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April 20, 2012

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The English Language Institute Holds Graduation Ceremony for ESL Program

The English Language Institute Holds Graduation Ceremony for ESL Program

The National College English as a Second Language (ESL) program held a graduation ceremony on Monday, April 9. Four students graduated from the program, and twenty students received level completion certificates.

The ESL Program was started in 2011 and offers students the opportunity to study English before continuing into other academic programs or careers. Students must complete six eight-week terms to graduate, reflecting fundamental English fluency.

Many academic programs require completion of an ESL program or a certain score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before accepting students into their colleges. During the graduation ceremony, students were encouraged to think of this program as just the tip of the iceberg in their academic and career journeys.

This is especially true for students like Oyuntuya “Vicky” Sanjjav, from Mongolia, who is currently enrolled in the ESL program. She began taking classes at the Roanoke Valley Campus a year ago, majoring in business administration. But when Vicky decided to switch to a program in the medical field, she needed to improve her English before having to learn difficult medical terminology. She hopes to continue on at National in the medical program and then enter into a nursing program.

Similarly, Saudi Arabian student Ahmad Alali just completed the ESL program and now hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree before continuing on to law school. He is the father of a new baby and plans to stay home next term so his wife, Marwah, can take classes in the ESL program too. Ahmad did not attend college in Saudi Arabia, spending his time working instead. But now he hopes to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer. “I wasted time in my country,” he remarked. “So now I get to make it up.”

PHOTO: (l to r) Ahmad Alali and Vicky Sanjjav during the ESL graduation ceremony.

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Inspired by Mother – Student Finds New Career

Inspired by Mother – Student Finds New Career

Candace Cremeans (pictured) will have two reasons to celebrate when she walks across the stage at the Danville, Kentucky Campus graduation ceremony next month. She’ll be celebrating her associate’s degree and her new career as a registered medical assistant at Baptist Cardiology Danville.

“I am ecstatic. This is the first time that I actually get to have a graduation,” said Candace, who was home schooled. “You have this feeling of accomplishment that you’ve finished something that you’ve worked so hard for,” she said.

Candace said that her mother, Karen Wethington, who graduated from the medical billing and coding diploma program at National, encouraged her to get her degree. “She was definitely my inspiration,” Karen said of her mother. “She was 48 when she went back to school. I told myself if she could do it after so many years of being out of school then…surely I could do this, too,” she explained.

As a single mom of two young children, Candace found that National offered the flexible schedule that she needed to be able to work full time, go to school full time, and care for her children. “[National] does help single mothers who already have tight schedules,” she said.

Candace feels more than prepared for her new career. She said she got the training she needed at National to be successful. “The instructors were great. They really did prepare me for what was to come—for my career,” she recalled.

Her new job has helped provide her family with a higher quality of life. “We are just so much happier. Financially it has bettered me and my children,” said Candace.

She plans to continue her education and eventually become a registered nurse. “You get that sense that you never want to quit learning,” she said. She encourages those considering going to college to do their research. “Every choice is different. I just know that National was the right choice for me."

Campus Hosts Blood Drive to Help Save Lives

Campus Hosts Blood Drive to Help Save Lives

On April 16th, the Richmond Campus hosted a blood drive for the Kentucky Blood Center. Director of Health Care Education Paula Beth Ciolek organized the drive and encouraged students, staff, and faculty to give a life-saving donation. More than 20 people donated including medical assisting student Ashleigh Pugh (pictured).

Ashleigh is a universal blood donor with an ‘O’ negative blood type. Being a universal blood donor means anyone is able to use the blood that Ashleigh donates. She tries to donate at least 3 to 4 times a year. “It’s a good feeling knowing that I can help someone.

Not only was it an interesting and educational experience, but it involved the whole campus in a community support effort.

Students and Graduates get a Foot-in-the Door at Campus Career Fair

Students and Graduates get a Foot-in-the Door at Campus Career Fair

Each American National University campus Career Center holds career fairs several times a year to bring employers on site to meet, interview, and potentially hire students and graduates. The Florence Campus held a mini-job fair on Wednesday, April 11th that featured area employers who were eager to talk with attendees about the positions they had available.

