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December 01, 2014

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Surgical Technology Program Gives Graduate's Career a Lift

Surgical Technology Program Gives Graduate's Career a Lift

When Tara McFall-Ralston tagged along with a friend to check out the surgical technology program at American National University, it was love at first sight. “Who wouldn’t love to be in the OR and be a part of something that big?” recalled Tara. “The rest is history, and here I am.”

After completing her surgical technology program at the Cincinnati Campus in 2009, Tara was hired from her externship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and became certified in her field, before moving into her current position as lead surgical technologist at Lifestyle Lift, a facial rejuvenation center.  

At Lifestyle Lift, Tara assists the surgeon in the operating room and also helps with suture removal and follow-up, as well as supervising the other surgical technologists in the practice. “I had always wanted to work in plastic surgery, so I jumped on the opportunity here at Lifestyle Lift,” said Tara, who loves being a part of her patients’ transformations. “When [our patients] come in for their post-op [check-up] at eight weeks out, they’re just so happy. Knowing that you’re a part of that is very rewarding at the end of the day.”

Shannon Danesteh, center manager at Lifestyle Lift, said that Tara does a wonderful job with training new surgical technologists in the office. “She’s developed a great curriculum--a guideline that we utilize when they first start to help ensure that they get all the information that they need,” Ms. Danesteh explained.  “She’s a great leader and a role model in the center.  We’re very lucky to have her.”

Tara is proud of the hard work and dedication that has brought her to this point in her career. “Always reach for the stars.  Don’t ever give up,” she advised. “When I think of where I’ve come, I always look back and say, ‘Wow! I did that, and American National University helped me.’”

A- Cincinnati graduate Tara McFall-Ralston works as lead surgical technologist at Lifestyle Lift.

B- Shannon Danesteh (L), center manager, feels that Tara McFall-Ralston excels at providing compassionate care to her patients at Lifestyle Lift. 

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Career Center Director Inspires Friend to Return to School

 Career Center Director Inspires Friend to Return to School

Melissa Moore, career center director at the Dayton Area Campus, met Samantha ‘Sammi’ Lawrence while Sammi was working at a local drive-thru.

“After developing a friendship, I could see that she had great potential, so I suggested that she consider going back to school,” recalled Melissa.

Sammi was interested in the surgical technology program, so Melissa arranged for her to meet with Ken Chandler, admissions representative, and Monica Wiley, surgical technology department chair. She was immediately impressed with American National University and the Dayton Area Campus staff and faculty, so she enrolled right away and got started in the surgical technology program.

Sammi has been very satisfied with the small, hands-on classes at National, and she’s enjoying making new friends that are on the same track as her. “I owe you so much; this opportunity to go to school means so much to me,” Sammi told Melissa. “Now I have my name badge, homework, and school stress, and I just couldn't be happier. Thank you for getting me into this school. I needed this, and I'm loving it!”

With so many opportunities ahead, Sammi can’t wait to graduate and get started in her new career field.

Career center director Melissa Moore (R) encouraged her friend Sammi Lawrence to return to school to help her advance in her career.

MBA Students Help Market Local Talent

MBA Students Help Market Local Talent

The Marketing Management class from the Roanoke Valley Campus’s MBA program recently completed a unique class project. Students were asked by Ms. Melanie Hunt to assist with marketing and promotional ideas. When the students first learned of the project, they assumed that Ms. Hunt needed help marketing a business that sold products and/or services. What students soon discovered was that Ms. Hunt was an aspiring singer and actress who needed marketing advice as to how to promote herself to casting agents at an upcoming recruitment event.

During the second fall term, the students worked to build social media accounts to reach the public, scheduled local singing events, found a voice coach, drafted interview speeches, worked on résumés, set up promotional press, and perfected an “image” for Ms. Hunt.

Students learned very quickly from this project just how important marketing concepts found in the textbooks can be applied to real life -- not just to products and services, but also to real people. As Kathy Garrison, a student who worked on the class project said, “The world is right outside your door, and you have to market yourself each day to take advantage of it.” Students found value through the project in how to better market themselves to achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives. 

Ms. Melanie Hunt (seated, center) solicited promotional help for her singing career from the MBA program Marketing Management class.

Veterans Honored at South Bend Campus

Veterans Honored at South Bend Campus

The South Bend Campus recently held a Veterans Day ceremony to honor students, faculty, and staff members who have answered the call to service.

