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August 11, 2014

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Graduate Finds Rewarding Career Helping Others Reclaim Their Lives

Graduate Finds Rewarding Career Helping Others Reclaim Their Lives

Graduate Melinda Hall is enjoying a rewarding career as an intake coordinator at SelfRefind, an addiction recovery clinic that helps its patients reclaim their lives. 

Melinda was hired at SelfRefind shortly before she graduated from her medical assisting program at the Pikeville Campus.  She earned a diploma in phlebotomy at American National University in 2011, and had worked as a phlebotomist for many years, when she decided she was ready to continue her education and take the next step in her career.  “I wanted something that gave me more flexibility, and actually a little more responsibility,” said Melinda of her decision to return to school.

Melinda prepares each patient for their visit with the doctor, taking their vital signs and gathering information about their progress.  Her greatest reward each day is seeing patients recover and return to their families and their jobs thanks to the help that they receive at the clinic.  “Seeing them make a makes it worth going to work,” she explained.

Melinda continues to take on additional responsibilities in the clinic.  She’s currently enrolled in the medical billing and coding program at National to help expand her skill set even further.  She plans to eventually earn her bachelor’s degree in health care administration through the American National University Online program.

“I feel a lot more stable…just in life in general,” Melinda said of the discipline and job opportunities that she’s gained through her education.  She encourages other students to explore the advantages that American National University has to offer.  “I would recommend that they come down and do a tour, and sit in on a class and see what it’s really like.  I’ve been to the ‘traditional’ school…so, I know the differences.  It’s a lot more close-knit here, because the classes are smaller.  You’re not just another face.  That’s what I like about it.”

Melinda Hall earned a phlebotomy degree at the Pikeville Campus then returned to continue her education in order to keep advancing in her career.

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General Education – Relevant for All

General Education – Relevant for All

One of the advantages of National’s career-focused approach is that we cut down on the “fluff” – those liberal arts-based elective courses that, while valuable in their own right, don’t directly contribute to knowledge one would need in their chosen career field.  This, in turn, allows us to offer more courses aligned with a student’s major.

That doesn’t mean our curricula are devoid of intellectually-stimulating college coursework; indeed, all academic degree programs incorporate general education electives to help round out a student’s education.  The difference is that these courses are developed specifically with an eye toward how theory can be related to practice—usually in a manner that is of value in the workplace to students of any major.

Recently, Chuck Steenburgh, National’s vice president of communications, paid a visit to instructor Daniel Serban’s Ethics (ETH 205) class at the Fort Wayne Campus, where  he described the application of ethics in his role as National’s public relations chief.  “My profession takes a hit sometimes, because we’re accused of always portraying the bright side of things,” said Chuck.  “But you can’t establish a relationship with somebody if you’re not truthful with them…you can’t say things that aren’t true about the product or service you’re promoting.”  Chuck went on to point out how he and his staff publicly respond to student concerns that are posted on National’s Facebook pages or other public forums.

The class included students from a variety of academic majors, and several drew lessons relevant to their own field.  For example, the connection between professional competence and ethical behavior was noted by business administration—management student Jordan Lowe.  “You can’t really do a job to the best degree if you don’t have core knowledge about the exact job,” said Jordan.  Particularly when dealing with a customer, client, or patient who is relying on you for your expertise, professional competence is key to an ethical professional relationship.

Medical assisting student Alexandra Wyatt noted the strict ethical requirements of the medical field.  “[Patients’] privacy rights, and what you should or shouldn’t be able to speak to other people about,” she noted as an example of one consideration of health care ethics.

Courses like Ethics, Oral Communications, or Psychology may not seem relevant to one’s career field on the surface, but at National we’ve carefully developed our general education courses so they provide useful knowledge to students in any career field.  Just one more advantage of a National education!

A– Students in Daniel Serban’s Ethics class included Jordan Lowe (left) and Alexandra Wyatt (right)

B– Daniel Serban teaches Ethics class at the Fort Wayne Campus

Graduate Achieves Excellence with the Goal of Becoming a CPA

Graduate Achieves Excellence with the Goal of Becoming a CPA

Graduate Mindy Berger is working as an administrative secretary at LWS Certified Public Accountants in Dayton, Ohio.  She had previously attended college while she was a stay-at-home-mom but the responsibilities of life became too much for her to handle.  She put her dreams on hold and began a new chapter in her life.  She then enrolled at the Dayton Area Campus in the business administration-accounting program and began to work full-time in retail.  Over the next six months, she was able to purchase a vehicle and began to rent her own home.  Mindy said, “I utilized every resource I had to push myself through the hectic lifestyle of being a single mom, full-time student and a full-time worker.  Although it was a struggle, I made it.”

