New college offers personal touch
When Dr. Lucas Shallua and his wife, Dorothy Edward, started Mount Eagle College, they thought about how fortunate they were to have gone to college in their native Tanzania, a country in East Africa where higher learning opportunities are limited.
“We beg students here to come to class, where if you cross the Atlantic Ocean in Africa … (and) you say you have a training opportunity, people will sleep at the door of your house,” said Shallua, the college’s director and organizer. “They will not go home until when they get registration for their kids.
“That has been the passion for all these 20 years in our hearts, how can we provide opportunities for people who want training, they want the education, but they do not have a way of getting it?”
Their school was first licensed and approved by the North Carolina Community College System as Mount Eagle Institute in 2010 to offer two certificate programs in the health care field. After some growth, Mount Eagle became a college this summer and now offers 15 programs, including ones for Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), phlebotomy and massage therapy.
The college has already graduated more than 850 students, who have earned certificates to obtain jobs like EKG technicians and pharmacy techs.
Edward, the college’s operations director, said Mount Eagle has helped the unemployed and underemployed meet the growing demand for jobs in the booming health care industry.
Shallua and Edward met in college and have been married for 15 years. Edward’s father is a Moravian minister who trained in the United States and had friends in the Triad. The stories he related about the Twin City drew the couple here.
Edward worked as a nurse at local hospitals and nursing homes. Shallua taught biology at Forsyth Technical Community College. He was asked by Forsyth Tech President Gary Green to start a biotechnology program there. He served as head of the program from 2002 until 2009. Over those years, the program grew rapidly in size and recognition. In 2010, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the Forsyth Tech biotechnology program to highlight it for preparing the workforce for the high tech jobs of the future.
Shallua was teaching at Appalachian State University when he started Mount Eagle. He said big colleges aren’t for every student and wanted to offer a smaller, more intimate college that provides the type of flexibility, convenience, customization and individual attention that larger institutions fail to give students.
“There are places that we think we can do better than bigger universities,” said Shallua. “Every university and institution has its mission, and we feel we have a unique mission to reach out to areas that might not be in the mission of the existing universities.”
Mount Eagle is located in a suite inside a business park on Hanes Mill Road. It has 15 instructors, three classrooms and two labs. As a private college, Mount Eagle doesn’t receive money from the federal government and may have tuition higher than its public counterparts. Financial assistance through the Mount Eagle Foundation, loans and payment plans are available to students.
Steve Baldwin said Mount Eagle was a good fit for him. The former truck driver had been dreaming of becoming a nurse for the last 15 years. He has now completed CNA I and II courses at the college.
“It was much more relaxed. I liked the attention you would get from the instructors, the one-on-one attention. It was just a good fit for me,” said Baldwin, who plans to take more courses at Mount Eagle.
Baldwin now works as a CNA at Mount Eagle Health, a home care business, also owned by Shallua and Edward, that employs dozens of the college’s graduates. He said he enjoys the work and looks forward to taking his next step towards becoming a nurse.
As a new, small, nontraditional college, Shallua said people sometimes question if Mount Eagle is a real school, but he said with time he hopes the amount of quality graduates it produces will answer that question.
“The best way of letting people know about us is doing the job and doing it right.” said Shallua.
For more information about Mount Eagle, visit mounteag.com or call 336-776-0357.