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Graduate Reinvents Herself after 35 Years Out of School

Graduate Reinvents Herself after 35 Years Out of School

Aug 25, 2015

Bristol Campus medical assisting graduate Debbie Bowman had worked for a local battery manufacturer for 18 years when she lost her job due to the plant’s closure. Fortunately, a public-private partnership between National College, the state of Tennessee, and the federal Departments of Education and Labor presented her with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent herself.

The Trade Adjustment Act, a Department of Labor program, supplies a generous amount of funding for laid-off employees like Debbie. Financial aid programs of the Department of Education, state funding from the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, and National’s own Workforce Development Grant made it so that Debbie could attend college without taking on any student debt. While she had her choice of college programs to attend, when she visited National College, she had an easy decision. 

“From day one until the day I graduated, they have been so good to me, and treated me so well and wanted me to succeed.”

“National was the third campus I went to visit, and they were the most informative, the most helpful,” said Debbie. “From day one until the day I graduated, they have been so good to me, and treated me so well and wanted me to succeed.”

Returning to school in her mid-fifties was a daunting challenge for Debbie, as it is for many older students. “I loved the smaller classrooms, that helped me a lot; I think as an older student in some classes I needed more help,” she said. “The biggest adjustment was the computers, but I had a lot of help from fellow students and the instructors.”

After completing her program and graduating with her class in May, Debbie was impressed with the continued dedication of the staff and faculty. “When I graduated, I could see the look of pride on their faces,” Debbie said, holding back a tear. “They’ve helped me, [director of health science education Sheri] Jessee has referred me to several places for employment; it didn’t stop just because I stopped going there.”

So it was that Debbie was soon thereafter hired by Holston Medical Group, the area’s largest health care provider and a key partner of National College. Debbie immediately put her medical assisting skills to work. “I take vitals, enter information into the computer, help the doctor if I’m needed for a procedure,” she said, describing her typical duties. “I care about people—some of them come in and they don’t feel good, and if I can put a smile on their face and help them feel a little bit better, that makes me feel better,” she added with a smile.

Now that she’s started in a new career she loves, Debbie has nothing but praise for the people who helped her get there. “I would recommend National to everyone young or old; I had a wonderful experience there,” she said. “It’s like we’re a family, that’s how I felt there.”

Graduate Debbie Bowman found the support of the Bristol Campus faculty and staff to be a major source of motivation in helping her complete her college education.

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tags: TN-Bristol Medical: Medical Assisting - Associate Degree (MAA)