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October 21, 2013

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Native of Ethiopia Moves From Stockroom to Pharmacy

Native of Ethiopia Moves From Stockroom to Pharmacy

Worku Wardofa, a native of Ethiopia, was recently promoted from working in the stockroom at WalMart, to working as a certified pharmacy technician in the WalMart pharmacy, after graduating from the pharmacy technician program at the Bartlett Campus.

When Worku came to America in 2004, continuing his education was one of his top priorities.  “America is the land of opportunity. To go to school is one of my dreams come true,” said Worku, who explained that only very wealthy citizens are able to go to college in Ethiopia.  “When I came here I was very eager to learn.”

Worku earned a degree in natural science from a local community college then decided to continue his education in the pharmacy technician program at National College because he wanted to get experience working in a pharmacy while pursuing his goal of becoming a pharmacist.

The intimate class size that he found at National, and the availability of his instructors who were always there to help him whenever he had questions, ensured that Worku succeeded in his program.  He also gained experience in his field and exposure to two types of pharmacy settings during externships with Pharmerica, which supplies medications to long term care facilities, and with CVS Pharmacy.

As he neared graduation, Worku worked closely with career center director Sammie Hawkins, who helped him prepare his résumé and conduct his job search.  He felt that the services provided by the career center were a big advantage to attending National.

After working in the physically demanding environment of the WalMart stockroom for more than five years, the professional atmosphere of the pharmacy has been a welcome transition for Worku.  His duties in the pharmacy include assisting the pharmacists with accurately filling prescriptions, communicating with physicians’ offices, and creating and updating customers’ profiles.

Worku’s family joined him in the United States in 2010 and they are very proud of his educational accomplishments.   He plans to continue his education and earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry before applying to pharmacy school.

Graduate Worku Wardofa is pictured with his family.


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Graduate Overcomes Learning Disability and Furthers Education

Graduate Overcomes Learning Disability and Furthers Education

Tina Poston, business analyst for American National University, enrolled as a student at the Roanoke Valley Campus in Salem during the summer term right after she graduated from high school.  She chose the school because several of her friends were also planning to attend and because the admissions representatives and instructors showed such a personal interest in her education.  She enrolled in the business administration-management program.

Life changes forced Tina to leave school before she was able to complete her program, but several years later she determined that she would need to continue her education in order to further her career.  Tina never forgot the experience that she had as a young student and knew that she wanted to return to the same school.  Once again, she loved the personalized attention that she received from the admissions representatives, and they assured her that they would guide her through her college experience. 

Tina continued in the business administration program, and although a diagnosis of dyslexia made some courses difficult for her, she excelled in her accounting courses and discovered a passion for it. Once she had obtained an associate’s degree, Tina’s new-found confidence persuaded her to continue on. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration-accounting, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree, while working two to three jobs at a time and being a single mom to her son.

Tina credits her academic success to instructors who taught her to “think outside of the box” and who challenged students to consider points of view different from their own in finding solutions.  She particularly recalls how  MBA program chair Dr. Annette Chamberlain tied classroom material back into the community, such as a class project that focused on helping a local business that was in danger of closing down to revamp their business plan.  “[The instructors] helped me to enhance my inquisitive nature,” Tina says, which has influenced how she now handles herself at work.

As a business analyst in the marketing department, Tina assists with reporting, budgeting, and inquiry management.  “I believe I got much more out of my education by working in the field while I was finishing my MBA,” said Tina.  I had the opportunity to apply many of the concepts I was learning.  It also helped that my instructors took a personal interest in my success.”

Tina’s advice to others on obtaining an education is to keep an open mind and prepare for the unexpected. “I would have never thought that I would be able to get a MBA, but I excelled,” Tina says. “You will get out of it what you put into it.” 

Graduate Tina Poston is employed by ANU as a business analyst. 

Student from Madison Passes the RHIT Exam

Student from Madison Passes the RHIT Exam

Rhonda Robison, a retired veteran with more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy, recently became the first graduate of the Madison Campus to pass the registered health information technology certification exam.   

She holds a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in human resource management from Webster University.  In pursuit of lifelong learning, she attended National College and received a degree in health information technology prior to receiving her RHIT certification. Recently, she turned her degree and certification into a career with her employment at the nearby VA Medical Center as a medical reimbursement specialist.

Instructor Bonita Payne said that Rhonda demonstrated commitment, dedication, and a desire to learn as well as do whatever it took to reach her goals for her new career path.  Bonita added that she knew that Rhonda would succeed.

“When I first started, I did not know what to expect with the [health information management] program,” said Rhonda.  “As the months went on, I studied and studied trying to make sure I obtained all the information that would allow me to complete my degree and master the certification exam.  With the help of my instructors and other students, I came out on top of the world.  I completed the degree program and passed the one test that scared me.” 

