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March 25, 2013

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Education Helps Graduate Grow Professionally

Education Helps Graduate Grow Professionally

After working her way up in the hotel industry, Juliann Poff decided she wanted a different career so she could focus on her growing family. She had an exciting career working in hotel restaurants and catering in big cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Nashville, but she grew tired of the work hours on the weekends and holidays.

Juliann and her husband eventually settled in Christiansburg, Virginia where they started to build their family. In order to make a career change, she realized she would need to get an education to add to her skill sets. Intimidated by the area’s larger universities, Juliann discovered National College. She enrolled in the legal secretary associate’s degree program at the Roanoke Valley Campus.

Juliann worked several years in the business field using her legal secretary degree. Similar to when she worked in the restaurant field, she held several positions working her way up to a sales position for a computer hardware company called CCS-Inc. But in order to continue her growth, she realized she would need additional education. Since she had so much success with National College for her first degree, it was a natural decision to return for a bachelor’s degree. CCS-Inc supported her educational pursuits by offering her tuition assistance. She graduated from the business administration-management degree program in November 2010 and it instantly paid off.

With her new bachelor’s degree, Juliann was promoted to channel manager at CCS-Inc where she became responsible for a sales team. “Just having that increased educational experience has afforded me additional opportunities,” Juliann explained, which is why she decided to re-enroll into the College’s Master of Business Administration program. With help from the National College Business Partnership Grant, where the college matches up to $1 for every $2 that an employer provides in tuition reimbursement funds, Juliann was able to get two degrees with little out-of-pocket costs.

With plans of graduating for a third time from National College this year, Juliann’s opportunities have multiplied. She is now an inside sales manager for Qualtrax which is a subsidiary of CCS-Inc. She is responsible for growing the business on an international level and will be traveling to London next month. She is an active member of the business community serving in different roles for the American Business Women’s Association Express Network and Belmont II Ruritan Club. She has also been asked to give presentations to area groups like the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council and Virginia Tech. “The experience of [giving presentations] in class has given me confidence to be able to do it outside of the classroom,” she said.

Juliann feels that it has helped her to work and take courses for the MBA program at the same time. “It was nice to be able to apply the skills I was learning to my current job duties,” she said. “Being able to apply [the skills] directly, and having the experience that I already had, has been really valuable.”

Juliann Poff is pictured in one of her MBA classes at the Roanoke Valley Campus of National College.

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Instructor Delivers Poetry Presentation in Honor of Black History Month

Instructor Delivers Poetry Presentation in Honor of Black History Month

On Thursday, February 28th, Lonnell Johnson, an instructor at the Columbus Campus, delivered a poetry reading/presentation in honor of Black History Month. The presentation, titled “My Soul Looks Back, All the Way Back, and Wonders: A Celebration of Black History in Poetry,” consisted of a blend of poetry reading and information about notable figures in African-American History.

During the presentation, Dr. Johnson read some of his own poetry as well as some poetry of important black poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Phillis Wheatley. He gave the audience an overview of his life and how it pertained to black history. He showed a picture of his third grade class in 1953, pointing to a banner on the classroom wall that read “Negro History Week” and noting that the census was going to be dropping the term “negro” soon. Dr. Johnson also discussed his time in college when he discovered the works of poets such as Dunbar and Wheatley, his time in the military when he found his love of teaching, and his trip to Africa in the early 2000s when he visited a famous slave port.

The presentation was theatrical, and it got the audience involved, occasionally getting them to recite parts of the poetry with Dr. Johnson or to give a rhythm for the poems by snapping their fingers. “Dr. Johnson was very inspiring,” remarked student Taiisha Bolton, adding that she really enjoyed his stories from his personal history as well as the information he presented about famous African-Americans and former slaves.

Pictured during the black history celebration are (l to r) student Taiisha Bolton, instructor Lonnell Johnson, and students Benogo Conde and Marsaydizs Johnson.

Student Came to the US to Learn English

Student Came to the US to Learn English

Diana Lopez loves the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at American National University’s Roanoke Valley Campus. She enrolled in November 2012 and hopes to finish this summer - less than a year after she started. She has already started making arrangements to enroll in the campus’s business administration program when she finishes.

Diana is from Cali, Colombia. She had graduated from a university there and was working in the hospitality industry. She decided to come to the United States to study English because in Colombia, she said, it is very important to speak two languages. “I studied English at another institution in my country, but it’s not the same,” Diana says. “If you need to speak English very well, you need to come to the United States.”

Diana liked that American National’s program curriculum included grammar, speaking opportunities, and discussions between fellow students and instructors. “The teachers are amazing…and it’s better when it’s a smaller, quiet, good place because sometimes you are stressed. Learning a new language is difficult.” She also liked that she qualified for the campus’s exclusive Cultural Awareness Grant, which pays for the costs of her textbooks. This grant was created by the university to help students that are not supported by their country’s embassy or other governmental agencies.

