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March 18, 2013

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Veteran Loves Helping Other Veterans

Veteran Loves Helping Other Veterans

Stephen Newby, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and graduate from the Danville, Kentucky Campus, can’t imagine a better way to be putting his training as a registered medical assistant to use than in his job assisting fellow veterans as a medical support assistant at the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“It’s just great to wake up to have something to go to [where I can] meet people’s needs,” Stephen said of his job at the busy hospital. His duties include assisting veterans with scheduling and check-in for appointments and providing administrative and clerical support for outpatient visits. “I’m the link between the patients and the clinical staff,” he explained adding that he always tries to go the extra mile to see that the veterans are cared for as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Stephen decided to train in the medical field because he had family members who worked in healthcare. “I knew that it was a good career because hospitals never close—it’s job security,” he said.

When he began looking at colleges, he visited American National University at the recommendation of a friend. He liked that it offered small class sizes and was conveniently located close to his home. Once enrolled, he was somewhat nervous about returning to school. “I hadn’t done mathematics or algebra for over 20 years,” he recalled, adding that his concerns were alleviated at National. “If you did need to brush up on it, they gave you ample amount of time to help, and then there were tutors on-site, so that benefitted me a great deal. It just met all my needs.”

He encourages other veterans to consider American National University for their education. “It gave me a broader perspective of the workforce and how Americans should live their life as far as getting an education,” he said. “If you’re a veteran looking for educational programs - whatever campus it is … [there is] opportunity there and it’s a great learning experience. They take pride in their veterans.”

Stephen Newby, veteran and American National University graduate, is pictured at the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he works as a medical support assistant.

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Charlottesville, VA
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West Virginia
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Debbie Caldwell-Difference Maker at the Lynchburg Campus

Debbie Caldwell-Difference Maker at the Lynchburg Campus

Debbie Caldwell at the Lynchburg Campus

Instructor of English, Math, Keyboarding, and Microsoft Office courses


  • National College faculty member since June 2001
  • Has over 27 years of teaching experience in the public school system


  • Holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Lynchburg College and a teaching certificate from the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Previously served as chairperson for math, science, and technology in professional learning communities
  • Currently attending Santa Cruz Mentoring Professional Development through the Center for Teacher Leadership

I teach at National College because I believe in what we do, and I believe in our students and what they can achieve.

Teachers can make a difference. It is so fulfilling when a student graduates and says to me “Thank you for believing in me.”

Student Assists Fellow Students as a Peer Tutor

Student Assists Fellow Students as a Peer Tutor

Shannon Zalewski, a veteran student in the bachelor’s program in business administration-management at the Harrisonburg Campus, enjoys assisting her fellow students as a peer tutor. Peer tutoring is a valuable service available at no additional charge to every student at National College.

“Some students at National have been out of school for a long time and, having the option of a tutor helps people to know that we, as a National family, are not going to let anyone who wants to succeed, fall behind,” explained Shannon.

Carlos Peppers, one of the students whom Shannon tutors, said that the tutoring is helping him to learn more and to improve his grades. Shannon recommends that students receive tutoring at least twice a week—once after class to go over the materials that were covered and once before class to review homework and study for tests.

She encourages students who feel that they could benefit from tutoring to contact their student services representative as soon as possible. “Don’t wait around to see what your next test score is,” she advised. “Our terms are short, which doesn’t leave much room for help if you wait until the last minute. The earlier you can get linked up with a tutor and get into a routine, the better off you will be.”

Student Shannon Zalewski is pictured tutoring fellow student Carlos Peppers.

Telvista Provides Opportunities for Many National College Graduates

Telvista Provides Opportunities for Many National College Graduates

Telvista, a Dallas, Texas-based customer care solutions company with an office in Danville, currently employs many graduates of National College. Telvista is one of the largest employers in the Danville community. National graduates are employed in various positions including customer service representatives, mentors, and supervisors.

The employment positions available at Telvista are a natural fit for National graduates who have had to take intensive computer, business, and management courses. To acknowledge this mutually beneficial partnership, the Danville, Virginia Campus recently named Televista as a Distinguished Community Employer. The College appreciates Televista for acknowledging the academic achievements of its graduates and offering them employment.

Career center director Jim Gillispie (left) is pictured presenting the Distinguished Community Employer Award to Connie Ly-Barksdale, Televista’s human resource employment and recruiting manager.

Students Learn About Hospitality Economy and Logistical Planning at Basketball Tournaments

Students Learn About Hospitality Economy and Logistical Planning at Basketball Tournaments

On Thursday, February 21st, students from the Tourism Analysis class at the Roanoke Valley Campus had the opportunity to visit the Salem Civic Center on the opening day of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference's (ODAC) basketball tournaments. Rotarians from the Salem Rotary Club, the event organizer, briefed the students on the importance of the tournament for the local hospitality economy and the logistical planning involved in organizing the event.

