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September 24, 2012

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Diagnosis Inspires New Career

Diagnosis Inspires New Career

Knoxville Campus medical assisting graduate Michael Parks’s life was destined to change when he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome fourteen years ago. The rare neurological disorder affected more than his health, however.  “Before then I’d never had any interest in medicine,” Michael says. “[I was] scared to death of needles.”

But between tiring of a career in retail and the remarkable clarity a health condition can provide, he decided a new career was right for him. National College was the path he chose.

“National College was pretty much able to work around my schedule, because I was trying to work,” he shares. “It got me in and out quick.”

Now, Michael works for Lensgraf Back and Pain Management, a large and successful practice that operates several offices across eastern Tennessee. “We do anything from chiropractic work…to any kind of pain management…from head to toe,” Michael explains. He performs a wide variety of tasks using his medical assisting skills at the busy practice. “It’s very interesting,” he says of the non-stop pace. “We see on average anywhere from 80 to 100 patients a day.”

Michael admits it wasn’t always easy reaching his goals, but the faculty and staff at the Knoxville Campus, particularly Director of Healthcare Education Rhonda Epps, helped him through the tough times. “Ms. Epps is my hero,” he says emphatically. “There were several times I was ready to throw my hands up and walk out…she just wouldn’t let me,” he admits. “She kept me in school and got me to graduation.”

Now that he has his degree and a secure future, Michael wants to continue his education. He encourages his fellow students to do the same. “It’s well worth it, stick it out…I know it’s hard,” he says. “I know the classes kind of push you, but it’s worth it, because I absolutely love what I do.”

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Students Choose "Banned Books"

Students Choose

Four students from the Cleveland Area Campus recently demonstrated their commitment to “banned books” to protect their right to read.

Banned books are banned or otherwise suppressed somewhere in the US because of numerous issues. For example, John Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men has been banned in an Illinois high school because of the racial slurs, profanity, and violence it contains. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn has been banned because of issues that are deemed racial. The DaVinci Code, a bestseller by Dan Brown, was banned from several libraries in the US and UK because of its thesis. American National University students can see a list of banned books and the reasons why they are banned by visiting their campus’s librarian.

Students Mary Ann Spikes, Bridgett Hunter, Vanessa Hunter, and Cora Brown have volunteered to read a banned book and write a brief report stating the reasons why theybelieve it should not be suppressed.

Pictured with their chosen banned books are (l to r) Mary Ann Spikes, Bridgett Hunter, Vanessa Hunter and Cora Brown.

Senator Scott Oelslager Visits Campus on Constitution Day

Senator Scott Oelslager Visits Campus on Constitution Day

Constitution Day traces its origins to 1940, when Congress established that the 3rd Sunday of May would be day to observe when we gained our citizenship. Congress, in 1952, would change the decree to be commemorated on the actual day and date the Constitution was signed: September 17, 1787.

The Stark County Campus invited Senator Scott Oelslager, who represents the 29th District in Ohio’s General Assembly, to help students understand the gravity of Constitution Day. Senator Oelslager began his presentation by asking students questions about their goals and explained how each career field holds significance in our economy as it recovers. He then quizzed students on their knowledge of the Constitution before he explained its history and discussed some of the amendments in detail. He ended the assembly with a question/answer forum where students had the opportunity to get a better feel for the local political climate.

Senator Scott Oelslager is pictured talking to students (back row, l to r) Gregory Sanford, Jason Ferencik, Stephanie Green, Monique Anderson, Sara Floyd and (front row) Tiffany Roberson.

Campus Celebrates National Surgical Technologist Week

Campus Celebrates National Surgical Technologist Week

During the week of September 17th, the Akron Area Campus recognized students in the surgical technology degree program in honor of National Surgical Technologist week. This week, which is celebrated every year in September, is an opportunity to educate the community about the vital role that surgical technologists play in the operating room. In celebration, photos of surgical technology students and motivational signs were displayed around campus. Surgical Technology Director Titus Greer also presented a gift to area operating rooms that allow American National University student externs to get hands-on experience. Students were appreciative of this special week recognizing their chosen career field.

