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June 01, 2012

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Cincinnati Campus Graduates Receive Degrees and a Powerful Message

Cincinnati Campus Graduates Receive Degrees and a Powerful Message

Approximately 80 graduates from the Cincinnati Campus received their degrees and diplomas on Tuesday evening, May 22nd during the commencement ceremony held at the Tri-County Assembly of God in Fairfield, Ohio.

Graduates, family and friends, and faculty and staff were put in the spirit with a rousing vocal performance by Bianca Graham. Class valedictorian Tracy Field, a graduate from the information systems engineering associate degree program, shared his personal experience and echoed the sentiments of many graduates in acknowledging the importance of family to his educational success.

“I am proud to say that I am the first in my generation of my family to have obtained my associate’s degree,” Tracy remarked proudly in speaking to his assembled classmates.

The keynote address of the evening was provided by Dwight Tillery, former mayor of Cincinnati and president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati. Mr. Tillery congratulated the graduates on their achievement, but also challenged them to make the most of the opportunities they have earned for themselves through their hard work.

“Tomorrow is a new day,” said Mr. Tillery, “and the question I want to raise to you is, ‘What’s next after graduation?’” Mr. Tillery shared with them his own experience as one of seven children of under-educated parents, growing up on Cincinnati’s west side. From these humble beginnings, he graduated from college and law school, built a successful law practice, and in 1991 became Cincinnati’s first popularly elected African-American mayor. After a number of signal achievements in city politics, he founded the Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati (, whose mission is to lead the efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in Greater Cincinnati through advocacy, education, and community outreach.

Interrupting Mr. Tillery’s address several times with their applause, it was evident that the Class of 2012 accepted his challenge to ensure that “what’s next after graduation” would include a lifelong commitment to furthering themselves, their families, and their communities through dedication and hard work.

Director of IT Programs Allinda Hostetler is pictured above presenting a plaque to valedictorian Tracy Field. Guest speaker Dwight Tillery, former mayor of Cincinnati, is pictured accepting a gift from Campus Director Charles Svec.

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Graduation Celebrates Achievement and New Careers

Graduation Celebrates Achievement and New Careers

On Friday, May 18th, the Roanoke Valley Campus celebrated its approximately 170 graduates at the 2012 commencement ceremony. The Salem Civic Center was filled with family members and friends and college staff and faculty who cheered for the new graduates as they accepted their degrees and diplomas.

During the ceremony, Colonel Gordon Saul, business department instructor at the Roanoke Valley Campus, gave an inspiring commencement address to graduates (pictured). He had served in the US Army for 30 years before retiring and pursuing other business ventures. During his speech, he explained that the United States is on the verge of a 3rd industrial revolution which will lead to many opportunities for graduates as they flourish in their new careers.

Awards were distributed to many deserving graduates including the Alumni Hall of Achievement winners, Joseph “Butch” Church and Virgie Underwood. Butch graduated from National College in the 1960s. He has had a successful career – most recently serving as a member of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. Virgie graduated at the top of her class in 1997 and has had a successful career as a Certified Public Accountant.

Kimberly Hunt was one of many to accept her degree that day. She earned an associate’s degree from the tourism and hospitality program and already has a job using her degree with Cambria Suites. In fact, her skills were noticed on-the-job by Richmond, Kentucky Campus Director Keeley Gadd when she came to Roanoke for the National College Blue Ridge Marathon. Keeley was staying at the Cambria Suites and said she was greeted by a “cheerful woman” working behind the desk who asked about her National College shirt. After introductions, Keeley realized she was talking to a soon-to-be National College graduate.

