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February 10, 2012

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From Finance to Healthcare, Student Retrains for Growing Field

From Finance to Healthcare, Student Retrains for Growing Field

After a decade of working in the financial field, Pamela Campbell suddenly found herself without a job. Although being laid off was a shock to her, it also brought a welcomed opportunity for a new start. Pamela realized that she wasn’t happy in finance anymore and felt like she needed a change in her career, and now was the perfect time to go back to school for training in a new field.

Since several of her family members worked in the medical field, Pamela thought she would look into it and liked the projected growth for the career and the many opportunities in different aspects of healthcare. “I wanted to do more behind the scenes,” she explained, “I wanted to be in a management position.” She found the health information technology (HIT) degree program at the Cleveland Campus would help her in that goal and took the next big step by walking through the doors of the campus.

“I was afraid,” she admitted, “I thought I was too old; I thought I wouldn’t fit in; I thought I would be so far behind that I wouldn’t be able to catch up.” But she proved all her fears and doubts wrong, making the Dean’s List in her very first term. She attributes much of her success to the positive attitude of the American National University community, the “yes-you-can attitude,” she calls it. She said that it was the instructors that gave her confidence in her abilities. “The way they teach,” she explained, “they’re for you – they want to help you.” It helped that she had that same support from her two grown children: “They were truly excited,” she says with a smile, “They have been encouraging me for years to go [to college].”

Now almost through her first year, Pamela states: “I’m really enjoying it.” Despite it being completely different than what she is used to in finance, she has found the HIT training engaging and exciting. “I’m looking forward to the externship,” she shared, “I want to get in the field.” But she doesn’t plan on stopping there. After she starts her new career, she plans on continuing her education and working towards a bachelor’s degree.

The next big step for Pamela will be graduation in 2013: “I’m looking forward to the year 2013 to see what my future is for that year,” she said. Remembering what it felt to take those first frightening steps into the campus, Pamela encourages other students who are considering returning to school and feeling unsure. “It’s your future – your career,” she said, “It took me ten years to walk through the door… You can do it.”

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Bank Vice President Reveals the Tools of the Trade for Business Students

Bank Vice President Reveals the Tools of the Trade for Business Students

On February 1st, students and faculty at the Columbus Campus were honored to have as a guest Willie Wheat, a vice president at Fifth Third Bank. Business Chair and Instructor Greg Kontras invited him to speak to students in the business programs. Mr. Wheat spoke to the audience about the general operations of Fifth Third Bank. He touched on marketing strategies, mortgages, the various types of financing, how the bank can work with small businesses, numerous kinds of bank accounts offered, and investing. Additionally, he spoke of how he came to work at Fifth Third while he was still a college student, and how he continued with them after completing his education.

Mr. Wheat emphasized the importance of education in his field: “It’s important to be a master of your field.” Participants of the program appreciated the presentation. Sandra Collinsworth, a student in the business administration-management degree program, is just one example. She said, “I learned a lot about banking, investing, and business loans.”

Business students are pictured with guest speaker Willie Wheat (center), a vice president for Fifth Third Bank.

Manufacturing Business Gets New Hire From Skilled Student

Manufacturing Business Gets New Hire From Skilled Student

Genevieve Trusso will soon complete her coursework, earning two associate degrees in business administration-accounting and management. She came to American National University in 2009 in order to gain the skills she needed for a more lucrative career. A busy mother and a full-time student, Genevieve did not waste any time starting her education so she could begin her new career in the accounting department at Permco, Inc., a Streetsboro company that manufactures high pressure hydraulic gear pumps, motors, and other accessories.

Instructor Karen Slayko is a controller at Permco and when she decided to grow her staff, she asked business department chair Norman Katz for his recommendations. Norman sent her some résumés, including Genevieve’s. Genevieve fit well with the Permco culture, and she excelled in the panel interview, ultimately leading to Karen’s decision to hire her.

Genevieve has been with Permco for a year now, and she is anxious to complete her degrees. “The small class size really helped me to keep my grades up. I got a lot of attention from my instructors, and that made it easier for me to learn.” Genevieve speaks fondly of her American National University experience. She is eager to settle in to her new career with new credentials. Her success is a source of pride for all at the Akron Area Campus.

Genevieve Trusso is pictured (sitting) with her boss Karen Slayko at Permco.

Optimistic Graduate Plans for Success, Fulfills Her Goal as Pharmacy Tech

Optimistic Graduate Plans for Success, Fulfills Her Goal as Pharmacy Tech

In August of last year, Emily Shine was featured in the student spotlight section of the National News, on the front cover, for making the decision to invest in her education through the pharmacy technician diploma program at the South Bend Campus to better support her family in the wake of a troubling economy. Her time and effort has paid off. Emily has now been hired by CVS Pharmacy as a pharmacy technician. She is also continuing her education in the pharmacy technician associate’s degree program at the campus.