Surgical technology students (l to r, front) Cassandra Cooper, Samantha Lewis, Michael Davis, (back) Josh Midcap, Shannon Baldasare, Robin Crislip, Nichole Cooper, Sarah Norman, and Clinical Coordinator Jim Shurtleff are pictured celebrating National Surgical Technologist Week.

Student Overcomes Hardships to Pursue Career in Medical Field

Student Overcomes Hardships to Pursue Career in Medical Field

Patrice Gray is a true example that one can succeed despite hardships and trials. She is currently pursuing an associate’s degree with a double major in business administration-management and health information technology (HIT) at the Bartlett Campus. She has encountered her fair share of adversity throughout her life including being a teenage mother. But there is no doubt that her challenges have helped to mold her character to be strong willed and determined to succeed.

Patrice’s short term goal includes becoming a clinical director or a medical office manager. Her long-term goal includes opening a holistic medical center. She chose National College because of the opportunity to study both business and HIT programs at the same time.

“I think education is vital to anyone that wants to live beyond their parents,” Patrice said when describing her passion for higher learning. “Skill without knowledge is wasted talent.”

Instructor Terrell Polk regularly encourages his students like Patrice to consider entrepreneurship. “The beauty of having Patrice as a learner is she actually gets it,” he explained. “I am witnessing before my very eyes the power of perseverance and determination at its best.”

Graduate Uses Degree to Form Three New Organizations

Graduate Uses Degree to Form Three New Organizations

Shanta “Angel” Green graduated from the Memphis Campus with her associate’s degree in business administration – management and started giving back to the community right away. Using her new business skills, she started two non-profit organizations, Guardian Angels and Memphis Business Affiliates, and one for-profit organization, Virtual Angels.

The mission of Guardian Angels is to provide mentoring to young women, 12-18 years old, in business and office skills so they are more comfortable looking for jobs. Memphis Business Affiliates provides guidance and business skills training to young adults 20 years and older. Virtual Angels is an outsourcing agency that provides data entry and other business services.

Angel said that her education motivated her to help others through her newly established organizations. “The management program gave me a lot of inspiration and I wanted to be an inspiration to others, particularly young women.”

Angel has recently re-enrolled at the Memphis Campus in the business administration – accounting degree program to help her manage her organizations’ finances.

Campus Names CVS as Distinguished Community Employer

Campus Names CVS as Distinguished Community Employer

The pharmacy technician program at the Fort Wayne Campus has garnered tremendous support from local CVS Pharmacy stores. Within the past six months, four pharmacy technician students have gained real-world experience as externs with several CVS stores in the Fort Wayne area and have received praise for their hard work and knowledge.

The Fort Wayne Campus recently recognized CVS in appreciation of the support it provides students. Director of Health Care Education Martha Rostochak presented an award to Gary Nephew, the Northern Indiana Regional Supervisor, recognizing CVS as a Distinguished Community Employer.

Mr. Nephew is glad to offer externship opportunities to American National University. “CVS underwent a major software change [and American National University] students were able to quickly grasp the new programs,” he explained. Mr. Nephew and CVS makes externship positions available to American National University students each term.

Director of Health Care Education Martha Rostochak is pictured on the right presenting the Distinguished Community Employer award to Gary Nephew from CVS Pharmacy.

Two Paramedic Students Offer Life-Saving Support to Local Charity Race

Two Paramedic Students Offer Life-Saving Support to Local Charity Race

Two paramedic students from the Roanoke Valley Campus, Cary Strosnider and Freddie Wilson, recently led a team of fellow National College students in offering medical assistance to runners of a 5K charity race. The participating students were available during the race in case of a medical emergency.

Cary and Freddie are nearing the end of their program and agreed to support this event as a community outreach project. They were glad to help as this event raised funds for the Wounded Warrior campaign which supports service men and women who return to the United States after their tour of duty.

During the event Cary and Freddie coordinated the logistics involved to prepare for an emergency. They chose their own medical team and planned for any medical scenario that could occur with this type of community activity. Through this experience, they were able to practice their emergency medical planning skills by staging their team, arranging proper medical staff at each station during the run, and handing out water for the runners at the halfway point so they could assess each runner’s progress.