Kim came to National after the company she was working for moved overseas. A friend had great things to say about the Martinsville Campus where he had attended. Although she had attempted going to college before, she said she was drawn to National because it seemed different. She liked that at National, unlike her previous college, she wouldn’t have to attend classes every day and could go at night. This time, she knew she would succeed. “I was bound and determined to finish this time,” Kim exclaims. And finish, she did. She is now working at the same place where she completed her externship, and where she met Keeley, at the Cambria Suites. “I really like what I’m doing in hotel work,” she said. “I’d like to be an assistant GM or maybe even a GM someday.” Kim is grateful for the knowledge gained at National in helping her achieve her goal of completing a degree program. “There’s a difference between common sense and book smarts,” Kim explains. “I already had the common sense; I just needed the book smarts.”

Kimberly Hunt is pictured in the bottom photo at Cambria Suites with Richmond Campus Director Keeley Gadd.

Graduates Commended for The Hard Work and Courage that Sealed their Success

Graduates Commended for The Hard Work and Courage that Sealed their Success

More than 300 graduates, guests, and staff members gathered at the New Life Worship Center on Monday, May 21st to celebrate the Indianapolis Campus’s commencement ceremony. The celebration was for the 54 students that finished their degree and diploma programs.

Indianapolis City-County Councilman Samuel Ifeanyi "Vop" Osili gave a rousing commencement speech in which he commended students on achieving this milestone through their hard work and success, and implored them to meet new challenges with the courage of their convictions.

Campus Director Michael Jefferson honored the military students during the ceremony with thanks for their service, as he pointed out the red, white, and blue variegated cords worn by military veterans and servicemembers. He also praised the perseverance and dedication of Achievement Award winner Kevin Glover, who often walked almost 10 miles to reach the campus from his home.

After receiving her diploma from the phlebotomy program, Yvette Walker-Holmes said, “You guys aren’t getting rid of me yet!” She announced her plans to continue her education at American National University in the surgical technology degree program.

“It is so great to see the culmination of our students’ struggles and hard work,” said Career Center Director Ciara Wells. “Everything comes together here as students reach the finish line.”

Achievement Award winner Kevin Glover is pictured accepting his diploma. Also pictured is the Class of 2012.

Campus Graduates 15 in Commencement

Campus Graduates 15 in Commencement

On Thursday, May 24th the stars were out as the young Cleveland Area Campus celebrated its 15 graduates in the Class of 2012. Faculty and staff welcomed the graduates and 135 visitors to the Italian-American Club in Willowick for a night of festivities.

Business administration-management graduate Esther Harvey was chosen to represent the student body and address her peers. She spoke of her educational experience and thanked her instructors and family for their advice and support. American National University Regional Director of Agency Development Michael Lyons also spoke, urging graduates to use the foundation they acquired at American National University as a stepping-stone into their futures.

After the ceremony, the graduates and their guests were treated to a catered meal and a time to socialize with their fellow graduates.

Pictured at the ceremony are graduates (top row, l to r) Lisa Whitmore, Tonya Poole, Curtis Grace, Jamila Murray, Sheara Salaam, Sonya Penn, (bottom) Melinda Williams, Jaqueta Church, Esther Harvey, Teeair Jesus, Marcelina Tate, and Brittney Larkin.

2012 Commencement Recognizes 144 Graduates

2012 Commencement Recognizes 144 Graduates

The Martinsville Campus held its 2012 graduation exercises on May 22, 2012 at Martinsville High School. The evening began with a commencement address given by the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Martinsville, Joan Zigler. She challenged graduates to keep current in their professions and used the parody of “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” to illustrate that general knowledge, technology, and medical care are changing rapidly. She encouraged the audience to seek out additional training and coursework if necessary to keep up with the current trends – something that will be easy for National graduates through free lifetime access to refresher courses.

Following the commencement address, six graduates and one alumnus were presented with achievement awards before Campus Director John Scott distributed diplomas and associate’s degrees to 144 excited graduates in front of a packed auditorium.

Pictured at the graduation ceremony are graduates (l to r) Zenobia Bethel-Penn, Antwanette Reynolds, and Ebony Trotter preparing to line-up for the processional march into the auditorium.

Graduate Proves "I Can Do Anything I Set My Mind To"

Graduate Proves

Someone once told Katherine Johnson that she was too old to get a college education and that it had been too long since she was in school. But she proved them wrong.

