ECPI University QEP Essay Contest

ECPI University QEP Essay Contest Puts Focus on Information Literacy

ECPI University has embarked upon an exciting Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP. What is a QEP, you may ask? Simply put, it's an initiative designed to improve the university's learning environment, strengthen student learning outcomes, and support ECPI University's mission. It's called Students FIRST, an information literacy campaign with four key objectives.

Students are being asked to:

  • USE information literacy skills effectively to access, via traditional access methods or mobile technologies, the bodies of knowledge appropriate to their fields of study.
  • INTEGRATE knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop a level of understanding of their future professions that is sufficient preparation for entry-level employment in their fields of study.
  • APPLY the knowledge, skills, and abilities to accomplish specific professional purposes that are appropriate at the collegiate level.
  • DOCUMENT attainment of information literacy skills and understanding of the professions they are entering.

Following the program's introduction on QEP Awareness Day, students were asked to participate in a contest, composing essays that explain how they intend to use the resources that support each of the four objectives. The top three winners all received a brand new iPad.

Here's what each of them had to say:

Nursing Student Uses QEP to Get Into the 'College Mindset'

The following winning essay was submitted by Cynthia Herndon, ECPI University Greensboro Campus, Practical Nursing

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. When the other kids played cowboys and Indians, I was always the nurse who tended to the wounded on the battlefield. I usually was first on the scene, even beating out my mom, to patch up skinned knees and scrapes from bike crashes and falls, and generously apply Band-Aids whenever needed; and sometimes when not needed. In other words, healing and helping have always been part of who I am. However, like a lot of us, life got in the way of my dreams. I married young and started a family, and didn't get the chance to pursue my education in nursing. The desire always remained, even though the time and means to make it happen never seemed to work out. I had almost given up hope on realizing my dream of becoming a nurse. Until, at the age of 46, I found ECPI University, and discovered the Practical Nursing program.

ECPI has a Quality Enhancement Plan that offers skills to help current and former students prepare to enter into their chosen profession. The plan is broken down into four objectives: USE, INTEGRATE, APPLY, and DOCUMENT. This plan is particularly helpful for an older, non-traditional student such as myself. It helps with the transition back into the educational environment after being away from it for several years, and gets you back into the "college mindset."

The first objective is USE. I've taken advantage of resources that fall under the USE category. Medical databases accessible from the ECPI library have been a valuable research resource when writing papers for my nursing classes. The library staff is very knowledgeable and always willing to be of assistance. The Moodle system is one I use on a regular basis for my classwork. I'm also aware of the student success tools available to students on the WellConnect link.

The second objective is INTEGRATE. This is where students get the chance to join professional organizations and earn certifications. These organizations set you apart from the crowd when it comes to employment seeking. The National Student Nurses Association and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society are two organizations I am interested in learning more about.

Next is APPLY. It's where everything comes together. After you become part of a professional organization, be sure to take part of any volunteer opportunities that come your way. It's a great chance to not only give back to the community and be of help to others, but a wonderful way to network and make new contacts as well. It's a win-win situation!

Lastly, is DOCUMENT. I've already begun work on an excellent resume with assistance from Career Services, and will continue to build on it as my clinical experience grows. I look forward to the mock interviews and other help I'll receive when I get closer to graduation. ECPI students are fortunate to have so many valuable resources available to assist us as we begin our careers. I look forward to a smooth transition into nursing and I'm glad ECPI was part of my journey!


Future Software Developer Relies on Resources, Determination

The following winning essay was submitted by Carla Lincoln, ECPI University Newport News Campus, Software Development

Since day one of attendance at ECPI, we are constantly reminded that, as students, we have a tremendous amount of resources available to help us succeed. Every staff and faculty member is available for questions and advice; the campus library is available in-person and on-line for research and technology needs, such as computers and printers; and WellConnect is here should we face difficult problems of any kind, 24/7.

So, how do I intend to use all these resources available to me? First, I'm going to bring my own piece of support to the table to make it all possible; my determination to succeed. I believe you can't help someone who is unwilling to help themselves too. All these resources mean nothing if I don't take the initiative to use them. I've failed college before, and I will not repeat those mistakes. It is my goal, my fighting reason, to finally be a success and be able to support my family that will make me feel accomplished. I will seek out help when I need it, whether it be asking my teachers for more information or going to the library to use the computer or printer. If my depression becomes difficult again, I will use the WellConnect resource, and if necessary seek additional help from an outside source. And, if I'm still just not getting it, I will seek out the free tutoring available to help with my courses.