Cary is planning to graduate early next spring. He has a degree from Virginia Tech and chose to continue his education at National College to earn his paramedic degree. He plans are to work his way up to become a leader in fire management service and administration.

Freddie is in his last term and was recently honored to secure an externship with the Salem Fire Department. He is only the second student to be offered an externship there. He works the same hours as his supervisors including 24 hour shifts on the Medic Unit. He is learning station life as a paramedic including all of the duties assigned to the “house crew.”

Freddie Wilson (left) and Cary Strosnider are pictured volunteering at the charity run that benefited the Wounded Warriors Campaign.

Christopher Balderson - Difference Maker at the Harrisonburg Campus

Christopher Balderson - Difference Maker at the Harrisonburg Campus


Christopher Balderson at the Harrisonburg Campus


Instructor of associate degree- level accounting courses


  • National College faculty member since 2001
  • Has 17 years of experience in food service/management industry; 12 years of accounting experience


  • Received an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree from Rappahannock Community College and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from James Madison University
  • Started at McDonald’s as a crew member and worked up to general manager/trainer for seven restaurants
  • Began accounting career as a personnel administrator/branch accountant for a staffing agency
  • Since 2002, has been working in the finance department for Rosetta Stone, currently as a tax manager focusing on indirect taxes in North America and the European Union


As a practicing accountant, I am able to inform students of any new accounting standards enacted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, as well as any new income tax regulations that have been communicated by the Internal Revenue Service. I like to assign projects for the accounting courses that place the students in a “real world” accounting scenario.

My greatest reward as an instructor occurs when a student informs me that he or she has accepted a position in the accounting department of a company. I have been able to get some of my accounting students from National College hired as temporary employees for Rosetta Stone. Some of these employees were offered full-time positions with the company.

The best thing about being a National College faculty member is watching students as they progress through their academic careers with success.


Local Attorney Helps Students Understand the Constitution

Local Attorney Helps Students Understand the Constitution

On September 17th, the Martinsville Campus recognized Constitution Day by hearing from Martinsville attorney H. Clay Gravely IV who spoke about how the Constitution and its amendments provide the legal framework for the rights granted to all citizens of the United States. Attorney Gravely talked about the safeguards in the Constitution regarding the rights of the accused. He also explained that interpretations of the laws and the passage of new laws may result in issues that end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the discussion, student Leah Thomasson asked how it’s determined that a police officer erred in following enforcement procedures. Attorney Gravely responded that a person being charged would have to go before a judge, state that they feel the officer was wrong, and cite the case law. If the officer is found to have made an error, then the case could be thrown out or removed from the docket.

Following the event, student Rochella Stanley said that the discussion was helpful to her in understanding the protections provided by the Constitution. She noted that being aware of an individual’s rights while in the workforce is important because it leads to a more professional treatment of co-workers. Student Jdonna Kellam expressed a similar sentiment, “Each and every one has rights under the Constitution. We are responsible to be aware of the rights of others.”

Attorney H. Clay Gravely IV is pictured talking to students at the Martinsville Campus about Constitution Day.



G.I. Jobs magazine has once again named National College to its annual list of Military Friendly Schools®, as it has every year since the list’s inception in 2010.

“National College unconditionally supports our country’s military personnel and veterans,” said President Frank Longaker. “We appreciate the recognition from G.I. Jobs magazine, now for the fourth consecutive year.”

Himself a Vietnam veteran who attended college through the G.I. Bill, President Longaker emphasized that simply making a list doesn’t begin to describe National’s commitment to veteran students. “Whether it is the more than $100,000 in direct grants the college provided to military and veteran students last year; the extensive recognition the college provides for military training and education; or just the understanding of the veteran community, we try to focus on as many forms of support for our military students as we can,” he added.

National’s support of military and veterans education has not gone unnoticed by other organizations as well. Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor recognized the college’s support of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) in an article in the Secretary of Labor’s weekly newsletter. Individually, National College campuses have also garnered praise from their local/regional military and veteran organizations.

The most telling testimony, however, comes from veteran students themselves, like business administration—management student Charley Smith from the Charlottesville Campus. A Marine reservist who also has 13 years of active-duty service as an intelligence analyst, Charley plans to use his National College business education to help him achieve his goal of owning his own business. Like most veterans, Charley welcomes the real-world value of his National College instructors’ practical experience.