Each veteran in attendance told their own story, including details about their branch of service, military duties, and years served. The service of those honored at the ceremony ranged from four to 26 years of service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and National Guard.  

One of the students honored at the ceremony, John Sikorski, is enrolled in the medical assisting and business administration management programs and is a U.S. Army veteran whose decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, numerous other awards, as a supply specialist and cavalry scout. John said, “I was proud to serve three times in Iraq and would do it again.” He currently serves as a volunteer in the Color Guard for Miller Vets in South Bend.  

D. B. “Doc” Rushing was also one of the veterans honored at the Veterans Day event. As a U.S. senior naval officer, he served as a submarine officer and a senior officer in the Chinese-Mandarin Department in a semiautonomous communications role. Doc is a General Education faculty member at the South Bend Campus.

Another faculty member, pharmacy technician instructor, Bob Jankowski, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam with a headquarters battalion. Bob stated, “It was while serving in the Marines that I became aware of the real world.”

The South Bend Campus community was appreciative of the opportunity to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of these, and all, veterans at the Veterans Day ceremony.

U.S. Marine Corps veteran and pharmacy technician instructor Bob Jankowski was one of several veterans honored at the South Bend Campus’s Veterans Day recognition ceremony.

Lynchburg Campus Salutes Veteran Staff and Students

Lynchburg Campus Salutes Veteran Staff and Students

The Lynchburg Campus observed Veterans Day by recognizing Navy veteran and campus receptionist Kevin Burley and Army veteran and student Tammy Pennix for their 17 years of combined U.S. military service. During the celebration, campus director Bill Baker presented each of them with a small gift in honor of their service.

Both Kevin and Tammy are proud of their service to our country and are thankful for the opportunities their service has provided for them. They both have been able to use their veterans’ educational benefits to enroll in college and build an even better future for themselves and their families.  

“Having the campus participate in Veterans Day means a lot to me; it tells me that ANU takes pride in the veterans who work for and attend this campus as students,” Kevin explained. “Veterans Day is a special day for me because it reminds me that I am part of an elite group of individuals who have gone on before me to guarantee my freedom and why I am proud to be called an American.”

Tammy is currently enrolled in the business administration – management bachelor’s degree program. She spoke of how easy the process was when working with student services to apply for VA benefits and how grateful she is for the grants available through ANU, such as the exclusive Armed Services Recognition Grant, which awards up to $5000 in tuition assistance to qualifying students. “ANU is like family to me,” she said. “They always have the answers to my benefits questions.”

Campus director Bill Baker (center) presents small tokens of appreciation to veterans Kevin Burley, Lynchburg Campus receptionist, and Tammy Pennix, business administration - management student.

Preston Whitlow -- Instructor -- Danville, Va.

Preston Whitlow -- Instructor -- Danville, Va.


Preston Whitlow – Difference Maker at the Danville, Virginia. Campus


Instructor of general education courses

Student Activity Council faculty advisor

Campus Academic Committee chairperson


ANU faculty member for one year


Graduate of ANU’s business administration – management program 

Gained experience in sales and retail management


“I admire the dedication and focus of our students. Many of our students juggle the demands of family, a full-time job, and a full-time student schedule all at the same time. I’m always humbled by their dedication to further their education.

“I try to make a difference in students’ lives by being the best instructor I can be. Whenever possible, I present material from both a theoretical and a practical standpoint. Sometimes the lecture comes directly out of the textbook, but some lessons aren’t contained within the text. I take time to mentor students, and I share professional experiences and stories that I feel are applicable to their career goals. My students hold me to a high standard of professionalism and competency, and I feel obliged to meet their expectations each and every day.

“Thus far, my favorite moment as an ANU faculty member has been taking part in a graduation ceremony. Seeing students walk across the stage with their degrees was truly rewarding, in part because I’m an ANU graduate myself. I enjoyed seeing the professionalism, pride, and the enthusiasm of the newly-minted graduates.” 

General Education instructor Preston Whitlow (L) works with student Shawn Fuller (R) on course material. Preston is a Difference Maker at the Danville, Virginia. Campus.

CVS Pharmacy in Princeton Recognized for Long-term Partnership

CVS Pharmacy in Princeton Recognized for Long-term Partnership

Princeton Campus pharmacy technician program director Jackie Smith and career center director Elaine Owens were pleased to present CVS Pharmacy in Princeton with ANU’s Distinguished Community Employer award.

