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September 19, 2016

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Sisters Work Side-by-Side in Medical Careers

Sisters Work Side-by-Side in Medical Careers

When sisters Gretel Durruty-Fajardo and Karelia Fonseca Fajardo came to the U.S. from Cuba in 2007, they never imagined they’d one day be working side-by-side as part of the medical team at Louisville Surgery Center.

Like many sisters, Gretel and Karelia are as different as night and day.  “She’s the sweet; I’m the sour,” Karelia said with a smile.  But they both agree on the positive impact that American National University has had on their lives.

Gretel, who was eighteen when she came to Louisville, was referred to ANU Louisville Campus admissions representative Ely Kraft by a fellow Cuban. A bi-lingual native of Venezuela, Ely is well-known throughout the Cuban community as an advocate of higher education.

“It was the best choice I've made.”

After she and her mother met with Ely, Gretel knew that surgical technology was the career for her, and that ANU offered the small class size and support that she needed to succeed. “I was excited because it was the medical field—something I didn’t know—and I loved it,” Gretel recalled. 

In her surgical technology program, she first learned about the surgical instruments and sterile technique in the simulated operating room at ANU where she received lots of one-on-one attention from her instructor.  And when she doubted herself, Ely was always there to support her and give her confidence a boost.

“School was hard…but I had good help and the training was great,” she shared.

Later, Gretel gained hands-on experience working in clinicals in several area hospitals.  The experience reconfirmed to her that she’d made the right choice in careers.  It also allowed her to demonstrate her skills to the surgical team, who later recommended her for the job at Louisville Surgery Center.

With her new career as a certified surgical technologist (CST) firmly established, Gretel eagerly recommended ANU to Karelia, who enrolled at ANU as soon as she graduated from high school. Karelia earned her degree in the medical assisting program at ANU, and was later hired by Louisville Surgery Center, as well.

“I just bought a house. I’m very independent,” said Karelia, who is continuing her education in the ANU eUniversity medical and health services management bachelor’s degree program.  “I really recommend National to people, especially Cubans. They work with you and take their time with you.”

Gretel agreed. “It was the best choice I’ve made,” she said.

Photo A-ANU graduates Gretel Durruty-Fajardo (far left) and her sister Karelia Fonseca Fajardo (far right) and pictured in the operating room at Louisville Surgery Center with ANU Louisville Campus admissions representative Ely Kraft and Dr. Mark Chariker.

Photo B-Sisters Karelia Fonseca Fajardo (left) and Gretel Durruty-Fajardo (right),who came to the U.S. with their family in 2007, are both working at the Louisville Surgery Center after graduating from American National University.

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ANU's eLearning Allows You to Create a Custom Educational Environment

 ANU's eLearning Allows You to Create a Custom Educational Environment Explore National's Online Program

Each and every student at American National University is unique, with their own learning style, family commitments, and work schedule, yet they all share one common goal—getting in and out of their program as quickly and efficiently as possible, while gaining the relevant skills that they need to succeed in their chosen careers.     

As ANU strives to meet its students’ needs and create programs that put a college degree within reach for every working adult, a number of interactive learning formats have been developed with classes available day and night held on-site at one of our more than two dozen campus locations, through videoconferencing, online delivery through Blackboard Learn, or a blend of all three.

While ANU is well-known for the one-on-one instruction that it offers on-campus, many students find that they thrive in the independent, flexible environment of eLearning, as well. 

Ellen Cabiness graduated from the medical assisting program at the ANU Martinsville Campus in 2004 and worked as a medical secretary in the emergency room of a local hospital.  After moving into a job working in child support administration, she recently returned to ANU to continue her education in the health care management bachelor’s degree program offered through the ANU eUniversity.

“With online classes, you can really work at your own pace.”

“I missed the medical field, so I decided I’d come back and finish up my degree and get back into healthcare management,” Ellen explained. “Working eight hours a day, I felt like I could kind of set my own schedule,” she said of the eLearning classes.

“With online classes, you…can really work at your own pace. You can set your own schedule as to ‘Well, today I’m going to work on this for this class,’” Ellen added. “If I do my master’s in business administration, I’m going to do it online. It worked for me.”

On-site and eLearning classes can also be combined to help ANU students reach their graduation date without delay.  Medical assisting graduate Kaleigh Courts got hands-on experience while developing her clinical skills in class at the ANU Florence Campus, and she also took several general education courses online to help expedite her graduation. “I love online classes too,” Kaleigh stated.  “I did those when I was pregnant, so I didn’t miss any terms.”

As in her on-campus classes, Kaleigh found that the instructors in her online classes were available to help her whenever she had questions. “If you can’t t find an answer, the teachers were really easy to email and they explained it even further,” she said. “Now I want my bachelor’s degree.  I want to go forward and do the online classes and get that.”