Salem Rotary Club past president and American National University vice president Lenora Downing met with students and provided a brief overview about the tournament and Rotary International. The students were impressed with the amount of detail that was required to ensure a successful event. Trisha Clark said that event planning was a career field she hoped to explore further and that she appreciated the opportunity to attend the tournament.

Vice president Lenora Downing (3rd from left) is pictured with students Morgan Hoosier, Kristin Alls, Lee Small, Clayton Cromer, and Trisha Clark at the ODAC basketball tournament.

Nursing Student Scores in Top 10% of the Nation on the Kaplan Exit Exam

Nursing Student Scores in Top 10% of the Nation on the Kaplan Exit Exam

Melinda Shepherd (pictured), a graduate from the Pikeville Campus, has been hired as a registered nurse by Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) after scoring in the top 10% of the nation on the Kaplan Exit Exam which she sat for at the conclusion of her nursing program at American National University.

Before coming to National, Melinda was taking some time off of work to stay at home with her baby when a friend told her about the great experience that she’d had in the nursing program at National. “The classes were smaller than I’ve heard the other nursing program classes to be around the area and it seemed that I could get help when I needed [it],” recalled Melinda.

Two years later, Melinda has completed her associate’s degree program and now has a fulfilling career working on a surgical wing at PMC. “I like the fact that I can help people and make people feel better,” Melinda said of her job where she provides care to post-op and bariatric patients.

She feels well prepared for her duties as an RN thanks to nurse administrator Shirley Goff and her instructors. “Shirley’s just an inspiration. She’s so very smart,” said Melinda. “All of the instructors are great. Each one is someone that we can look up to.”

Melinda is continuing her education in the bachelor of nursing program at Chamberlain College of Nursing.

Melinda Shepherd (bottom far-right) is pictured with her fellow nursing students prior to the Pikeville Campus Nursing Pinning Ceremony that was held in November.

City of Richmond Acknowledged for Outstanding Support

City of Richmond Acknowledged for Outstanding Support

The Richmond Campus has named the City of Richmond as a Distinguished Community Employer for its exceptional support of American National University graduates and of career education. Campus director Keeley Gadd and students, staff, and faculty from the Richmond Campus, presented Mayor Jim Barnes with a plaque recognizing the award during the City Commission meeting which was held on Tuesday, March 12th.

“The city of Richmond has been a true partner over the years,” said Keeley as she presented the plaque to Mayor Barnes. “You have supported our graduates by hiring them. You have participated in our graduation ceremonies…and you just help support us in many, many ways.” Keeley also acknowledged the valuable service and support that the city’s first responders provide to the campus.

Campus director Keeley Gadd (2nd from right) is pictured with students and staff presenting a plaque of appreciation to Mayor Jim Barnes during a city commission meeting in March.

Students Hear from Expert in the Field

Students Hear from Expert in the Field

Students in the health information technology (HIT) and medical coding classes at the Louisville Campus recently attended a presentation by Christy Murphy, a registered health information technologist.

Ms. Murphy works for a large health care company, and she presented information about the use of a chargemaster in medical coding. A chargemaster is a listing of charges for procedures, drugs, and supplies that standardizes pricing and coding throughout a health care facility. Students learned that conscientious use of a chargemaster provides information for internal and external audits, helps ensure accuracy of billing, and may improve the revenue of the medical facility. Ms. Murphy also talked about the different careers available in the fields of HIT and coding.

Noting the trend in computer assisted coding, Ms. Murphy assured the students that computer assisted coding will not replace the skills of a coder. However, the coder’s role may change. Instead of assigning codes to each item, future coders may function like auditors, verifying that information is correct.

The information Ms. Murphy shared was helpful to students in the HIT and medical billing programs as they plan for the new careers.

Guest speaker Christy Murphy (left) is pictured at the Louisville Campus with instructor Felicia Ray.

International Student Learns New Culture and Gains New Skills to Start a Business

International Student Learns New Culture and Gains New Skills to Start a Business

When Ljiljana Rokvic fled her war-torn country of Bosnia over 20 years ago, she never foresaw the day when she would be a college graduate living in the United States and owning her own business with her husband. She was fortunate to flee to Germany where she lived for six years before coming to the United States in 2001. She found that the biggest barrier to finding employment was lack of fluency in English. So, she decided to enroll at the Florence Campus where she could pursue dual degrees in accounting and business management and develop her English language skills.

