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May 11, 2012

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Grand Opening for Charlottesville's New Home

Grand Opening for Charlottesville's New Home

On Wednesday, May 2, the Charlottesville Campus celebrated its new home with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony. More than 100 members of the community were in attendance, with the weather cooperating nicely.

Campus Director Kelly Chamberlain welcomed the guests and paid tribute to the tireless effort of the faculty and staff of the campus. He also noted that the new campus was not merely a change of location, but a custom-built facility that will offer the students an even better learning environment while preserving the comfortable, family-like atmosphere that National College is known for.

Timothy Hulbert, president & CEO of the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, recognized the college and its graduates and their contribution to the local community as he introduced the featured speaker, Delegate Rob Bell.

Del. Bell, who has represented the Charlottesville area since 2002, echoed Mr. Hulbert’s sentiments, adding that National College addressed key workforce needs that colleges like the University of Virginia do not. He added – perhaps jokingly – that with the growth of National’s Charlottesville Campus, the city may “finally be known as a ‘college town’.”

National College President Frank Longaker also made a few remarks, commending students for their hard work in pursuing their studies. He paid tribute especially to the campus’s many veteran students, in particular recognizing student Charley Smith, a Marine Corps veteran and current reservist studying business administration-management.

It was a fitting recognition for the Charlottesville Campus and a positive development for the community.

PHOTO: (l to r) National’s Regional Director of Agency Development Toni Freeman, Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Hulbert, National’s Vice President Lenora Downing, Delegate Rob Bell, National’s President Frank Longaker, APSCU President Steve Gunderson, Charlottesville Campus Director Kelly Chamberlain, and Jennifere Clayton, Corporate Training Director for the National College School of Professional Development.

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National Association President Visits National

National Association President Visits National

On May 2, Steve Gunderson, the new president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities (APSCU), spent the day visiting the Charlottesville and Roanoke Valley Campuses, where he had the opportunity to meet and interact with students, faculty, and staff.

Mr. Gunderson, himself a career college graduate and 12-year veteran of the U.S. Congress from Minnesota, leads the more than 1,800 member institutions of APSCU in advocating for the sector’s more than 2 million students. National College is very active in efforts by APSCU, state career college associations, and other groups who support students seeking the benefits of career education.

Mr. Gunderson attended the grand opening of the Charlottesville Campus’s new $5.5-million dollar home, and later had the chance to observe real hands-on training by students in the EMT-Paramedic program at the Roanoke Valley Campus as they engaged in a mock collision exercise.

“The building represented our sector’s commitment to the future, preparing to serve a growing number of students,” said Mr. Gunderson, referring to the new Charlottesville Campus. “National College has [30] different campuses in communities across six states believing that adults with jobs and families need access in ways that accommodates their busy lives.”

Find out more information about APSCU and its efforts on behalf of career college students at

PHOTO: National College President Frank Longaker and APSCU President Steve Gunderson watch as students in the EMT-Paramedic program practice their life-saving skills.

Two Friends Help Each Other Get through School and into Employment

Two Friends Help Each Other Get through School and into Employment

Marla Bryner and Meghan Claypoole, graduates from the Youngstown Campus, were both hired at Advanced Urology after completing the medical assisting degree program. Marla and Meghan have overcome many obstacles to achieve the successes that they are now enjoying. They met while in the program and became fast friends. Meghan states, “We became each other’s calming voice at stressful times.” This tactic must have worked well for them because they both finished their studies on the Dean’s List.

Success for Marla (left) was changing the path of her future. She knew she wanted more for her children and family and she knew she would need a college degree to help her do that. After earning a GED, she enrolled at American National University, where the class schedule was flexible and she would be able to continue to work. She states that everyone at National, from the admissions and student services representatives to her instructors, were encouraging and supportive. Marla was awarded the Mary Buckley Scholarship and was selected to represent National in Washington D.C. for a rally on Capitol Hill. All of these accomplishments are a testament to her hard work and dedication to her studies.

Meghan (right) described herself as a “wild child.” After becoming a mother, she wanted to change the direction she was heading so she could be a positive role model for her daughter. With her husband’s support, Meghan and her daughter, both with backpacks ready, set out for their first day of school. With a goal of straight A’s, Meghan set the bar high for herself and is proud to say that she accomplished that very goal. She balanced school, work, family, and friends, while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. She will walk across the stage in May and accept her degree with high honors. She was hired at Advanced Urology one month after her final term. When the group saw her skill set and professionalism, they asked if she knew of anyone else they may be interested in hiring. Meghan didn’t hesitate to recommend her friend and classmate Marla, who they also hired. Once studying together as students, now Meghan and Marla are working together in the health care field.