It was late 2009 when Katherine Johnson decided she needed a change. She had been working in the fast food industry when she enrolled in the Bristol Campus’s medical billing and coding program. “I wanted to better my life and to find a job that was more than just flipping burgers. I wanted a challenge.” Nervous at first, Katherine worked hard to prove her skeptics wrong and completed the program with a 4.0 grade point average. She did so well that after she finished her program in November 2010, she decided to re-enroll. This time she chose to study the medical office specialist program to gain more knowledge in medical office operations. “The instructors were great,” she said, “Especially [Michelle] Kyte; she was really concerned about her students’ success.”

In May of 2012 at the Bristol Campus graduation, Katherine walked across the stage for the second time. She received the Mary P. McGurn Award for high academic achievement. In addition to her outstanding academic accomplishments, Katherine has found success with a new career as a medical office assistant at Holston Regional Comprehensive Care where she will be using her new skills in medical office procedures as well as medical coding. She said, “I learned a lot academically but most of all I learned so much about myself. I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Katherine Jobson (left) is pictured receiving Mary P. McGurn award from her favorite instructor, Michelle Kyte, at the Bristol Campus graduation.

Bachelor’s and Associate's Degrees and Diplomas Presented to 87 Graduates

Bachelor’s and Associate's Degrees and Diplomas Presented to 87 Graduates

The Lynchburg Campus celebrated student success with a graduation ceremony on Friday, May 25 at the Tree of Life Ministries. Eighty-seven graduates were presented diplomas, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees while being cheered on by their family and friends. Regional Director of Admissions Larry Steele was on hand to assist Campus Director Bill Baker with distributing awards to seven deserving students and one alumnus. Regional Director for Agency Development Toni Freeman gave the commencement address advising students to choose their friends wisely, guard their mind, dream big, find a worthy mentor, and have a mission in life. “I thought Toni Freeman’s talk was great,” said Career Center Director Nancy Wilcox, “and afterward we had a lot of family members [of graduates] stop by and talk to her about how much they enjoyed it.”

During the ceremony, Chris Parks was acknowledged as the Alumni Hall of Achievement Award winner. Chris graduated from the information systems engineering degree program in 2011 and has been working for the Help Desk at Liberty University ever since. “He was an amazing student and has excelled in his job,” said Bill. “He is a true over achiever.”

Other highlights from the ceremony included the flag presentation and pledge of allegiance led by the Heritage High School color guard as well as a video of highlights from the previous night’s graduation rehearsal and dinner.

Graduates pictured are (l to r) Danielle Braxton, Katrina Johnson, Michelle Andrews, and Brad Carwile.

Councilman, a Former Student, Addresses Graduates

Councilman, a Former Student, Addresses Graduates

On Friday, May 25th, 44 students from the Columbus Campus walked across the stage at the Northland Performing Arts Center and became graduates of American National University. The class of 2012 has many things to be proud of.

Columbus City Councilmember Troy Miller spoke to the graduating class and their guests on the importance of continuing their education and reminding them that not so long ago he was in their very seats, being awarded his first college degree. This graduation day called to mind for him his own journey from janitor to executive staff member of a health care institution, in less than 10 years. Like many American National University graduates, he attributes his success to the support of his family and friends as he earned his college degree, started his own business, and was elected to City Council. He congratulated the class of 2012 for recognizing that education is the vehicle to a better life and hoped that they had caught the “education bug” and would continue their studies to attain higher degrees.

One of those decorated 2012 graduates listening to the councilmember’s words of encouragement and advice was medical assisting graduate Tonya Reavish. Tonya was the recipient of the Achievement Award. “Tonya really came into her own during her time here at American National University,” said Director of Health Care Education Beth Laurenz. As she was presenting the award, Beth explained that as a mother and grandmother, Tonya has overcome some extraordinary hurdles in her life and has come out on top. She excelled in her classes, was nominated for the federal work-study program, and was hired as a medical assistant at Central Ohio Primary Care less than a week after her class work ended. Tonya said she wanted to get her medical assisting degree not only to help others but to show her children that a better life is in reach.