Danielle Cooper, a graduate from the medical office assistant diploma program, was among many to visit the job fair. She said that she felt that it was a great opportunity to meet and network with human resource representatives. “I got a couple of applications to fill out and hopefully I’ll get an interview,” she said.

Sandy Richter, with Home Instead Senior Care, said that they’ve recently hired Crystal Panko, a medical assisting student, and that they’d like to hire others from the program. She said that the caregiver positions that they have available are a great way for students going into the medical field to gain valuable experience. “We’re looking for someone who’s very customer service oriented, someone who’s friendly and someone who really has a heart for people,” explained Ms. Richter.

Kim Rose-Ulrich, a workforce development specialist for One Stop Northern Kentucky, shared job search information and advice with students and graduates attending the fair. “Networking is the number one way to find a job so job fairs are definitely important,” she said.

The Florence Campus will hold their next job fair in conjunction with One Stop Northern Kentucky on Thursday, May 24 from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. A large number of employers are expected for the fair. Students, graduates and the public are invited to attend.

Graduate Danielle Cooper is pictured talking with Sandy Richter from Home Instead Senior Health Care.

Graduate is Fulfilled in New Career

Graduate is Fulfilled in New Career

Rebecca Lail (pictured), a graduate from the Lexington Campus, decided when she turned 30 that it was time for an upgrade from a job to a career. She had worked in retail for 15 years and knew that she wanted something more.

She dropped by American National University one day and found everyone from admissions to student services to be extremely helpful. So she enrolled in the medical assisting associate’s degree program. “I never thought medical was what I would do but I absolutely love it,” said Rebecca, who now works as a registered medical assistant for a large colorectal surgical and gastroenterology practice.

She liked that National’s pace and rigor kept her motivated. “It helped knowing that if I didn’t come, I couldn’t finish,” she said. “[There are] a lot of things to learn but if you’re willing to do the work, you get a lot out of it.”

As part of her program, she was placed in an externship at a family practice. “The first day or two I was watching and learning—after that I was doing everything…it was all hands-on,” she recalled.

Finding her new job wasn’t that hard with the help of the campus’s career center director who helped her develop her résumé. She has worked at the practice for almost a year now, and her day-to-day duties include taking vitals, assisting with minor surgeries, and administrative work.

She finds her work at the practice to be fulfilling. “It’s actually a career…it’s not just a job to suffice.” It has also been very beneficial to her family. “The education has increased my pay. My husband has been able to go back to school now while I work,” she said.

She plans to continue her education in the future and to get her nursing degree. “If you love something, stick to it and it will always work out,” she advised.

Student Activities Council President is Finding her Niche in Business

Student Activities Council President is Finding her Niche in Business

Nyata Spence (pictured), a student in the business administration-management associate’s degree program at the Louisville Campus, is taking the skills she learned in class and applying them to her new job as 3rd key manager for City Gear, a men’s clothing store.

“I always wanted to get into management but I didn’t have the credentials… until I came to National and was able to get some of those classes on my résumé,” she explained. “I recently took Principles of Marketing and I really fell in love with the whole idea and concept of marketing. Who are you selling to? How can you get them to come and buy your product? I try to use those tactics and what I learned here and implement it there so that I can get better sales.”

Nyata is also a work-study student for the campus where she assists primarily in the student services office. She said that working at the campus has helped her put the skills that she’s learned in class to use and has given her valuable experience. In addition, Nyata serves as president of the campus’s Student Activities Council. “It has been challenging,” said Nyata who has been instrumental in helping to increase student participation in activities on campus. She said that the position has taught her leadership and organizational skills. “It gives me stepping stones and building blocks to where I want to be,” she said.

Nyata came to National because she wanted to emulate her grandmother who has a strong work ethic. “Her being a strong black woman made me want to do something. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I knew that I could bring more to the table,” said Nyata.

She likes the family atmosphere that National provides. “It’s really open door. If you have a problem or any question there’s more than one person that you can go to about your concern. Everyone’s been real open and supportive. I think that if I went to a bigger college I wouldn’t get that individual attention,” she said.