Mindy finished her degree last November at the top of her class with a 3.97 GPA.  She participated in the most recent graduation ceremony, and in addition to graduating with high honors, she received the Joseph E. Hurn award that is presented for high academic achievement in the accounting or business programs.  “I give full thanks to the people involved in my success, especially [instructor] Wil Morris, who [is] not only an amazing teacher but an extraordinary person,” said Mindy.  “Sometimes, it takes a wakeup call in life to find your full potential.  No matter the hardship that I endured, I am thankful for every moment of it; it truly made me the determined individual that I am today.”

The position that Mindy has is not only providing her with great experience but is also a job that she had dreamed of.  She now has the opportunity to involve herself in many of the aspects of accounting that she learned at American National University.  She plans to continue her education through online classes.  She wants to obtain a bachelor’s degree.  “I have had a love of numbers my entire life, but thanks to American National University, I now have a love for accounting as well,” said Mindy.  “My adventure in life has not been an easy one but it has been amazing.  I sit back, [reflect on] everything that I have accomplished and I am truly proud.  Discouragement is not an option.  Seek your true potential and you shall find it!”

A-Graduate Mindy Berger with Art Wagner, campus director.

B- Graduate Mindy Berger is working as an administrative secretary at LWS Certified Public Accountants in Dayton, Ohio

Currently, academic credit earned at American National University and American National University is creditable toward the education requirement for taking the CPA exam in Virginia and Ohio. Each state has its own requirements and students and prospective students are strongly advised to contact the Board of Accountancy in any state in which they may wish to become licensed as a CPA to determine whether that state will accept academic credit earned at a nationally accredited institution toward the education requirement for licensure in that state.

Veteran Continues Educational Journey in the Health Care Field

Veteran Continues Educational Journey in the Health Care Field

James Maestas completed his service with the U.S. Air Force in 2009.  He suffered a knee injury that no longer allowed him to perform his military position as a firefighter.  After employment in civilian settings, he decided it was time to take advantage of the benefits he earned while in the military.

He decided to enroll in ANU because of the small classes allowing him one-on-one attention from instructors. Because he enjoys helping others and already had some experience in the medical field, he chose the medical assisting program along with billing and coding.

James’ leadership skills and willingness to assist others were witnessed early.   He was offered the opportunity to become a tutor and willingly accepted. He applied for a medical assisting position two months before he completed his training and was offered employment with Bluefield Cardiology. 

James has these tips for students: “Practice your interview skills and dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” he advised.  James said that the most valuable skills that he acquired at ANU were gained through the hands on training that he received during his clinical rotation-- especially learning how to perform EKG’s, as he has done as many as 51 in a day.  He said that he appreciated the opportunity to practice these skills repeatedly with instructors Pat Sell and Sharon Harding who were always willing to help.

James is continuing his educational journey and has enrolled in the health care management bachelor’s program.  He said that the key to success is to set goals, make sure they are attainable, and give yourself time to accomplish them.  Nothing is out of reach when you put your mind to it.  

Graduate James Maestas poses with the EKG Machine at Bluefield Cardiology where he is employed as a medical assistant. 

Veteran’s Affinity for Computers Leads to an Interesting Career Path

Veteran’s Affinity for Computers Leads to an Interesting Career Path

After serving our country in the U.S. Navy for 12 years, Kevin Burley’s return to the “real world” did not make him happy.  He found that the minimum wage jobs that were offered at the time just would not pay the bills and he decided to go to college.  “I owed it to myself.  I decided to use my Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and go back to school and get a degree working with computers,” he said.

American National University was not his first college.  Using his veteran’s benefits, he was able to transfer credits from another college and enrolled at American National University.  He liked the small classroom sizes and enjoyed the one-on-one conversations with the instructors and staff.  “They have this sense of communicating to students on an average level.  You feel you can talk to them just like you would to your friends and family, and I found that very appealing,” Kevin said.  “It’s a small atmosphere for learning.  I felt like a person and not just a number.”

