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March 09, 2015

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Students Capitalize on Opportunity to Meet with State and Federal Legislators

Career College Day at Kentucky Capitol Connects Students with Elected Officials

On Thursday, Feb. 26, career college students from across Kentucky converged on Frankfort for Career College Day at the Capitol. The annual event, sponsored by the Kentucky Association of Career Colleges and Schools, allows students to connect with their legislators to help keep them informed about the role that career college education plays in the Commonwealth’s workforce.

During the event, Louisville Campus students Marlen Estrada Navarrete and Ebelyn Noguera Labrada, surgical technology program director Stephanie Walker, Louisville Campus director Vincent Tinebra, and Florence Campus director Amy Brown, shared information about American National University and its surgical technology program.  

Although surgical technology is a relatively unknown field, surgical technologists play a vital role in the operating room. As Marlen and Ebelyn answered questions about the instruments that are used in the OR, legislators tried their hand at suturing a replica of a wound using a skin stapler.

“Nobody knows what a surgical technologist is or what they do. They assume that you just clean the instruments and set them up. They don’t know that you’re physically shoulder-to-shoulder with the surgeon, elbow deep with the patients, helping out,” said Stephanie, who has over 10 years of experience working in the OR. “I think it’s always important to inform legislators about careers like ours that nobody knows about, especially when it has as much responsibility as we do, because you don’t get a lot of backing if nobody knows what you do.” 

Perhaps no one in the room was as proud to represent their school, and to play a part in impacting future legislation, as Marlen and Ebelyn, who worked in the medical field as natives of Cuba and enrolled at American National University to train for new careers in health care after coming to the United States.  

They particularly enjoyed talking with State Representative Dennis Horlander, who serves the Louisville Campus in District 40. “He was very friendly and very interested in the career; that is important,” said Ebelyn.

State Representative David Hale, another legislator who participated in the event, said that he is always happy to lend his support to career college students. “It’s just great to be a part of this,” he stated. “I like to see these career colleges; they offer a great service to the people in our state.”

As they complete the last term of their program, Marlen and Ebelyn are looking forward to earning their certifications in the field and getting started in their new careers. “I feel so happy [to represent National], because I appreciate every teacher and every person working in student services, admissions—everybody here,” said Marlen. “I try to tell everybody, ‘Come to American National University,’ because it’s a good facility to learn. They help you with tutoring; they help you in the lab; everybody helps you. I love American National University.”

ANU Ambassadors Travel to Nation’s Capital to Discuss Importance of Career Education 

Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, ANU was well-represented at the Association of Private Sector Colleges & Universities’ (APSCU) annual State of the Workforce Symposium. At this two-day event, vice president of government affairs Roger Dalton, vice president of communications Chuck Steenburgh, and Charlottesville Campus career center director Anne Brown kept pace with the latest trends in workforce development thanks to a variety of authoritative speakers.  The highlight of the event was the keynote address by the new chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who spoke of his efforts to roll back unproductive federal regulations.

The following day, representatives from ANU’s Charlottesville, Virginia Campus and the Parkersburg and Princeton Campuses in West Virginia, visited members of their congressional delegations in Washington, D.C. as part of APSCU’s annual Hill Day.

Roger and Anne were joined by Charlottesville Campus graduate Lindell Chavis, who earned her degree in business administration-accounting. The Princeton Campus was represented by medical assisting graduate Eric Nunley, and the Parkersburg Campus sent student services representative Kristina Marucci and medical assisting student Steven Fisher. 

They visited each of the states’ two senators, along with the House of Representatives members for the campus’ respective districts.  

“The ANU representatives focused their comments on the work students are doing to prepare themselves for the workforce, as well as the need for Congress to work for regulations and legislation that support access and choice for all in higher education,” explained Roger.

American National University has provided career training to meet the workforce needs of community employers since 1886, and thanks to the advocacy of our students at all of our 31 campuses, career college education will be available for students for many generations to come.

