Individualizing a student’s educational journey

Emily Griffith Technical College implements its new student lifecycle system


Being a first-generation college graduate, Erin Pepper started a trend in her family.

After she earned her bachelor’s degree, she went on to earn a master’s degree.

While Pepper was working toward her master’s degree, her father was then inspired to go back to school to earn his associate’s degree.

And now, the trend has been passed on to Pepper’s three children. Her oldest son graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2019. Her middle son will be starting college in 2021. And her youngest son, a freshman in high school, recently decided he is going to pursue an engineering degree and will soon start looking into colleges.

Pepper is passionate about helping students achieve their academic goals and recently assumed a role as the vice president of finance and operations at Emily Griffith Technical College, 1860 Lincoln St. in Denver.

“If you even have a thought (of pursuing higher education), reach out,” Pepper said. “We will partner with you and meet you for the rest of the way.”

Pepper, who has held professional roles in education since 2006, is one of three recent new hires at Emily Griffith. The other two are Randy Johnson, who is the college’s new executive director; and Joshua Jones, who serves Emily Griffith as manager of the college’s new Navigation Center.

Johnson comes to Emily Griffith after serving Denver Public Schools since 2008. With DPS, he was most recently the regional instructional superintendent for schools in the central region of Denver.

Jones has been involved with higher education for nearly 15 years, having worked at Elsmere Education, which is a Denver-based educational consultant; and as the senior director of admissions at the former Art Institute of Colorado.

“Emily Griffith is a very impressive school,” Johnson said. “We serve a lot of students, and we’re looking at how we can serve students better.”

All three of these team leaders - Pepper, Johnson and Jones - will play an important role with the college’s new student lifecycle system, which helps students successfully navigate their schooling, education and career.

“We’re here to help them,” Pepper said of Emily Griffith’s students. “We understand that it’s an educational journey.”

Expecting the student lifecycle system to be fully implemented in January, its focus is on the whole student, Jones said.

The student lifecycle system can be explained as a six-step process that helps guide students through their entire academic career and beyond. The six steps are: recruitment; triage, which helps students learn what resources are available; career and education exploration; career planning; education; and career placement.

“It starts with that initial conversation,” Jones said, “and moves forward from there.”

The new system places great focus on the middle steps, which helps ensure each student’s experience is individualized, Jones said. For example, one of Jones’ responsibilities will be overseeing the Career Navigators in the Navigation Center. The Career Navigators “will help students choose a career path and a program within that path,” states a news release.

“The Career Navigators make sure the students’ stories are heard,” Jones said.

In addition, students will work with Career Coaches to help connect them with career and job opportunities once they complete their program, states a news release.

Numbers from 2019 reveal that Emily Griffith sits at 86% for program completion and 81% for job placement, Johnson said.

“This lends to our slogan, `the engine that powers Colorado’s workforce,’” Johnson said. When you talk about education, he added, “you’re talking about peoples’ lives.”

Pepper agreed.

“Making education affordable and successful for all students who want to seek higher education,” she said, “can change the trajectory of their family’s lives.”


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