Since 2004, CVS in Princeton has accepted externs for hands-on training and has employed ANU’s pharmacy technician graduates. Steve Crowe was the head pharmacist at CVS for several years and played a major role in CVS becoming an externship site and hiring ANU graduates. Although no longer in the position, he will always be remembered for his dedication to ANU students and graduates.

Paula King, a long-time CVS pharmacist, has stepped into the head pharmacist position, and she graciously accepted the award. Paula thanked Jackie and Elaine for the honor, saying, “I look forward to working with you and welcoming ANU pharmacy technician graduates in the future.”

Paula King (L), head pharmacist at CVS in Princeton, accepts the Distinguished Community Employer award from pharmacy technician program director Jackie Smith.

Campus's Partnership with Local Business is Mutually Beneficial

Campus's Partnership with Local Business is Mutually Beneficial

Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce members, staff, and ambassadors recently joined with friends and guests of CORPRO CPR and National College for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for CORPRO CPR hosted at National College's Bartlett Campus.

The ceremonial ribbon cutting was held to celebrate owner Rick Black's official full-time launch of CORPRO CPR. Mr. Black has developed a partnership with the Bartlett Campus of National College. He holds his CPR and first aid classes at the campus, and in turn provides a discount price to National students for training.

Mr. Black began his home-based business part-time in 2013, but following his recent retirement, he has decided to pursue his true passion of running CORPRO CPR full-time. He believes in the power of networking and was very pleased that nearly 50 community members attended his ribbon cutting ceremony.

"I met Sammie Hawkins through our Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce activities, where she is an ambassador,” explained Mr. Black. “When I approached her and Mr. Smith about the possibility of using their facility for training the community and National College students in CPR skills, they were more than accommodating. I am thankful for National College's continued support and wish the Bartlett location much growth and success." 

Nearly 50 community members attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for CORPRO CPR hosted at the Bartlett Campus. 

Business and Technology Skills Aid Veteran in His Entrepreneurial Ventures

Business and Technology Skills Aid Veteran in His Entrepreneurial Ventures

U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Davis first learned about National College when he met admissions representative Frank Lawing at a veterans workshop that was held by Congressman Jim Cooper. After visiting the Nashville Campus, he decided the time was right to take advantage of his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and he enrolled in the business administration-management program.

Kenneth’s Post-9/11 GI Bill was supplemented by the National College Armed Services Grant, a grant available exclusively at National College, which helps alleviate out-of-pocket expenses incurred by veterans and their dependents who are receiving military educational benefits.  

“I knew that it was something that could fit in with what I’m already doing,” Kenneth said of his decision to enroll at National. “Everybody’s been very helpful.”

Kenneth retired from the military in 2006 after 20 years of service and owns two businesses:  a company that operates homes for the mentally disabled and a special event venue. He feels that the business and technology skills that he’s gaining in his program are applicable to the challenges that he faces with his businesses each day.  

In the future, Kenneth plans to continue to grow his businesses, and he’s always on the lookout for other entrepreneurial opportunities. “I’m always looking for different avenues of income, but right now I’m really excited and focused on school and looking forward to actually having a [diploma] that I can put on the wall,” Kenneth said with a smile.

U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Davis is gaining knowledge in his business administration-management program, which will help him grow his two businesses.

Kentucky Campuses Honor Veteran Students, Faculty, and Staff during Veterans Day Ceremonies

Kentucky Campuses Honor Veteran Students, Faculty, and Staff during Veterans Day Ceremonies

As a college led by veterans and dedicated to serving veterans, recognizing and providing support to those who served our country is always a priority at American National University, but never more so than when each Kentucky Campus holds Veterans Day ceremonies.

Florence Campus

The Florence Campus observed Veterans Day with presentations by former Army Ranger David Charpentier from the Yellow Ribbon Support Foundation; veteran, student services representative, and director of veterans affairs Jason Stewart; and instructor Julian Adkins.

Mr. Charpentier spoke about ways that we can honor the service and sacrifices made by our veterans. He encouraged students, faculty, and staff to volunteer their time and efforts to send a powerful message to those who are serving and have served their country. Examples of opportunities to volunteer include working at a veterans hospital or placing American flags at the gravesites of veterans in local cemeteries. Many other volunteer opportunities can be found online for those who want to find a way to express their appreciation for those who have given so much.

During his presentation, Jason stated, “Our freedom is paid for by the blood, sweat, and tears of our veterans. The fact that such a small percentage (less than 1%) of Americans are in the military shows how grateful we should be for those who defend our liberty. I know firsthand the sacrifice that is made to be free in our country.”