A Different Sort of Business

A Different Sort of Business

The students in the business programs at the Columbus Campus recently enjoyed a visit from Chuck Gehring, who spoke to students about non-profit organizations and the services they can provide to their communities.

Mr. Gehring is the president and CEO of LifeCare Alliance, a non-profit organization in Central Ohio that is involved with the Meals on Wheels program, a service given to elderly members of the community. He explained how non-profits compare and contrast with businesses that operate for profit. Students were intrigued to learn the aspects that make the two types of organizations distinct from each other.

Business administration-management student Markquel Cleveland got a better understanding of how non-profit organizations work. “I learned that non-profits do earn profits,” he explained. “They just reinvest their money differently.”

Business Department Chair Greg Kontras organized this special visit to supplement topics discussed in his Small Business Management class.

A Head Start – at Head Start

A Head Start – at Head Start

Students in the Clinical Medical Assisting class at the Danville, Virginia Campus recently got the opportunity to implement newly learned tactile skills outside of the classroom. The class was challenged with the task of obtaining and recording height and weight measurements for 200 preschoolers under the age of five. This experience came as the result of collaboration between Director of Health Care Education Gail Orr and Linda Hudgins, the health/disability manager for the Danville Head Start program. “The instructor and I were pleased at the critical thinking the students exhibited,” said Gail. “The more they performed, the better they were at noticing when a child’s shoe was untied and fixed it while chatting with them. It was an amazing opportunity, and we are planning this experience for every [future clinical] class.” Student Brandi Rice enjoyed the experience, “The opportunity reinforced my confidence in performing as a professional.” Gail and her team are planning another field trip for students in the Invasive Clinical Procedures class to visit Head Start to conduct health screenings for their employees. This collaboration is a benefit to both the community and National students.

Medical assisting students practice their skills on preschoolers

Student Tutor Has Big Plans

Student Tutor Has Big Plans

Deborah Riffe began her career at the Princeton Campus as a medical assisting student in June 2010. Since her second term, she has been assisting her classmates as a tutor which is a job she thoroughly enjoys. She has tutored in algebra, medical terminology, dosage and calculation, and accounting. She is shown assisting Erika Atwell whom she tutors in MED110. When Erika was asked what she thought of her tutor (even though Deborah was not around) she answered with a big smile and an enthusiastic “one word, excellent”! After graduating this May Deborah plans to continue her education and eventually become an osteopath.

Deborah (right) is tutoring fellow medical assisting student Erika Atwell in the dosage and calculation class.

Veteran Turns Benefits into New Career

Veteran Turns Benefits into New Career

Maurice Johnson, an information systems engineering graduate from the Louisville Campus, works as a PC Support Technician for RX Crossroads where he solves information technology problems daily for over 100 “internal customers”—fellow employees who are under his care.

Maurice said that he didn’t always like computers. While working as an ammunition and munitions specialist in the US Army, he saw that computers were becoming an important part of the programs that they ran. “Then I realized—technology is booming and growing—we’ve got to get some people in there… that’s how I started the journey and learning,” he recalled.

After leaving the military, he was working as a civilian armed security guard on post at Ft Knox when the company that he was working for lost its contract and he found himself unemployed. He decided that it was time to return to school and to turn his interest in information technology into a career.

He qualified for educational assistance through the Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation (Chapter 31) Program. He looked at several schools but chose American National University after touring the campus.

“The instructors were very informative, very friendly,” he said. He liked that the classes were small and hands-on and that there were a number of other veterans attending the school. “I had a good connection with a lot of the other veterans that were here,” he said.

When he was nearing the end of his program, he posted his resume on and applied to IT positions at several local corporate offices. RX Crossroads contacted him. “I didn’t even get a chance to utilize the career center it happened so fast,” he explained.

He likes working with the infrastructure team at RX Crossroad and he also enjoys interacting with the employees that he assists. He hopes to someday work for the U.S. Government. He feels that his degree from National, combined with his people skills and his knowledge of IT will help him to do so. “The employers say ‘Do you have a degree to back up [the experience] you have?’ It gave me more oomph—a better chance of opening up doors,” he said.

