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February 24, 2014

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Paralegal Graduate Plans to Become a GAL Attorney

Paralegal Graduate Plans to Become a GAL Attorney

Ebony Hicks, a mother of five young children, was working as a billing specialist and doing well in her career when her employer, a medical supply company, began to downsize.  So, she decided to make a career change and take control of her future. Ebony had been fascinated by the challenge and diversity of the legal field ever since she had taken law courses in high school, so she researched paralegal degree programs in the area and was excited to find that the Roanoke Valley Campus of American National University offered an American Bar Association-approved program, one of only four in the state, and the only one in western Virginia.  This was the selling point for Ebony, and she decided to pursue her passion and enroll.

During her final term, paralegal department chair Linda Slough helped Ebony get an externship with the Roanoke City Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court, which led to a full-time job as a deputy clerk just a few months later.  “With the job interview, it was more in-depth and detailed,” said Ebony.  “And the clerk of court said I ‘knocked it out of the box,’” she said with a sense of pride. “It wasn’t just the fact that I had done the externship, it was the interview itself. And [ANU] gave me the skills to do that.”

Ebony loves her job with the JDR District Court, where she makes sure cases are on the morning and afternoon dockets, processes calls about court cases, and processes petitions for juvenile cases, among other duties. Ebony explained the courthouse atmosphere: “I get to see it all; it’s exciting, fast-paced, and laws continually change.” She added:  “The scenarios may be similar, but they’re never the same, so there’s absolutely something to learn on a day-to-day basis.”

ANU helped prepare Ebony for her externship and, ultimately, for her new career as a deputy clerk.  “I loved the fact that they tied so much into my program,” she says of the paralegal program structure.  “I got a little bit of everything I needed to start out in the working world.  It wasn’t just concentrated on the law; I got a little bit of how to conduct yourself in a business atmosphere, they touched bases on computer courses, and they actually gave me the skills to run a small office as a paralegal, and that is very hard to find [in a paralegal program].”

The fact that all of her paralegal instructors were also practicing attorneys was something Ebony also admired.  “They were able to give insight on their expectations of what’s required of a paralegal on a daily basis,” which she says was extremely beneficial.

Looking toward the future, Ebony wants to continue learning everything she can about the legal system.  She hopes to be able to earn her law degree and eventually go into either corporate or family law. “When I become an attorney, my long-term goal is to become a GAL (Guardian ad Litem), basically an attorney for children, because they’re little and don’t always have a voice,” she says. “Because I do have children, family law is my passion.”

Paralegal graduate, Ebony Hicks, is a deputy clerk with the Roanoke City Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court

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“Monopoly ” Offers a Fun Learning Opportunity

“Monopoly ” Offers a Fun Learning Opportunity

For students in Timothy Whited’s accounting class at the Princeton Campus, “Monopoly” is always an exciting activity, and a day that everyone looks forward to.  While it is difficult to decide which term to apply to a credit or some type of expenditure, playing Monopoly makes the task of journal keeping and logging expenses and credits more real and enjoyable.

Each class is assigned to work in groups of four, according to Timothy.  Each turn counts for one day’s financial activity, and a log and financial journal must be kept for each transaction.  Thirty turns are taken in order to be able to account for a monthly log of expenditures.  Each sale and purchase must be accounted for as well. 

Prior to playing the game, Timothy explains any extra rules, and distributes a packet of materials including logs, journals and ledgers.  He insists that whatever property a student lands on during the first seven plays, the student must buy.  In this way, everyone owns some property.   Each student must also buy housing and hotels, and document rental expenses and rental income, which covers debits and credits in the ledger.

There is a place for utility and transportation expenses and rental income.  There is also a jail expenditure (if needed), as one cannot waste time and good business sense staying in jail beyond one turn!
Student Stephanie France said, ‘I enjoyed playing Monopoly, because it used real life scenarios and terms used in accounting class.”

Timothy mentioned that the students can each become quite competitive, and in addition, win extra credit points for doing a good “real world job” of correctly recording the outcomes of the game.  All in all, Timothy said that when Monopoly is played, he has the best class attendance and that he sees it as a good way to integrate real skills with cooperative learning and good old fashioned fun!

Instructor Timothy Whited with the Monopoly game that he uses as a unique teaching method. 

Business Management Student Opens His Own Barbershop

Business Management Student Opens His Own Barbershop

Entrepreneurship begins with a business idea and the success of that idea depends on how well the individual executes and builds upon that idea.  Student Nelson Roman, Jr., of the Danville, Virginia Campus, took such an idea and ran with it. 