A- (Left to Right) Florence Campus director Amy Brown; students Ebelyn Noguera Labrada and Marlen Estrada Navarrete; surgical technology program director Stephanie Walker; and Louisville Campus director Vincent Tinebra are pictured at the Kentucky State Capitol.  

B- (Left to Right) Louisville Campus director Vincent Tinebra and surgical technology students Marlen Estrada Navarrete and Ebelyn Noguera Labrada are pictured with Kentucky State Representative Dennis Horlander, who serves the Louisville Campus in District 40.

C- Representative Richard Heath (right) of Kentucky is shown speaking with students and staff from the Louisville Campus during Career College Day at the Capitol.

D- (Left to Right) Charlottesville Campus career center director Anne Brown; Parkersburg Campus student Steven Fisher; Parkersburg Campus student services representative Kristina Marucci; ANU vice president of government affairs Roger Dalton; Charlottesville Campus graduate Lindell Chavis; and Princeton Campus graduate Eric Nunley participated in Hill Day in Washington, D.C.

E- Parkersburg Campus medical assisting student Steven Fisher (left) met with West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney (right) outside the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Business and Accounting Students Receive Glimpse of Financial Industry

Business and Accounting Students Receive Glimpse of Financial Industry

Fifth Third Bank personal banker Jeremy Kemp and assistant vice president Keith Garrett recently came to National College’s Knoxville Campus to share some insight on the financial industry with the business and accounting students. They discussed the history of the bank, the many services they offer, and how they differ from other financial institutions, particularly related to the emphasis placed on customer service. 

Mr. Kemp went on to discuss the inside operational aspects of the bank and explained how banks operate as a business, not just a service. “It was really enlightening to hear the functional aspect,” said student Richard Valentine. “You think you have an idea [of how it operates], but to hear it in detail puts it all into perspective.” 

As a business management student, Richard appreciated the business insight the speakers shared during the presentation. “I have many years of experience as an administrator, but it is always beneficial to hear the do’s and don’ts from other business people,” he said. “I will definitely keep this in mind, and I look forward to hearing from other speakers.”

Fifth Third Bank assistant vice president Keith Garret (left) and personal banker Jeremy Kemp (right) speak with business and accounting students about the financial industry.

Veteran Honored for Service and Success

Veteran Honored for Service and Success

A ceremony was held in honor of Tammy Pennix, a United States Army veteran and student in the business administration - management bachelor’s degree program, as her plaque was added to the veterans wall of honor at ANU’s Lynchburg Campus. Tammy’s family, fellow students, staff, and faculty gathered to congratulate her and talk with her about her experiences.  

When Tammy enlisted in the Army in 1988, she didn’t know what the future had in store for her. She worked as a food service specialist during her six years in the Army but wanted something completely different when she returned to civilian life. After years of working in various jobs from warehouse laborer and food service to retail and security, Tammy decided it was time to better herself and pursue higher education. 

After enrolling in a local college, she discovered it was not an accredited institution and decided to transfer to another college, but she soon had to withdraw because her course schedule wouldn’t work with her job schedule. Then one day during her lunch break at work, Tammy saw a commercial for ANU that caught her eye. “I’d never heard of ANU before, but I liked the commercial and saw they had the opportunity I’d been looking for,” Tammy said.  She visited the campus and learned she would be able to use her VA benefits to enroll. “Student services worked with me and knew all of the details concerning all of the grants available to me,” she shared. “They were very easy to work with!”

Tammy earned her associate’s degree in computer applications technology and then re-enrolled in the business administration management bachelor’s degree program to further her opportunities. Along with her VA benefits, Tammy qualified for ANU’s exclusive Armed Services Recognition Grant and Blue Ribbon Grant, which she is able to use toward the cost of books and classes. 

Working part-time while being a full-time mom and student has been trying at times, but Tammy has been very pleased with her experience at ANU and is happy she made the decision to continue pursuing her education. “If you are thinking about going to college – do it,” Tammy encouraged. “It’s a learning experience and you’ll have to make some sacrifices – but it’ll be worth it in the end!”