Ljiljana credits her classes at National with preparing her for the job market and owning a business by acquiring the accounting skills necessary to handle all of the accounting needs of the company she and her husband started in 2012, MZR Transport LLC. At MZR, she is responsible for the accounts receivable and payable. Besides her accounting classes, her business classes helped her to understand the needs and challenges a small business owner faces. Her written communications class helped her with one of her biggest challenges - learning a third language and culture.

For Ljiljana, it has been a remarkable journey from the conflict in Bosnia and working in a factory to being a college graduate and a small business owner.

Ljiljana Rokvic, pictured at the Florence Campus, has had some major life changes including earning a degree from American National University and starting her own business.

Radio Professional Jay Alexander Offers Career Advice

Radio Professional Jay Alexander Offers Career Advice

Jay Alexander, on-air radio personality and program director of station 107.9 The Beat, was welcomed to the Lexington Campus on Wednesday, February 27th as the guest speaker for the campus’s Black History Month celebration. Phi Beta Lambda, the campus’s student business organization, hosted the event and also sold lunch and baked goods during the celebration.

Mr. Alexander shared his insights and experience from his many years of working in the radio broadcasting industry. “I learned that, in radio, it’s not about how your voice sounds, it’s how well you relate to the listener,” explained Mr. Alexander. He also said that those entering into a career in radio need to be well-rounded and willing to take on any task. “You have to learn computers, you have to learn marketing, you have to be adjustable and flexible to handle anything that’s thrown at you.”

Mr. Alexander encouraged students in the radio and television broadcasting program to contact him for internship opportunities. “Just call me. I’ve had several students in internships at the station, thanks to Cheryl,” he said of his work with career center director Cheryl Howell and with radio and television program director Bill Gray. He added that 107.9 and its six sister channels have also hired graduates from the Lexington Campus.

Jay Alexander, from 107.9 The Beat radio station, is pictured as a guest speaker at the Lexington Campus offering advice to students for starting a career in radio broadcasting during the campus's black history month celebration.

Students Represent National College and Contribute to Local Soup Kitchen

Students Represent National College and Contribute to Local Soup Kitchen

Syra Harvey, a student in the medical assisting degree program at the Bartlett Campus, has donated her time and professional talents to assist others. She, along with the members of the campus’s Student Activities Council (SAC) worked at the First Presbyterian Church Soup Kitchen. Their mission for the day was to provide assistance to the homeless adults and children in Shelby County. Assistance was provided in such forms as food, medicine, and clothing.

Although Syra has volunteered in the community before for events like the Special Olympics, this assignment was new for her. “With the way the economy has changed, acquiring the necessities [of life] can be a challenge for some.”

Syra also brought her 13-year-old daughter, Shania. “I wanted my daughter to see how fortunate we are and that she should not take things in life for granted,” she explained. “I thought Shania would be reserved in a challenging environment such as the Soup Kitchen but, she was a take charge person and she worked in multiple areas.

Syra explained that there were approximately 80 adults and fewer children that received benefits from the soup kitchen. The National College representatives did a great job in giving back to the community.

Pictured are (l to r) students Catina Fleming and Syra Harvey, Syra’s daughter Shania Johnson, and Quentin Reed, the campus’s student services representative.

Husband and Wife Study Side-by-Side In Pharmacy Technician Program

Husband and Wife Study Side-by-Side In Pharmacy Technician Program

Husband and wife Earl and Tamara Chandler have enrolled together in the pharmacy technician program at the Madison Campus where they are receiving the career training they need to find employment in the in-demand field.

Earl first earned his associate’s degree with a double major in business administration-management and accounting at National. He decided to return to study in the pharmacy technician program because his mother worked in the medical field and it has always interested him.

Before coming to National, Earl was having trouble finding a good paying job that he enjoyed and was considering college. When he received a post card in the mail from National, Tamara encouraged him to check out the school. During a visit to the campus he said, the idea of attending just felt right. “Everybody was real friendly. They didn’t push anything on me. They let me decide what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it,” he recalled.

Once enrolled, Earl found staff and faculty who cared about his success. “This school treated me like a family member—at some schools you’re a number,” he said. He enjoyed the small class size at National which allowed the instructors to work one-on-one with him whenever he had a question or didn’t understand course materials.

Tamara noticed how beneficial the classes at National were for Earl and he encouraged her to join him in receiving the career training that she needed to advance in her career. She enrolled soon thereafter.

“I know you can always better yourself - you can never go wrong doing that,” Earl said as he and his wife study side-by-side to gain the skills that they need for rewarding careers in healthcare.

Student Earl Chandler is pictured in his best professional attire at the Madison Campus.

