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November 12, 2012

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Graduate Determined Not to Give Up

Graduate Determined Not to Give Up

Michelle Bidwell is a determined working mom who doesn’t give up. So it was that when she lost her job in retail management due to a back injury, she turned to American National University’s South Bend Campus looking to reinvent herself. She enrolled in the medical coding and billing diploma program in search of a new career.

Not having been in school in 20 years and finding herself challenged by new technology (she admits she hadn’t even had an email account before coming to National), Michelle liked the environment at National. “I liked the class size, I liked the flexibility,” she explained.

Nonetheless, college was a bit of a culture shock at first. “When I first started I was very overwhelmed,” she admitted. Thanks to her instructors—“the teachers were great,” she enthused—she was able to master her studies. One favorite instructor—Director of Healthcare Education Renee Neldon—she found particularly challenging for her Anatomy and Physiology class. Known as a caring but tough instructor, Renee had never given an “A” in this class before—until Michelle came along. “I got the first ‘A’ from her, so that was a huge achievement,” said Michelle.

“Don’t give up,” is the advice Michelle offered for new and current students. “I made dean’s list and I graduated with honors,” she said, “so I think that if I can do it, as a mom who had two teenagers and was working part time…just don’t give up.”

As a busy mom of two teenagers, Michelle Bidwell liked National’s small class size and flexible schedules.

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Medical Assisting Students Observe Surgical Procedure

Medical Assisting Students Observe Surgical Procedure

On October 19th, students in the medical assisting degree program at the Columbus Campus had the opportunity to witness a surgical procedure – something they may encounter when they enter their new career field. Director of Health Care Education Beth Laurenz invited students Kelly Privette, Eric Stevens, and Dominique Wynn to watch as her doctor performed this outpatient procedure on her foot.

Through this experience, the students had the chance to learn about surgical asepsis, anatomy, and the process of ambulatory care in relation to surgery. They were also able to see the anatomy of the foot - particularly the layers of skin and the bones.

Kelly said she is grateful to see a procedure like this firsthand. She added that observing this surgery gave her a more clear idea of what to expect when she finishes school and starts her career. “I know I can handle the career now,” she said noting that she is confident now more than ever that she picked the right career.

Pictured are medical assisting students (l to r) Dominique Wynn, Kelly Privette, and Eric Stevens.

Campus Recognizes On Assignment Staffing

Campus Recognizes On Assignment Staffing

The Indianapolis Campus recently recognized On Assignment Staffing for their continued support of career education with a plaque naming them a Distinguished Community Employer.

On Assignment has over 100 employees in medical offices throughout Indiana including American National University graduate Alicia Garrett. Mike Elmore, branch manager for On Assignment, likes working with graduates from the Indianapolis Campus. “American National University graduates are highly-skilled and well prepared for the work field.”

This Campus is excited to partner with a company like On Assignment that offers employment opportunities for American National University graduates.

Campus Director James Abraham (left) and Director of Health Care Education Patricia Ridge (right) are pictured presenting a plaque to On Assignment’s Branch Manager Mike Elmore and National graduate and On Assignment employee Alicia Garrett.

Graduate Quickly Finished Diploma and Entered the Work Force

Graduate Quickly Finished Diploma and Entered the Work Force

After the birth of her baby, Kimberly Sapp needed career training that she could complete quickly in a field that was in demand. After some research, she decided to pursue a career in the medical billing and coding field and enrolled at the Danville, Kentucky Campus to earn her diploma. “I liked that [the program] was a year and it was something that I could do fast and get to work in,” said Kim, who now has a career working as a certified professional coder at Baptist Cardiology Danville.

Kim said that many of the instructors at American National University challenged her and that Director of Health Care Education Virginia Patterson was always available to help students in any way that she could. “She really was there for us,” Kim recalled. “If we were struggling—she’d take time to meet with us.”

She graduated in 2010 and went to work for Baptist Physician’s Lexington (BPL) medical services office where she did billing and coding for all of the company’s Express Care Clinics in the state. Later, she transferred to Baptist Cardiology Danville, which is also owned by BPL, where she enjoys the fast pace of the busy cardiology practice.

Kim felt that in order to be a success in her career it was very important that she obtain the professional coding certification. She felt well prepared by her program at American National University to take the certification exam. It was important to her because certification is a requirement of many employers.

