Videoconferencing pays off for ECSU, community

Kesha Williams
September 27, 2011

videoconferencing-pays-of

When Elizabeth City State University signed on to participate in North Carolina Central University School of Law's TALIAS videoconferencing program last May, officials believed the program had the potential to impact not only ECSU students, but also residents of the Albemarle region.

To date, the impact has been a positive one. Students and area residents alike learn from seminars on timely topics ranging from starting a business and workplace rights to foreclosure prevention and veterans' law. The programs have provided help to individuals, guided students toward careers in law and business and enhanced ECSU's visibility in the community.

TALIAS stands for Technology Assisted Legal Instruction and Services, with seminars originating from the NCCU law school in Durham. Through the use of upgraded broadband technology, the seminars are enjoyed interactively via videoconferencing at ECSU and three other Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina. The seminars are free, open to the public and attracting a growing cross-section of people.

Daphny M. Sampson, TALIAS site manager at ECSU, has seen the program's benefit both to students and the community. About 19 people - the greatest number yet at ECSU -- attended the seminar entitled, "Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Future Entrepreneur." Among the attendees were three students from ECSU's Walter R. Davis School of Business & Economics.

"We had people attend from college age to retirement age," Sampson said. "The response was so good because of the state of the economy. People are thinking if they can't be hired, then maybe they can start their own business. They can make something happen rather than wait for something to happen."

Leading the seminar was Daron D. Satterfield, an attorney with Nichols & Satterfield in Durham. He also answered questions from attendees at ECSU and Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T University and Winston-Salem State University, the other universities in the TALIAS program. Participants at ECSU expressed interest in writing books, marketing board games, starting a cupcake business and becoming a wedding planner and events coordinator. Sampson said the information was both timely and relevant.

"A gentleman came to me after the seminar to say how great it is that the university is doing this for the community," Sampson said. "I agree. People everywhere need resources in order to help themselves. The program also lets the community know that we're not only teach class, but we're a part of the community as well."

Nearly a dozen people have turned out for four foreclosure prevention seminars held since TALIAS kicked off in May. A fifth seminar on the topic is scheduled for Sept. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. At ECSU, the seminars are held in Moore Hall, Room 124. As always, if individuals attending the seminars request a one-on-one teleconference with an attorney, it can be arranged.

That happened following a recent workshop, "Wills and Advanced Planning for Later Life," sponsored in conjunction with the Zeta Kappa Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Open to community members with limited financial resources, the workshop was part of the sorority's economic security initiative.

After a general session, the workshop's five participants split up into separate rooms for private, one-on-one sessions conducted virtually via laptop webcams with NCCU law students. The law students then drafted wills, medical and legal powers of attorney and living wills for the attendees. Attorney G. Wendell Spivey of Elizabeth City and four notaries public later donated their services to execute the documents.

This type of legal service normally would cost at least $700 for all four documents, officials said. The participants received them without charge.

"It was truly a partnership," said Janice W. Baker, ECSU Foundation accounting manager and a member of AKA who helped organize the workshop. She lauded the tremendous efforts by TALIAS staff at ECSU and NCCU, the help of information technology specialists at both institutions, NCCU law students and the legal professionals involved.

"They provided an outreach opportunity for our service organization that wouldn't have existed except at an exorbitant cost," she said. "They are changing lives in the community through TALIAS."

Another goal of the TALIAS program is to increase interest in NCCU's law school program. Currently, one student at ECSU, senior Fletcher Peoples, is enrolled in "Intro to Law and the Legal Process," a videoconference class taught at NCCU. Students from all the TALIAS participating institutions are enrolled.

Peoples, a former attorney general in ECSU's Student Government Association, is interested in attending law school, Sampson said.

"This is a great opportunity for her and others who may be considering law," Sampson said.

NCCU will offer a "Legal Writing" course next semester through TALIAS.