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ECC celebrates student ambassadors

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Edgecombe Community College recently celebrated its Student Ambassador Program and invited former student ambassadors to campus for lunch and a special program.

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From Contributed Reports

Monday, January 21, 2019

When Maxine Hurdle lost her job in the mid-1990s after more than 16 years at the former Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Co., she decided to return to school to start a second career.

She chose the Human Services Technology curriculum at Edgecombe Community College, receiving financial assistance through the U.S. Department of Labor’s displaced worker program.

At about the same time, the college was starting a new Student Ambassador Program.

“It was a pioneer program at the time,” said Hurdle, 68. “Relying on the labor department for my tuition, I felt like I needed to help everyone I could. I wanted to help other students get the same assistance I received.”

As part of the first group of student ambassadors in 1997, Hurdle recruited high school students, worked at education expos and promoted ECC in the community.

“I received a lot from the college, and I wanted to go out and let people see what is possible through my example,” Hurdle said.

Since that first group of ambassadors took the mantle more than two decades ago, Edgecombe Community College has chosen more than 115 students to champion the college through the Student Ambassador Program.

Ambassadors must maintain a 3.25 GPA, carry at least a 12-hour course load and commit to the program for a year. Students chosen receive a $500 scholarship and ECC attire to wear at functions.

“We look for people with potential leadership skills,” said Teresa Bottoms, counselor and recruiter at the college and ambassador advisor. “They have to be a people person, someone who is dependable, punctual and friendly.”

Typically, about 10 students apply for the program, and a committee selects roughly half to serve as ambassadors. Bottoms said 15 students applied for the 2018-19 academic year, and the committee selected seven.

Detron Phillips is a current student ambassador. The 34-year-old Respiratory Therapy student is on track to graduate in May.

“Serving as a student ambassador gives me an opportunity to help the College,” Phillips said. “You never know where these types of activities will take you. Sometimes, even more doors can open.”

Phillips earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic communications in 2008 from Chowan University, and he worked at Eagle Press in Edgecombe County before he was laid off a year later. Since then, he worked locally as a firefighter, EMT and paramedic before he decided to return to school.

Little has changed for student ambassadors over the years. They provide tours of the campuses, help out at college events like the annual ECC Foundation Golf Tournament and concerts on campus, assist with student orientation and work in the bookstore.

“They do so much — anytime they’re needed,” Bottoms said. “I think it’s crucial to have student ambassadors because not only do they talk to current students, but they also interact with prospective students. When they’re out and about, they’re the face of ECC.”

Hurdle says she’s proud of her days as a student ambassador at Edgecombe Community College. She’s proud of her Phi Theta Kappa honor society membership. And she’s proud of her degree. After graduation, she worked briefly at the county health department and then in public housing in Tarboro for 16 years before retiring three years ago.

“You do the best you can,” Hurdle said. “If I can go back to school at 45 years old and graduate with a 3.94 GPA, anyone can do it.

“You just have to be your own best advocate. But you only get out of it what you put into it.”

Phillips said he enjoys the camaraderie with other ambassadors and helping people.

“Being a student ambassador, you get to show what this College really is all about,” Phillips said. “And really, what better way to promote ECC than through the students themselves?

“This is a wonderful place to be, and I only see promising things ahead.”

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