Kimberly Sapp (pictured) enjoys her new job as a certified professional coder.

Students Find Job Opportunities and Get Hands-On Experience at Career Fair

Students Find Job Opportunities and Get Hands-On Experience at Career Fair

On October 17th, students at the Richmond Campus attended an on-campus career fair with seven employers in attendance, including Mary Kay, Dress Barn, Premier Jewelry, Michael’s, Speedway, and Kelly Services. Students had the opportunity to talk with representatives from these local employers about job openings they have available.

Representatives from Mary Kay, Dress Barn, and Premier Jewelry not only talked to the students about career opportunities but also showed students how to dress professionally for job interviews.

Speedway was taking applications for cashiers with the possibility of advancing to management. Speedway offers tuition assistance to employees who take management courses.

The medical assisting students found it interesting that Kelly Services not only provides temp-to-hire jobs for factory work but also for healthcare settings as well. Jessica Inglis, a student in the medical assisting program, said that working a temporary job would be a great way to gain experience and it might lead to something more permanent.

Also during the career fair, medical assisting students also performed health screenings checking blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels for students, staff, and faculty. The health screenings provided a great hands-on learning experience for the students.

Student Brian Hisle is pictured during the career fair having his blood pressure checked by medical assisting student Renee Pruitt.

Coal Miner Starts Journey for a New Career and Brings Family with Him

Coal Miner Starts Journey for a New Career and Brings Family with Him

Aaron Farmer has a family full of nurses. His wife, mother, and mother-in-law are all in the nursing field so when he was one of the hundreds of coal miners that lost their jobs, he decided to go to college to become a nurse. He chose National’s nursing program at the Pikeville Campus because he wanted a stable job.

Aware of her interest in the nursing field, Aaron encouraged his wife’s cousin, Jacqueline Mollett, to apply for the nursing program so they could attend together and help each other through the program. Jacqueline appreciates his support saying, “He was already accepted into the program when he began to campaign for my acceptance. It’s nice to have someone looking out for you who genuinely wants the best for you.” Jacqueline chose nursing because she wanted a job in a field that is thriving where she would have plenty of opportunities.

Jacqueline and Aaron started taking classes at the same time. They are both on track to graduate in 2014 as registered nurses.

Aaron Farmer (left) talked his cousin-in-law Jacqueline Mollett (right) into attending National’s nursing program with him.

Student Passes Exams for Two Computer Certifications in One Day

Student Passes Exams for Two Computer Certifications in One Day

Derek Blevins, a student in the information systems engineering program at the Lexington Campus, recently passed both of the Computer Technology Industry Association’s (CompTIA) A+ certification tests.

The A+ certification is an important credential in the IT industry where it is used as a benchmark of basic computer technology skills. Many employers require that their employees be A+ certified and having the certification will give Derek a competitive advantage when he applies for jobs in the field.

Derek said that he felt confident and prepared when he sat for both parts of the certification test on the same day. “The way the classes are in our major, they are based so that you are able to take the certification at the end so that really helped,” he explained. Derek also said that George Camp, the campus’s director of IT programs, was always available for extra study sessions whenever he needed them. Derek plans to take additional certification tests during his program to be as well prepared as possible as he begins his career in the IT field.

Derek Blevins is pictured holding his CompTIA certificate.

Students Gain Valuable Insight from Graduates during Month-Long Celebration

Students Gain Valuable Insight from Graduates during Month-Long Celebration

As part of a month-long celebration of medical programs, the Louisville Campus organized a forum with a panel of graduates on Thursday, October 25th. Participating were Amanda Gracie, Keyotta Sarver, Marnita Benford, Patrice Bowman, and Mary Hall who are all National graduates and are now working in their new careers in the medical field.

Finding employment in the medical field was the most popular topic of discussion. Keyotta Sarver, a medical assisting graduate who works for a dermatology practice, encouraged students to take advantage of the services that the campus career center offers. “I had a lot of interviews…before I found a job,” recalled Keyotta, who explained that Career Center Director Donna Reed-Carson set up many of the interviews for her.

Graduate Amanda Gracie, who works for a geriatrics practice, reminded the students that the impression that they make during their externship is very important. “I encourage everyone who’s doing an externship—do your best,” said Amanda adding that the site may be looking for its next employee or may recommend you to another employer.