Kevin says his love for video games got him interested in the computer field.  In the Navy he worked with computers and so he decided on a career in information systems engineering.   “It was because of Mrs. Hooper’s (director of IT programs for the Lynchburg Campus) influence and encouragement during the course of the program that I was able to receive my CompTIA certification,” he explained.

He feels his experience with ANU has been a great one.  “You tend to want to make the best of your learning experience when you have good instructors like Mrs. Hooper,” Kevin said.  He felt that ANU prepared him for the workforce.  “I was taught to be confident.  I was taught how to go on job interviews, how to dress properly, and [about how to ask] the right questions during a job interview,” he added.

When Bill Baker, campus director, offered Kevin a position at the Lynchburg Campus, he eagerly accepted.  “I hope to see myself in the next five or ten years working in and continuing learning about the IT field,” Kevin said.

Would he recommend ANU to someone else?  Kevin said, “Of course!  It’s a great place to start a new career or advance in your current one.” 

Graduate Kevin Burley served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years and turned to the Lynchburg Campus to obtain his degree in information technology and CompTIA certification.

James Summers-Business Department Chair-South Bend

James Summers-Business Department Chair-South Bend

• James Summers—Difference Maker at the South Bend Campus

• Instructor and chair of the business department
• Recipient of two American Catalog awards, Echo Leader award, and Direct Marketing Association awards
• Serves as president of the Diversity Utilization Board for the City of South Bend

• American National University faculty member since 2013
• Has over 30 years of experience in the field of marketing and communications
• Has run his own business development consulting firm since 2005

• Holds a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from the University of Wisconsin
• Gained experience as director of creative services at Hammacher Schlemmer and head of virtual commerce department at Whirlpool

“My career history enables me to share real world experiences related to course materials. I share successful management experiences and bad ones. I share my learning experiences and those of current clients. These make the classroom discussions real, not theoretical.

“I like to ask [my students] to tell me how what they are learning can be applied to better manage their own careers. I like to challenge them to explain how they can improve local businesses with what they have learned. I invite business leaders to come meet the students and speak to the classes. I challenge the students to make connections that can be leveraged for opportunities when they graduate.
“Visits to local businesses have led to the best teaching moments. The Microsoft Office class met with the administrative assistant to one of the senior executives at a local organization and learned that what they were studying were not only the tools she used daily, but that the software applications they were mastering was advanced training she had not yet received. Another great experience occurred while we were visiting a local printer. In a conversation with the designer, one of the students rattled off the project evaluation checklist we had covered in class. The company president stated that it was a more thorough and complete list than the one they used, and he expressed how impressed he was with the class.

“I think what we do better than others is to align our professional connections with students anxious to transform their lives. By knowing the business needs in the community and the business executives needing to fill those needs, American National University provides a tremendous resource. Because I have family currently serving in the military, I especially like the focus American National University has on making sure we create the greatest opportunities possible for our veterans.”

James Summers is an instructor and chair of the business department at the South Bend Campus.  He has more than 30 years of experience in the marketing and communications fields.

Management Students Get Real-World Advice From Restaurant Owner

Management Students Get Real-World Advice From Restaurant Owner

Recently the Organizational Management and Leadership class at the Louisville campus visited a local restaurant.  Luis Alicea-Batlle, business instructor, took his class to Good Ole Jessie’s Dixie Diner to learn firsthand about running a business. The owner and manager, Tom Whitted, spoke to the students about his experiences. The restaurant building, a longtime fixture on Dixie Highway, had been closed for a time when it was purchased by Whitted, who made renovations and reopened.

Jamar Spencer, who is studying for an associate’s degree in business administration-management, noted that Whitted “provided great insight as to what to look for in employees.” According to Jamar, the small business owner had another, more important bit of advice for would-be entrepreneurs. Jamar learned that it is important “to have more money than…you need.”

Tina Kalkbrenner, who is also studying business administration-management, stated, “When the owner/manager talked to us about the type of people he wanted to hire, he focused on friendly staff, which does make a difference when you go to an establishment…His strategy for the business was very enlightening and interesting.” Tina will receive her associates’ degree next year.

Instructor Luis Alicea-Batlle (left) with his Organizational Management class.

