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March 23, 2015

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Graduate Challenges Herself, Reaps the Rewards

Graduate Challenges Herself, Reaps the Rewards

It takes a strong person to turn negative experiences into positive ones, and a strong person is exactly what Staci Barker is. First, she lost her job to layoffs and downsizing. Then, she lost her mother to cancer. After her mother passed away, Staci drew inspiration from one of the hospice nurses who had been helping her mother and decided, with no prior inclination and a previous background in the financial industry, that she needed to switch gears and go into the health care field.

Staci chose to pursue a degree in medical assisting at ANU’s Danville, Virginia Campus because of how quickly she’d be able to complete the program and because her career research indicated she’d easily be able to find employment as a medical assistant. Her decision proved to be wise. Although she won’t walk across the stage to receive her degree until this May, Staci has already completed her program; has received her Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), and Certified Electrocardiogram Technician (CET) credentials; and has been hired as a medical assistant by her externship site, Providence Family and Sports Medicine. 

It was the hands-on aspect of the medical assisting program that Staci most enjoyed as a student, especially the clinical rotations, externship, and a particular competency test she recalls from director of health care education Mechelle Warren’s class, during which students had to bring in a family member or friend to practice what they’d been learning. Staci brought in her boyfriend and was monitored and assessed by Mechelle as she followed protocol through an entire patient/medical assistant scenario, from taking his vitals and recording his past medical history to performing a proper venipuncture and EKG on him. “You can read about something all day long in a book, but until you put your hands on it, it won’t make sense,” said Staci of the practical training available at ANU. “Until you do it for yourself, you’re not going to be comfortable with it; and the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.”

“Staci is one of the most dedicated students that I have had since coming to ANU; she never saw a challenge that she did not meet head on,” said Mechelle, citing as an example Staci’s desire to push forward to earn the CET and CMA credentials above and beyond the usual RMA. “She will do great things in the medical field.”

Staci is grateful for the guidance from Mechelle and the other instructors and staff at the Danville Campus that helped get her to where she is now. “Any time I ever had a question or a problem, the instructors were always available,” she stated. “They went above and beyond to make sure I had every resource available to succeed.” But she encourages those considering pursuing a degree to realize that it also takes hard work and determination to accomplish educational goals. “Make sure you’re ready to give it 100%,” she advises. “The teachers do their part, but you have to do your part too.”

A- Staci Barker turned negative experiences into a positive one by entering into a career in medical assisting. 

B- Staci has earned her RMA, CMA, and CET credentials.

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Student Empowered to Create a Success Story of Her Own

 Student Empowered to Create a Success Story of Her Own

Tamika Collins has taken classes at a number of colleges in the past, but never made real progress in her education until she enrolled in the business administration-management program at the Cincinnati Campus. At American National University, she’s found a number of features that have empowered her to succeed. Small classes held at one convenient location tops her list, as does her interaction with her instructors.

“I have a lot of one-on-one communication with my teachers. That helps me understand the material a lot better. Also, with the online book store—we get our books on time,” she explained. “All those things are really, really helpful. I’m on the Dean’s List; I have perfect attendance. These things that I thought never could happen for me have been happening ever since I’ve been here.”

Tamika is appreciative of the support that she’s received at American National University, and she looks forward to one day opening her own business using the knowledge that she’s gained in her classes. “I just want to say ‘Thank You’ to National’s staff,” she stated. “I have seen a lot of success stories come from here, and that also pushes me to move forward because I know that it can happen.”  

Tamika Collins is thriving in her business administration-management program at the Cincinnati Campus.

Student Moves to U.S. with Dreams of Working in Health Care

Student Moves to U.S. with Dreams of Working in Health Care

When Felicia Assibey moved to the United States from Ghana in West Africa, she was starting a new chapter in her life. After getting settled into her new country, she would eventually move into yet another chapter in life by enrolling at the Columbus Campus of American National University.  

In Africa, Felicia had been working as a sales coordinator at a manufacturing company. That job took care of her needs, but she wanted to expand her options further. Felecia acquired an interest in the health care field and decided to pursue education in America that would lead to a related career.

American National University’s program options, small class sizes, and convenient location are just a few of the things that appealed to Felecia, and she chose to enroll in the health information management program. “I like the course content and the learning environment on the campus,” Felicia said.  

Throughout her time at American National University, Felicia has felt very pleased with the school, and she feels that the instructors are doing a great job at preparing her for entrance into her field. In fact, after getting started in her program, Felicia actually felt surprised by the environment she found on campus. “The instructors are so helpful,” she remarked. “Not all colleges have such good instructors.”

She has been successful in her studies, having earned recognition for making the Dean’s List as well as perfect attendance. When she earns her degree, Felicia would like to work in the records department at a health care institution.

