Steve Sarver, executive assistant for the Marketing & Communications Office, only had one month of the ECC campus experience before the pandemic set in and the campus closed.
Like many students who come to ECC right out of high school, Natalie Pendergrass, massage therapy unit adjunct faculty, did not know what she wanted to do with her life. She considered teaching, counseling, even real estate, but nothing seemed to spark her passion. She wanted movement, variety, and a sense of helping others. As fate would have it, Pendergrass had the luck of being at ECC at just the right moment – the start of the Massage Therapy program. She checked it out and was hooked.
When Umberto Tinajero, professor of Industrial Manufacturing Technology (IMT) and the Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) instructional coordinator, first set foot on ECC’s campus 20 years ago, it was as an ESL student. After improving his language skills, he left to pursue a career in manufacturing, but it was far from the last time he’d be on ECC’s campus.
During his 25-year career with the Elgin Police Department (EPD), Cecil Smith rose through the ranks from patrol officer to commander of the Special Investigations Division. Smith’s dream of leading a police department inspired him to enroll at Elgin Community College to help advance his career.
As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools and businesses across the country, Elgin Community College began to look for innovative ways to support essential workers. A trio of ECC faculty, staff, and alumni found a way to do their part with a little ingenuity and a lot of creativity.
Linda Deering Dean never imagined herself as the president of a regional hospital. When she enrolled at Elgin Community College to continue her education, she was working full time as a registered nurse and raising a family. She appreciated having an affordable option in the community to help her achieve her goal of advancing to a high-level clinical nursing position.
Shortly after the implementation of Illinois' stay-at-home order in March, the Elgin Community College Foundation established the Emergency Student Relief Fund to help students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one month later, more than 100 donors had pitched in to help reach the goal of raising over $50,000.
For years, ECC alumnus Dean Follmann’s work has been focused on the study of infectious diseases and clinical trials that evaluate therapies. Most recently, it has put him on the front lines in the quest to find a cure for the virus that causes COVID-19.
I was able to transition from high school to college in a fun, friendly, and engaging environment that allowed me to work towards my associate degree whilst giving me time to figure out and explore what I wanted to do with my life. I cannot recommend ECC enough to prospective students, and can personally attest to ECC being a bright choice for a bright future.
I am grateful for ECC, because it gave me the opportunity to grow as a student in the classroom and as a leader on campus. I know that I made the right decision from the start.
I made the decision to attend Elgin Community College after I decided I wanted to pursue journalism as my major. I knew if I attended ECC for my first two years, I would have substantially lower debts, which was very important given my career choice. Beyond the cost savings, though, attending ECC was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
ECC provided me with a solid foundation in my educational journey as well as workplace experience. As much as I am sad to be leaving, I have learned to embrace the next steps in my journey with excitement and open arms. The most important lesson I learned was that as many times that I felt alone and overwhelmed, I was never alone, and I always found the support I needed from professors and peers.
ECC impacted my life greatly. I learned how to take care of myself mentally and to never be afraid of what you believe in. I discovered that in order to receive things in life, you have to get your foot in the door and not wait around for something to happen, but rather you have to make it happen.
As a junior in high school, I enrolled as a dual credit student with Elgin Community College to get a head start on my education. A life-long learner, I was lucky to attend an institution where I could explore my interests. By becoming a dual credit student, I learned more about myself, not only academically, but personally.
When I was a junior in high school, I was one of six students in my class to be given the opportunity to participate in the Dual Credit Program at Elgin Community College. Being accepted felt surreal. I was excited for all that I was going to learn, yet nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up academically.
After two years at Elgin Community College, I can honestly say that attending this school has been one of the best experiences of my life. I am a non-traditional student. This is my second time in college, and I’m significantly older than most of my peers. Despite these differences, I always felt welcome, and never felt out of place.
I now have confidence to move forward with my education because of my ECC experience. I am proud of my accomplishments--graduating with honors at 16-years-old--and eager to continue pursuing my academic goals.
