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June 01, 2015

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Class of 2015 Exemplifies Academic Achievement

Class of 2015 Exemplifies Academic Achievement

The immense joy and excitement could be felt in the air as friends, family, faculty, staff, and the graduates in the Class of 2015 gathered for the Princeton Campus’s commencement ceremony on Friday, May 15 at Liberty Baptist Church. Commencement speaker Dr. Sudhakar Jamkhandi chose a different route than the traditional graduation speech and instead posed a series of thought-provoking questions to the graduates, encouraging them to reflect on their experiences and future hopes when considering their unique responses.

“Now that you've obtained your diploma, what do you plan on doing? What is your passion, and how will you fulfill it?”

“Now that you’ve obtained your diploma, what do you plan on doing? What is your passion, and how will you fulfill it? Who do you owe for making it this far, and what do you owe them? How will what you have learned or mastered benefit your fellow humans? Are you a person you would want to seek advice from? Do you show a caring and compassionate demeanor when you meet strangers? Are you worthy of others’ friendship?” he asked, among many other things. “I can assure you that you will add your own questions to this list for the rest of your life, and you will spend the rest of your life seeking answers. Let’s be good, caring, considerate, compassionate humans.”

Following Dr. Jamkhandi’s speech, forty-two graduates received their diplomas, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees in various health science, business, and information technology programs. Among the graduates were several recipients of academic achievement awards: James Maestas—Leadership Award; Tracy Thomas—E. M. Coulter Award; Emily Turner—Joseph E. Hurn Award; Benjamin Martin—M. A. Smythe Award; and this year’s recipient of the Alumni Hall of Achievement Award was Lillie Poole, a 2001 medical assisting graduate who has been employed with New Hope Family Practice since graduating from the Princeton Campus and now serves as the office manager.

Tiki Ward was this year’s recipient of the Achievement Award, presented to graduates who, through extraordinary effort, overcame obstacles to achieve success in their studies and reach their academic goals. Tiki first enrolled at ANU in 1997 but had to take time off from her studies due to a series of difficult experiences in her family, including her daughter facing kidney failure and her mother being involved in a serious car accident. Tiki ultimately came back to ANU and earned both her associate’s degree in medical assisting and her pharmacy technician diploma this year, with both her daughter and mother in the audience cheering her on. “The staff and faculty kept encouraging me and wouldn’t let me quit,” shared Tiki. “They kept me going, even when I didn’t want to. They’re like family.”

A- The Princeton Campus Class of 2015

B- Graduate Tiki Ward (left) accepts her diploma from campus director Denver Riffe.

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“Be Productive in All of Your Future Pursuits,” Advises Former Governor

“Be Productive in All of Your Future Pursuits,” Advises Former Governor

The South Bend Campus’s 2015 commencement ceremony was held on Friday, May 15 in the Century Center’s Recital Hall, with 20 graduates celebrating their accomplishments.

The Honorable Joseph E. Kernan, the 48th governor of Indiana and 3-term mayor of South Bend, served as the commencement speaker. Mr. Kernan shared stories of his naval tour of duty in Vietnam, where his plane was shot down and he was held as a prisoner of war for 11 months. He then went on to discuss how his military service and love of his country had led him into a political career.

“American National University has enriched us by giving us the tools to improve our lives.”

His message to the graduates was clear—to follow the career path that is in front of them and to always expand their experiences to further the good of their own career and the good of the community they are a part of. He offered several pieces of advice to the graduates on how to accomplish this. “Vote at every election and be a part of a larger focus on the country’s future,” he encouraged. “Work hard in your new field of study, but never quit a good job until you have another.”  And finally, “Be productive in all of your future pursuits.”

All of the guests cheered as the graduates received their awards and diplomas. Several exemplary graduates were presented with awards:  Maria L. Blake—Achievement Award; James L. Smith—Leadership Award; Charlotte Kelley and Sheila Marie Waters—E.  M. Coulter Award; and Faavae L. Angianga—Joseph E. Hurn Award; and Ambera L. Pruitt - Mary P. McGurn Award. Rina Young was the recipient of the Alumni Hall of Achievement Award for her work in the community and in the medical billing and coding field over the past three years, most currently in her role with the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center’s billing department.

Top graduate Charlotte Kelley participated in the commencement ceremony by offering a brief address to her classmates. “My fellow graduates, we’ve had some laughs, a few tears, and made some new friends in our time at ANU,” she said. “American National University has enriched us by giving us the tools to improve our lives.” 

A- The Honorable Joseph E. Kernan encouraged the graduates to always expand their experiences to further the good of their own career and the good of the community they are a part of.

B- The South Bend Campus Class of 2015

From Job to Career with One Crucial Decision

From Job to Career with One Crucial Decision

Lexington Campus student Della Ford began seeing the writing on the wall a few years after graduating high school. “I was going nowhere,” she stated. “Many things look like good career opportunities when you’re fresh out of high school but most prove to be jobs with no long-term future.”

Della tried working at a variety of jobs following high school, but none of them offered the career she was looking for. “I worked in retail after graduating and it was fun, but it was never going to be a career,” she explained. “For my next job, I ended up working in a factory. The money was great, but that job was grueling. I worked very long hours and literally had no days off for months at a time,” she shared. “The monotonous work and lack of true career opportunities made me realize there simply had to be a better way.”

“I feel this is my calling, and American National University has provided the training I need to fulfill it!”

Then Della and her family moved to Lexington a couple years ago, and she began researching careers and colleges in the area. “I looked on the American National University website, saw the surgical technology section, and that was it,” she emphatically stated. “I’ve always had a fascination with surgeries and the medical field in general. My brother had a chronic spinal issue which meant many surgeries and visits to the doctors – and my fascination was born.”