Emily’s drive to succeed is evident in her accomplishments on campus as she was named Student of the Term, won the campus’s Veterans Day writing contest, worked as a federal work-study student, and graduated with Honors. She also won the college’s 125th Anniversary photo contest on Facebook, with her creative collage showing her hard at work in the pharmacy lab.

Emily extended her educational expertise to the professional field during her externship at Walgreens. Her supervisor, Ray Housing, said he was impressed with Emily’s abilities. “She did not need much assistance as she was doing the job like a seasoned veteran,” he said. “Emily is very self-assured, mature, professional, and well educated in the pharmacy field.” The externship proved to be an outstanding opportunity for Emily when she received a permanent job there.

The first steps Emily took toward her goal have put her on a path of continued success. There is no limit to the opportunities that can unfold with continuing education and real-world work experience.

To read Emily Shine’s August cover story, see 

Graduate Emily Shine is pictured putting her skills to work at her new job in the pharmacy at CVS.

Indiana Scholars from Big Brothers-Big Sisters Experience Secondary Education at National

Indiana Scholars from Big Brothers-Big Sisters Experience Secondary Education at National

The Fort Wayne Campus recently hosted 15 Indiana 21st-Century Scholars from Big Brothers-Big Sisters on January 18th. The Scholars were exploring their career education options and were excited by the tour of the campus, seeing first-hand the classrooms, labs, and students that make up the campus. The Scholars were also provided a presentation by Community Resource Coordinator Megan Ford highlighting National’s many features and benefits as well as the available career training programs at the campus. Traditionally working with youth aged 7-18, the Indiana Big Brothers-Big Sisters group is in their first year of a new pilot program working with students transitioning from high school to college.

In order to be an Indiana 21st Century Scholar, 8th-grade students must sign a contract to remain drug and alcohol free, as well as maintain a high grade point average during high school. The 15 visiting scholars had initially entered the same high school but, due to budget cuts, the high school was closed and the attending students were relocated to surrounding schools.

RED Brings Heart Disease Awareness to National Students

RED Brings Heart Disease Awareness to National Students

February has been celebrated as American Heart Month since 1963 to urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. This year, the Lynchburg Campus decided to go “red” and help raise awareness for the American Heart Association. Guest speaker Allison Brooks was on campus to present an educational program on cardiovascular disease in women. She explained to students that heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. Staff, faculty and students were encouraged to wear red, students put up an informative bulletin board, and heart healthy “red” snacks like apples and strawberries were made available.

Students, faculty, and staff at the Lynchburg Campus are pictured wearing red in honor of American Heart Month.

Black History Month Celebrated in Speech, Dance, and Food

Black History Month Celebrated in Speech, Dance, and Food

February 1st marks the beginning of Black History Month, an observance of black history, culture, and significant persons. To celebrate, the Roanoke Valley Campus held a Black History Appreciation event for students, faculty, and guests. It included a stirring recitation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech by Leo Dow. Also included was a rhythm and dance performance by the famous Westside Elementary School Step Team and a message on the importance of voting by guest speaker Sherman Lea, Vice Mayor of the City of Roanoke. Additionally, Stark Jones, the owner of J&B Restaurant in Roanoke, prepared “soul food” for participants and guests to sample.

During the event, individuals important to black history were projected in the background, several of which were also represented on leaflets describing their contributions and accompanied by inspiring quotes. Before his recitation, Leo Dow professed some of the history of Black History Month; Sadie Powell, chair of the Black History Appreciation Committee, shared the origins of ‘stepping’ prior to introducing the Westside Elementary School Step Team.

Black History Month officially began in 1976. It was expanded from Negro History Week, founded by historian and educator Carter G. Woodson in 1926. February was chosen because it is the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom fought for the abolition of slavery in America.

“Nothing is going to be handed to you. You have to make things happen.” –Florence Griffith Joyner (1959-1998), Olympic Champion

Each year, the campus makes time to emphasize Black History Month. It provides the opportunity to learn about and reflect on the history of blacks in America and to create awareness not only for black culture and identity but also for the idea that the American people are diverse, coming from many proud backgrounds and cultures.

The Westside Elementary School Step Team is pictured performing one of several stepping routines.

Business Administration Skillset Provides an Edge in Management Opportunities

Business Administration Skillset Provides an Edge in Management Opportunities

Student Tracey Houchins completed her business administration-management associate’s degree at the Martinsville Campus in November of last year and now she works as a branch manager for Woodforest National Bank at the Christiansburg office. After completing her associate degree, Tracey decided to enroll in the College’s online bachelor’s degree program to give her a competitive edge in the banking industry.