Brittany Stice, a student who is double majoring in medical billing and coding and medical assisting, said that she enjoyed the panel discussion. “It made me feel a little more at ease that you are going to get a job and that National does help you get a job,” she said.

Medical assisting graduates Keyotta Sarver (left) and Amanda Gracie (right) are pictured sharing their experiences about finding employment and working in the medical field.

Students Get Hands-On Experience as They Support Veterans at the Northern Kentucky Stand Down

Students Get Hands-On Experience as They Support Veterans at the Northern Kentucky Stand Down

On Friday, October 12th, students and faculty from the Florence Campus partnered with doctors from the Veterans Mobile Health Unit to provide medical screenings during the Northern Kentucky Stand Down which was held at the Bellevue Veterans Club. The Stand Down was held to provide help to homeless veterans. Each veteran who attended received a hot meal, a duffle bag of clothing, and a warm blanket in addition to medical screenings, eye exams, haircuts, manicures, massages, and more. A large number of resource agencies also provided information and assistance during the event.

Director of Health Care Education Cyndi Wilson and Director of Surgical Technology Carolyn Nienaber led a team of medical assisting students as they took blood pressure readings and measured glucose levels of the many veterans who attended. Scott Smith, a graduate from the business administration—accounting program and owner of Smitty Productions, also volunteered to provide DJ services for the event.

“It seemed like a very good opportunity to practice and get more hands-on experience,” said medical assisting student Viola Rowland.

“I decided to come and help because my Dad was a Vietnam veteran-- Special Forces Green Beret. I’m very grateful for all of them and I do anything that I can to help the veterans,” said Krysta Abrams, who is also a student in the medical assisting program. “It boosted my confidence knowing that I chose the right field for me and also that we’re trying to help the veterans out as much as we can.”

Director of Health Care Education Cyndi Wilson is pictured in the top photo as she supervises medical assisting student Krista Lillpop doing a blood pressure check for a veteran at the Northern Kentucky Stand Down.

Students and faculty from the Florence Campus gathered for a picture with the staff of the Veterans Mobile Unit during the Northern Kentucky Stand Down. They partnered to provide medical screenings to veterans during the event.

Student Makes Connection at Job Fair that Leads to Full Time Job Opportunity

Student Makes Connection at Job Fair that Leads to Full Time Job Opportunity

Recently, Campus Director Bill Baker and Career Center Director Nancy Wilcox attended an Open House at Wyndhurst Family Medicine at the invitation of National student Kierra Ferguson. Kierra has been working part time for Wyndhurst since April when she met office manager Victoria Lunsford at a Lynchburg Campus job fair.

“[Kierra] was one of the students helping out with the job fair and I was very impressed with her and the way she was helping everyone.”

Kierra, a medical assisting student, was networking for a possible externship site when she stopped by and started talking with Victoria. By the end of the job fair, she had an externship site and an offer for a part-time job, and Victoria had found her “ideal” office assistant. “I love my job!” Kierra told us. “It’s on-the-job training and I am using what I learn in class every day.” Kierra will be promoted to a fulltime position when she graduates.

“That’s why job fairs can be so successful - they provide the opportunity for a potential employee to meet a potential employer face-to-face,” said Nancy. “That first impression can seal the deal for the job seeker and it is a win-win situation for everyone.”

During the open house, Bill and Nancy were very impressed as they watched Kierra in action greeting guests, assisting clients with appointments, answering questions, and making sure everyone was welcomed. They were also gratified to see graduate Michelle Peerman, who graduated from the medical assisting program in 2006. She completed her externship at Wyndhurst and was hired there in a full time position after wards.

Medical assisting student Kierra Ferguson is pictured at Wyndhurst Family Medicine where she is working as an office assistant.

Kierra Ferguson is pictured (center) during the career fair in April where she met Trisha Robertson (left) and Victoria Lunsford (right) from Wyndhurst.

Campus Celebrates Future Medical Assistants

Campus Celebrates Future Medical Assistants

The Charlottesville Campus recently celebrated Medical Assistants Recognition Week as observed by the American Medical Technologists (AMT) with an assembly of students that included lunch and fun activities. Director of Health Care Education Larry Liggan coordinated the event celebration with student Crystal Wood. Many students in the medical assisting program supported the activities as their future profession was recognized.