Nyata strives to be upbeat and positive in everything that she does. “I just can’t believe this is my life,” she said. “All I keep seeing is myself walking across that stage and hearing my name. I did it once with my GED and now I’m ready for my second time with my associate’s degree and then hopefully my bachelor’s degree. If God puts it in your heart, don’t let anything stop you.”

ESL Host Family Program Enriches Students and Families

ESL Host Family Program Enriches Students and Families

Even though he just turned 20, Satian “David” Preamjaisanchat has a big goal: he wants to improve his English in order to go to college and return to Thailand to help his mother run an orphanage. In April, David completed a term of the English as a Second Language program at the Roanoke Valley Campus to prepare him for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

"The only reason I used English before when I was in Thailand was in English class," he explained. "We speak Lahu, and do not have much visitors from America or people that speak English."

David is from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. His mother, Tutu, is the Thailand director of the Asia's Hope Foundation Orphanage, which you can see on YouTube at In addition to providing care for the past six years for about 200 orphans from different tribes, Tutu helps widows learn how to do a silk worm project and to learn to weave in order to earn money, David explained.

He wants to go to college to become a music pastor. “My mom is a pastor. I just want to let my mom have a rest," he said.

While studying ESL, David is living with Salem Fire Chief Pat Counts, his wife Kristeen, and 16-year-old daughter Sara. He calls them dad, mom, and his sister. David lived with them before when he was a foreign exchange student attending Salem High School in 2007-2008. In his case, it was his host family who arranged for him to come to Salem then and now. They first met when the Counts family was in Thailand for a mission project with former Salem Church of Christ Pastor Mike Flinchum, who is now in Thailand doing evangelistic work full time.

"It was my dad (Pat) who contacted National College about me studying English as a Second Language," David explained.

David says the program has helped improve his fluency and understanding of English. "It gives me practice. The teachers here are very nice, and very patient, very kind to us," he said, referring to other ESL students.

David particularly likes the guest speakers and watching current event programs such as "60 Minutes." Students discuss the topics and answer questions, similar to what they will face on the TOEFL, about what is happening.

Lena Gunville, a host family specialist at National, her husband, and three sons are hosts for Anas Alazaam from Saudi Arabia. "He moved in just after Christmas and he's so much part of the family now," said Lena. "He goes everywhere with us, to soccer tournaments, for a week camping at the lake. This summer we are planning a trip so Anas can experience more of the United States," she added.

National is looking for host families for other students. Families should have a private bedroom for the student and access to a bathroom, and a willingness to share their culture with the student. No long-term commitments are required. There is a stipend for host families; some families share meals with their student, and students compensate them for groceries. Otherwise, students are responsible for their own meals.

Pat Counts encourages other people to consider hosting ESL students. "I would recommend it to anyone who has the desire to reach out to these students who are so far away from home. It's a very rewarding experience to be able to share cultures with those from other countries." And David added of his experience, "It feels like home here."

Satian “David” Preamjaisanchat is pictured in the top photo with his ESL Certificate of Completion at the graduation ceremony on April 9th. In the bottom photo David is pictured with his host family Salem Fire Chief Pat Counts, Kristeen, and daughter Sara.

Graduate Perseveres with Help from Instructors

Graduate Perseveres with Help from Instructors

Graduate Sherica Abbitt (pictured) knew she always wanted to be in a career that would give her the opportunity to help people. She had friends and family who worked in the medical field, but she just wasn’t sure how to get started. She thought she was taking steps in the right direction when she enrolled in a community college, but then she heard about National College.

She visited the Lynchburg Campus and the admissions representative talked to her extensively about her decision which put her at ease about taking the necessary steps to starting her new career. This made the process of enrolling at National much easier than she had anticipated. She enrolled in the medical assisting degree program.

When she felt discouraged, she remembered what Instructor Judy Bateman told her, “Nothing should be easy, everything should be a challenge.” After a couple of terms, she considered giving up, but Director of Healthcare Education Sue Coleman encouraged her to continue. With the encouragement and support of her instructors, she has a degree and is now working as a medical assistant.