At the bank, Tracey provides customer service to her customers and handles all of the management duties that come with her branch, including teller audits, supply ordering, cost containment, training, and other operational duties. Tracey gives credit to her instructors for helping to prepare her for her managerial duties, saying the courses and the classroom experiences helped reinforce her supervisory skills.

During her time at National, Tracey was well liked by her peers and instructors. Department chair Wayne Mitchell said Tracey was a joy to teach. Her classroom work proves she will continue to be a great asset to Woodforest National Bank and in her future career opportunities.

Students Attend Mock Surgery Performed by National Instructor

Students Attend Mock Surgery Performed by National Instructor

On January 31st, Surgical Technology Program Director Karen Sherback and students from the surgical technology program at the Harrisonburg Campus had the opportunity to make a positive impression with state legislators.

In an effort to garner support for Senate Bill 313 which would require newly hired surgical technologists to be certified, the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) hosted a mock surgery for Virginia legislators and their staff in partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth State Assembly of Surgical Technologists and the Association of Surgical Assistants (ASA). AST President Margaret Rodriguez and ASA President Dennis Stover took this opportunity to discuss the importance of surgical technologists and surgical assistants during operations.

Dr. Brian Curtin, of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, led the surgical team which included Karen Sherback from the Harrisonburg Campus. During the mock surgery, Karen performed in the scrub role, in a simulated total knee replacement. Many students from across the state of Virginia were in attendance, including several National students who came out in full force to watch their instructor perform. They also had the opportunity to speak with legislators. Many Virginia legislators and their staff attended the mock surgery event and were impressed by the integral roles of every member of the surgical team.

Students, faculty, and staff are pictured during their trip to see legislators and garner support for Senate Bill 313.

Ten Years In, Student Takes Career to New Level with Education

Ten Years In, Student Takes Career to New Level with Education

Polly Ramey had worked as a certified nursing assistant for almost 10 years when she decided to advance her career. “I liked taking care of people but the pay was not always that great. I decided to go back to school to further my medical career,” she said.

When a friend decided to visit the Richmond Campus, Polly asked if she could tag along: “Next thing I know, I’m enrolling.”

She chose the medical assisting degree program in order to improve upon her health care experience. During her final term of the program, she was placed as an extern in Dr. John Gillespie’s internal medicine practice. She impressed her supervisors so much during her externship that on the last day of her externship, she was offered a permanent position in the office.

“We’ve had a great experience with Polly. She’s done a really good job,” said office manager Diane Clontz. “[At first] I was dreading having a student but she helped us out so much,” she said.

Polly’s work in the office includes a wide-range of clinical and administrative duties. She checks in patients, checks their vitals, gives injections, performs EKG tests and completes discharge orders. She feels that her classes at American National University prepared her well for her career. “I liked the class size. It wasn’t too big and there were good teachers who would always help you if you had questions,” she said.

According to Polly, the instructors’ professional experience was a big plus in the classroom. “They would put their own life experiences into the lecture so that you could actually get a really good grasp of what was being taught to you,” she explained.

Polly said that her new job gives her more time with her family than she’s had in the past. She is proud to have set an example to her children who saw her doing homework. Polly frequently recommends National to others. “I got a good education and was able to apply it at work. I was able to better myself,” she said. “If I can do it, they can do it.”

Medical Students Learn about Organ Donations

Medical Students Learn about Organ Donations

On February 2nd, Charlotte Wong, a representative from Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), visited the Richmond Campus to speak to students in Instructor Frances Click’s medical terminology class about organ donation. Ms. Wong provided a wealth of information such as how many organs and tissues can be donated, how long an organ can survive before it has to be transplanted, and how it is determined which organs are viable for donation.

Ms. Wong also spoke about the importance of organ donation and told the class that there are currently over 110,000 individuals awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. A new name is added to the list every 14 minutes and 18 people die each day due to a lack of donations.

Ms. Wong discounted myths and helped to alleviate fears that many of the students had regarding organ donation.

“I’ve always heard negative things about becoming an organ donor, but Ms. Wong’s presentation changed my mind,” said Yvonne Clinton, a medical assisting student who attended the class. “Becoming an organ donor changes so many lives.”

To learn more about organ and tissue donation, visit the KODA website at

Students at the Richmond Campus are pictured learning about organ donation from guest speaker Charlotte Wong.