Video conferencing classes are also an option available to students at ANU, utilizing software which allows students from several campuses to participate in a class led by a University professor sharing their knowledge of the field.

“I enjoy the video conferencing experience,” said Chris Wilson, a student in the business administration-management bachelor’s degree program at the ANU Lexington Campus. “You get a wide variety of questions and information when you join students from other campuses. It definitely adds to the classroom experience.”

With on-site, eLearning, and video conferencing classes to choose from, ANU students have more options than ever available to them as they earn the degrees they need to make their goals for their future a reality.

Photo A-Ellen Cabiness found that the flexibility that she had as a student in the ANU eUniversity health care management program worked well with her full-time job.

Photo B-Medical assisting graduate Kaleigh Courts got hands-on experience in class at the ANU Florence Campus and she also took general education classes through ANU’s eLearning courses during her pregnancy.

Graduate Working as Integral Member of Pharmacy Team

 Graduate Working as Integral Member of Pharmacy Team

Graduate Eydie Barnett is using the skills that she gained at the ANU Youngstown Campus working as a pharmacy technician at Walgreens Pharmacy.

Eydie first came to ANU after losing her husband. She had been out of the workforce for several years when a friend, who was a National graduate, suggested that she check out ANU.  “I just knew I had to get my life together,” Eydie said of her decision to return to school.

In the pharmacy technician program, Eydie developed a foundation of knowledge about drugs and their applications.  She also got hands-on experience learning the proper techniques for mixing and dispensing medications in the pharmacy lab and during her externship.

At ANU and in her new career, Eydie has enjoyed the relationships that she’s built with her instructors, classmates, and her co-workers.  “Dr. Chakos was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from him,” she said of her favorite instructor, pharmacy department chair Kevin Chakos.

Eydie looks forward to working as a pharmacy technician for many years to come.  She plans to eventually move back to her hometown of Bronx, New York.  She feels that the skills that she gained in her program at ANU will be in demand there, as well.

Medical Students Learn About Blood Donations

Medical Students Learn About Blood Donations

Amy LeVan, a representative from the Kentucky Blood Center, recently visited the Basic Anatomy & Physiology I class at the ANU Danville, Kentucky Campus to speak about the blood donation process.

During her presentation, Ms. LeVan shared that currently only five percent of the population donates blood. She said that people often do not donate because they are unsure of the process, or no one ever asked them to donate.  Each day 400 pints of blood are used within the Kentucky Blood Center service area, and one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

The information that Ms. LeVan provided is valuable to the students, both as prospective blood donors and as future medical professionals.

“I would like to work with her team.”

“She was very informative. She gives a broader view on the process of donating blood,” said Rebecca Wardle, a student in the phlebotomy/ECG program. “It helps to know details on the process, so that fears and anticipation that donors may have is relieved. It also helped to know and realize that it is very valuable to saving lives.”

“Amy was great; I learned from her answers,” added Tina Pendygraft, a student in the medical assisting program. “I would like to work with her team.”

For more information about the Kentucky Blood Center and blood donations, visit

Photo-Amy LeVan, with the Kentucky Blood Center, is pictured speaking to an Anatomy & Physiology class at the ANU Danville, Kentucky Campus.

Scam Alert: Beware Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Scam Alert: Beware Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

Have you seen offers for fast and easy forgiveness of your student loans? Do they sound too good to be true? That’s because they are! Watch out for scams that target students claiming they can erase your student loans.

You may see a post on Facebook or receive a phone call from someone claiming that they can erase your student loan debt. These con artists attract victims by marketing official-sounding programs, some of which don’t exist, or they offer “free” services that aren’t free at all. They often do this by providing a link from Facebook to a fraudulent or misleading website landing page.

Once they’ve “hooked” you on the website, the company asks for an upfront fee to negotiate with your student loan lender on your behalf. They often claim they’ve helped numerous other clients, but don’t believe them! Student loans can only be only be forgiven under very specific circumstances, which are not fast or easy. These scammers will simply take your money and disappear.

If it seems too good to be probably is.

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to avoid student loan scams:

•Never pay upfront. Legitimate lenders typically charge for service once the service is complete. You should not be required to pay an upfront fee beforehand.

•Know your options.  If you are having trouble paying your student loans, contact your lender directly. The federal government offers payment assistance programs.

•Never give a third party power of attorney. Do not sign anything giving a company the power to negotiate on your behalf. A scam company can use this to take control over your loans.

•If it seems too good to be probably is. Any company guaranteeing services that quickly “erase” student loan debt is not being truthful. This is a red flag.

If you are struggling with a student loan, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent agency of the U.S. government, has a website which offers legitimate information and help.  For more information, visit the CFPB website at

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.