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National News

April 13, 2015

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U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Continues Quest for Excellence in her Education and Career

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Continues Quest for Excellence in her Education and Career

As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Kristie Purcell embodies the “Semper Fidelis” motto, always faithful in her quest for excellence and in her commitment to her goals. It was that determination to succeed that led Kristie to earn her degree in the information systems engineering (ISE) program at the Akron Area Campus in 2014, which in turn allowed her to advance into a position as a configuration management specialist at ReliabilityFirst Corporation.

Kristie was working in an administrative position at ReliabilityFirst, a company that audits bulk power systems in over 13 states, when she enrolled at American National University – determined to take the actions needed to move up in her career. “If you’re not happy with what’s going on in your life, you’re the only person that can really, truly impact change,” she explained. “I wanted to make it to that next level, and where I was at I needed the [degree].”

As a student at National, Kristie liked the structure and the challenges that the ISE program offered. She also appreciated the support of her instructors, including ISE department chair Richard Crislip, who were always willing to come in early or stay late to assist her. “They were very encouraging, very helpful,” she recalled. “When you have that kind of experience, it helps you to want to succeed more.”

As she neared the end of her program, Kristie was presented with the opportunity to apply for the newly created configuration management specialist position at ReliabilityFirst, and she was hired after earning her ISE degree and her certification in configuration management. “I really enjoy what I’m doing because it touches all aspects of the business,” she said, adding that her IT skills come into play throughout her day.

For those looking to continue their education to achieve career success of their own, Kristie suggests sticking to the fundamentals and striving for excellence in all that you do. “You will get what you put into this,” she advised. “Don’t stay in that rut. We all have that ability to reach goals. It’s not easy all the time, but it’s definitely worth it.”

A- U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kristie Purcell enrolled in the ISE degree program to advance into a higher position with her employer.

B- To achieve career success, Kristie advises sticking to the fundamentals and striving for excellence in all that you do.

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Special Announcement

After nearly ten years of bringing you the National News from American National University and National College in the present format, we are pleased to announce that we will be progressing to a full color monthly magazine. We will continue to bring you stories of our students’ and graduates’ career successes and academic accomplishments, as well as a few new features related to programmatic and industry developments. We appreciate our loyal readers and hope you will enjoy the updates to the publication. Watch for your full color National News magazine – coming soon!

Lynchburg Medical Assisting Student is Moving Mountains

Lynchburg Medical Assisting Student is Moving Mountains

Working as a clerk at a convenience store and a server for a local pizza restaurant, Amie Clowdis wanted to be able to provide a better life for her children. Using this as her drive, along with her dream of going back to school, she began searching online for Lynchburg area colleges and what they had to offer. She found American National University’s Lynchburg Campus and was impressed by the small class size, with an average of 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. “I’d been out of school for 20 years, and the thought of going into a larger classroom was very intimidating,” explained Amie. She filled out the information request form on ANU’s website and soon received a call from admissions inviting her to come in to discuss her future.  

“Working with student services and admissions was fast and easy,” said Amie. “I was determined not to leave that day until I was registered for school because I’d made it this far and didn’t want to give myself a chance to chicken out.” Since Amie has a passion for helping others, she enrolled in the medical assisting program and chose a pharmacy technician minor to further expand her career opportunities.

“Being enrolled in college has built me up on many levels,” shared Amie. “My family and friends have been great! My daughter took a photo of me with my book bag on my first day of school and posted it on Facebook. It was so much fun! Now she pushes me to excel, and she makes sure my homework is done.”

Amie says the hands-on projects, labs, and community involvement have helped in preparing her for the workforce. She’s loved being given the opportunity to give back to the community through school projects.

Amie states that her self-esteem and determination have improved since being at ANU. “Learning to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are through the positive encouragement from the instructors and peers has helped me move mountains,” she shared. “I know I have a second family here.”

“I can see myself now the way my children and family could see me, when before I didn’t believe in myself enough to see it,” continued Amie. “Success with passing my courses and the pharmacy technician certification exam has shown me I can do this!”  

A-Student Amie Clowdis returned to school after 20 years to improve her career opportunities.

B- Amie successfully passed the certified pharmacy technician (CPhT) exam and will be taking the registered medical assistant (RMA) exam soon.

Leslie Moore – Admissions Representative – Knoxville Campus

Leslie Moore – Admissions Representative – Knoxville Campus


Leslie Moore – Difference Maker at the Knoxville Campus


Admissions Representative


National College staff member for more than nine years

Recipient of National College’s Eagle Award and President’s Award 


Holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology

Previous experience with mentoring/supervising at-risk youth


“I admire National College students’ dedication to obtaining their career goals despite any obstacles that occur along the way.