Never Lose Sight of Your Goals

Never Lose Sight of Your Goals

Cameron Hall is the quintessential example of one who reaches their goal – but not exactly by traveling the shortest distance between start and finish. Cameron will be graduating from the Lexington Campus in May with a bachelor’s degree in business administration-management – having already completed an associate’s in the radio and television broadcasting program. But Cameron’s story is not that simple. He is living proof that you should never lose sight of your goals – no matter how many twists and turns life throws at you.

“Oh, I tried the ‘university’ route and realized very soon it was not for me,” Cameron explained. “I dropped out and languished around for some eight years – unsure of what I wanted to do. I had a couple of jobs – but I wanted a career.”

Cameron earned his associate’s degree in 2007 and, while working in the industry, decided to pursue his long-time interest in the armed forces. He joined the Kentucky National Guard and also decided to pursue his bachelor’s. “I love being in the National Guard. You not only serve your country – but also have many opportunities to serve your community.”

The National Guard is called out by the Governor in times of local disasters such as flooding, extreme weather, and other natural disasters to organize and recover. Cameron said he likes the feeling of accomplishment he gets when he is called out and helps people in need.

“The National Guard offers its members many great benefits including a tremendous tuition assistance program which has enabled me to pursue my bachelor’s degree without spending one dime of my own money. The Guard really helps you put your priorities in proper order.”

Tribute to the Troops

Tribute to the Troops

On Monday, May 7, the Florence Campus held an Armed Forces Recognition Celebration. The event was held to honor troops past and present and to recognize them for their service and sacrifice.

The event began with a color guard ceremony by members of the Florence Police Department. Following the ceremony, students, staff, faculty and visitors gathered for a presentation by Frank Martin (pictured), a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. Mr. Martin discussed his experience serving state-side during “The Forgotten War.” He also shared photos of the base where he was stationed and of the aircraft that he helped maintain during his service.

Bobby Cook, a Navy veteran who is currently a student in the Information Systems Engineering program at the Florence Campus, said that it means a lot to him that the campus recognizes veterans during events such as this one. “It’s an honor to be able to listen to those who have come before you and those that have yet to come as they get to tell their stories. I hope to one day be in Mr. Martin’s shoes and I’ll share mine,” said Bobby.

The Wall that Heals

The Wall that Heals

Students, faculty, and staff from the Richmond Campus gathered on Main Street in downtown Richmond on Wed., April 25 to show their support and appreciation as the “Wall that Heals” arrived in town. This national touring exhibition included a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. It was escorted by law enforcement officials, motorcycle clubs and a horse-drawn caisson as it made its way to the EKU Center for the Arts where it appeared in display from April 26-29.

Brian Lowery, a medical assisting student, waved an American flag as the exhibit passed by. He said that he was there to celebrate veterans.

Joanne Johnson, a student in the medical office specialist program, said that she was there to support those who served in Vietnam. “I came out today because the Vietnam War affected everybody,” she said. “Some people lost their lives and some people, when they returned, weren’t in their right state of mind.”

“I brought my son,” said Amber Middleton, department chair for general education at the Richmond Campus. “My parents have always instilled in me to support our veterans. This was a simple way to come down and show support for people who have fought for our freedom.”

Veteran Leadership

Veteran Leadership

When veteran students take the stage to receive their diplomas at American National University campus graduation ceremonies this May they will be wearing a new red, white, and blue cord that distinguishes them as having served their country. Robert Robbins, a U.S. Army veteran, will be particularly proud to wear the cords because they are one of many programs to support veterans that he has initiated as founder and president of the Operation NC Eagle Alliance (ONCEA) military student group at the Danville, Kentucky Campus.

“When I founded the veterans organization at American National University, I was going through ideas in my head of how to thank my fellow veterans, especially within the school,” explained Robert, who founded the organization in 2010. “Graduation would be the last time of being able to thank them or showcase them to our community and our American National University family. You have cords for everything—cords for high honors, a sash for an associate’s degree, a pin if you’re medical, but we had nothing for if you were a veteran. It’s a way of showing respect.”

Brad Marine, Regional Director of Military Affairs, said that Robert has become a strong advocate for military students at National and that the cords will be appreciated by the veteran students. “There is a long tradition of cords in the military,” Brad said. “I think it’s a great idea. It’s a simple thing but it will have a significant impact.”