“I would recommend National College to all people I come in contact with,” said Rhonda.  “One of the main reasons is the small family that is within the walls of this building, the expertise in the instructors, and the staff overall.  I would like to thank everyone for the love and support during my time at National.”

Graduate Rhonda Robison was recently hired by her local VA Medical Center as a medical reimbursement specialist.

School is a Family Affair

School is a Family Affair

American National University often makes a difference in families as well as individuals.  Robyn and Patrick Hardin are a mother and son who are both attending the Columbus Campus.  Patrick enrolled in the pharmacy technician associate’s degree program and a term later his mother, Robyn, enrolled in the medical assisting associate’s degree program.  Both are attending with military benefits and appreciate the fact that National makes acceptance of relevant credits earned at other accredited institutions a streamlined process. 

When asked what attracted them to the institution, Patrick replied:
I specifically wanted a school that accepts veterans and their families.  Also, I have two great interests – the first is everything about the medical field and the other, political science.  I love politics.   I feel once I complete my pharmacy technician degree, I may go on and get my medical assisting associate’s as well.  Then, maybe later, pursue my bachelor’s and master’s in a medical field or perhaps even go in the direction of political science.  Finally, the even bigger draw to American National University for me is the warm and friendly demeanor of the staff.   Gary Spence in admissions shined both on the phone and even more in person…not to mention the efficiency of student services at the Columbus Campus.

Robyn has always had a love of nursing and was enrolled in a program before she became a mother.  When her children were born she found that she did not want to leave them, so she discontinued her education to raise her family.   A mother of three, she became employed by her church daycare so she could continue to spend time with her children while working.  Now, with grown children and 23 years of marriage later, she decided she wanted to continue what she started years ago and is now enrolled in the medical assisting program.  Robyn said, “National was my best choice because of prior credits and their transfer and the friendly, helpful staff and faculty in addition to the convenience in scheduling.  I feel like I am where I belong.”  Another bonus is that she and Patrick get to car pool to campus together.

Mother and son, Robyn and Patrick Hardin, are attending the Columbus Campus together.

Graduate Becomes Owner of Bookkeeping and Tax Service

Graduate Becomes Owner of Bookkeeping and Tax Service

Rachel Blomberg, owner of 2 B’s & T Bookkeeping and Tax, was satisfied and growing in her career as an accountant when her boss, Darren Mills, made her an offer that she couldn’t refuse.

Rachel, a veteran of the U.S. Army, began working as an accountant at Freedom Bookkeeping and Tax five years ago, shortly before she completed her associate’s degree programs in accounting and computer applications at the Louisville Campus. Mr. Mills decided to sell the business and he felt Rachel was the perfect candidate to take it over, so he offered her the opportunity to purchase it.  “He changed his vision [for his career in accounting] and my vision continued to grow, so…2 B’s & T Bookkeeping and Tax was born,” recalled Rachel.  “Between him and my education, I can now run my own business.”

Rachel was somewhat taken aback when she first learned of Mr. Mill’s decision to sell the business, but once she made up her mind to purchase it, she was excited to take the next step in her career.  “Nobody else is going to hand me a company that’s this well established. We had over 300 clients at the time, so I thought it was the best opportunity to buy him out, and I’m glad that I did,” she said.

Now that she’s running the business, Rachel, who was featured earlier in her career in the January 13, 2012 issue of the National News, is relying more than ever on the knowledge gained in her business classes at National. “I am grateful that I did get my education, and that I did get it at American National University. It was small, it was local, and you could learn,” said Rachel. “The teachers there, they knew what they were talking about.  They’ve been there, they’ve done that, and now they’re helping other students to be there and do that.”

Although she still has plenty to learn about being a small business owner, Rachel feels up to the challenge.  She plans to continue her education and earn her bachelor’s degree through American National University Online. “It’s an exciting time right now in my life,” commented Rachel. “I’m going to be 48 this year and I own my own accounting, bookkeeping, and tax business.  That’s pretty awesome.”

Graduate Rachel Blomberg is the proud owner of an accounting, bookkeeping, and tax business. 

Health & Wellness Expo Impacts Many Lives in Lexington

Health & Wellness Expo Impacts Many Lives in Lexington

The Lexington Campus held its 7th Annual ‘Health and Wellness Expo’ in early October and this year’s event proved to be especially poignant because it included a graduate of the campus, Bonnie Hardman.  Bonnie received medical assisting and business administration management associate’s degrees in 2008.  She has aspirations of finishing her bachelor’s degree which has been delayed as a result of worsening kidney failure due to her long-standing Type-I Diabetes. She is now on the waiting list for a suitable kidney at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

A long-time vendor of the event is Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA). Thanks to the 2013 Expo, ten more registrants are on KODA’s life-saving list of organ/tissue donors.  This non-profit organization secures organs for people who have the need of a life-saving transplant. They not only educate the public about organ/tissue donation, but also register donors for possible future donations. Bonnie is maintaining contact with the wonderful staff at KODA until a suitable kidney match is found.