Nelson is pursuing an associate’s degree in business administration-management.  Originally from Brooklyn, Nelson moved to the Virginia area in 1996. He began taking classes in 2011.  During the course of his education, he has faced many obstacles and challenges that caused him to delay his educational goals.  Nelson said, “I had to drop out due to family issues, but I pushed myself and returned only to have to overcome another hurdle, but determination brought me to where I am today, two terms away from graduating.”  Nelson said, “My lifetime dream of opening my own barbershop is now a reality, with God’s help, I will be cutting hair for a long time.”  Nelson’s new barbershop opened earlier this month. 

Student Nelson Roman has just opened his own barbershop in Chatham, Virginia.

Career Fair Focuses on Employment Options, Internships, and Mentoring

Career Fair Focuses on Employment Options, Internships, and Mentoring

A winter career fair was held at the Martinsville Campus on Tuesday, February 4th.  The ten businesses and organizations participating included the Virginia Employment Commission, Martinsville/Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Spartan Staffing, U.S. Army, YMCA, Blue Ridge Rehab Center, the Martinsville Speedway, Virginia Glass, Memorial Hospital of Martinsville/Henry County, and ANU Online representatives.
Terri Hairston, a graduate and an employee of the YMCA, was present to provide information to students about the Reach & Rise Mentoring Program.  Students attending the job fair were interested in learning how volunteering for this specific program can be used as valuable work experience.  Terri said that students were receptive to working with youth in the community for the next Reach & Rise Mentoring training.

 “[The event] was a success, well-attended, and I look forward to reviewing the résumés we received,” said Renee Hash of Spartan Staffing in Martinsville.  “I enjoyed meeting with one of your students, Kristin Clark, and I am sure I walked away with a few great candidates.  I am looking forward to meeting formally with them.”

Student Freddie Daniels was asked to assist at the sign-in table to answer general questions from visitors and to provide details on the location of employer representatives attending the event.  Freddie described his participation as “an honor as well as a privilege.”  Freddie said he was also able to visit the employers in attendance and that he was interested in an opportunity at Martinsville Speedway/Americrown, which was offering a paid internship program.

A-Terri Hairston of the YMCA (l), speaks with a prospect for the Reach & Rise Mentoring program.

B-Student Freddie Daniels greeted students as they entered the recent job fair at the Martinsville Campus.

One Academic Degree Leads to Another

One Academic Degree Leads to Another

Le’Keshia Morris decided that it was time to do something different with her life after working in the fast food industry for more than 15 years.  She decided that there had to be a better life out there and was determined to do something about it to provide a better future for her family.

Le’Keshia had been thinking about a career path she wanted to follow and decided to start investigating different schools and programs.  Since her childhood, she dreamed of working in the medical field but wasn’t sure what avenue to pursue.  After speaking to one of the admissions representatives at the Lynchburg Campus, she knew that the medical assisting program was the perfect choice for her.  This was her chance to enter the medical field, earn a degree and set her standards high for her dream job. So, she enrolled and has loved every minute of it.

Le’Keshia’s experience with her classes and instructors were incredible.  She stated that all of the classes she took were very useful and helpful and they prepared her for her externship and her new job that she anticipates.  Her instructors were very knowledgeable and they made time to help each student when extra help was needed.  She felt her instructors made learning the information exciting because they had all either worked in the profession before or are still working in the profession now. The instructors are able to give students real life problems to solve and relate to.  Le’Keshia felt this information is so valuable to what students are learning and preparing for.  She also said that she never felt lost in the classes because the class sizes were small which enabled the instructor to provide more hands-on teaching and more individual attention.

When asked what advice Le’Keshia would give to other students, she simply said that she would encourage people to take advantage of school, and the lifelong career goals that arise from getting a degree.  “I wanted to invest in my future, said Le’Keshia.  “I have currently re-enrolled in the health care management at ANU to pursue my bachelor’s degree.  I feel I have the best tools at ANU to accomplish my goals and dreams.”

Student Le’Keshia Morris wanted to invest in her future and has returned to the Lynchburg Campus to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

A Passion for Capturing Video Leads to Graduate’s Studio Ownership

A Passion for Capturing Video Leads to Graduate’s Studio Ownership

Derek Bradshaw had a life-long passion for videos when he came to the Lexington Campus.  He started out in the business management program but quickly switched to radio and television broadcasting.  “I wanted complete training in my craft, said Derek.  “I had to perfect my skills in all areas and I accomplished this with the help of American National University.  I can pursue the management end of my business now that I’m able to turn out a truly professional product. Since graduating last April, I’ve seen my work evolve into what I knew I could produce – and I have everyone at American National University to thank.”