A- Tammy Pennix accepts her plaque for the veterans wall of honor at the Lynchburg Campus, as her sister, daughter, and mother show their support.

B- Tammy enlisted in the Army in 1988 and served for six years.

Student Driven by Love for Computers and Helping Others

Student Driven by Love for Computers and Helping Others

Five years ago, Melissa Lane made a life-changing decision – it was time to get her GED and go to college. She knew she was capable of more in life, and education was the next step she had to take. After trying other schools and feeling dissatisfied, Melissa kept looking and found American National University’s Dayton Area Campus. With the small class sizes and focused curriculum National offers, she immediately knew it was the place for her. A love for computers and technology, as well as a strong desire to help people, led Melissa to choose the cybersecurity program. Her dream career is to be an IT analyst for the FBI, and she feels this is the right starting point to achieve her dream.

Melissa has been so satisfied with her experience at National that she felt motivated to participate in the College’s Legacy Opportunity Program by referring two new students. “The staff feels like family; this is like a second home to me,” she explained. “I think a lot of people can benefit from this family-like atmosphere and small class sizes.”

She is determined to make the most of her college experience and helps others do the same by voluntarily helping new students get acquainted with the campus and assisting them with computer questions. Faculty and staff describe her as an ideal student who is willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it, and she was recently nominated as the campus’s student of the month. “Hearing staff and faculty say ‘you can do it’ and cheering me on is what keeps me going,” said Melissa. 

Cybersecurity student Melissa Lane (left) assists fellow student Robin Whitaker (right) with a computer question.

“Always be Prepared” Rings True with Unique Class Assignment

“Always be Prepared” Rings True with Unique Class Assignment

Instructor Chris Fardulis’s Thinking Critically class at the South Bend Campus recently participated in a unique class exercise designed to test their critical thinking skills and job interview preparedness. Local jeweler Ms. Tammy Petsch was invited as a guest speaker to conduct mock interviews with the students from the perspective of a real life professional situation. 

Prior to the day of interviews, the class was presented with basic jewelry information and assigned to research the jewelry industry and come prepared to sell a diamond ring during their interview. Students prepared for the interviews by studying the various stone cuts, sizes, and settings, and several students met with career services to review the fundamentals of a professional interview. As part of the assignment, students were also required to provide a completed application with a current résumé prior to their interview. 

“I found the responses to my question, ‘What motivates you and what frustrates you?’ to be most reflective of their lifestyle and their long-term goals,” said Ms. Petsch of the students’ responses. “I could easily tell which students had done their homework and came prepared to sell themselves and to sell the ring.”

The assignment proved to be a most effective exercise in critical thinking and applying knowledge in an organized manner to a situation that students will undoubtedly encounter outside the classroom – a job interview.   

Guest speaker Ms. Tammy Petsch (left) interviews student Cheri Richmond (right) as part of an assignment at the South Bend Campus.

Opportunities Abound for Business Administration-Management Student

 Opportunities Abound for Business Administration-Management Student

Nashville Campus student Shakirra Brown was recently offered a position in the management program at Chili’s Restaurant after serving the vice president of the company at the Chili’s location where she works as a team shift leader. “He was basically asking me, ‘Why aren’t you in management?’ because he saw all my scores and all my numbers; I was reaching them or hitting above the goals,” she recalled. “He [said], ‘as soon as you are done with school, we’ll get you on that track.’”

Shakirra feels that many of the principles that she’s learning in her business administration-management program at National College can be used on the job at Chili’s and in her work in direct sales as a Mary Kay Cosmetics representative. “My leadership management class has helped me with being able to talk to people,” she explained. “[Our instructor], Glenn Hunter, gives us insight of things from his previous career that helps us in everyday life; it’s very relatable.”