Diana’s enthusiasm about the ESL program is infectious. “It’s amazing!” she said with excitement for the program. “The people here are very friendly. It’s difficult when you come from another country. So it’s very nice when you have friendly people to help you understand.”

Diana Lopez (pictured) has recommended American National’s ESL program to three friends - two from the Dominican Republic, and another from Colombia who just received her visa and is looking forward to enrolling very soon.

Graduate Moves Up with Bachelor’s Degree

Graduate Moves Up with Bachelor’s Degree

Cecilia Rose was making a decent living at her job in a local factory, but she was not happy. To improve her chances for a career, she made the decision to enroll in college.

After hearing good things about National College, she visited the Lynchburg Campus in 2002 and really liked the idea of small classes and one-on-one attention. Her decision paid off and she graduated with an associate’s degree in computer applications.

With an education behind her and a degree in hand, Cecilia developed the confidence she needed to make a career switch. She accepted a job with a group home and soon received a promotion to day support supervisor.

“We taught pre-vocational job skills to individuals with disabilities,” Cecilia explained. “I was finally satisfied with my job and seeing my skills that I learned at National were paying off.” After many successful years of using her associate’s degree and working in management, Cecilia decided to take the next big step in building her education and enrolled in the campus’s business administration-management bachelor’s degree program in 2010. It was an easy decision to return to National College to continue her education. She graduated for the second time in November 2012, and now she is a day support program manager in charge of two programs and 10 employees. She is proud of her education and her job.

“Everything that I learned at National, I have applied to my job and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Cecilia Rose is pictured at her desk where she manages two day support programs.

Student Makes Positive Contributions to her Community

Student Makes Positive Contributions to her Community

Rebekah Durr, medical assisting student at the Princeton Campus, recently contributed to and participated in a Dr. Seuss birthday party at the Tazewell County Public Library, where she is working as a work-study student. In addition to planning games and creating decorations with her own artwork, Rebekah attended the event as “Cat-in-the-Hat.”

Rebekah is a single mom and before she started attending National College, she was unemployed and in need of an income. When she made the decision to get a college education, it was a natural choice for her to pick National College as her mother is a graduate. In addition to attending classes and working as a work-study student at the library, Rebekah is working as an extern for Dr. Cecinas at Bluefield Family Medicine. With plans to graduate in April, Rebekah is well on her way to a new career that will benefit her and her daughter.

Princeton student Rebekah Durr is pictured as “Cat-in-the-Hat” at the Tazewell County Public Library where she is working as a work-study student.

Campus Staff and Students Attend Fast Track to Enhance Employment and Networking Opportunities

Campus Staff and Students Attend Fast Track to Enhance Employment and Networking Opportunities

The Martinsville Campus recently participated in the 2013 Fast Track Trade Show sponsored by the Martinsville Henry County Chamber of Commerce - the area’s premium business trade show. National College was among 133 other businesses and organizations that saw about 5000 people in attendance.

Campus staff greeted visitors and offered a history of National College and explanation of the available programs at the Martinsville Campus. Students in instructor Gayle Barker’s Medical Office Finance class visited the trade show as a community involvement activity related to employment and networking opportunities.

Student Sandra Fitzgerald said she learned of job openings at Golden Living Center and Pioneer Community Hospital in Stuart. She said she was surprised at the number of openings in the medical field in the Martinsville area, and she plans to attend Fast Track again next year.

Martinsville campus career center director Annette Lawson is pictured on the left at the Fast Track Trade Show greeting National graduate Sharon Barksdale who represented the Martinsville Office of the Virginia Employment Commission where she is working as a supervisor.

Medical Assisting Graduate Still Enjoys Fulfilling Career 15 Years Later

Medical Assisting Graduate Still Enjoys Fulfilling Career 15 Years Later

Paula Bullock Pingleton graduated from the Richmond Campus in 1996 and finds her skills as a certified medical assistant are still just as in demand now as they were when she graduated over 15 years ago. “There are just so many options…I’ve worked in a variety of places and I’ve enjoyed all of them,” she said, listing a hospital emergency room, an urgent care center, the health department and a physician’s private practice as some of the healthcare settings where she’s had the opportunity to work. She is now caring for patients of Dr. John Gillespie in his internal medicine practice which specializes in geriatrics.

Paula came to American National University right out of high school at the recommendation of her guidance counselor. She chose National over the large university in her area. “It was a more fast-paced program –I got through in less than two years. I needed to work, so it got me through and on the job,” she explained.

She fondly recalled one of her favorite parts of the medical assisting program – her externship in the ER of Berea Hospital. During the externship, she was immersed in the ER performing blood draws, assisting with sutures, and even applying pressure to a gunshot wound. “I remember that so well,” she said with a smile. She still loves the excitement of the ER to this day.

Berea Urgent Care, where she worked before being hired by Dr. Gillespie, was also very fast-paced and extremely busy. The center treated 80-90 patients a day at the peak of flu season. “It’s much, more calm here,” she said of Dr. Gillespie’s office where she works in both the administrative and clinical sides of the practice. “I like the geriatric population – they’re so appreciative of everything that you do for them.”

