The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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January 8, 2014

ECC students pledge to finish education

TARBORO — The peer pressure was on at Edgecombe Community College (ECC) during registration Monday and Tuesday.

“Positive peer pressure,” as Patrick Philips, a member of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa said.

Many students signed a pledge to complete their education after they registered for their spring semester classes. Pledge tables were set up at both the Tarboro and Rocky Mount campus.

“They sign the petition that says they commit to finish and they commit to encourage someone else to do the same,” said Tamara Frank-Pourvady, faculty advisor for Phi Theta Kappa.

The pledge is part of a nationwide program called the Community College Completion Corps.

Nina Sinclair, criminal justice student at ECC and president of the school’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, signed the commitment pledge at a Phi Theta Kappa leadership conference in July and decided to bring the pledge to ECC students. She said she presented the idea to ECC President Dr. Deborah Lamm, who said, “I love it. Let’s do it.”

“It means a lot to me to encourage somebody to pursue their education and finish strong,” Sinclair said. “There’s just strength in numbers, showing that us united, we can do this thing together. Teamwork makes dreamwork.”

Making the pledge to finish one’s education in the presence of others has been found to help students “in terms of goal-setting and perseverance,” Frank-Pourvady said.

Students not only signed the pledge, but they also signed an accompanying banner to be displayed on campus and a link that event organizers will use to create a chain to show unity.

By the end of the day Monday, Sinclair said students had to search hard to find an open spot on the banner to sign their name because so many students had already signed.

Towanda Maske, a business administration student, signed the pledge at the table set up on ECC’s Tarboro campus.

“The economy we’re in and the way the world is now, I think everybody can use a better education to be stable and financially better,” Maske said.

Accounting student Christina Coffield also signed the pledge, saying she intends to complete her education so she can have “a better life, a good job and more skills.”

“It’s exciting to help my fellow students commit to complete their education,” said Philips, a student in ECC’s computer technology program. “Education can be a difficult journey…When you have mutuality, the encouragement helps everyone get all their goals accomplished. You’ve got your fellow students supporting you and sharing your common journey together.”

Sinclair said she sees “a lot of students fall” when they get discouraged, which is why it’s so important to “have somebody in your corner” to encourage you in your educational journey. She has mentored a fellow student during her time at ECC and encountered one student on the brink of giving up on her education during registration Monday. She told the student “That’s not the attitude to have,” and, “Don’t give up,” and the student later returned to the table to sign the commitment pledge.

“This is our year, and we’re going to finish strong,” Sinclair said.

Nothing has kept Sinclair from her education, including having battled cancer and being a caregiver for her husband, who is a disabled veteran. Once she completes the criminal justice program in May, she plans to enroll in Basic Law Enforcement training classes at ECC in the fall, with the goal of working with Homeland Security.

The chain link with the names of students taking the pledge is a symbol of the teamwork that Sinclair touts as the key to her and her fellow students success, and as Phillips put it, every student at ECC is part of a mosaic building the “bedrock” for tomorrow’s society.

“If we help each other now, we can build a better society for tomorrow,” he said.

 

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