Joshua Plata – From No Skills to No Limits

Five years ago, Joshua Plata found himself sitting in a Greenville, South Carolina homeless shelter weighing his options. They seemed few and far between. “All I knew was that something had to change,” says Joshua. “I had no skills and without an education, it seemed like I had nothing but fast-food jobs to look forward to.”

Then, Joshua saw an ad for ECPI University. “I had always liked computers, but only knew how to use a PC,” he says. In February 2007, he set out to change the course of his life and enrolled at ECPI to begin studying computer networking. “I had no idea what I was getting into. Right off the bat, I was amazed. It was like there was this whole world that I didn’t know existed…all this knowledge. Up until then, I guess I just didn’t know what I didn’t know!”

Going to school and working full-time, Joshua received his Associate’s degree in 2010, as well as his A+, Network+ and Cisco CCNA certifications. He quickly landed a job at internet service provider Windstream Communications. However, he says there was just one question during the interview that threw him off. “They asked me where I saw myself in five years,” says Joshua. “That was hard to answer, because five years before I was sitting in a homeless shelter and I never would have imagined that I could be where I am now.”

Joshua’s outlook has changed dramatically. He’s back at ECPI working on his Bachelor’s degree and has no doubt that he will finish up very soon because, as he puts it, “the only way you can fail at ECPI is if you stop trying. They believed in me before I was sure I believed in myself. Now I know I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

Chris Lassiter – Making the Most of Each Day

Chris Lassiter

 

If life is a gift, then Chris Lassiter demonstrates each and every day that he is possessed with an abundance of gratitude. He entered the Charlotte Campus’ Network Security program as a fresh high school graduate. When he arrived, he was typical of most traditional college students. To pay his way through school, he balanced a full time job at Wendy’s with his class schedule and homework responsibilities.

Half way through the program, Chris became very ill, was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer and was forced to withdraw from school. This experience would be terrifying for anyone but was especially so for someone so young. After a six month hiatus, Chris returned to class with a new found drive and maturity seldom found in people his age; and his performance during the last half of his program foreshadowed coming success.

After completing his externship in 2010, Chris interviewed for a position on campus, and it was quickly apparent to all concerned that he stood head and shoulders above all other candidates. “Chris has a fantastic combination of people skills, abilities and motivation,” says Help Desk Administrator Supervisor Mike Martin. “He comes to my office and says ‘hey Mike, I was thinking….,’ and what follows is almost always a great idea for improving our operations or his own performance. He is truly an outstanding employee.”

With a talent for troubleshooting, this Help Desk Administrator is always searching for solutions. Possessed of the “I want to do more” attitude, Chris is the personable face of IT that students and faculty meet. Some of his duties include helping with password resets, phone support and software/hardware maintenance campus-wide. It is his enthusiasm for going beyond what is required, however, that makes him exceptional.

Quiet and understated, Chris becomes animated when discussing some of the money-saving work-overs he has implemented at the Charlotte campus, claiming he is just “tinkering here and there.” One of his more notable projects is the configuration and installation of FOG, a program that can distribute and install software to all the school computers simultaneously and remotely. FOG eliminates the need to service each machine separately, saving time and money. For a campus that uses extensive technology in addition to computers, streamlining maintenance and troubleshooting service adds up fast.

Chris Lassiter is an example of the enthusiasm, dedication and pursuit of excellence that ECPI students bring with them. His advice to new students: Don’t get behind and don’t miss class!

From high school to college

Matt Hammond is a current student at ECPI University Innsbrook. This is his 2011 high school graduation speech in which he talks about the dual enrollment program offered through Henrico County Schools in Richmond, Virginia. The program introduced him to computer system technology and gave him both high school and college credits as he built his knowledge of fiber optics and computer networking.