Black History Month Culminates with Distinguished Luncheon Panel

Black History Month Culminates with Distinguished Luncheon Panel

To celebrate Black History Month, the Dayton Area-Area Campus formed a Black History Committee which hosted many events throughout the month of February including a luncheon panel. The Black History Committee was co-chaired by director of health care education Derrick Parks and health information technology director Renee Smith and included director of admissions Linda Clemons, accounting department chair Wil Morris, and business department chair Robert Abadie.

The committee assembled a distinguished panel for the luncheon representing the religious, political, legal, social welfare, economic, educational, and public health communities: Bishop Dr. Truman and Pastor Beverly Martins from Maranatha Christian Fellowship Church; political professor Dr. Liza Benham; Chief Judge Walter Rice of the US District Courts; Cindy Elms, MSW, social worker for Grace Hospice; Jenell Ross, president of the Bob Ross Auto Group; Dr. Hazel Latson, education chair at Central State University; and Cheryl Scroggins, program coordinator for Public Health of Dayton-Montgomery County.

Moderator Amelia Robinson, a columnist for the Dayton Daily News, introduced each panelist as he or she presented a brief black historical view of his or her respective discipline. There were over 50 students, staff, and guests who listened to the panelists’ presentations while they enjoyed their luncheon.

Participating students were able to learn a lot from panel members and their expert historical analysis of black history. The campus plans to hold similar events in the future.

Pictured are Black History Month panel members (l to r) Derrick Parks, Cindy Elms, Jennell Ross, Dr. Liza Abram Benham, Cheryl Scroggins, Hazel Latson, Judge Rice, and Renee Smith.

Simplex IT Recognized for Support of ISE Program

Simplex IT Recognized for Support of ISE Program

Simplex IT has provided exceptional support to students in the information systems engineering (ISE) degree program at the Akron Area Campus. Simplex IT is one of the most comprehensive IT solutions and support companies in the Akron area. They offer careers for IT specialists and have provided valuable experiences for American National University students as externs preparing for careers in this field.

This February, Richard Crislip, the campus’s director of IT programs, presented a plaque of recognition to Bob Coppage, owner of Simplex IT, and Kevin Dutkiewicz, network Administrator, honoring the company as a Distinguished Community Employer. “Simplex IT’s mentoring partnership has proven to be very beneficial for American National University and their information technology students,” said Richard of the relationship between American National University and Simplex IT. “One hundred percent of the graduates that completed an externship at Simplex-IT were successfully employed soon after graduation.”

Director of IT programs Richard Crislip (left) is pictured presenting a plaque of appreciation to Bob Coppage, owner of Simplex IT.

Accounting Graduate is Hired Following Internship

Accounting Graduate is Hired Following Internship

Natalian Braden, a business administration-management and accounting graduate from the Nashville Campus, has been hired by Ford Roofing Company following an internship with the company. According to career center director Terri Davis-McCall, this was the first time that Ford Roofing has taken on an intern, which they agreed to try after being approached by the campus.

Natalian enjoys her job at Ford Roofing where she works at her own pace, in her own office, using programs such as Quickbooks and Microsoft Excel which she learned during her accounting program. Skills gained in her business communications courses have also been vital in her job as she writes business proposals, creates invoices, and deals personally with many of the company’s clients, including those who manage the homes of country music stars who live in the Nashville area.

Natalian credits her instructors at National with making her a “go getter.” She said, “There are people there who care about your career… and who make you want to go out and go get more.” She has returned to the Nashville Campus to earn a degree in medical assisting with a minor in medical billing and coding and she hopes to one day be able to use both her accounting and medical program skills working in a medical office.

Natalian Braden is pictured as a graduate of the business administration-management and accounting programs and a current student in the medical assisting program.

Iraqi Student Studies ESL to Prepare for Engineering Career

Iraqi Student Studies ESL to Prepare for Engineering Career

Iraqi student Wisam Elia (pictured) began the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at American National University in the Roanoke Valley just three months ago, and he’s soaring through. Upon enrolling in the ESL program, students are tested to determine where in the 6-level program they should begin. Wisam, who took English classes at home in Iraq in grammar school and high school, was able to start the program at level 4 and has already progressed to level 5. “Learning English will help with work. English is the first language in the world,” Wisam says of why he wanted to enroll in the ESL program.

Wisam heard about the ANU ESL program from his cousin who is enrolled in a nearby community college and knew about the program. He encouraged Wisam to come from Iraq and join him in Roanoke to advance his knowledge of the English language. After completing the program, Wisam will take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. When he passes the TOEFL, he will receive a certificate which will help him get in an American college or university. He has his sights set on a career in engineering.

In the meantime, Wisam is enjoying his experience in the ESL program. “I like that the teachers take care of the students,” he says. “They teach them like they are their [children].” He has already recommended the program to a friend back home in Iraq who plans to apply when he graduates from high school later this year.

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.