Felicia Assibey has been recognized on the Eagles Soar wall at the Columbus Campus for Dean’s List and perfect attendance achievements.

Justin Abraham – Student Services Representative – Madison Campus

Justin Abraham – Student Services Representative – Madison Campus


Justin Abraham – Difference Maker at the Madison Campus


Student Services Representative


National College staff member since 2014


Graduate of Middle Tennessee State University

Extensive background in higher education, customer service, and experience as an administrative assistant


“I admire the drive and determination of National College students. Many of our students have families to take care of or a job that they have to work while attending school. These aren’t easy tasks to do while attending school, so seeing these students continue to put forth the effort to better their lives and their families’ lives by obtaining their education is truly remarkable to me.

“From the first time I come in contact with a student to explain the financial aid process, I make sure that I’m as thorough as possible and that they feel comfortable with the process. I then make sure to try and create a connection with the student and let them know that they can come to me with any issues and I’ll try my best to correct the issue or get them in contact with someone who can.

“My favorite moments at National are continuous. Each term there are students who throughout the term may come to me concerned about a class being too hard for them or they believe that they’re not going to make it through it. I always make sure to constantly motivate them and ask how things are going when I see them. When those students come back and tell me how well they did in a class or on a test, that makes me excited for them.”

Recently, student Ashley Thompson was assigned to complete a project for her Oral Communications class recognizing someone she was thankful for and appreciated. On the morning of her speech, she stopped by Justin’s office and asked if he could come to her class. When Ashley’s turn came, she began her speech and expressed her thankfulness for Justin’s friendliness, encouragement, and willingness to help whenever she had an issue. She then presented him with a certificate of appreciation for all he does for the Madison Campus students. “I had no clue what was going on; I was very surprised and honored,” said Justin. “I display the certificate proudly on the wall in my office.”

Student Ashley Thompson (right) presented a certificate of appreciation to student services representative Justin Abraham (left), a Difference Maker at the Madison Campus.

PRIS, PLC Provides Learning Opportunities for ANU Students and Graduates

PRIS, PLC Provides Learning Opportunities for ANU Students and Graduates

The Lynchburg Campus recently recognized Dr. Brenda Waller of PRIS, PLC, as a Distinguished Community Employer for providing hands-on learning opportunities for ANU students as an externship site. She was also recognized for hiring four graduates of ANU’s health care programs, from both the Lynchburg and Danville, Virginia Campuses.

Graduates Lekeshia Morris, Kimberly Jones, and Dessirae Taylor work as medical assistants at the practice, while administrative office professional graduate Tameka Gaines serves as the office manager. “I was hired as a front desk receptionist, and two years later I was promoted to office manager,” Tameka shared proudly. “Every day is a learning experience. Our patients live with a lot of pain, and to put a smile on their face and make a difference in people’s lives means a lot.”

“I love it here,” agreed Lekeshia. “Every day is something different; there’s never a dull moment.”

Dr. Brenda Waller is a physiatrist in Lynchburg, Virginia. At PRIS, a physical medicine and rehabilitation practice, she helps patients recuperating from injury or disease to enjoy a higher quality of life. “The students who come here to complete their externships are quick learners and are able to slide right into the job when I have openings,” stated Dr. Waller. “The graduates I’ve hired are focused, follow-through to complete the task at hand, and are able to notice things when they interact with the patients that need to be brought to my attention.”

Career center director Stephanie Anastasio (far left) and director of health care education Sue Coleman (far right) presented the Distinguished Community Employer Award to Dr. Brenda Waller (3rd from right), who has hired four ANU graduates, including Kimberly Jones (2nd from left), Tameka Gaines (3rd from left), and Lekeshia Morris (2nd from right). 

Jack of All Trades Fulfills Dream of Working in the Medical Field

Jack of All Trades Fulfills Dream of Working in the Medical Field

Kristen Kent is a self-professed jack of all trades, working for a time as a welder and later as the general manager of a hotel. But no matter what field she’s worked in, Kristen never lost the desire for a career in the medical field, a dream that was rekindled when she cared for her mother following an organ transplant.

Kristen first pursued training for a medical career when she enrolled at American National University in 2000, but she wasn’t able to complete her medical assisting program. With renewed determination, she returned to the Lexington Campus in 2013 and earned her associate’s degree and certification as a registered medical assistant (RMA) in 2014.

At National, Kristen appreciated the dedication to students that was demonstrated by program director Jessica Hart and medical instructors Angela Maggard and Randi Barnett. “They were all great teachers; detailed; they cared; they made sure that you knew the information,” she recalled. She also worked closely with career center director Cheryl Howell to refine her résumé and conduct her job search. 