She feels her program at National has been so beneficial that she’s referred five of her friends and family members to the school. In fact, Shakirra is so excited about her great experience at National College that she’s even considered applying for a job in the admissions department at the Nashville Campus. “I believe that once you receive more education you’ll receive more opportunities, and National College is the vehicle that I’m taking to get me to the point where I’m going to go to make more money,” she said “I just enjoy National College’s atmosphere, the teachers, the program; I’d recommend it to anybody.”

Business administration-management student Shakirra Brown has referred five friends and family members to National College because of the great experience that she’s had at the school.

Student Passes the Torch to Friends and Family

Student Passes the Torch to Friends and Family

Students, faculty, and staff from the Lexington Campus recently gathered for a pizza party that was held to celebrate the Legacy Opportunity Program.  

Business administration-management student Deltoria Christopher participated in the celebration after referring six of her friends to her admissions representative, Sharon Rodgers. Referring others to American National University comes naturally to Deltoria who was referred to the school by her mother and grandmother, who are both graduates of the Lexington Campus.  

“I know a lot of people who right now are working just to survive, and they’re wanting to better themselves. I knew that education is very important to help you get a better job so that you can make more money and feel more comfortable living life,” Deltoria explained. “I was just letting my friends know that we are trying to get more people into the school’s programs that are available.”  

Thanks to Deltoria and the many other students who have referred friends and family members to the Lexington Campus, their legacy of creating brighter futures through hands-on career college training continues at American National University.

A- Deltoria Christopher (left), who recently referred six friends and family members to American National University, is shown with her admissions representative, Sharon Rodgers.

B- Students and staff from the Lexington Campus gathered for a pizza party to celebrate the Legacy Opportunity Program.

Student Returns to National Determined to Earn Degree

Student Returns to National Determined to Earn Degree

Kathy Wooten first enrolled in the medical assisting program at the Danville, Kentucky Campus in 1999 after being laid off from the factory where she worked. She was temporarily sidetracked from getting her degree, but she returned to American National University in 2013, determined to find the career in the medical field that she’d always wanted. “I want to help people and this is a way that I figured that I could do that,” she explained. 

Kathy has enjoyed the small class size at National, where she gets plenty of personal attention from her instructors. “The instructors care about you and make sure that you learn the material,” she stated. “I have straight A’s now.”

She also benefited from being placed as a work study student at the Kentucky Career Center, where she gained experience interacting with the public and performing administrative work. Now in the last term of her program, she’s also practicing using her skills during her externship at Liberty Medical Clinic, where she checks in patients, takes vitals, gives injections, and works in the lab.  “I’m learning a variety of things here from seeing newborns to elderly patients,” said Kathy. “When the doctor asks for labs or gives shots, she goes in detail to teach me why she wants certain things for the patients. I'm hoping when I'm done with the externship this experience will help me find the job I'm best qualified for.” 

Medical assisting student Kathy Wooten is gaining experience in the medical field working in an externship at Liberty Medical Clinic.

Donna Barney – Instructor – Richmond Campus

Donna Barney – Instructor – Richmond Campus


Donna Barney – Difference Maker at the Richmond Campus


Instructor of English, communications, and law courses 


Obtained a combined 15 years of experience as a paralegal and office manager at a law firm and paralegal for the Madison Circuit Court, as well as 13 years of experience as a court administrator for the 25th Judicial Circuit Family Court

2012 recipient of American National University’s Outstanding College Member of the Year Award for the Richmond Campus


Holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in paralegal science from Eastern Kentucky University and a Master of Science degree in library and information science from the University of Kentucky


“I admire the students at American National University because they have made choices that have the potential to change their lives. It is not easy to make a major change like attending college, but once they realize they can do it, it is exciting for everyone involved.

“I like to challenge my students to treat attending school like having a job. This means they need to be punctual, responsible, and professional.

“The best things about being part of the American National University faculty are the students, the staff, and the other faculty members. It is truly like being part of a family.”

Instructor Donna Barney is a Difference Maker at the Richmond 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.