Graduate Tonya Reavish is pictured accepting her Achievement Award from Director of Health Care Education Beth Laurenz.

Brother and Sister Together in Class of 2012

Brother and Sister Together in Class of 2012

On Wednesday, May 23rd, the Harrisonburg Campus celebrated its class of 2012 in a graduation ceremony. Approximately 140 students officially became graduates as they accepted their new degrees and diplomas.

Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling attended the ceremony and gave a commencement address to inspire the new graduates for a successful career. “Your life is an unpainted picture,” said Bolling, “You are the artist, paint the picture well.” After encouraging the audience to take control of their own destinies, he said, “This is a transitional moment in your life where you have an opportunity to begin again to paint the picture that will become the rest of your life.”

This ceremony was especially significant for Nyoka Lynn Andes who earned a diploma from the accounting program alongside her brother Mike Hottinger who earned his degree from the business administration-management program. Nyoka and her brother were surrounded by family and friends after the ceremony as they were praised for their accomplishments. Mike and Nyoka both finished their programs with a high grade point average. Nyoka was acknowledged during the ceremony for her academic achievement with the Joseph E. Hurn Award. She has already enrolled in the campus’s associate degree program.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling is pictured addressing the new graduates. Also pictured are sister and brother Nyoka Andes and Mike Hottinger with their diplomas.

High Achiever

High Achiever

Jacinta Stephenson Braxton (pictured) received her associate's degree in nursing at the Pikeville Campus graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 24th where she graduated with honors and received awards for academic excellence and clinical excellence. She said that American National University has made a dream come true for her as she begins her new career at the Asthma and Allergy Center in Pikeville, Kentucky.

Just a few short years ago Jacinta was working as a housekeeper cleaning condos and hotels in Daytona Beach, Florida. “It was a rough way to go,” she recalled of the job that demanded long, irregular hours and offered very low pay. “You just get to the point where you think ‘It’s time for me to make a change that’s going to benefit my family.’”

Jacinta moved to the Pikeville area to be closer to her mother and decided to enroll in school. She received help with paying for her education through the Workforce Investment Act which offers training assistance to the unemployed and underemployed; as well as the Kentucky College Access Program (CAP).

She liked the hands-on aspect of the program. “You can do the book work all day but you learn a lot from your clinicals,” she explained. “You get hands-on experience. You learn how to communicate and collaborate with the physicians and nurses… you really benefit from being able to work in an acute-care setting.”

She was offered her position at Asthma and Allergy weeks before she completed her degree and she feels that the job offer is a testament to the quality of the program, its instructors, and its director, Shirley Goff. “She is a great asset to our community,” Jacinta said of Shirley. “Our school comes highly recommended for our nursing program…because of our instructors that teach us.”

Jacinta enjoys helping others and in her new job she will assist with testing, treating, and educating those with asthma and allergies. She said that it’s nice to have a 9 to 5 job and she even has weekends off in which she can enjoy family activities such as attending her son’s football games.

“[American National University] gave me an opportunity to do something that I never thought that I’d be able to do,” Jacinta said. “It opened up a door--from there I was able to reach one of the dreams that I wanted in life.”

Graduates are Awarded and Inspired at Ceremony

Graduates are Awarded and Inspired at Ceremony

The Pikeville Campus celebrated graduation on the evening of Thursday, May 24, as several hundred graduates, family, and friends filled the Landmark Inn’s Mark V Conference Center in downtown Pikeville for the annual commencement exercises.