Getting ready to graduate from ECC brings a mixture of sadness and excitement. I’m sad to leave such an amazing place, but I am so excited about where I am headed. I plan to transfer to Roosevelt University in Chicago this fall on my journey to pursue a doctorate in Forensic Psychology.
I was able to create strong bonds with others who kept driving me to succeed and grow, which helped me grasp who I truly was and who I could become. ECC gave me the resources and support I needed to thrive academically and professionally.
When I graduated from high school, I was unsure about how I was going to further my education. At first, I was skeptical about Elgin Community College, but it turned out to be the best option for me. As I reflect on my two years here, I’ve come to realize that ECC has given me more opportunities than a four-year institution could.
ECC has given me experiences I would have never received at my high school, such as volunteering in the greenhouse or working behind the scenes in the laboratories. ECC’s science instructors helped me decide on my major and my transfer school: I will be a biochemistry major at Loyola University Chicago starting in the fall of 2020.
After two years of hard work and dedication to my studies, I am graduating with my Associate in Engineering Science. I will be going to West Point to study Mechanical Engineering, and I feel very prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
"ECC allowed me to be more independent, confident, and eager to take on risks. I will be the first in my immediate family to receive a college degree, and I am now a small business owner of a non-medical home care agency. I encourage all future graduates to work hard and never give up despite any obstacles that might get in the way. The sky's the limit, and anything is possible if you believe in yourself."
"ECC has prepared me for both of these paths by providing me with a sense of belonging in a country that was not my own, shown me that hard work and perseverance leads to results, that there is always someone there that cares, and that no one has to go through their academic life alone."
Follmann, ECC’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni, is the Assistant Director for Biostatistics at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), specializing in the design and analysis of clinical trials that improve human health. His team has been involved in efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including early treatments, preventative drugs, and trials for antivirals and vaccines.
In the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathleen Nesheiwat of Streamwood is in the thick of it, as a nurse on the medical pulmonary floor at Northwest Community Hospital. She and a group of mostly veteran nurses combine compassion and their special training to provide the first line of care for patients with symptoms caused by the virus.
Last year, ECC and the City of Elgin Police Department came to a landmark agreement Students who graduated from ECC with their associate in applied sciences in criminal justice would be eligible to take the entry-level police officer exam. For Todd Ramljak, instructional coordinator for the criminal justice program, this agreement is the capstone of his 17-year career at ECC.
Everyone on campus knows the face of Lead Barista Ann Dondelinger-Migatz. In her five years in the Café, she has met just about every student, staff, or faculty member on campus. For Ann, though, it’s about so much more than just serving coffee.
Kerr, associate professor I of English and English instructional coordinator, loves to talk about children’s literature. “The literature and messaging that shapes us as children carries through to influence our entire lives—our relationships, our politics, our very understanding of ourselves,” says Kerr.
It may be the obvious choice, but Gallery Curator Juan Fernandez would love to live inside “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” Luckily, his job entails living inside the art world at ECC, where he manages ECC’s art collection as well as coordinates shows in the three campus galleries.
When you ask someone what their passion is, and their response is “HR,” you know your workplace is in good hands. ECC is in good hands with Chief Human Resources Officer Anthony Ray. He is especially committed to emphasizing the ‘human’ aspect of HR and positioning ECC to be an employer of choice in our community.
For Elgin Community College’s Deputy Chief of Police Craig Campbell, wisdom is a theme that runs through his life. Whether it was the early wisdom from his mother, the wisdom gained while working his way through life, or the wisdom he continues to pursue today, Campbell is always trying to improve.
Tyler Roeger, director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), has been at ECC for less than a year, but he knew he’d found the right fit during his campus tour. Learn more about Roeger’s work supporting faculty and discover his surprising hidden talent below.
As Dean of College Transitions and Secondary Partnerships, Mary Perkins brings together the college and the community to develop strategies and programs to help students achieve their dreams.
When Erik Enders, student life coordinator for student success, arrived on campus for his job interview last summer, it was the first time he’d been to Elgin Community College. He knew about ECC from friends, but had not experienced the college. One visit was all it took to solidify his desire to be a part of the ECC community.