American National University is not only changing lives by educating our students…but also impacting lives in many other ways.

Seated, left to right: Nancy Watts - KODA 'Donate Life Ambassador' and kidney recipient;  Bonnie Hardman - , American National University graduate, and John Watts - KIDA 'Donate life Ambassador and Nancy's husband.

Professionalism Workshop Enlightens Students

Professionalism Workshop Enlightens Students

On Wednesday, October 9th the Richmond Campus students learned the importance of professionalism in the workplace. The workshop, hosted by career center director Elizabeth Walker, was kicked off with a “true or false” icebreaker full of questions concerning sexual harassment, discrimination, and social media, tinged with a bit of humor. 

With the mood lightened and the students interacting, the workshop quickly transitioned to the reality of unprofessional mistakes made every day. Throughout the workshop there were open discussions on social media, telephone and email etiquette, personal appearance and hygiene, and attitude. Elizabeth said, “Professionalism doesn’t necessarily come naturally and has to become a practiced skill.”  She also encouraged the students not to wait until they’re looking for employment to work on their professionalism but to exercise the trait throughout their daily lives.

Many of the students were shocked to find that potential employers could possibly view their Facebook pages if their security settings were relaxed; and they realized the discrimination that could easily take place based on their lifestyle, religion, or political views. Elizabeth also handed out “Smarties” candies to the students who had professional voicemails which included their names and a brief message and recognized four of the best dressed students who received American National University attire.  

Pictured (l) to (r) are: students Julie Collins, Joshua Brockman, career center director Elizabeth Walker, students Vicke McLemore and Jessica Green.

One-on-One With Instructors and Externship Prepared Graduate for Career

One-on-One With Instructors and Externship Prepared Graduate for Career

Clarissa Powers, a graduate of the Danville, Kentucky Campus, is working as a registered medical assistant at Danville Medical Specialists.

Clarissa was a stay-at-home mom when she decided that she wanted to make a better life for her children, and set a good example for them.  She had always had an interest in the medical field and her mother, Karen Gordon, a graduate of National, recommended that Clarissa visit the college.

Clarissa liked the friendly environment that she found at National, and she received one-on-one time with her instructors any time that she needed it.

An externship at Danville Pediatrics also helped prepare her for her career. During the externship, she took vitals, gave immunization shots, and performed administrative duties.  She also discovered that phlebotomy was one of her favorite parts of her job.  “I was a little nervous but it turns out that I was really good at it,” she recalled.

In her job at Danville Medical Specialists, Clarissa works in both the clinical and clerical sides of the practice and she said that interaction with her patients is her favorite part of the job.

She’s proud of her new degree and of her new career in healthcare.  “It pushed me to achieve my goal and show my children that you really can do it,” said Clarissa of her program at National.

Clarissa Powers is pictured at Danville Medical Specialists where she performs clinical and administrative duties in her job as a registered medical assistant.

Difference Maker - Kathreen Buckner - Director of Heathcare Education

Difference Maker - Kathreen Buckner - Director of Heathcare Education


Kathreen Buckner—Difference Maker at the Florence Campus


  • Director of Healthcare Education
  • Instructor in the medical assisting program
  • Certified & Registered Medical Assistant; Certified Allied Healthcare Instructor


  • Joined the American National University faculty earlier this year
  • Has 26 years of experience as a medical assistant and medical assisting instructor


  • Began her medical assisting career in same day surgery at Holmes Hospital, then moved to ENT at the Medical Arts Building of the University of Cincinnati, where she worked for five doctors specializing in reconstructive surgeries
  • Has obtained previous teaching experience at other colleges, including serving as medical department chair


"I started in the medical field on the advice of my mother who said if I always want a job, then I should work in the medical field or become a teacher.  I took her advice, and I have pursued both.  I have found it to be very rewarding to help others and to give back by teaching.

“I appreciate American National University students for their constant dedication to their chosen fields.  They are very serious about what it is they are trying to accomplish, and they strive every day to get to that goal.

“My best teaching moments come from students telling me I have delivered a lesson in such a way that they completely understand the material or when a student’s face lights up after earning a high grade on an assessment or certification exam.  Ultimately, my greatest reward is watching students walk across the stage at graduation with all of their family and friends cheering for them.

“The best part about being part of the American National University staff is my campus director, Amy Brown.  She has helped me develop in this position, and I am very grateful to have such an understanding leader who truly wants the best for the College.”

Director of healthcare education, Kathreen Buckner is a Difference Maker at the Florence Campus.

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.