Guest speaker Dr. Danny Jazarevic delivered an inspiring address to the graduates on the theme of “American exceptionalism,” or the belief that America has a special mission in the world to spread the message of freedom and liberty. Dr. Jazarevic, a surgeon who directs the trauma center at Pikeville Medical Center, is especially suited to deliver such a message, which resonates strongly with the college’s mission to produce educated and productive citizens. As an immigrant to this country, Dr. Jazarevic gave the graduates the perspective of one who has seen America’s freedoms as a goal to which much of the rest of the world aspires. As a decorated Army veteran, he also spoke with the knowledge and experience of one who has devoted his life to the service and defense of his fellow Americans. With a distinguished military career spanning more than two decades, Dr. Jazarevic’s last active-duty military assignment was Director of Clinical Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom – the “Top Doc in Iraq.”

A highlight of the ceremony was the induction of the first American National University nursing graduate into the Alumni Hall of Achievement. Bridget Morris initially graduated from the medical billing and coding program in 2008, and immediately began working in Pikeville Medical Center’s records department. Bridget continued her studies, however, as a member of the inaugural class of the nursing program in the fall of that year, graduating from that program in 2010. Upon passing her nursing boards that fall, the married mother of three—who had continued working full time at PMC throughout her nursing program—assumed a new position as a registered nurse. She is currently a nurse in PMC’s Pain Management Clinic. Campus Director Tammy Riley, in presenting the award, noted with pride that Bridget was a student in the very first class she taught at National as an instructor back in 2006.

All of the graduates, their families and friends, and the faculty and staff beamed with pride throughout the evening, sharing in the sense of accomplishment and anticipation of bright futures exuded by the Class of 2012.

Pictured at the graduation ceremony are (l to r) Campus Director Tammy Riley, Career Center Director Kelly Rapauch, Alumni Hall of Achievement Award Winner Bridget Morris, Nursing Program Director Shirley Goff.

Old Friends Return for 2012 Commencement

Old Friends Return for 2012 Commencement

On Thursday, May 24th, the Richmond Campus held its 2012 graduation ceremonyat the First Baptist Church for 76 graduates who received their degrees and diplomas. The commencement speaker was the Mayor of Richmond, the Honorable Jim Barnes, who gave an inspiring speech to the graduates on the importance of education and how proud they should be of the accomplishments they have earned. American National University Director of Training Tom Fisher – a former instructor at the campus – was also on hand to present the awards for the evening.

Linda Combs, a 2006 graduate who received diplomas in business administration and computerized office applications, was presented with the Alumni Hall of Achievement Award. Linda, who was featured on the cover of the March 30, 2012 issue of the National News Bluegrass Edition, currently works as the office administrator at Greenhouse Technology of Richmond. She said she was thrilled to receive the award. “I was really excited about it and I was very honored with it,” she said.

Campus Graduates Its Largest-Ever Class

Campus Graduates Its Largest-Ever Class

The Lexington Campus hosted its largest-ever graduating class on the evening of May 24th at the Singletary Center for the Arts. This year's record graduating class included 186 candidates who met all requirements for graduation – more than 150 attended the ceremony to receive their credentials. Attendance by family and friends for this year's ceremony nearly filled the Singletary Center to capacity.

This year's commencement speaker was Lexington's Vice Mayor Linda Gorton, who gave an energetic and rousing speech about the power of commitment, dedication, and following one's dreams to fruition. Being the parent of two grown children, Vice Mayor Gorton was able to address the graduates about the importance of setting and accomplishing your life's goals, serving your country, family, and career, and how to bring all these areas together for a positive and fruitful life.

Vice Mayor Linda Gorton is pictured with Campus Director Kim Thomasson (right).

Veteran Finds It’s Never Too Late to Graduate

Veteran Finds It’s Never Too Late to Graduate

On Tuesday, May 22nd, Campus Director Carole Reed-Mahoney presented 58 graduates with their diplomas during the Florence Campus commencement ceremony at Receptions Banquet and Conference Center in Erlanger, Kentucky.

Guest speaker Nancy Holian, CEO and owner of Holian Granite Company, spoke about her career in a predominately male profession. She encouraged the students to view obstacles as opportunities to achieve success.