“As an admissions representative, I connect with prospective students and help create for them the value of an education, which allows them to make the conscious decision to attend National College and commit to graduating.

“My greatest rewards are when a student is so thankful for the help and mentorship we provide as a campus, that they refer a friend or family member and they both ultimately become National College graduates.

“The best thing about being a National College staff member is being able to continue my life’s passion of helping and serving others.”

Admissions representative Leslie Moore (right) is pictured assisting student Cierra Cutshaw (left).

Surgical Technology Graduate Enjoys Excitement and Variety of the Operating Room

Surgical Technology Graduate Enjoys Excitement and Variety of the Operating Room

Sarah Kirk graduated from the American National University Youngstown Campus in July 2014 with an associate’s degree in surgical technology. Sarah is now finishing her six month orientation at the newest branch of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, which has recently expanded their surgical wing with the addition of four new suites to allow for a higher volume of surgeries. Orientation consists of participating in surgeries in each department of the hospital. Upon completion, Sarah will be able to move freely between these disciplines and assist on a variety of surgeries.

Shortly after graduating, Sarah was hired by the hospital after successfully completing an interview consisting of a five-member panel of employees who each quizzed her on a variety of duties. One of these panel members was St. Elizabeth’s nursing coordinator, Michele Ischkum. “She’s done beautifully; she is quick,” explained Michele of Sarah’s work at the hospital. 

A lot is expected from every employee in the operating room, and Sarah feels her hands-on training at National was key in being able to transition smoothly into this complex environment. “The amount of clinical work at so many locations prepared me for everything,” she explained of her experience at National. “I have not been surprised or lost.” Sarah enjoys the variety her new career brings and is excited to come to work every day. “Each day can be so dramatically different from the last,” she explained. 

Surgical technology graduate Sarah Kirk prepares to enter the operating room, where she enjoys the excitement and variety of each new day.

Externships Lead to Employment for Pharmacy Technician Graduates

Externships Lead to Employment for Pharmacy Technician Graduates

As students in the pharmacy technician program at the Danville, Kentucky Campus, Amanda Taylor and Brandie Wells each completed externships at Rite Aid Pharmacy in Stanford, Kentucky. As a result of their proven knowledge and skills during their externships, they were both hired by Rite Aid, where they continue to serve the community by providing their customers with prescriptions in an accurate and timely manner.

It is partnerships with employers like Rite Aid, who provide hands-on experience during externships, and who often subsequently hire the externs they host, that help ensure that American National University graduates make the vital transition from the classroom into the workforce. 

Due to its ongoing support of career college education, Rite Aid was recently recognized as a Distinguished Community Employer by the Danville, Kentucky Campus. Campus director Lee Bowling and director of health care education Stephanie Slone presented the award to staff pharmacist Heather Estep. 

“We want to thank Rite Aid for their partnership and the opportunities that you offer our students and graduates,” said Lee at the presentation.

Ms. Estep said that Rite Aid is happy to partner with American National University to provide employment opportunities for graduates. She feels that Amanda and Brandie are valuable members of her team. “They’ve excelled in what they do here,” she said.  

In their work, Brandie and Amanda assist the pharmacists in filling prescriptions and provide administrative support. They also work closely with medical offices and insurance companies to verify information for patients’ prescriptions and insurance claims.  

Brandie said that she is appreciative of the career that she’s found at Rite Aid thanks to the training that she received at National. She enrolled in the program after the company that she worked for downsized and she lost her job in merchandising. “I’ve always had an interest in being in the medical field,” she explained, adding that she was drawn to National because of its small class size and convenient location. “I feel like with smaller classes, it’s easier to learn.”

She enjoys using the knowledge that she gained in her program to help others, and her career as a pharmacy technician is helping her to provide a better life for her family. “I would have never gotten on here [without my education],” she said. “It’s helped my life and helped me take care of my children.” 

A- (Left to right) American National University graduate Brandie Wells, campus director Lee Bowling, Rite Aid staff pharmacist Heather Estep, director of health care education Stephanie Slone, and graduate Amanda Taylor are shown during the presentation of the Distinguished Community Employer award to Rite Aid in Stanford, Kentucky.

B- Pharmacy technician graduates Amanda Taylor (left) and Brandie Wells (right) were both hired by Rite Aid following externships with the company.