“You learn a lot about current events, things that are going on in the world,” Charley explained. Having instructors that can relate these concepts in terms of their own career experience is invaluable, he added.

Learn more about the veteran experience at National College by visiting our web site:

National College President Frank Longaker (pictured above on right) is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Special Forces (“Green Berets”). A previous issue of the National News erroneously identified him as a U.S. Army Ranger. Charley Smith from the Charlottesville Campus is pictured on left.

Graduate Has Many Opportunities for Advancement with Degree

Graduate Has Many Opportunities for Advancement with Degree

Elisheba Sarver was working as an assistant manager of a Rally’s Restaurant when she realized her career had stalled. “I saw myself going down a dead-end,” she explained. “The only way that I could move up in my job was to further my education and get a degree.” So she enrolled in the business administration – management degree program at the Louisville Campus and earned her associate’s degree in two years. As a result of her new degree, she was recently promoted to General Manager.

“I’d heard good things about National,” recalled Elisheba who found flexible class schedules at National that accommodated her fluctuating work schedule. She also liked the personal attention that she received from her instructors and she found her accounting classes to be particularly helpful because she was able to apply the principles that she learned in class to her job.

Brian Bratcher-Weis, district manager for Rally’s, said that he’s seen Elisheba’s management skills improve during her program at National. “She became stronger with numbers,” he said of her new skills. “She’s recognizing problems and [knows] how to fix them. She just became a stronger leader.”

Elisheba has received several pay raises since her promotion to general manager and she recently won a trip to Rally’s national conference in Las Vegas when her store was ranked #1 in the country in a sales competition. “There’s no limit for her...she’s accomplished everything she wants,” said Brian who added that there are many opportunities available for Elisheba to advance in her career with Rally’s.

Elisheba has returned to National to earn her bachelor’s degree through a mix of on-line and on campus classes. “I didn’t know my potential until I came to National and pushed myself. This was the first real commitment that I’ve made to further my career in business. It’s been empowering,” said Elisheba who also wants to set a good example for her three sons.

Campus Names Danville Medical Specialists as Distinguished Community Employer

Campus Names Danville Medical Specialists as Distinguished Community Employer

The Danville, Kentucky Campus has named Danville Medical Specialists as a Distinguished Community Employer. On Thursday, August 30th, Campus Director Lee Bowling, Career Center Director Lacey Ebert, and Director of Health Care Education Virginia Patterson presented a plaque to the staff at Danville Medical Specialists in appreciation of their continued support of National students and graduates.

Danville Medical Specialists employs three American National University graduates and also partners with the campus as an extern site for students. “We get to see the students grow as they complete their classroom studies and proceed through their externship,” said Matthew Adams, office manager for the practice. He said he finds that students from American National University are willing to learn and to work together as part of the practice team.

American National University appreciates the support of employers like Danville Medical Professionals. Each day National students are training to become the skilled medical professionals that employers like Danville Medical Specialist need to provide quality health care services to the community.

Career Center Director Lacey Ebert (far left), Campus Director Lee Bowling (3rd from right), and Director of Health Care Education Virginia Patterson (4th from right) are pictured presenting a Distinguished Community Employer plaque to Danville Medical Specialists staff Osha Pruitt; Matthew Adams, Wendy Asberry, Dr. Daniel Moran, and Suzie Portwood.

A Busy Mom Finds Time for College and Now Has a New Career

A Busy Mom Finds Time for College and Now Has a New Career

Working full time, going to school full time, and being a mom is no easy task, but Brandy Vanderpool was able to accomplish it all with the help of the flexible schedule and supportive staff that she found at the Pikeville Campus. She graduated with her associate’s degree in May and now she is working at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) as a registered medical assistant in the Interventional Cardiology clinic.

Brandy visited several colleges before making the decision to come to National. “When I came in [the campus] everybody was really friendly,” she recalled adding that the enrollment process was very organized and orderly. The hands-on learning was what she enjoyed most about her classes at National and the externship that was part of her program offered many opportunities to put her knowledge to the test. “You’re not going to have the situations [in class] that you are out there in the workforce with real patients,” she said of the externship which helped prepare her for her career ahead.