Sherica says that during her externship, she discovered her favorite part of her job is triaging patients – checking patients’ vitals such as blood pressure. She wants to go further in the medical field, but her plan is to work in her job for the next several years and fulfill one of her dreams to buy her own home. With her determination and a good career underway, she will certainly achieve her dream and more.

Student Decides to Change Careers After Lay Off

Student Decides to Change Careers After Lay Off

Vicky Lilly (pictured), medical assisting student at the Princeton Campus, had to make a career change when her husband became disabled and she lost her job as a medical records clerk. She worked for 18 years as a medical transcriptionist and while she enjoyed that part of the medical field, she wanted a job where she could make a difference in someone's life. She decided to pursue a new career and go to college in her 40s.

Since she lost her job and decided to make a career switch, Vicky applied for tuition assistance from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program. “I was placed on a waiting list,” she explained. She was on the list for over a year but she didn’t let that stop her. She sought out student loans so she could begin classes right away. She recently learned that she was approved for WIA funding. “I was so excited and relieved that the funding finally became available.”

Vicky wants to set an example for her children, “I want [them] to say, ‘Hey, my mommy made a difference in our life. She accomplished obtaining an associate's degree in medical assisting after being out of school for 28 years.’”

Vicky is grateful for the opportunity to achieve her education goals and she has been working hard to maintain a good grade point average. She said, “I have enjoyed the staff at National and they have been great to help anytime that I have asked. They are very supportive and help calm my fears. Again I am so grateful to the WIA program for helping me pay for my education.”

Campus Celebrates 125 Years with a ‘Day of Difference’

Campus Celebrates 125 Years with a ‘Day of Difference’

On Saturday, March 31st, the Roanoke Valley Campus celebrated National College’s 125th Anniversary with a ‘Day of Difference.’ Students, staff, and faculty joined together on this day to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of the Roanoke Valley.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing ministry. To date they have built over 200,000 homes and provided shelter to over 1,000,000 people. More importantly they have constructed 168 homes in Roanoke city and since 2005 have been building in Roanoke county and Vinton as well. The campus worked together on this day to build a home for a Roanoke area family.

“This was a very rewarding and eventful day,” said admissions representative and organizer of the event David Tofano. “The college really came together in this important project. “

Students Dawn Thurman and Anita Robertson are pictured during the Roanoke Valley Campus’s Day of Difference.

Campus Raises Record Dollar Amount for the March of Dimes

Campus Raises Record Dollar Amount for the March of Dimes

The Harrisonburg Campus has been a long-time supporter of the March of Dimes by raising money and participating in the March for Babies walk-a-thon. This year, the staff, faculty, and students got creative with new ideas for raising money for the walk that was held on April 14th. Donations were collected from variety of local businesses and used as prizes to encourage participation in a bingo night/bake sale event on campus. Donated prizes include products from Mary Kay, Avon, Pampered Chef, and Thirty One, gift certificates for bowling and mini golf, and jewelry from Premier and Lia Sofia. Through these fundraising events, the team raised more than $1,150.

Pictured during the March for Babies walk fundraiser are Administrative Assistant Kari Miller, Director of Admissions Shara Graham, Admissions Representative Katie Newman, and student Megan McDaniel.

Campus Career Fair Joins Newly Trained Job Seekers with Potential Employers

Campus Career Fair Joins Newly Trained Job Seekers with Potential Employers

The Columbus Campus was full of chatter and excitement last week during the spring career fair. Representatives from 28 businesses were in attendance to meet with students to discuss available job openings. Organized by Career Center Director Detra Wilson, the fair was a big success with many contacts made, 4 on-the-spot interviews, and 2 follow-up interviews scheduled for National students.

Craig Palmer, student in the office technology professional program, spoke with seven vendors, all of whom were hiring in his field. He said, “I was really excited to talk with so many vendors. American National University has refreshed my memory about so many things… from my computer software knowledge to dress for success skills and more.”

Jessica Hurst, student in the pharmacy technology program, spoke with three vendors – two of which offered her on-the-spot interviews. She was visibly excited about the prospect of a job contact she made that may lead to an opportunity for a part-time job while she is finishing her degree requirements.

Student Craig Palmer is pictured speaking to representatives from area businesses.

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.