Medical Student Starts Career, Continues Education to Broaden Skillset

Medical Student Starts Career, Continues Education to Broaden Skillset

Ashley Burgess was a stay-at-home mom who wanted a better life for herself and her daughter. After discovering the American National University website, she enrolled in the medical billing and coding diploma program at the Pikeville Campus and began working toward a successful career.

Ashley has now reached her goal, having begun her career as a unit secretary in the cardiac unit of Pikeville Medical Center. Even though she has a new career, she decided to continue learning so she could open more doors for herself. She is now enrolled in the campus’s medical assisting degree program.

Ashley said that the professional experience that instructors like Sandra Cline, Pamela Newsome, and Bobbi Souerdike bring to the classroom helps her to envision her own future and focus on both her education and career goals.

“American National University has helped me better myself and has introduced me to friends that are like family to me.” Ashley said. “My family is extremely proud of me and all that I have been able to accomplish. I am glad to be getting a great education while working at a job that truly makes me happy.”

Mobile Career Center Brings a Variety of Job Opportunities to Students

Mobile Career Center Brings a Variety of Job Opportunities to Students

The Central Kentucky Career Center recently visited the Lexington Campus to share job openings with our upcoming graduates and students. Tony Horn, Mobile Career Center Coordinator, arrived on campus with the Center’s mobile unit equipped with computers and resources available to all job seekers

Mr. Horn said, “We are proud to inform everyone in the Bluegrass that employment opportunities are increasing every week – and not just minimum-wage jobs.” He went on to explain that the Mobile Career Center has access to available jobs in in manufacturing, management, accounting, health care, and government that are offering good wages and benefits. He emphasized, “We are NOT the ‘unemployment’ office but are actually the ‘employment’ office, and are here to help folks find careers.”

Student Ashley Clark is one of many to take advantage of the visit from the Mobile Career Center. She will graduate this month with an associate’s degree in business administration-management and was eager to research the available positions related to her field. Mr. Horn was available to everyone that visited the career center to provide job search instruction and assistance with résumés.

Student Ashley Clark is pictured visiting Career Center Mobile’s Tony Horn.

Medical Assisting Students Assist with Medical Examinations at Local High School

Medical Assisting Students Assist with Medical Examinations at Local High School

Students from the medical assisting degree program at the Louisville Campus recently visited Iroquois High School with Director of Health Care Education Bonnie Kiefer to assist with sports physicals for student athletes. Under Bonnie’s guidance, National students practiced the skills they learned in class and captured the athletes’ medical histories and performed vision, urinalysis, and vital sign screenings.

Student Angela Kildoo was glad to have this hands-on opportunity: “I’m getting ready to graduate and I go into my externship next term so [this gave] me more experience.” Bonnie agreed and said that she likes to find opportunities for students to get involved in community service and practice their skills: “It [offers students] great experience and it shows the community that we’re interested in them,” she explained.

Medical assisting student Stacy Chambers is pictured checking a high school student’s blood pressure.

Student Makes an Impression during Externship, Offered Job at Medical Office

Student Makes an Impression during Externship, Offered Job at Medical Office

Danville Campus student Tamala Williams will soon graduate from the medical assisting associate degree program, a testament to the expertise she already puts to use in her new career. She currently works as a medical assistant for Kentucky Family Care, a position she obtained during her externship.

Before attending American National University, Tamala was the deli manager at Valley View IGA. Already considering advancing her education, her sister encouraged her to take the first step toward success.
Tamala initially chose to attend American National University because of the friendly, supportive staff. She liked the “…atmosphere and friendliness of the personnel [at National].”

With her plan for success set in motion, Tamala performed exceptionally as a student, making the dean’s list every term. She credits the individual instruction she received throughout her classes. Tamala said, “Teachers were so well knowledgeable in their area of expertise that they were able to answer any questions I asked. I never got an ‘I don’t know’.”

The dedication Tamala showed in her classroom studies transferred seamlessly into her hands-on externship. Director of Health Care Education Virginia Patterson stated that, “Dr. Reynolds was so pleased with Tamala and her performance at her externship; she was hired before her externship was finished.”

The Kentucky office is a fast-paced, general family practice that sees approximately 80 patients per day. Tamala works the middle shift along with two other medical assistants. She is responsible for a variety of medical office duties including greeting and informing patients, preparing them for X-rays or blood samples, managing records and insurance forms, scheduling appointments, and taking vital signs, among many other duties.

Tamala is not only motivated by her own desire to succeed, but is also an outstanding role model for her family, including three sons, two grandchildren, and her husband of sixteen years.

The National News is a biweekly publication designed to share the success and academic accomplishments of students and graduates from American National University and National College. For more information, contact the Communications Department.

In accordance with the regulations of the Tennessee Higher Education Council, all references to "American National University" refer to "National College" in the state of Tennessee.