Commencement Speaker Almost Wins Bet with Daughter

Keziah Low Res

For many years, Elizabeth City resident Patrick Keziah has dreamed of becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. Years ago, he earned an associate’s degree in the liberal arts but believed that real success would only come with a bachelor’s degree in a more technical field.

So, to inspire himself and motivate his daughter, he suggested they compete to see who could be first in the family to earn a bachelor’s degree. It was close, but she beat him by 23 days. This Saturday, he joins her as the second person in the Keziah family to earn a bachelor’s degree, receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer and Information Science with a concentration in Healthcare Information Technology.

Getting to this point has not been easy. Patrick first endured a debilitating illness that ravaged his digestive system. After a 10-day stay in the hospital, he had to opt out of school for two terms. Then, just as he was getting back underway, his mother fell ill and he had to take time off to care for her and find her permanent residence in a nursing home.

Throughout it all, Patrick never took his eye off the prize. Tomorrow, he will represent the Virginia Beach study body at graduation, speaking about the power of perseverance. “It’s been quite a journey,” says Patrick. “I learned a lot about myself and I also learned that very few accomplishments occur without the help of others. I will always be grateful to the many people at ECPI University who stood by me and helped me catch up and get back on track.”

Thomas Cevora: A Portrait in Perseverance

Cevora Low Res

2014 Graduate with MS Serves as an Example to All

Thomas Cevora has always been a man of action. An Army veteran, he went to work on tug boats after leaving the service. From there, he moved to rail cars. Fourteen years ago, a clock started ticking and he knew at some point that a physically active life would no longer be his to enjoy. Thomas has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). That fateful day he long feared arrived three years ago. “When I resigned from the railroad, I just didn’t know what to do with myself,” says Thomas. “Everybody said I should go on disability but that just wasn’t for me. I have to be doing something.”

Using Vocational Rehabilitation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Thomas decided to go back to school. Despite being hospitalized on a couple of occasions, he persevered. Now, he’s preparing to graduate this Saturday, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer and Information Science with a concentration in Web Development. “I discovered a great deal about myself these past three years,” says Thomas. “First, I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. Sure, I need a cane and, sometimes, a wheelchair, but I have developed mental strength. Second, I have an even stronger wife! She would never let me give up. We came close to losing everything. We barely held onto our house, but we always held on to each other.”

While Thomas is excited to move on, he admits he’s a bit nervous. In addition to graduating, he and his wife are planning to move to a cooler climate up north because heat aggravates his MS. “ECPI University has been like a second home to me. The faculty has been so great, especially Ms. Lanae Harris. She has been an inspiration. Whenever I needed a boost, she was always there with a ‘you can do it!’ And the best thing is: I did do it. I’ve applied for a graduate program with Microsoft. I’ve got my own web design business up and running which is a great source of pride. Each time I finish a website, I know that anyone in the world can type in that web address and see what I built.”

ECPI Students Win “Most Innovative” Award at Dominion Enterprises’ Hackathon

ECPI University students Adam Myers, Kenneth Crim, and Justin Norman are accompanied by their Dominion Enterprises coaches in accepting their award.

ECPI University students Adam Myers, Kenneth Crim, and Justin Norman are accompanied by their Dominion Enterprises coaches in accepting their award.

A team of three ECPI University students from the Newport News and Virginia Beach campuses has been honored with the “Most Innovative Award” at Dominion Enterprises’ 7th Annual Hackathon, HACKU2. The two-day event held at Dominion Enterprises’ headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia is designed for students to gain real world software development experience by collaborating and designing functional games and apps. This year, teams were tasked with designing and programming working games, or game-themed apps by utilizing nationally recognized API’s as well as some used by Dominion Enterprises itself.

Game and Simulation students Kenneth Crim and Adam Myers and Web Development student Justin Norman developed a new approach to authenticating whether a user is human or not. This has the potential to replace the existing CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computer and Humans Apart) challenge-response test method. This approach utilizes a smiley face and a scroll bar where the user selects a particular smiley face image and find its match on a scroll bar to authenticate that they are not a “bot” – thereby reducing the amount of spam on a web site.

Dominion Enterprises is a leading marketing services and publishing company serving the automotive, recreational and commercial vehicle, real estate, apartment rental, employment, parenting, and travel industries. The company’s businesses provide a comprehensive suite of technology-based marketing solutions including Internet advertising, lead generation, customer relationship management, website design and hosting, and data management services. The company has more than 45 market-leading websites reaching more than 20 million unique visitors monthly. More than 77 million For Rent®, Employment Guide® and HotelCoupons.com® publications are distributed nationwide each year.

Raleigh Graduate Endures and Achieves

Lee-Ann

Domestic Violence Victim Overcomes All Challenges to Complete Degree 

When Lee-Ann Morris’ classmates celebrated their graduation this summer, they no doubt felt a great sense of accomplishment.  She, however, felt something even greater: the peace of mind that comes with taking control of her own life. “I think that I am proof that you don’t have to be defined by your circumstances,” says Lee-Ann.

The victim of abuse growing up, married and a mother at 16-years old, she once again found herself in an abusive home, nearly losing her life after a particularly savage beating. She took refuge in a shelter and began rebuilding her life. She earned her GED, volunteered to help other victims of abuse, became HIPAA-certified and took a job copying subpoenas for medical cases. She continued to strive for a better life and became a radiology assistant for a local orthopedics practice.

Then, Lee-Ann decided it was time to earn a college degree. She enrolled at ECPI University’s School of Health Science, Medical Careers Institute and entered the Medical Assisting program. Twice, she had to suspend her studies due to financial problems, yet she persevered.  Having now reached her goal, she is beyond happy. “Life is a struggle at times, but the outcome depends on the road you take and how you handle the obstacles in your way,” she says.  “Just don’t ever give up on your dreams.”

Charleston Student Works with Advanced Radar Equipment

Andrew SmithLR

Andrew Smith had hoped to get some real world experience during his externship with MALA Geoscience. He got all that…and then some. Over the course of 140 hours, the company – which manufactures ground-penetrating radar equipment – allowed him to participate in the repair of equipment as well as the design of a DC/DC step up power circuit.

“The machines that I helped repair are used to see different objects in the ground,” says Andrew. “Contractors use this equipment before they begin construction to see if there is anything under the surface like gas lines or electrical lines. They also check before they cut into concrete since tension cables may be present which can be very dangerous if they are severed unexpectedly.”

For Andrew, his time with MALA Geoscience helped reinforce what he has learned in the classroom. “These are the kind of hands-on experiences that make ECPI University what it is: a place where you can take what you learn and immediately transfer it to the workplace,” says Charleston Campus President James Weaver. “It also allows employers to meet the exceptional students we are privileged to educate.”

In the case of MALA Geoscience, they certainly liked what they saw. “Without question, Andrew was outstanding,” says MALA Geoscience President Matthew Wolf. “It was a pleasure to have a young person of Andrew’s character and technical knowledge working with our team. We look forward to additional opportunities to mentor students from ECPI University.”