“I’ll build an app for that.”

After six years in the Air Force, Eric Richardson wanted to transition to civilian life by completing his education. Who better to ask for advice than his father who suggested ECPI University after graduating himself in the 1960s. Eric enrolled in the Web Development program at the Richmond Campus’s Moorefield location in Virginia using his VA benefits. Two years ago he began the process and he completed his last class to obtain his bachelor’s in September. He has already landed an exciting job with Willow Tree Apps.

“I liked the core programming classes that included Java and C# (pronounced C sharp for the less tech savvy),” said Eric. “After I got the hang of it, I knew that is what I wanted to do.” After Career Services assisted with an introduction to Willow Tree Apps, Eric earned employment over lunch with Michael Prichard, the founder and Chief Technology Officer.

Willow Tree Apps was founded in 2007 and is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. They were one of the first companies to launch an iPhone app, and its Spotasaurus app is often featured in Apple’s television and print advertising. “I’ve been attending weekly meetings while I’m still in school prior to making the move,” said Eric. “They have a west-coast start-up feel with an open, friendly atmosphere. It is going to make a great environment.”

Eric admits that the year-round schedule at ECPI was challenging but really appreciated the small class sizes. “I was able to ask questions and actually get a response,” explained Eric. “There was more interaction that the typical school environment.”

A Wrong Turn Doesn’t Always Lead to a Dead End

At the age of 18, Lamont Moore found himself with a 15-year sentence after choosing a path not destined for greatness. He was incarcerated from 1995 to 2006 and he explains that the time was tough but allowed him time for reflection and soul searching.  He decided he wanted to walk a better path that would lead him to a brighter future.

When he was released, Lamont spent a few years working but with no real direction. He met Crystal Chambers, who would later become his wife, who made a profound impression on him. Through her own successes as an employed college graduate, Lamont was inspired to pursue his own education.

Lamont and his wife on graduation day.

He was immediately sold upon visiting ECPI University’s Innsbrook campus. However, he was concerned his past would hinder his career ambitions and didn’t want to make the investment if he wouldn’t be able to put his schooling to use. “I wasn’t filled with empty promises from the people at ECPI University,” explained Lamont. “I was given encouragement to not let my past discourage me from moving forward.”

It was through his Principles of Speech class with Ms. Borland that Lamont gained the confidence and skills to be able to share his story with others. As part of his probation, he speaks with others following his initial path and encourages them to stop the process and follow their own dreams to a brighter future. “ECPI University has really helped me and I want to help others. If I can inspire just one person, my job is done,” shared Lamont.

Lamont walked in the Richmond graduation ceremony in June. He will finalize his classes in October and receive his Associate’s in Electronics Engineering Technology. In April 2012 Lamont plans to open his own franchise of UNE, a computer company, where he started as a volunteer while pursuing his education. Lamont declares, “Everything has worked out for me.”

Collin Elane, A Stand-Out MCI 2011 Graduate

As an employee of AmeriGroup for the past eight years and the current Director of Nursing, Collin Elane is used to making presentations to large groups. In those situations it’s about education, direction and inspiration. When asked to speak at the recent graduation in Virginia Beach on May 21, his speech would also need to entertain.

Collin and his fellow graduates wave in appreciation to guests who supported them through their education.

Collin was flattered to be given the opportunity having been selected by MCI, ECPI University’s School of Health Science Campus President, Matt Albano, for his leadership abilities, over-all character and an ideal representation of an MCI graduate.

As a licensed practical nurse for 13 years, Collin felt that being a registered nurse would position him for more management positions. He selected MCI for his education because it had the greatest flexibility within his already busy schedule.

It was the complexity of his schedule that led Andrea Lipsmeyer, MCI’s Director of Nursing program, to really focus Collin to evaluate if he would be able to work full-time and attend school full-time. “I really appreciated that she didn’t have any reservations about telling me what to expect,” said Collin. “I had to really consider if it was the right program for me because of the time commitment, would I be okay with the sacrifices of time with family and friends.” Ultimately the decision was to proceed with his education.

Collin’s message to his fellow graduates was a reflection on the commitment and perseverance to complete an education. “I didn’t want graduates to get lost in the moment of graduation,” said Collin. “I wanted them to really think about the barriers they had to overcome and the courage and intelligence it takes to be a successful ECPI University graduate. The programs are fast-paced and aren’t meant for those looking for slow and relaxed. I think that says a lot about my fellow graduates.”