Kristen was hired as a registered medical assistant by SKIN MD after graduating. She is hands-on in virtually every area of the busy dermatology practice, assisting the physician with everything from Botox to acne treatments, as well as working in the lab and front office. “I’m a medical assistant, that’s what I do. I help the doctor, and I love it,” Kristen said of her work in the office. “I never would have thought of dermatology, and I’ve learned a lot. God just placed it all right because it was everything that I was looking for.”

She particularly enjoys assisting with MOHS surgeries, a specialized procedure to remove skin cancer, an interest which may lead to yet another career which she can attain via the medical programs available at American National University. “It definitely has me considering the option of going back to school for surgical technology,” she said with a smile.

A- Kristen Kent has had careers as a welder and as a hotel general manager, but she finally fulfilled her dream of working in the medical field after graduating from the Lexington Campus and becoming a registered medical assistant.

B- Kristen works in the lab and the front office, in addition to assisting the physician at Skin MD.

Distinguished Community Employer Donates Exam Table to Richmond Campus

Distinguished Community Employer Donates Exam Table to Richmond Campus

On Feb. 26, Kentucky One Health Urgent Care donated an exam table to the Richmond Campus to be used as a teaching aid in the medical assisting program. The practice, which was recently named a Distinguished Community Employer by the campus, employs three American National University graduates: Darlina Davis, Shauna Barrett and Renee Pruitt. Kentucky One also serves as an externship site for the campus’s medical assisting students.

Renee, who is the office manager at Kentucky One, explained that the practice wanted to give back to American National University because they employee three graduates. They are proud that their donation will help prepare future medical assistants for the workforce. 

“When Kentucky One Urgent Care contacted me about donating an exam table to our college, I was delighted,” said Paula Beth Ciolek, director of health care education. “At that time, I only had one, so to have two will be great for my Clinical Medical class. My students are so excited to be able to utilize their skills more effectively and practice without having to wait for other students.”

You can read more about Kentucky One Health Urgent Care’s partnership with American National University in the Dec. 9, 2014 issue of the National News: 

American National University medical assisting graduates (left to right) Darlina Davis, Shauna Barrett, and Renee Pruitt are shown at Kentucky One Health Urgent Care with an exam table that the practice recently donated to the Richmond Campus.  

HIM Students Visit Health Care Facility to Gain Insight into Field

 HIM Students Visit Health Care Facility to Gain Insight into Field

Health information management (HIM) students from the Louisville Campus recently took a field trip to Jefferson Alcohol & Drug Abuse Center (JADAC) with HIM program director Linda Burcham. During the visit, they learned firsthand about working in the HIM field as they listened to a presentation by the center’s HIM supervisor. She discussed the importance of certification, and she reminded the students that networking through professional organizations such as the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) could be very beneficial to their careers. The students also toured the facility and learned about the HIM department’s plan to transition to electronic health records.

HIM student Tracey Hall said that during her visit to JADAC she learned that there are many different jobs available in the field. “To be in HIM, one needs to really understand HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] and all the laws that you must abide by with health information,” she added. 

“I really enjoyed the trip,” said HIM student Felicia Trammel. “It allowed me to see a different role within the HIM world.” The students appreciated the opportunity to meet with an experienced HIM professional who provided insight about HIM careers.

Health information management program director Linda Burcham took students from her Introduction and Foundations of HIT class on a field trip.

Campus Staff Provides Job Search Assistance during NKY Veterans Job Fair

Campus Staff Provides Job Search Assistance during NKY Veterans Job Fair

Florence Campus career center director Samantha Palmer and student services representative Jason Stewart recently provided career coaching during the NKY Veterans Job Fair. As members of the “Ask-A-Coach” team, they provided résumé critiquing, interviewing techniques, networking tips, and other job search assistance to veterans and the general public. 

Kara Callahan-Schulte, a member of the USO (United Services Organization), was one of the job seekers who Samantha and Jason assisted. She visited the career fair in search of new job opportunities after raising her family and working in the airline industry for 14 years as a flight crew planner and trainer. Ms. Callahan-Schulte felt that the job fair was an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with companies who are actively hiring and that her time spent with Samantha and Jason was very informative. “The biggest benefit I received today was the one-on-one (turned into one-on-three) coaching session with the professionals from American National University,” she said. “I was able to have my résumé reviewed and greatly improved by their input. I was also given leads to possible employment that I had not thought of. The job fair was definitely time well spent.”

“Getting the right job can feel nearly impossible, but once you understand the rules you have a better chance at winning the right job,” Samantha explained of the tips that she provided during the event.

“It’s always nice to get out in the community and assist individuals in their career goals, especially the veterans,” added Jason. “I met quite a few people all going through trials and tribulations with one common goal:  to improve their life! I always love being part of something that these individuals may prosper from.” 

Florence Campus career center director Samantha Palmer (left) and student services representative Jason Stewart (center) are shown performing career coaching with job seeker  Kara Callahan-Schulte (right) during the NKY Veterans Job Fair.

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.