With one semester completed and the second in full force, Eastern in the City, Eastern’s newest academic program, continues to give students a deeper understanding of and connection between their education and their future.
EIC is a two-year program that lets students complete core courses and understand why their education is important.
Located in Philadelphia, EIC is a step in achieving one of Eastern’s main desires. According to director Jeneen Barlow, President David Black hopes that this program will help Eastern enact its mission to serve Christ by serving people everywhere.
One of EIC’s strongest assets is the way the faculty have linked courses together.
One example Barlow gave was between the English and psychology departments. By having students read the same novels, professors can show how principles taught in psychology were used by authors in literary works.
“People really get into it, which extracts a different type of community,” Barlow said. “It is more student-centered than most schools.”
Another exciting connection will be available next January. A missions trip to Egypt during which the students will be able to see the actual places they are learning about in INST 160: History of Western Civilization is currently under preparation. In addition, they are learning how to raise funds for the trip.
While EIC is excited about this growth, Barlow said that they have had their share of hindrances.
“Starting from nothing is always tough,” she said. “But the support of the campus and the spirit of work is what I like to call kingdom work.”
EIC saw its population drop from 81 students to 51 between semesters. Barlow acknowledged that this was unfortunate but said that students left for the same reasons they leave typical universities: financial and academic struggles.
Looking toward next year, EIC is hoping to broaden its recruiting efforts. The program offers rigorous, affordable education to anyone in an urban setting. Most of this year’s students are African-American. Barlow hopes that the second class will be more diverse.
Overall, reaction to EIC has been mixed. Barlow said that she has received calls from students who are extremely thankful for the opportunity and have experienced true life changes. Yet, Barlow has also had discouraging calls.
Involvement with the St. Davids campus has varied, with some students spending most of their free time at the larger campus, while others feel separated.
According to first-year Andre Robinson, the separation is not as bad as some may think.
“At first it was tough because people don’t think you are an Eastern student, but not anymore,” he said. “I come up to the main campus a lot and for Bible study on Monday nights.”
Robinson also wants to begin a Christian fraternity. He came up with the idea last year when applying and did some research before deciding to start one.
As of now, Robinson is finding out the level of interest and dedication from students, at both EIC and the St. Davids campus.
He also hopes to possibly spread the fraternity branch to other interested schools and get its own building.
“I would love to have a separate place where we could bring high school students and chill, watch movies and have Bible studies,” he said.
Robinson, along with fellow first-year EIC students Rameen Stewart and Lawrence Culbreth, also had the chance to join the men’s basketball team.
“[Getting rides] was not too bad; not easy, but it did not get to the point where it would stop us from playing,” Robinson said.
While Robinson and Culbreth have opted to focus more on studies and work this semester, Stewart continues to play, even though the schedules between basketball and EIC conflict from time to time.
Despite the present challenges, Barlow said that she has a passion and high hopes for the program. “I don’t do this for a paycheck but for God’s purpose,” she said. “I feel such a commitment to pour out to this generation [that] I would do this for free.”
Overall, EIC hopes to be a place where students can find out who they are, what their purpose is and how that correlates to what they are learning. According to Barlow, that’s what education is all about.