John Hagan received the M.A. Smythe Award during the ceremony. The M.A. Smythe Award is given to a student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in a computer or computer-related program.

John was one of the first students to receive his associate’s degree from the campus’s information systems engineering program. While he is looking forward to starting a career in computer technology, he will putting his new career on hold as he will be deployed to Kuwait with the Kentucky Air National Guard 123 Airlift Wing.

John, an Air Force veteran and member of the Kentucky Air National Guard for over 26 years, came to American National University after he lost his job of 23 years with a linen company. He looked for over a year for employment but there was nothing to be found. He decided he needed career training to become more employable.

He used the tuition assistance available through the Kentucky Air National Guard and the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for his education. He also took advantage of the exclusive American National University Blue Ribbon Grant which paid for his text books and can extend military educational benefits for him or his dependents.

He said that the small class size and instructors who are working in the field drew him to National. He also found the school’s free refresher course policy appealing and it will offer him peace of mind when he returns home from deployment if he finds that he needs to brush up on any of his skills.

John feels that there is a demand for graduates in the area of information technology. “If [a company] has a computer, they have to have somebody that has knowledge of computers,” he said.

He encourages others not to delay in getting their degree. “Get your education,” John advised. “Don’t put it off. I put if off for way too long.”

Campus Director Carole Reed-Mahoney is pictured presenting graduate John Hagan with the M.A. Smythe Award.

Mother and Daughter Graduate Together

Mother and Daughter Graduate Together

The Danville, Kentucky Campus celebrated the achievements of its 2012 graduates during a ceremony on Thursday, May 24th at the Norton Center for the Arts. During the ceremony, Campus Director Lee Bowling conferred diplomas and degrees on approximately 100 graduates. Tierra Kavanaugh Turner, CEO of TKT & Associates, was the commencement speaker.

Kasey DeHart (right) and her mother Valerie Woody (left) saw the journey that they began together come to fruition during the ceremony as they each received diplomas with high honors in medical billing and coding.
Valerie said that her daughter urged her to enroll with her. “I thought this would get her going and maybe I could push her but I ended up enjoying it myself,” she said of her daughter.

“I don’t think I could have done it without her,” shared Kasey. “She was my motivation and she pushed me through some times when I didn’t necessarily want to do it,” she said of her mother.

Kasey recently began work as a billing specialist at Casey County Hospital. “I love it. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” she said. “I was very blessed when I got a job before I graduated.”

Valerie has 3 years remaining before she can retire as a food service manager for a local elementary school. She hopes to find a part-time job in billing and coding until she retires when she will begin a second career in the field in earnest.

“This is something that I have really earned. It gives me goose bumps and brings tears to my eyes to think ‘Yes, I did’…and we’re going to do this together as mother and daughter,” Valerie said just prior to the ceremony. “It has really given me a boost to think that you’re never too old to learn. I didn’t think that I could do it but with [National’s] help, it’s possible…at any age.”

Grads Reminded ‘Commencement is a New Beginning’

Grads Reminded ‘Commencement is a New Beginning’

The Louisville Campus held its graduation ceremony on Friday, May 18th at the Kentucky Exposition Center. A large audience of family and friends gathered to cheer on the 175 graduates of the class of 2012 who were presented their diplomas by Campus Director Vincent Tinebra.

Graduate Geneva Bullitt, who received her associate’s degree in business administration—management, sang a stirring rendition of “My Testimony” by Marvin Sapp. “You didn’t give up—you made it through,” Geneva said, echoing the words of the song.

The crowd heard from guest speaker State Senator Gerald Neal (pictured) during the ceremony. He said that Geneva’s song combined with the graduates’ enthusiasm had lifted his spirits after a long day. He encouraged graduates not to think of graduation as an ending, but as a new beginning, and not to focus on what they cannot do but on what they can do.

Geneva, who recently started work as a receptionist for the campus, said that family, life-long friends, and even her neighbors attended the ceremony to help her celebrate her achievement. “It was an honor to just keep going…I conquered what I came for,” she said.

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.