Returning to School: Challenge Accepted


For many students – returning back to school after several years of being out of the classroom feels like a daunting decision. “If you didn’t go [once you graduated from high school], you never thought that later on in life … you’d be going back to school,” shared Melanie Caulder, who graduated with her medical assisting associate’s degree after 37 years of being out of school. “But I did. I did great,” she concluded with a huge smile. At American National University, student-centered campuses help students feel completely at home, even if they thought returning to school would be impossible. “I always said I’d never go back to school,” admitted pharmacy technician graduate Melissa (Missi) St. Martin, “[but] I’m glad I did. I’m really glad I did.”


Typical age of an ANU student.

With the increasing demand for skilled workers in the workforce, more students are finding it necessary to return to school later in life. In fact, in the past ten years the enrollment of students age 25 or older has increased by 35%.1 For some, like Melanie – whose job of over 20 years at a boot factory ended when the factory shut down – going back to school is a necessity for finding a new job. With assistance from the federal Trade Adjustment Act program, Melanie went back to school at the ANU $$Danville, KY Campus and was hired as a medical assistant immediately upon graduation.

For others, like Missi, it’s the opportunity to pursue a career in something they love. Missi had worked in a pharmacy as one of her first jobs before she transitioned into sales. After several years in sales, she decided that she really missed working in the pharmaceutical field and wanted to go back. However, the job that she wanted required certification as a pharmacy technician, so she enrolled in the pharmacy technician associate’s degree program at National’s $$Madison, TN Campus. She graduated with her associate’s degree, earned her Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPT) certification, and was hired on at her externship site.

[img]In both cases, having a supportive community at ANU was key to their success. For Melanie, figuring out where to begin with enrollment after so many years was the first barrier: “It’s just a whole other world,” she explained with a laugh. But she found that at ANU, “It all fell into place. It was no stress on me.”

“They offered night classes – which was a big plus because I was working full time,” said Missi. She valued the close relationships she established with teachers and fellow students who gave her the help and encouragement she needed to succeed in her classes. “You push them and they push you,” agreed Melanie of how the faculty and community at ANU builds and supports students, “and you work together and you get it done.”

Both graduates found that National’s dedication to their success didn’t end with graduation. “They helped with my résumé and mock interviews,” Melanie shared about the career services assistance in helping her look for jobs post-graduation. “They were really on top of that. It really made a difference when you went in for a job interview.” For Missi, gaining her certification with her degree and being placed in her externship at a pharmaceutical compounding company was what she needed to land her dream job. “I have the school to thank for [my work] place – because this is where they took me, and where I really wanted to go,” she stated.

Many of today's students are like you

Beyond the benefits of stable careers in fields they love, both Melanie and Missi share that graduating with their degrees from ANU gave them a sense of confidence and pride that they treasure. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now without my education,” Melanie stated emphatically, “I’m doing something I enjoy.”

“It makes me feel proud,” shared Missi, “It makes me strive and push for more things.” Looking ahead to her future she says with a smile, “Hey, I did this step – now I can go to the next step and if I want to go back to school again I can do it… because I know I’ve done it once – I can do it again.”



A- Missi St. Martin apprciates the support she received from the $$Madison Campus faculty and staff, who helped her land her dream job.

B- Melanie Caulder went back to school at the ANU $$Danville, Ky. Campus and was hired as a medical assistant before she even graduated.

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