Professional Appearance Advice Offered During Job Search Clinic

Professional Appearance Advice Offered During Job Search Clinic

On March 16, Celeste Byrd, an independent senior sales director with Mary Kay, offered students professional dress and makeup tips for interviews during the Richmond Campus’s job search clinic.

Celeste told the workshop’s female participants that job interviews are not the time for heavy makeup. “Less is more; you want your makeup to be very simple,” she explained.

She advised the students that during a job interview their hair should be out of their face and tattoos should be covered. She also encouraged them to dress for success by wearing all one color, such as a black jacket with a black skirt or pants, and a brighter colored top underneath. In addition, she suggested that shoes should be polished and that ladies should carry a small handbag.

“You only have a few seconds to make a good impression,” Celeste explained. “We feel better when we look better. If you are confident in yourself and your skills, you can have any job.”

Each participant left the workshop with cosmetic samples to use to recreate their interview-ready look. “I really enjoyed the job search clinic; not only were her interview tips good, but I love my new makeup look and will be using it on my next interview,” said medical assisting graduate Priscilla King.

A- Mary Kay senior sales director Celeste Byrd (2nd from right) offered tips on professional dress and makeup for interviews during the Richmond Campus’s job search clinic. 

B- Celeste Byrd (left) helped Jackie Williams (right) apply professional-looking makeup for a job interview.

30-Year Veteran of the HIM Field Offers Insight and Advice to Students

30-Year Veteran of the HIM Field Offers Insight and Advice to Students

Students and staff from the health information management (HIM) program at the Louisville Campus recently gathered to celebrate Health Information Professionals Week. The event featured a reception and a presentation by guest speaker Linda Kamer, who serves on the campus’s HIM advisory board.

Linda shared her experiences from her career working in HIM over the past 30 years. After earning her degree in health information management, she first worked for a cancer registry and later advanced into positions working as the director of medical records for several hospitals. 

During her tenure in the field, Linda saw the introduction of DRG (diagnosis related group) codes and also worked during the transition from ICD 8 to ICD 9 coding. “It was really an exciting time, because we had to educate the whole medical staff,” she recalled. “We had to change all of the documentation systems. It kind of pushed computerization.”

Linda served as director of health information management at Jewish Hospital (now Kentucky One Health) from 1989 until 2006, where she was part of the team that brought the first fully integrated document imaging system to Kentucky. “At Jewish, technology really took off and things really started happening in HIM,” she explained. “It was fun, and there was a lot of interaction with the physicians, IT, and nursing. Every part of the hospital touches HIM, and you can learn so many different things.”

Today as a senior consultant for CGI, one of the largest IT companies in the world, Linda helps to provide IT solutions to health care facilities across the nation, as well as internationally. Her duties include business development, account management, and product development and research.

She encouraged the HIM students to consider the many options available to them as they begin their careers. “You have the world in front of you when you get this degree,” she told them. “Think about the companies around Louisville and how many health care jobs there are. Health is big business. You guys are in the right field because they all have information that needs to be managed.”

A- Students and staff from the HIM program at the Louisville Campus gathered for a photo during the Health Information Professionals Week celebration.

B- Guest speaker Linda Kamer shared her experiences from working in the HIM field for over 30 years.

Degree from National Opens the Door to Business Career

 Degree from National Opens the Door to Business Career

Lexington Campus graduate Tammy Bush was looking for a way to transition from her career in home health care into the business world when she enrolled at American National University. “I was just out researching different colleges and universities trying to figure out what fit for me,” she recalled. “When I came to National, it was just like an open door, and they gave me all the information that I needed.”

Tammy’s goal was recently achieved when she was hired as an assistant manager at Rally’s Restaurant a few months before completing her business administration-management program. She feels that her work with the American National University career center was one of the keys to helping her achieve her goal. “I was looking for a more challenging and more competitive way to go about getting what I wanted [in my career] – and I had various resources [available to help me with] my résumé,” she said. “That helped me open a lot of doors.”

At Rally’s, Tammy enjoys managing the day-to-day operations of the restaurant and providing exceptional service and delicious food to her customers. She plans to use the experience that she’s gaining at Rally’s, as well as the advice of her instructors and fellow students at National, as a stepping stone to owning her own soul food restaurant. “I’ve developed a business plan; I’ve developed a grand opening; I’ve developed a menu,” she shared. “Everybody [at National] has been pitching in and helping me out.”

Lexington Campus graduate Tammy Bush is working as an assistant manager at Rally's Restaurant and developing a business plan to open her own soul food restaurant.

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.