The Covid-19 pandemic brought a lot of closure to the world, but it also allowed more people, like Melanie Hilliard, to reevaluate what they wanted in life. When she was laid off due to those circumstances, and her children had to stay home, Melanie and her husband realized that this was the perfect opportunity for her to earn her education. Through her dedication to her education, Melanie has earned the title of Health Information Management program Student of the Term for term 229, nominated by program director Patricia Vander Hoff.
Melanie found ANU through searching and friend recommendation. She began in our Medical Billing and Coding diploma program before moving onto our Health Information Management associate degree program. “I told my husband it was so easy and so flexible – I think I’m going to keep going,” she says about her decision to continue her education. Her classes have even allowed her to use some information in her current job position. She also feels her classes are preparing her for a job in Health Information Management because of ANU’s career professional professors, like Patricia Vander Hoff. When describing classes with Patricia, Melanie says, “she’ll tell you the basics and teach you what you need to know, but she’ll also give you a lot of examples from her [experiences] she has dealt with – it really helps when [professors] do that.”
Even more so, Melanie appreciates Patricia for how far above and beyond she will go to help her students learn and earn their successes. “She stood out to me because of how interactive she is – I mean she always checks on you even if you aren’t behind. She just checks in and makes sure you don’t have additional questions or anything she can help you with,” she explains. She also commended Antwuan McGhee for his dedication to helping his students learn. One of Melanie’s hesitations with going back to school was math, but he made it more accessible to her and her peers: “He would give us equations and walk through them step-by-step… He was really good with listening to us and seeing how he could help us.” She says both Patricia and Antwuan were able to take bigger concepts and turn them into something each student could put into perspective – and that made a huge difference in her education.
As a mom of three, with a husband working in fire and rescue, ANU’s flexibility has helped Melanie immensely on her path to her degree. “You know ahead of time all of your work and you can schedule it out based off of your schedule,” she says. She describes how she can work on her homework when her husband is home, and also not worry when he is gone because of the flexibility in ANU’s classes.
In five years, Melanie hopes to have earned experience and be in a management position with her health information management program education. When it comes to her education and how it is teaching her more than just what she needs in her degree program, Melanie explains, “[ANU] has had a lot of helpful information and life lessons.”
Melanie recommends ANU to those looking to pursue their higher education. Her advice to those who join ANU’s ranks: “Just go for it because ANU makes it so easy for anybody and all of their schedules… It’s really doable.”