Becoming a Health Information Management Specialist from Home: Jennifer’s Experience at ANU

When the Covid pandemic shut down most of the world, Jennifer Kojro found herself in many people’s shoes. She was laid off by her company after 15 years, without previous college experience to keep her head above waters. However, though she was laid off, the timing was perfect for her to finally earn the education she had been dreaming of, while she had familial support, Jennifer enrolled at ANU. With her dedication to her studies, thirst for knowledge, and willingness to continually push herself, she earned the title of the first ever Health Information Management Student of the Term!

Jennifer first started at ANU through earning her Medical Billing and Coding diploma. She went searching for schools that had such program, and when she found ANU, she said she was “just drawn to it… I went with my first gut [feeling] and instinct.” From there, Jennifer smoothly transitioned into the Health Information Management associate degree program, and has enjoyed every minute of it. The timing of her education came about with how much familial support she has and the motivation to earn more for her daughter – “I just went for it!”

The accessibility that Jennifer has found at ANU has been invaluable since starting her education. Not only are her weekly zoom sessions engaging and focused on helping her and her fellow students, but she can access whatever she needs right in the comfort of her own home. “[Our] books are very informative, well laid-out, everything on the portal with your assignments—it’s all right there!” She goes on to say that the resources we offer our students, like the library and the writing center, were accessible and allowed her to gain a full understanding of her education: “From how to write an APA format paper, or any questions I have… it’s helped me a lot.”

Not only is she able to access all of these resources, but she finds even more help through the guidance of her professors. Jennifer had hesitations when she first joined ANU as she had never been in an online education experience before. But her professors wiped away that fear. “They always stress: ‘Don’t hesitate to reach out, that’s what I’m here for’.” Most of her professors have made it clear to her that they aren’t resources only available to them in class – not only can she schedule a Zoom call when she needs help, but many professors have made it clear that they will be there for her even after she graduates. “Once you’re out of college, [they] don’t just go away. They let you know they’re always there… and to not be scared to go into the unknown once college is over.” One of her professors even spent over four hours in a one-on-one Zoom session with her to make sure she completely understood the material. The dedication of her professors to ensure she is learning is what continues to impress Jennifer. And this even proves Jennifer’s title of Student of the Term as she continually works for her education and works with her professors.

Patty Vander Hoff is also the Dean who not only nominated Jennifer for her title, but also was a professor that Jennifer had nothing but good things to share. “She’s really fun in class, she makes learning fun. She gives us all kinds of tips and tricks and what worked for her before [she taught at] ANU throughout her career and when she went to school.” Jennifer feels not only supported by Patty, but that she goes above and beyond for her students.

For her future, Jennifer wants to find financial stability and a positive work environment where she can use her ANU education. “With HIM, there’s so many opportunities that I didn’t even know about – that I actually learned this last term! It’s not just going to work at a hospital or doctor’s office, it’s a lot of things that I just had no clue [until ANU].” She knows that her degree is opening up more doors for her, and her future goals are no longer “this or that,” but a wide array of possibilities. Along with that, Jennifer has built up her own network with her peers and professors. “You become like a family with your teachers and other classmates, it’s very comforting… Everybody supported each other no matter what anybody said. It was a great overall experience. That’s another thing I like about ANU: everyone just feels comfortable.” Jennifer feels at home at ANU, and she has optimism about her future because of the experiences she’s had here.

When it comes to recommending ANU, Jennifer would definitely do so to those looking to earn their education from home. “You think you’re always going to have something [bad] at some college, but I haven’t experienced that here. So, I would recommend ANU, definitely.”

The advice she would give those new students coming to ANU: “Listen. Just listen.” She goes on to explain that once she gets her syllabi, her materials, and assignments posted online as the term starts, she will get started in advance so that she is totally prepared for her classes. “It’s there, provided for us before the class, and I think that’s great so you’re not just going into something [blind], you already know.”

American National University – Be live, in class, from anywhere.

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