Paula offered the following advice to students who want successful careers of their own in medical assisting: “Work hard in your classes and be serious about it. These patients depend on you…so know as much as you can.”

Dr. John Gillespie, pictured with medical assistant Paula Pingleton, said that he has been pleased with the skills of the American National University graduates that he’s hired. “They’ve got good work ethic,” he said adding that they are also always eager to learn.

Robert Damron-Difference Maker at the Pikeville Campus

Robert Damron-Difference Maker at the Pikeville Campus

Robert Damron at the Pikeville Campus

Instructor of algebra, mathematics, dosage and calculations, and business math courses


  • American National University instructor since 2009
  • Served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
  • Worked for the Pike County Board of Education for 16 years

Holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Pikeville College, a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University, and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in math from Morehead State University

[American National University] students are extremely dedicated and motivated, really wanting to succeed. They know what respect and hard work mean. They never complain about assignments, often wanting more work. They are a joy to be around.

My favorite teaching moment is when a student says, “Oh I get it now,” when we are discussing a particular mathematics concept. Sometimes they get so excited. My greatest reward is that many of them tell me that I’m the best math teacher they have ever had.

American National University is a fantastic place to work. I really look forward to coming to work because I really enjoy what I do.

Field Trip Offers Students a Better Understanding of Environmental Science

Field Trip Offers Students a Better Understanding of Environmental Science

Students in the Environmental Science class at the Florence Campus recently took a field trip to the Newport Aquarium. Their instructor, Rebecca Mensch, is a marine biologist and a volunteer for the aquarium and was able to give students a sneak peak of the new theater. They were able to observe a diver practice for the new dive show, and they had the opportunity to talk with the diver about sharks, shark rays, and turtles.

The main focus of the course is sustainability, but health ecosystems and, in turn human existence, cannot be maintained without appropriate biodiversity. During the field trip, students were able to observe hundreds of different animal species from dozens of different ecosystems. While these represent only a tiny fraction of all the species in the world, the animals and ecosystems on display greatly illustrate the vast biodiversity held within the oceans and the entire planet.

Pictured at the “Frog Bog” in the Newport Aquarium are (l to r) instructor Rebecca Mensch, and students Kayla Hadden, Ronnie Demorest, and Ashley Rehg.

Exclusive Business Partnership Grant Matches Employee Tuition Assistance Benefits

Exclusive Business Partnership Grant Matches Employee Tuition Assistance Benefits

Recruiter Tina Chesher recently visited the Louisville Campus to provide information to students about employment opportunities with UPS. Tina also shared that, in addition to being a great company in which to gain valuable entry-level experience, UPS also offers tuition assistance to its employees to help them fund their education. “We have a wonderful opportunity for students to go to college and let us help them with that with up to $3,000 in reimbursements,” explained Tina. In addition, she explained to students that the exclusive American National University Business Partnership Grant matches $1 for every $2 that a company provides through a tuition assistance program so students could potentially have little to no out-of-pocket costs to attend college.

Antoinette McFarland, a student in the business administration-management program, was one of the students who met with Ms. Chesher. “I learned that I can get tuition money for pursuing my career and working with UPS,” said Antoinette who plans to apply online for a position with UPS.

For more information regarding the American National University Business Partnership Grant, contact your campus’s student services office or click here.

UPS recruiter Tina Chesher is pictured talking to business administration-management student Antoinette McFarland at the Louisville Campus. Ms Chesher explained that UPS offers tuition assistance to its employees which can be matched by the American National University Business Partnership Grant.

Medical Assisting Graduate Returns for Degree in ISE

Medical Assisting Graduate Returns for Degree in ISE

After graduating from the Lexington Campus in 2008, David Boulden was working as a medical assistant at a pain treatment center when the practice’s systems administrator discovered how adept he was with computer technology. He began calling on David to assist him with the website and with technical issues that would arise. “It got to where they’d just call me off the nursing staff and I would go fix their computer,” David recalled.

Today, David has returned to American National University to enhance his IT skills as he works toward a degree in information systems engineering (ISE). While in school, he is working for Worldwide Tech Services/F2 Onsite as a field service technician where he repairs his clients’ computers, servers, and printers at their home or business.

David said he strongly recommends the ISE program at American National University. “The course material is catered toward the certifications,” he explained, adding that certifications are highly sought after by employers. David received his CompTIA A+ certification as part of the ISE program at National and he has gone on to receive over 30 additional certifications through his employer, including certifications as a Sony Certified Repair Technician and as a Dell Certified Systems Expert.

David also runs his own business, building and administering websites. He currently serves as web master for Galaxy Bowling in Richmond Kentucky.

He may someday combine his education in the fields of healthcare and IT. “It’s given me the tools that I need to get out of the trenches,” he said of his career training at American National University.

David Boulden is pictured at the Lexington Campus as he prepares to graduate from American National University for a second time 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.