Learning for Life Exploring Program Prepares Students for College and Career

Computer programming from scratch; disassembling and reassembling a computer; building a basic robot; experiencing computer-generated weather conditions from inside a hovercraft…these are just some of the topics and activities available to south side Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina high school students through Exploring, a program that provides hands-on experience to help pupils prepare for college and careers.

The program, sponsored by ECPI through the Learning for Life division of the Tidewater Council, BSA is open to both young men and women ages 14-20 who have completed the eighth grade. ECPI University is among the institutions and agencies that host the program. Meetings are held at the Virginia Beach campus on the first Thursday of each month from September through May.

This year’s instruction, led by Dr. Gregg Patrick, head of the university’s masters program, focuses on computer programming, where students learn to construct a program from the ground up. The subject matter received a lot of interest from students and filled up early.

“The program is helping me learn a lot more about computers with each class,” says Jasmin Miguel, who attends Grassfield High School in Chesapeake. “Each time I come and learn something new, I feel one step closer to deciding on a career in the technology or computer field.”

Indian River High School student Larry James is also enrolled. “This session is all about what I’d love to do for a career,” James says.

ECPI University has offered the Exploring program for more than five years. The university’s program won the 2011 National Award for Excellence from Learning for Life. Exploring is also offered through Eastern Virginia Medical School, Emergency Service Careers with the Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach Police Departments as well as Norfolk and Virginia Beach Fire Departments and Virginia Beach Rescue. Aviation careers may be explored at The Aviation Museum in Pungo and ECSU in Elizabeth City.  Regent University School of Law started a program this fall and other area organizations are on board to start this spring. Nearly 5,000 students have participated in the program over the last five years. The only cost is a $25 participation fee.

“This is a community service we’re very proud to be a part of on our campus,” says Glenn F. Corillo, Ph.D., communications faculty and advisor for the program at ECPI University in Virginia Beach. “Our faculty and administrators instruct and work with students to give them an inside look and familiarity with computers, electronics and robotics as they apply in both collegiate and real world business settings.”

Every August the Tidewater Council, BSA sends out letters of notification to students about available programs. Corillo, also a former assistant scoutmaster and elected member of the Executive Board of Directors for the Council, coordinates application and registration for courses taught at ECPI University, which provides computer instruction for Exploring. The average class size ranges from 12-20 students.

“This is a growing program that offers young men and women the chance to examine a wide range of career opportunities and provides a link between the academic environment and the real world,” says Dana Mott, who oversees the program and is a senior district executive with the Tidewater Council of the Boy Scouts of America. “We’re always looking to expand our topics to offer teens an even more diverse look at careers and fields open to them.”

Meetings at ECPI University in Virginia Beach are held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month from September through May. The campus is located at 5555 Greenwich Road. The media is welcome to attend.

Contact Scott McCaskey at 757-625-2518 or at: scott@goldmanandassociates.com for more information or to set up an interview.

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