Larry began by praising students for choosing the medical assisting profession. He explained the impact medical assistants have on the daily operations of a medical practice and emphasized their value as members of a health care team. Following a pizza luncheon, students participated in a medical terminology spelling bee with a list of challenging medical terms. After several rounds of elimination, Suzette Wise was named the bee’s winner.

Director of Health Care Education Larry Liggan (far right) is pictured praising students in the medical assisting degree program.

Connie Walden – Difference Maker at the Danville Campus

Connie Walden – Difference Maker at the Danville Campus

Connie Walden at the Danville, Virginia Campus

Student Services Representative


  • National College staff member since 2008
  • Gained over 40 years of customer service and accounting experience
  • Recipient of the following National College awards:
  1. M. A. Smythe Award- 2010
  2. Alumni Hall of Achievement Award- 2011
  3. Outstanding College Member- Danville- 2011
  4. Student Services Representative of the Year- 2011
  5. Student Services Award- Term 111
  6. Student Services Award- Term 107

I was attending National College in the Computer Applications Technology/Business Administration Management program, and a position became available [in Student Services], and I grabbed it up. I have always seen National as my lifesaver, and I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives because National made a difference in mine.

I try to be sure that the students are succeeding and deal with any academic obstacles in the way. I help them get tutors and have even tutored them myself. I always have an open ear, and when they just need someone to vent to, I listen until they are ready to go on their way.

Every year, graduation is my favorite time. I see people walk across the stage that came in saying “I don’t think I can do this” and end up graduating with honors. These are the moments that make me proud to be here.

I work with some of the most incredible and caring people. My campus director is always willing to hear what we have to say and takes our suggestions and implements them when he can. My co-workers are a dedicated bunch of hard workers who are always thinking about the good of the student and are eager to help them succeed no matter what it takes.


IT Students Participate in Community Basic Computer Classes

IT Students Participate in Community Basic Computer Classes

Students in the information technology programs at the Parkersburg Campus have teamed up with the Wood County Public Library to offer free basic computer classes to community members. The classes, offered once a month, allow participants to receive assistance with online computing and students have the opportunity to get hands-on training in a realistic technical support environment.

The students first assess each participant to determine their existing skills and abilities. They then conduct individualized training for each participant. Director of IT Programs Mark Swann says that these monthly classes are an excellent opportunity to mimic a workplace environment for students.

The first Basic Computer Class was offered in October. Although in the early stages of the program, Mark is pleased with the success of the first class: “The students were able to answer a variety of questions for the participants and I’m excited to see how the program evolves.”

Information systems engineering student Michele Fleming feels that the experience she gained from this project is invaluable. “We were able to teach [participants] about the importance of online and email security and provide techniques to safeguard one’s online presence.”

Student Ian McDonald is pictured assisting a class attendee with online email.

Students, Staff, and Faculty Celebrate the US Constitution

Students, Staff, and Faculty Celebrate the US Constitution

In October, the Roanoke Valley Campus celebrated the 225th Anniversary of the US Constitution with patriotic activities and a voter registration drive organized by Librarian Betty Johnson and Director of Health Care Education MJ Williams.

“Uncle Sam” (also known as student Tyler Cromack) and “Lady Liberty” (student Shacolby Law) distributed pocket-sized copies of the Constitution and encouraged people to register to vote and sign up for a blood donation drive. Through their efforts, 20 people registered to vote in time for the 2012 Presidential election.

Student Tyler Cromack is pictured handing out copies of the Constitution to students Tabitha Harris (left) and John Maynard (3rd from left) while Librarian Betty Johnson assists.

ICF International Hires Three Graduates from National College

ICF International Hires Three Graduates from National College

On November 1, the Martinsville Campus presented a plaque to ICF International to recognize the company as a Distinguished Community Employer.

ICF International delivers professional services and technology solutions in the energy, environment and infrastructure, health, social programs, consumer/financial, public safety, and defense markets. The company was founded in 1969 and is growing with 50 offices worldwide and more than 4,500 employees.

Three graduates from the Martinsville Campus were hired at ICF recently and with more growth expected, the campus is encouraging more students to seek career opportunities there.

Career Center Director Annette Lawson (left) is pictured presenting a plaque to ICF’s Director of Business Operations Al Blankenship, Human Resources Manager Kimberly Williams, and Office Manager Penney Hoar.

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.