Della didn’t waste any time enrolling at ANU. “After seeing ANU’s surgical technology program online, ‘I have to do this!’ was my decision – the decision to choose a lifetime career,” she said. Della found the flexible schedule at ANU to be particularly helpful. “American National University is perfect for us folks who work a full-time job,” she explained. “You can fit your work and school schedules together perfectly. The programs are challenging but attainable. They have true value in the real world, and my experience in the surgical technology program has been terrific!” beamed Della.

Della has already landed a terrific job at St. Joseph Hospital working in central sterilization, where she is performing some of the same duties she has been training for in class. She will complete her program in December, and her future goal is to work in trauma – perhaps at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.

“I want to work my way onto the transplant team,” Della shared. “I have a close relative who has had a renal transplant and this has motivated me to work in this specialty area. I understand the devastation of a long-term illness and all the problems a patient on the transplant list can suffer through. I feel this is my calling, and American National University has provided the training I need to fulfill it!”

Student Della Ford has found the career path she’s always wanted after working a series of jobs with no long-term opportunities.

News Correspondent Inspires Graduates to Learn from Other Peoples' Stories

News Correspondent Inspires Graduates to Learn from Other Peoples' Stories

All the pomp and circumstance of graduation was present as the nearly 60 graduates in the Lynchburg Campus Class of 2015 processed into Tree of Life Ministries on Friday, May 22 at the commencement ceremony held in recognition of this important milestone in their lives. A packed house of friends and family members clapped and cheered as each graduate’s name was called and they took their turn walking across the front of the stage to receive their diploma.

Emily Robinson, news correspondent from the local ABC affiliate, served as the commencement speaker. She shared with the graduates the importance of recognizing that everyone has a unique story to tell, if only we take the time to hear it. “People are fascinating; there’s a story to all of us. Seek out and learn from other people’s stories, as well as continuing to write your own,” she advised.

Ms. Robinson also offered personal anecdotes and life lessons she has learned during her career on and off camera to encourage the graduates to be willing to take chances, even if they make fools of themselves, and to remind them that doing their homework in life—in jobs and relationships—can be just as important as the schoolwork they had to complete as students. “Keep up to date on information in your field,” she advised. “Listen to just listen, and not to debate someone; it’s so important to be heard.”

“It takes dedication, but when graduation day comes, the late nights and hard times pay off.”

Following the commencement address, academic awards were presented to select graduates, including Alfreda Patterson—Leadership and M. A. Smythe Awards; Contessa Scott—E. M. Coulter Award; Heather Jackson—Dorothy Coulter Hancock Award; and Kevin Burley—Alumni Hall of Achievement Award.

This year’s recipient of the Joseph E. Hurn Award, presented for high academic achievement in accounting and business administration programs, was Jeffery Small. He graduated with his diploma in 2013 and then returned to ANU to earn his associate’s degree in business administration- management. “It’s a life-changing experience,” Jeffery said of obtaining higher education. “It takes dedication, but when graduation day comes, the late nights and hard times pay off. Education is something you have for life. Once you accomplish it, no one can take it from you.”

A- The Lynchburg Campus Class of 2015

B- Commencement speaker Emily Robinson shares with the graduating class life lessons she has learned in her career as a news correspondent.

Friends and Family Celebrate Accomplishments of Class of 2015

Friends and Family Celebrate Accomplishments of Class of 2015

It was a beautiful sunny evening on May 7 as the Columbus Campus held an inspirational commencement ceremony at Xenos Christian Fellowship. The auditorium was filled with family, friends, state representatives, graduates, alumni, current students, staff, and faculty, all eager and excited for the graduates to enter the auditorium to celebrate their accomplishments and success.

Among the Columbus Campus’s Class of 2015 were a mother and son, grandmothers, single parents, managers, a heart transplant recipient, business owners, the working class, entrepreneurs, and men and woman from all over the globe.

IT department chair Dr. Kelvin Webb started the ceremony with a greeting, prayer, and invocation. Campus director Joe DeLuca then introduced the commencement speaker—Representative David Leland from the 22nd district in the state of Ohio.

“I was happy to be there to support the students who were graduating.”

Representative Leland spoke to the graduates about service, perseverance, and leadership. He told the stories of famous people who suffered hardships, rejection, and failures before finding success as internationally-known writers, athletes, and leaders. They turned their downfalls into incredible accomplishments. Representative Leland advised the graduates that they will become stronger by their failures, and that it’s better to have endured failure then to have regrets.

Each of the 35 graduates in the Class of 2015 then had their moment to walk across the stage and receive their degree or diploma as their name was called. Each graduate has a unique story about the journey that brought them to academic success. One of those students is Sommer S. Wooden. Sommer gave a heartfelt, emotional, and inspiring speech to her fellow graduates, having experienced tragedy and triumph during her time at ANU. She expressed that her faith got her through the tragedy and the Columbus faculty and staff helped her reach her goals. Sommer found the strength to persevere to the finish line; she received her associate’s degree in health information management at the graduation ceremony and will be taking the certification exam to become a registered health information technician (RHIT) in just a few weeks.

All of the Columbus Campus graduates have prosperous futures ahead of them with their education from ANU, and the next class of students is already looking forward to their moment in the spotlight. “I was happy to be there to support the students that were graduating; a lot of them I have grown really close to,” said student Teshena Ackerman. “I found the ceremony inspirational, and I’m looking forward to my own graduation.”

A- Representative David Leland spoke with the graduating class about service, perseverance, and leadership.

B- The Columbus Campus Class of 2015

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.