Robert had a very limited amount of assistance left on his GI Bill when he came to National so Brad suggested that he contact the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to see what other program he might qualify for. He was able to qualify for assistance through the Vocational Rehabilitation Vet Success program which covered virtually all of his remaining educational expenses.

He is a business administration—accounting and management double major and will be graduating with his associate’s degree this May. He hopes to possibly find work as a veteran’s representative for the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. He would also like to start his own photography business.

Robert said that ONCEA is a work in progress and he feels that the organization will continue to grow and evolve. The group dedicated a Veteran Wall of Honor in 2011 at the Danville Campus and ONCEA will hold a Bike Rally on June 23 in Danville. Funds raised from the rally will be used to assist veterans from the school and in the community that are in need.

“I think everybody means well but I don’t think anybody knows just what the veteran has gone through,” said Robert. “We’ve gained a lot of ground but I really want people to know, especially our younger generation, exactly what a veteran is and what he’s done for our country.”

National is Ticket to Success for Airman

National is Ticket to Success for Airman

It is mission accomplished for Erica Patton, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who received her associate’s degree from the Pikeville Campus and is now working as a certified medical assistant at the Pikeville Medical Center Pain Management Clinic.

“I’m ecstatic. It’s been a long time coming,” said Erica, who attended a local community college for several years before serving in the Air Force. She said she was unsure what path she wanted to take with her career when she decided to join the service. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time when I went in. The fact that they did pay for school was a benefit of it,” she recalled.

Her father, William Tuttle, a graduate of the Lexington Campus’s surgical technology degree program, recommended National to her. “When I came to campus, I knew medical assisting was what I wanted,” she recalled.

She used her Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for school. “That paid for pretty much everything… books… classes…even a housing allowance,” she explained.

She enjoyed her time on campus and after her daughter was born she was able to attend day or evening classes, depending on her schedule. “Everybody was really nice and worked with me on everything.”

Erica began interviewing with the hospital before her program was even complete. She feels that her certification gives her extra job security. “No matter where I go—if I were to pick up and move tomorrow—my certification is nationally honored,” said Erica of the certification which the American Association of Medical Assistants refers to as the gold standard of medical assisting professionalism.

As part of the medical team at the clinic, she checks patients in, takes blood pressures, and transfers charts to an on-line system. “I love doing the triage—we see the patients before the doctors do,” she said of the job which keeps her on her toes as emergencies arise.

Erica is earning twice as much as she did in her previous job and she has excellent benefits available through the hospital. “We bought a house,” she exclaimed. “I kept going for my little girl—I wanted her to have a better life.”

A Soldier’s Story

A Soldier’s Story

Brad Marine, the college’s regional director of military affairs for Kentucky, shared this account of his experience during his recent deployment with the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team III to Afghanistan:

It was a privilege to deploy with the Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) III to Afghanistan. Without a doubt, these were some of the finest soldiers I have ever had the pleasure to work with during my 20 years of service.

The roles of the ADT teams in Afghanistan are critical to that country’s ability to sustain and develop their agribusiness structure. ADT team specialists provided guidance and assistance on a wide variety of agribusiness services to include veterinary services, irrigation, education, and marketability of produce to the world economy.

As a Security Force member, it was our job to ensure the safety of the ADT team and those we worked with in the civilian sector. This also gave me a wonderful opportunity to interact with the local Afghan population on a regular basis, an experience I will always appreciate.

What I found most amazing about the culture was the hospitality and their ability to adapt. Despite the fact the country has been at war for the past 30 years, the people of Afghanistan remain upbeat and gracious.

Another amazing part of the Afghanistan culture is the children and their ability to overcome difficulties and keep a smile on their face. One young boy who was 11 became a trusted friend of mine (see picture). He worked full-time (pedaling kabobs and soda to the troops) to support his mother and younger siblings, and he went to school when the time allowed. He never complained and was always grateful when we visited.

I could fill the pages with stories of sacrifice, courage and determination demonstrated by our troops and their families as well as that of Afghan people as they fight for freedom. There are so many and so few pages to work with but I will leave you with this.

Our fighting forces are the best in the world and the families they leave back home are the valiant who must be willing to sacrifice the ones they love and hold dearest. Please take a moment to say thank you to the family members and continue to offer your support to the brave men and women in our military.

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.