Raleigh Faculty Member Wears “Super Geek” as Badge of Honor

CIS faculty member Erla Beegle is no regular geek; she’s a bona fide Super Geek. That’s what the Kramden Institute calls volunteers who lead Corporate Community Service Days. A longtime partner with ECPI’s Raleigh camps, this nonprofit organization refurbishes computers that would otherwise be discarded and donates them to schools and middle-school children in economic need.

Under the guidance of a Super Geek like Erla, companies “rent” Kramden for the day with a tax-deductible donation and then send employees who help refurbish the computers. When they’re finished, those once discarded machines are ready to hum back to life, complete with Microsoft Windows 7, web browsers, and anti-virus installed. Thus far, Kramden has distributed over 10,000 computers in its quest to bridge the digital divide.
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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.”

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.