Changing Her Life Was Simple…After Making One Big Decision

Changing Her Life Was Simple…After Making One Big Decision

Davina Brown is a person on a mission – a mission to change her career as well as her entire future.  She is enrolled in the medical assisting program at the Lexington Campus, and is following a longtime dream to work in healthcare. 

“I tried college several years ago.  I was at the wrong college and I was also not ready, either,” Devina explained.  "I walked away…and that was a good decision for me for a couple of reasons.  I found a job and I worked in the food industry for several years.  It paid the bills but it was not fulfilling.  The longer I worked, the more I realized I needed a career in something I loved.  It came to the point where I could simply not stand it any longer.  Not finishing college also gave me the chance to start my new career at American National University.”

Proving great things really can come from misery, Davina simply made the choice to overhaul her career path. 

“It really was simple.  Enough was enough and I made a life-changing decision,” she said. “I didn’t want to attend a large school.  I wanted smaller classes and a more personal college experience – and I am certainly happy with American National University.  My [instructors], classmates – everyone is terrific here.  I have made the right college and career choice this time.  My long-term plans are to finish my [medical assisting] degree, work with children, and eventually earn my RN license."

Davina Brown has entered the Lexington Campus after spending several unfulfilling years in the food industry. 


Medical Student Has a Rewarding Volunteer Experience

Medical Student Has a Rewarding Volunteer Experience

The Richmond Campus recently took part in the Madison County Heart Chase, a team-based adventure competition held by the American Heart Association.

Linda Dominguez, a medical assisting student, participated in the event by providing blood pressure screenings to everyone who attended.  Linda’s grandfather passed away after experiencing a massive heart attack, and she said that she wanted to be involved in anything that brings awareness to heart disease and its prevention.

Linda said that participating in the Heart Chase gave her an opportunity to get more practice in taking blood pressure, but more importantly, it taught her how to deal with the public, since in her chosen career she will need to deal with people on a daily basis.

She recommends that students volunteer at this event in the future, as it will not only give them practice in using skills they have learned in the classroom, but it will help them with their people skills, as well.

Medical assisting student Linda Dominguez is shown providing blood pressure screenings during the Heart Chase, a competition held by the American Heart Association.

Community Event at Kentucky Campuses Gives Students an Opportunity to Hone Their Skills

Community Event at Kentucky Campuses Gives Students an Opportunity to Hone Their Skills

On Saturday, August 2nd, the Florence, Richmond, Danville, Louisville, and Lexington Campuses held community yard sales which offered free booth space to the public and gave those who attended a chance to learn more about National College and its programs.  In Florence, the event also served as a “Moving Sale” for the campus as it prepares to move into a larger, newly renovated facility at 8095 Connector Drive.

During the events, free health screenings were offered by students in the medical assisting program at each campus.  Blood pressure and blood glucose screenings were provided by many of the campuses.  The Richmond Campus also provided a “Jump Rope For Heart” activity for children, as medical assistants measured the child’s pulse rate before and after jumping rope, to help demonstrate that exercise is good for your heart.

In addition, students from several other programs participated in the event.  At the Lexington Campus, surgical technology students set up full instrumentation for a surgery, and provided information about their career field to those who visited their booth. In Florence, IT students conducted a PC Clinic during the event.

“It was awesome being able to utilize the skills I have been learning in my invasive and non-invasive classes at the community yard sale,” said Tiffany Harper, a medical assisting student from the Richmond Campus.  “I felt such empowerment in myself that I did the screenings correctly, and I felt confident that I was making a small difference in someone’s life.  I even checked my children’s blood glucose, and they didn’t even cry.  National College is most certainly preparing me for the medical assisting field.  I couldn’t be happier.”

A-Jessica Green, a medical assisting student at the Richmond Campus, is shown performing a blood glucose screening during the community yard sale.  Pictured in the back row (l) to (r) are: students Tiffany Hopper and Jennifer Harney, director of health care education Paula Beth Ciolek, and student Rebecca Evans.  All participated in the event.

B- Pictured (l) to (r)are:  Instructor Jennifer Schnelle; Instructor Regina Shumard, surgical technology department chair; and students Craig Harris,  Dominique Chilton, and Brook Sprigler from the Lexington Campus are shown with the surgical instruments that they displayed during the community yard sale.

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.