Brandy worked in food service for PMC while attending school. She moved to the clinical side of the hospital after earning her degree. She loves interacting with her patients as she assists them to the exam room, takes their vitals, and performs EKG’s. She also does administrative work in the busy medical office.

ISE Student Passes Certification Exam with a Perfect Score

ISE Student Passes Certification Exam with a Perfect Score

Michael Stephens, an information systems engineering (ISE) student at the Lexington Campus, passed the CompTia’s A+ certification exam in August. He passed with an impressive score of 900 out of 900. The CompTia’s A+ certification is one of the first of many certifications that students in the ISE program will earn. Now he is studying for the Microsoft Certification 70-680: Windows 7 Configuration and plans to take that exam in November.

Obtaining certifications in addition to a degree really sets students apart when they apply for jobs. Employers are more likely to employ an applicant that has achieved certifications over someone who hasn’t. "I feel that obtaining as many certifications as I can before I leave college will assist me in my career,” said Michael.

ISE student Michael Stephens is pictured with Director of IT Programs George Camp.

State Senator Applauds National College Students

State Senator Applauds National College Students

On Monday, September 17th, the Richmond Campus held a Constitution Day observance at Best Western Holiday Plaza. Senator Jared Carpenter, who represents the 34th District in the Kentucky General Assembly, was the featured speaker.

Senator Carpenter told the audience that he was the first in his family to graduate from college and he applauded the students’ efforts to better themselves. He shared some of the history of the United States Constitution and said that we are all a testament to the success of the government created by the document.

Senator Carpenter encouraged students to get involved in making their country and community a better place to live. “As a state senator, I can tell you that when I get a letter or a phone call from a constituent, I take it seriously, as do my colleagues. Some of the best legislation we’ve produced in the Commonwealth has come as a result of active, involved, educated citizens working with lawmakers on meaningful laws and reforms,” said Senator Carpenter.

During the assembly, Campus Director Keeley Gadd recognized students who had earned a spot on the Dean’s List and students who had perfect attendance during the summer term. She also announced that Instructor Eric Vogel had been selected by the students as Instructor of the Term. Prizes were awarded to students Tiffany Madsen, Billy Rowlette, and Roger Kearns who earned top scores in the Citizenship Exam Contest. Keeley also read a message from President Frank Longaker that was included in the commemorative Constitution Booklet which was given to each student.

State Senator Jared Carpenter is pictured addressing a crowd of American National University students from the Richmond Campus.

Students, Faculty, and Staff "Make a Difference" by Donating Blood

Students, Faculty, and Staff

On Thursday September 6th, the Florence Campus hosted a Mobile Donor Unit from Hoxworth Blood Center for a blood drive. With each donation potentially saving 3 lives, 18 people including faculty, staff, and students participated in the “Make a Difference” blood drive.

“I gave a part of myself in order to save a life,” said donor Brittany Sullivan a student in the office technology professional program.

“I just wanted to help others that need blood. It makes me feel better about myself being able to help others any way I can,” added Jodi Eilerman, a student in the medical assisting program.

Blood donation is one of the few ways that you can literally "give of yourself" to make a difference in someone else's life. This simple fact makes blood donation truly unique when it comes to supporting the community. Every day, blood recipients at the 31 hospitals in the Tri-State area rely on the generosity of others who donate their time and life-saving blood to provide the minimum 350 units of blood needed. Hoxworth operates eight neighborhood donor centers in addition to the mobile blood drives.

Medical assisting student Jodi Eilerman is pictured donating blood at the “Make a Difference” blood drive.



National College celebrated Constitution Day throughout the week of September 17th with contests, guest speakers, and other activities to promote a better understanding of this important historical document. Students from every campus received a pocket-size copy of the Constitution and in some locations, guest speakers met with students and gave a presentation about what the Constitution means to United States citizens. Click here to see photos from the campuses that submitted photos from their celebrations.

Lynchburg Campus student Tracee Willis (pictured) said, “Remembering this day and reading this information has reminded me of how proud I am to be an American.”


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.