Pikeville Campus 

At the Pikeville Campus, members of the Pike Central High School’s JROTC presented the Fallen Soldier Memorial, a moving tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our freedom.

“Many students, faculty, and staff at American National University have served in the armed forces and made great sacrifices for everyone,” said campus director Tammy Riley. “I can’t think of a better example of a committed student or employee than our veterans on campus. American National University gratefully and respectfully joins with the country on this day to celebrate and recognize such dedication and sacrifice.”

Lexington Campus

Veteran students, staff, and faculty were recognized for their service during day and evening ceremonies at the Lexington Campus. In addition to enjoying slices of Campus Director Kimberly Thomasson’s famous homemade flag cake, the campus created holiday greeting cards for those who are serving overseas.

"American National University does a tremendous job honoring veterans every chance they can,” stated Joshua Emerson, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a student in the surgical technology program. “They sincerely appreciate and value our service - and that is very special to us."

Danville, Kentucky

Giving back to our veterans by assisting with the Veterans Day Luncheon at the National Guard Armory has become a tradition for the Danville, Kentucky Campus.

Instructor David Layton, who retired from the U. S. Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel, is one of the veterans who has enjoyed the event for many years. “I spent nearly thirty years in service of my country as an officer in the Army Reserves. Every year, unless I have a class conflict, I attend the local Veterans Day meal at the Danville National Guard Armory,” said David. “There is an atmosphere there that is always the same – of people who went when duty called and served their country.”


At the Richmond Campus, a color guard from Marine Corps League Bluegrass Det. 1012 reverently displayed the American Flag, while students from the Model Laboratory School chorus sang the National Anthem and student Abby Adkins played “Taps.”  

Veteran Denise Jones, who earned her business administration-management degree at the Richmond Campus and now works as a workforce development specialist for the Kentucky Career Center, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker. Denise talked about the importance of family to our service men and women—both the family-like ties that are formed with their fellow soldiers and the family members who stay behind to hold down the fort while they are deployed.

She asked everyone who has someone in their family who is currently serving or has served to stand and be recognized. She also requested that when we encounter a service member out in public, whether they are in uniform or wearing a cap identifying them as a veteran, we should thank them for their service.

Louisville Campus

The Louisville Campus honored their veterans with ceremonies for day and evening students. During the ceremonies, campus director Vincent Tinebra explained that November is a month traditionally associated with giving thanks, and the Veterans Day program this year provided a unique opportunity to say “thanks” to our veterans.

During the previous week, students, faculty, and staff had an opportunity to fill out a form and finish the sentence: “I am thankful for our military because…” The forms were then read during the program. Some students were grateful to our veterans because of family members who served. Others mentioned their appreciation for the freedoms that we enjoy each day in our country thanks to our veterans.

Business administration-management student Derra Faulkner wrote: “You all showed great bravery when others were too afraid to step up and serve. We appreciate your sacrifice and willing spirit to fight for us.”

A- (Clockwise from top left) Marine Corps League Bluegrass Det. 1012 provided the color guard to open the Veterans Day ceremony at the Richmond Campus.

Louisville Campus director Vincent Tinebra (left) is shown presenting a gift to veteran Zak Muhammad during the campus’s Veterans Day ceremony. 

David Charpentier, a former Army Ranger who now serves on the board of the Yellow Ribbon Foundation, encouraged students at the Florence Campus to show their support of veterans by volunteering at a veterans hospital or with other veterans organizations. 

Kentucky National Guard veteran Denise Jones, a American National University graduate and workforce development specialist at the Kentucky Career Center, served as the guest speaker for the Richmond Campus’s Veterans Day ceremony.

B- (Clockwise from top left) Veterans are shown being recognized during the Veterans Day ceremony at the Lexington Campus. 

Ernie Blanchet, a 101-year-old veteran, was among the many served during the annual Veterans Day luncheon held at the National Guard Armory in Danville, Kentucky. The Danville, Kentucky Campus has provided volunteers for the event for many years.

Danville, Kentucky Campus instructor and veteran David Layton is pictured with admissions representative Amy Whitt who volunteered at the annual Veterans Day luncheon held at the National Guard Armory in Danville, Kentucky. 

Campus director Tammy Riley is shown with Pike Central High School’s JROTC, who presented the Fallen Soldier Memorial during the Pikeville Campus’s Veterans Day ceremony.

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.