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ECC Graduate Joins Instructor to Help Others

Edgecombe Community College graduate and surgical technologist Cassidy Ingram joined her ECC instructor on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this year.

For one Edgecombe Community College alumna, the college experience didn’t end at graduation.

Cassidy Ingram completed ECC’s Surgical Technology program in December 2022. Earlier this year, she joined Suzi Shippen-Wagner, program chair of Surgical Technology, on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

They spent a week there, assisting in cataract surgery on patients in San Juan de la Maguana. The trip was sponsored by the Solid Rock International organization.

According to Ingram, the trip was an eye-opening experience.

“I just have a lot of gratitude for what we have here,” she says. “Plus, I could see the gratitude of the people there for what we were doing. It was very honoring.”

“Cassidy was such an asset on this mission trip,” Shippen-Wagner says. “She stayed flexible and focused throughout our week of service.”

Ingram’s contribution to the people in San Juan de la Maguana might not have happened if she had stuck with her original plans after high school. She attended a nearby four-year university but left before graduating.

Ingram worked with dogs for a few years at a dog day care, and then she decided to give healthcare a try. After researching nearby colleges, the Nash County resident chose the Surgical Technology program at ECC.

Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment and instruments, and assist doctors during surgeries.

Surgical Technology is a five-semester degree program at ECC. When students complete the requirements for a diploma, they are qualified to begin working in the field. The remaining courses needed to complete the associate degree are online, and all diploma graduates are expected to successfully complete these additional courses.

“It was really great,” Ingram says of her time at ECC. “I really enjoyed the program. The instructors prepare you to be successful. It’s not like they push you out of school with a degree but no skills.”

The college provides students with hands-on surgical experiences called clinicals, which are held in a variety of hospital settings, including two Level 1 trauma centers in Raleigh and Greenville.

Ingram works as a surgical technologist at Duke Raleigh Hospital. But when Shippen-Wagner invited her on the mission trip, Ingram accepted immediately.

“Mrs. Shippen-Wagner is very passionate about this profession,” Ingram says. “Her passion is inspiring and infectious. Going on the trip was a great reminder that we’re never done learning. It’s good to be a lifelong learner.”

Fall classes begin August 17 at Edgecombe Community College. To learn more about Surgical Technology at ECC, please contact Suzi Shippen-Wagner at or (252) 618-6738.