paralegal while Paralegal student Chiquita Johnson takes notes.

Mechatronics meeting the needs of industry

Mechatronics meeting the needs of industry

Since its start almost two years ago, the Mechatronics program at Enterprise State Community College has grown to meet the needs of not only business and industry but also workers and students.

“Our Mechatronics program offers an opportunity for anyone who wants to get into a high-wage, high-demand career field while simultaneously offering training for those who are already in the field and need to add to their skill set,” Mechatronics instructor Aubri Hanson said. “All of the students who want internships are placed in them, and we have had great feedback from the companies who hire our students as well as the students themselves.”

Housed in Higham Building on the Alabama Aviation College, a unit of Enterprise State Community College, the Mechatronics program includes a variety of paths for individuals to receive skills training in electronics, motors, automation, robotics, and other advanced manufacturing processes.

“Automation is increasing across nearly every industry sector, so there is something for everyone, whether they want to work in manufacturing, medical, agriculture, robotics, or something else,” Hanson said.

These paths include a two-year degree program; four short-term certificates in electronics, mechanics, programming, and advanced manufacturing; and 38 NC3 certification training courses – like Precision Measurement, AC/DC Circuit Fundamentals, Hydraulics, and Pneumatics – that meet national skill standards.

The program’s short-term certificates and certification courses are particularly beneficial to current industry employers and workers.

“An industry-recognized credential benefits the individual by providing proof that they have obtained a skill set,” Hanson said. “All of the certifications offered in Mechatronics require both a lecture/textbook/eLearning component and a hands-on component. Individuals must demonstrate that they have both the knowledge and the skills required for the certification.

“These credentials benefit the industry as well because it gives them a metric for hiring and promoting individuals with the skills and knowledge they need.”

Joe Alexander, who works in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and Automation at Abbeville Fiber, completed the program’s two PLC certifications after learning about the program from other industry workers.

Alexander said the courses “helped me learn to go from more troubleshooting PLC programs to actually write my own PLC programs,” and he said the certifications offered through the Mechatronics program can make employees “more valuable to the company.”

Alexander also said he would recommend the ESCC Mechatronics program to any industry workers who are looking to add to their current skill sets.

“The biggest reason is the instructor we have here,” he said. “She is an excellent instructor, and she pushes you to do more and think more outside the box.”

Currently, Hanson works with several industry sectors to provide certification training, such as automation, maintenance, aerospace and machining.

“We try to accommodate industry of all sizes,” she said. “We offer the certification training to any company that needs to improve or refresh the skills of their employees. It may be 50 employees or 1 employee.

“Businesses interested in training for their employees should contact [ESCC’s Director of Workforce and Adult Education] Leigh Shiver or myself. Those agreements are typically based on the number of employees who need training and may be done at our facility, the company’s facility, or a combination of both. Depending on how much training is needed, a class may be as short as one day or may last several weeks. Again, everything can be flexibly scheduled.”

For individual workers who would like to complete a short-term certificate or certification training, Hanson said to contact her to discuss options.

“We have both credit and non-credit certifications available,” she said. “Classes are typically offered in a hybrid format using a combination of online learning and hands-on labs. The student only needs to come to campus for the labs, which can be scheduled at a time convenient for the student.”

Hanson said she is already planning for ways to expand the Mechatronics program by adding more certification courses for industries and workers, additional dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, and transfer opportunities for degree-seeking students.

“We are constantly adding more certifications and looking to expand our offerings where we see needs in our local industry,” she said. “We will continue to add new equipment and types of training to our repertoire, and we hope for continued growth in our enrollment.

Hanson said she also hopes to increase transfer options for Mechatronics students. In 2020, ESCC and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga signed a transfer agreement where a student can take 67 credits at ESCC for their associate degree and then take 62 credits at UTC to earn their bachelor’s degree in Mechatronics. She said the College is also hoping to expand its dual enrollment offerings to include more local high schools.

“My goal from the outset of starting the Mechatronics program at Enterprise State has been to provide high-quality training and education in a field that is in desperate need of employees and to do it in a flexible fashion that would accommodate both the traditional college student and the working learner,” she said. “While we are still refining and improving our model every semester, I would say that we are off to a fantastic start.”

Cutline: Joe Alexander takes advantage of ESCC’s Mechatronics program to advance his skills in Programmable Logic Controllers for his current career.

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