But classes are just one part of it. There are even more resources available that will help me integrate all those things that I'm learning to good use. There are clubs, external societies and associations that are part of ECPI. I can earn certifications through ECPI that are relevant to my program as well. Participating in these extracurricular activities and groups will help me build up a background in my chosen field that looks great for potential employers. It will also help build my confidence in what I know and in doing my work.

Projects completed with these will also help me document a competitive portfolio and resume. Career Services will also help me prepare for a career with cover letter/resume reviews and mock interviews. If I have any questions about what career I'm looking into, I can most likely find a faculty member who has held that position and can tell me more about it.

Applying my knowledge is what all of this is about, though. It's why I'm going to ECPI in the first place; to get a career with the knowledge I am gaining. Even before I get that career though, there are many ways I can apply my knowledge. I've already joined the Software Development Club, where we are currently working on a project for another college, giving us real world experience. ECPI classes also focus on hands-on learning with lab equipment and software; the technology used in the classroom will be the same or almost the same as what we will use in our careers. Externships also make sure we're getting to apply our knowledge in real companies in the community. There is even a way to independently study and apply knowledge using the Mobile University. I plan on doing this because it could be a great refresher of knowledge to make sure that what I know is current.

All of this doesn't matter if I don't put in the effort though. That's why I am going to use the resources available to me, so that I can succeed, so that I can complete a life goal. With a strong support like what ECPI offers, I know I can accomplish this. It takes EFFORT to fail when so much is available to succeed.


Student Finds Information Literacy, Accessibility is a Valuable Resource

The following winning essay was submitted by Natalie Barrera, ECPI University Charleston Campus

Having available and viable resources readily accessible to all the students and aspiring professionals at ECPI is what sets this university apart from the rest. The resources have the flexibility to use, integrate, apply, and document, a wide variety of tasks during their studies inside the classroom and ultimately out into the work force.

I use information literacy skills that ECPI offers in many ways. I use Moodle to check on my assignment and keep up with my grades. The student portal helps me stay up to date on my upcoming course schedule. The online library and eBooks are very convenient; I can access both of these resources while I'm on campus or while I'm at home. I use both of these online resources to help me find information for a writing assignment or a project that I've been assigned to do. I plan to use the free tutoring to help me sharpen my skills in areas that need a little bit of polishing.

Having studied and polished a set of skills is one thing, but getting the help to integrate these skills is key to finding and sustaining a top-of-the-line job. With the help in preparation and administration of all the required certifications in my field of study, I can enter the workforce fully certified setting me and other ECPI students apart resulting in companies partnering and trusting ECPI and their students with employment.  Program advisory boards also keep ECPI staff up to date on the latest employment requirements and trends resulting in ECPI students like myself to be ready to hit the ground running the first day on the job.

Learning skills from a book is one thing, but being able to apply these learned skills and practice them in real life is another. ECPI will provide me with training both in class and give me practical application with hands-on training in labs. I will also have the opportunity to use these skills I've learned at ECPI in community service and volunteer work, and apply these skills with others in my program or field via study groups/student groups, and most important of all, using my skills during my externship. When I apply to my first job, I will have more than just a classroom education I will have applied my skills and I will be ready to use them to be the best in my field.

Being presentable and desirable both on paper and in person is key in today's challenging job market. At ECPI, resources to help me accurately document my skills to employers makes me desirable to employers due to the professional and clean layout of my skills. Developing a portfolio, perfecting a cover letter, a resume, and mock interviews are available to help me build confidence and be ready to go forth into my employment. Should there be any bumps in the road the seasoned faculty have experience and are ready to get through any setbacks I may encounter and get me ready to proudly turn in my resume and nail any interview.

The faculty, programs, and drive to continuously improve at ECPI is unparalleled and this shows in the resources for their students. Resulting in ECPI students being the best trained in the workforce.

The response from the study body was tremendous. While there could be only three iPad winners, sixteen additional students received honorable mention and a $15 gift card. However, the students that embrace these objectives are all winners, for they will have armed themselves with something quite powerful: they can learn how to learn. In an era where knowledge and skills become quickly obsolete, being a lifelong learner may well be the determining factor in long-term success.

ECPI was the best decision I ever made

Ham Sanny (@samhanny97) May 7, 2015

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