Emory Report
December 12, 2005
Volume 58, Number 14


Emory Report homepage  

December 12 , 2005
Lifelong learning starts early

BY eric Rangus

The Emory Center for Lifelong Learning (ECLL), is Emory’s continuing education department. It also is one of the University’s most crucial connections to the Atlanta community.

As such, the people employed there play important roles in how Emory is viewed. They are ambassadors, and the impressions they make will last. It’s a significant responsibility to hand to a student, yet the center does it with increasing frequency, and the benefits have been huge.

Highly motivated and skilled, the Emory work-study students are what make ECLL—a self-sufficient entity at Emory—go.

And ECLL full-time staff are always on the lookout for talent. Since their work-study students are ECLL’s ambassadors in the community, a certain amount of presence is essential. At work-study fairs, ECLL staff have been known to step out from behind their table and approach students who carry themselves well.

And the center has a long history of taking care of its own. Executive Director Steve Stoffle and Technical Support Specialist Kristi Baer both are former work-study students at the center, and now they help guide its progression.

“I found that when I was a work-study student that, yes, you work hard here, but it is actually in a sense a mental vacation,” Stoffle said. “It gets you out of the bubble of your degree programs and integrated with the community doing work that impacts people’s lives.”

In all, ECLL employs 22 work-study students and that number is continuously growing. They hold a variety of positions, from performing clerical work to having significant say in programming and budgeting, and all of them play an integral role in the success of the center. Meet some of them:

Name: Landan Ansell
Major/Year: Accounting/Junior
Hometown: Ocean Township, N.J.

What he does: Like all ECLL work-study students, Ansell started out doing general office work, focusing primarily on customer service activities: answering the phone, troubleshooting, answering student questions and the like. Now in his second year at the center, he helps process payments not only for instructors, but also for courseware such as textbooks and other teaching materials.

“When I started, I was just doing basic courseware gathering,” Ansell said. “That has progressed into ordering courseware. I also manage the database to make sure payments are accounted for.”

“Sometimes when students show a certain ability, they can be mapped to a particular program or project,” Stoffle said. “Landan is an example of that.”

Name: Marlan Crawford
Major/Year: Theology/Graduate Student
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
What he does:
Married and 30 years old, Crawford is an atypical work-study student. Prior to entering the Candler School of Theology, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Tennessee and spent five years in the banking industry. That financial expertise is one of the reasons why Stoffle has opened the books for him and given Crawford full access to ECLL’s financial records. Crawford has the freedom not only to make budget recommendations, but also to question expenditures.

“It’s extremely helpful for me to have another pair of eyes and a fresh perspective,” Stoffle said. “There is no question Marlan can’t ask. If he sees something, he says, ‘How come this jumped?’ These are the things I need answers for.”

At Candler, Crawford is on the ordination track for the African Methodist Episcopal Church and is interested in church administration. He will graduate in the spring. “What I’m doing with Steve fits in with the bigger picture of what I want to do when I graduate,” he said.

Name: Jacob Ensign
Major/Year: Mathematics and Political Science/Junior
Hometown: Sheridan, Wyo.
What he does:
Stoffle said Ensign has “spirit,” and nowhere is that more apparent than when he describes his job.

“I answer phones, crack jokes, call names, analyze massive amounts of statistics for the ECLL website and write reports on my findings,” said Ensign, an Oxford continuee who also is president of the Emory Capoeira Club—Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian movement form that combines of martial arts, dance and percussion.

The reports Ensign mentioned are incredibly detailed. Earlier this semester, he submitted a seven-page statistical analysis of hits to the ECLL website. And that was just the first part. Many more pages followed.

Ensign said. “Ideally we can make the center’s website more accessible for people who are looking for what we have to offer,” Ensign said.

Name: Christopher Howard
Major/Year: Public Health (Health Policy and Management)/Graduate Student
Hometown: South Bend, Ind.
What he does:
Howard, who has a BBA, compiled a report analyzing the components needed to create a Project Management Certificate program, a very popular offering in the business networking area. The report also included a competitor analysis.

“A lot of companies are looking to train upper management people in these type of skills,” Howard said. “At the Center for Lifelong Learning, we are trying to put together a package that is marketable to surrounding Georgia companies as well as develop strong partnerships with them.”

“Chris produced a professional-level document,” Stoffle said. “Every time we give our work-study students a job, they rise to the challenge.”

Name: Brandon O’Hara
Major/Year: Anthropology and Human Biology/Senior
Hometown: Douglasville, Ga.
What he does:
A couple years ago, when ECLL decided to increase the responsibilities of its work-study students, O’Hara was the first one hired. He is program coordinator for the corporate training division. “I create all the course materials for the corporate classes, along with invoicing the companies and paying our instructors their honoraria,” he said.

Whenever new work-study positions are created—account manager and program coordinator—O’Hara has piloted them.

“Brandon has been instrumental in our work,” said Nicole Foerschler, ECLL manager of corporate learning. “He has relationships with our corporate clients, like at Home Depot, and when he isn’t working as a work-study student, we’ve hired him full time.”

“Brandon spent a semester abroad in Paris last year,” Stoffle said. “We couldn’t wait for him to get back.”

Name: Adi Suta
Major/Year: NBB/Sophomore
Hometown: Lawrenceville, Ga.
What he does:
A dedicated work-study student for the Academy for Retired Professionals, Suta ran into a problem one recent Sunday morning. On hand to open the ECLL offices for an 8:30 a.m. computer class, his key card didn’t work. In his company were the class participants—and they didn’t have any plans to spend their morning standing outside.

Thinking quickly, Suta called the Emory Police Department, who sent an officer, helped him and the class get in the building and defuse what could have been a messy situation.

“Working with the academy has helped me interact more not just with students but with instructors as well,” Suta said. “We know each other by name, and there is a sense of family here that you don’t get at your typical work study job that I really enjoy.”

“That was great work,” Stoffle said. “And for a college student to be anywhere at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning is remarkable in itself.”

Name: Johnna Wickstrom
Major/Year: Russian and Anthropology/Sophomore
Hometown: Shreveport, La.
What she does:
Wickstrom manages ECLL’s online marketing accounts. Each month she is in charge of a $1,000 budget to apply toward the Professional Learning Programs’ Google Adwords Campaign.

“There is a process where you bid on certain search terms to raise your result status on Google searches,” Stoffle said. Those results are found in the Sponsored Links on the right side of a user’s browser window. “Johnna has to adjust the bids. She has to watch the competition. There is a real science to it, and she has taken to it very well,” he said.

“Because my bosses have faith in me, I’ve begun to have faith in myself,” Wickstrom said. “The creative process we are involved in has been quite a learning experience. I have to constantly reshape how I think about things and learn to appreciate input from other people.”

Name: Krissy Witt
Major/Year: Women’s Studies/Junior
Hometown: Forest Park, Ill.
What she does:
Witt is one of four students who work with the Evening at Emory program. Recently, she began coordinating the center’s Lunch N’ Learn program that is offered to CNN employees.

The program is pretty self-explanatory. ECLL instructors go to CNN and hold hour-long mini-courses for the networks employees. They range from cooking to holiday decoration. Witt works with CNN’s human resources department to make sure each of the mini-courses runs smoothly. She also markets the program.

“Working at the Center for Lifelong Learning has helped me find my career path,” Witt said. “I had never considered public relations as an option for myself, but since taking on my current position I’ve realized it’s perfect for me.