Derek’s choice to seek training in his career has made a tremendous difference in his business – and in Derek, himself.  His confidence and enthusiasm levels are truly contagious.  “I wanted to be my own boss,” explained Derek.  “I wanted to do something that I could be proud of.  I absolutely love my career.  My main focus centers on music and rap videos – but I will shoot anything a client asks for.  I get to meet lots of different people and provide a valuable service to them.  I followed my passion and look what happened!”

Derek had been looking for studio space for many months – and found his ideal location in December.  “Now… I have all the tools I need,” said Derek with a huge smile.  I have the professional training I need.  I am on my way.”

A-Graduate Derek Bradshaw followed his passion at the Lexington Campus and now owns a video production studio.

B-Lexington Campus director, Kim Thomasson with radio and television broadcasting graduate, Derek Bradshaw.

Police Officer Speaks to Written Communications Class

Police Officer Speaks to Written Communications Class

Officer Chip Gray with the Richmond Police Department recently spoke with Donna Barney’s Written Communications class at the Richmond Campus.  A police officer would not be a typical choice to speak on this subject, but he has a lot of experience in writing detailed reports that are used in court by lawyers and judges.  Officer Gray added that he has advised his fellow officers on their writing skills.  Finally, his mother was an English teacher and passed her excellent skills onto him!

Officer Gray said that whether you are writing a report, letter, or email, to make sure to use proper punctuation and to check your spelling if you are unsure of a word.  He shared several examples with the students but the sentence that everyone liked was the following without punctuation: A woman without her man is nothing!  The sentence completely changes with punctuation: A woman; without her, man is nothing!

Officer Gray’s presentation was enjoyed by everyone in the class.  He is the only officer in the Richmond Police Department that has a dog for a partner.  He brought “Justice” in to show how he communicates with his dog.

Medical assisting student, Shauna Barrett, said “How you say something as well as how you write can make all the difference.  It can command attention or it could make you very disinterested as well.”

Officer Chip Gray with the Richmond Police Department, spoke to the Written Communications class at the Richmond Campus.

Veronica Zurcher – Director of health care education - Youngstown

Veronica Zurcher – Director of health care education - Youngstown

Veronica Zurcher—Difference Maker at the Youngstown Campus

• Director of health care education
• Instructor in medical assisting courses
• Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

• American National University faculty member since 2007
• Recipient of the American National University Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009
• Has gained over 25 years of experience in the medical field

• Received a Bachelor of Science degree from Youngstown State University
• Previously worked at the Cleveland Clinic and at Children’s Hospital Physicians’ Associates

“I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field. When my grandparents or older relatives needed help, I was there to lend a hand.
“Working in different health care facilities gave me greater insight on many diseases and disorders. I was the type of employee who, if a new disease came in the door, I was researching it; I’m still doing that today. I challenge my students to look things up and learn more than what I am teaching.
“My greatest reward as an instructor is watching the students grow from students to medical professionals, from orientation to graduation.
“There have been quite a few students who lacked confidence that have walked through these doors. But when they walked across the stage to get their degree, they were a whole different person -- because someone believed in them. I tell the students, ‘I will be your biggest cheerleader; just give 110%, and you will succeed.’”

Difference Maker and director of health care education of the Youngstown Campus, Veronica Zurcher (c), with some of her students. 

Students Learn that Preparation is the Key to a Successful Interview

Students Learn that Preparation is the Key to a Successful Interview

Students in the medical billing and coding program at the Pikeville Campus recently held a mock interview workshop.  Before the interviews, the students were coached on dressing for success, professionalism and résumés.  They were also given additional tips and advice such as that preparation was the key to a successful interview. 

After the workshop, students were assigned a company in their field of study to research.    After the research was completed, the students were interviewed by Tammy Stratton, instructor, and Tiffani Ballard, career center director.  During the interview, the students were graded on professional appearance, preparation and knowledge about the organization, eye contact, body language and their closing statement. 

After the mock interviews, the students were given the standards of evaluation and their scores.  Julie Peffer, a medical billing and coding student, just received an interview with Pikeville Medical Center and said that she is so glad she attended the workshop because it really helped with her self-confidence and prepared her for the actual job interview. 

Medical billing and coding student Savannah Justice (l), is shown with instructor Tammy Stratton (center) and career center director Tiffani Ballard (r) during a mock interview that was held at the Pikeville 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.