Warm winter welcome: 500 attend ECSU recruiting event
By William F. West
Sunday, February 4, 2018
Elizabeth City State University officials are hopeful the promise of lower tuition starting this fall boosts the campus’s enrollment to as high as 1,700 students.
If reaction from potential recruits attending Saturday’s Winter Homecoming and Open House at the Fine Arts Center is any indication, ECSU should easily meet its goal.
Nearly 500 high school and transfer students attended the open house, many of them from North Carolina, Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area. Many of those interviewed said they had heard of NC Promise, the tuition-discount program that starts at ECSU and two other University of North Carolina campuses this fall, but none said it was the sole reason they plan to attend ECSU.
Brooklyn Harris, a 17-year-old from Tarboro, was fairly typical. While aware that NC Promise will offer her $500-a-semester tuition as an in-state student, Harris said she had already set her sights on getting her degree at ECSU.
Saturday morning marked the first time Harris set foot on the ECSU campus, although she’s been learning about the university via the Internet. One thing she’s discovered, she said, is that the campus has a good music program. Because she plays brass instruments and wants to perform in a university band, that’s important to her.
"I really love this place. It's really a good place," she said.
Harris said ECSU staffers she had met seemed like nice people willing to bend over backward to help students.
"Whatever you need, they'll tell you what's going on," she said.
Nomar Proctor, 17, of Prince George’s County, Maryland, said he too was aware of NC Promise, which would reduce his tuition as an out-of-state student to $2,500 a semester. But the promise of lower tuition also wasn’t the most important thing to him either.
Proctor, who had visited ECSU once during homecoming, said he had done a lot of research about the campus and liked what he discovered.
"It seems like they're up to par with academics and athletics," he said. "So, it caught my interest."
Proctor said ECSU’s status as a historically black university is also important to him.
Katelyn Williams, 18, of Margarettsville, said she, too, was aware of NC Promise but thinks the campus already offers great value for the money.
“Education-wise, I think you get your money's worth," she said.
Williams also likes the look of the campus and the fact it’s only a couple hours from Northampton County, where she lives.
"It's very pretty to me and it's very close to home as well," she said.
On top of all that, her boyfriend already attends ECSU, she said.
Gerald Simpson, 18, of Greensboro, also attended Saturday’s winter open house. A quarterback and strong safety at his high school, he’s hoping to play football for the Vikings this fall, he said.
Making his first visit to ECSU, Simpson said he liked what he saw. He said the campus seems to have “the right vibe” for him and “feels like home.”
Simpson said he hopes to major in computer engineering.
His mother, Pamela Simpson, also seemed to like what she had seen of the campus. She was hoping to learn more, she said.
"I want to know the teachers more, the campus more,” she said. “I just want to know how they operate, how things go, how they focus on their students.”
Prior to the start of the open house, Chancellor Thomas Conway said he and other campus officials hoped to convince students to attend ECSU.
"What I try to do is get them to start thinking about the process – and particularly thinking about Elizabeth City State University," he said.
The winter open house is organized by the ECSU National Alumni Association, currently led by former ECSU Board of Trustees Chairman Abdul Rasheed. Asked how ECSU alumni hoped to secure commitments from high school students, Rasheed said, "Through the nurturing nature of the campus and the campus environment."
"I mean, this school has taken young people from all different types of family structures and communities and provided them with the kind of support, both academically and socially, to be able to grow into very, very strong contributing citizens throughout North Carolina and throughout our country," he said.