Did you know that on average 600 UMA students graduate each month?* That’s 600 more connections you have on your side each month—cheering for you and celebrating your accomplishments. We encourage you to connect with your fellow alumni to see where their careers have taken them, what they’re doing in their communities, and how you can be more involved with each other.
As you read through our last newsletter of the year, you will hear directly from two graduates with two unique stories. This newsletter includes a special Q&A column with advice from your fellow graduate on how she utilized her UMA education to become a top executive. This newsletter also features our Winter True Blue Alum—and shares how she is finding success in her new position after only six months on the job.
One of our favorite features in our alumni networking platform, ConnectUMA, is the mentorship opportunities it offers. When you sign up, you can choose if you’re willing to assist other alumni in a variety of ways (plus, you can change your mentorship settings at any point). If you stumble across another graduate who you want to know more about, it’s as easy as visiting their profile and seeing if they’re willing to help. If they are, you can request mentorship right there on their profile!
We are thankful for all that you do in your communities, careers, for each other, and beyond. Whether you graduated one year ago, three years ago, or six years ago—we look forward to hearing your story and connecting with you.
If you have any questions or would like to share your UMA story, please reach out to the alumni team.
*Number of graduates averaged from January – October 2017.
Alexis / UMA Alumni Coordinator
Interested in Furthering Your Education?
Are you thinking about taking the next step in your education? Read below to see how UMA can help you reach the next level.
UMA Associate Grads
UMA currently maintains agreements with four educational partners who share many elements of our mission. Through these partnerships, alumni with an associate degree from UMA have an opportunity to continue pursuing post-secondary education by obtaining their bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees. Learn more about our partnerships with Bellevue University, Excelsior College, National American University, and Southern New Hampshire University on our website or call 866-473-9391 to speak with a UMA Alumni Career Services advisor.
UMA Diploma Grads
We can create a plan and get you on the path to earning your associate degree from UMA. Graduates who choose to advance from a UMA diploma to a UMA degree in the same program often earn their degree in about a year!1 That’s because diploma credits may transfer toward a degree in the same program.2 Learn more about our diploma-to-degree fast track by visiting our website or by emailing email@example.com to connect with a graduate re-enrollment representative.
1Completion times may vary according to individual students. 2Not all courses and programs qualify. Contact UMA to determine your eligibility and discuss other restrictions that may apply to your program or transcript.
Q&A with Graduate Kirsten Saunders
We sat down with 2015 graduate Kirsten Saunders to ask her how she has risen from call center employee to a Sr. Manager in the healthcare field. Kirsten graduated from UMA's Medical Administrative Assistant diploma program in 2014, and continued to earn her Medical Administrative Assistant associate degree in May of 2015. She is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree. See our Q&A session with Kirsten below for useful tips from a successful graduate and healthcare professional.
Q: What do you do professionally?
A: I'm a Senior Operations Manager for one of the top five insurance companies, and I manage national, ancillary, and MidAmerica accounts.
Q: How did you get your start in healthcare?
A: I got my start in healthcare on a fluke. I needed a job, and an insurance company happened to be right around the corner from my house. So I applied to work in the call center, and I got started there less than five years ago.
Q: How many people do you manage?
A: I manage about 20 people.
Q: What traits do you look for in candidates you hire?
A: When I hire, my interviewing process is a little odd because the biggest thing I look for is transparency and someone who already understands a team concept….In the end, we're all about a team and I want them to grasp that team concept and I want them to be thinkers. I want them to think about improving processes constantly. So there really isn't just one thing I look for—there's a lot.
Q: What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you?
A: Well, I travel a lot in my position. Probably my favorite was when I went out to Salt Lake City, Utah to meet one of my employees face-to-face. That was my most favorite. As far as most interesting, going to South Bend, Indiana was probably the most interesting place I've traveled to for work.
Q: How did your education at UMA prepare you for your career?
A: UMA helped me prepare for the career that I have because of the support I got as a student. Initially, it was just to be better at the job I was doing, but because of the confidence that I gained in what I was doing, I just have continued to grow and I'm in a place now that I didn’t think five years ago I would actually be in. What I learned pushed me to keep going.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned during your time at your job?
A: I've learned to connect with your people—quickly. Make them a family. I think that's the most important thing. In previous roles, it was slower and we would connect when we could. One of my goals when I took this position was to meet everyone face-to-face within the first two weeks—and my team is scattered across the country. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and I thought that was going to be a bad thing. Luckily, we connected in other ways. As a leader, you need to earn trust and get buy-in from your team by connecting with them and letting them know they're important.
Q: Other than education, what would you say helped get you to the role you’re currently in?
A: I ask a lot of questions. I firmly believe in asking why, and I promote my team to ask why and question me constantly. If you know why, it makes us better. I guess it helps having a two-year-old child saying 'why' all the time. But really—ask why are we doing this and does it make sense. That's probably the biggest thing I've learned and the biggest thing I share—just ask why.
Q: What advice would you give other graduates striving to progress in their careers?
A: I think educating yourself, even if you've already graduated and you're not planning to pursue your four-year education. Most companies offer some type of learning or training, so take advantage of it. Even the little things from time management to emotional intelligence. Take advantage of any of these educational offerings you can get.
Watch Kirsten tell some of her story first hand here.
We’ve Updated UMA’s Career Connector Program
We launched our UMA Career Connector program this past May—and now we’ve updated the rewards system to make it easier for you to reach our program levels.
Through the UMA Career Connector program, you can tell UMA about open positions at your company and receive rewards and recognition in return. You can earn rewards like a UMA Alumni Tumbler, UMA Alumni Sweatshirt, and more! Plus, all program levels will be recognized in the UMA Alumni Newsletter.
Visit our website to submit open positions and get started earning rewards!*
*Not all job referrals count—only those verified as new positions that match UMA’s program criteria.
True Blue Alum: Erulan Dowdy
UMA alumni who are finding success and making an impact
Our final True Blue Alum of 2017 began her career in healthcare when she was in high school. Erulan Dowdy ‘17 enrolled in a dual program with a local career center to get her Certified Nursing Assistant credential. Then her career in healthcare continued when she enlisted in the Navy and was stationed at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Erulan worked in Central Supply stocking the linen cart and the supply cart for different wards in the hospital. She learned equipment sterilization during her time in the Navy, and she continued to find herself drawn to healthcare. After her time in service, Erulan received a diploma from another school before enrolling at Ultimate Medical Academy in 2015. This year, Erulan successfully earned her associate degree in Medical Billing and Coding.
Since she was working more than one job at the time of her enrollment, she knew online schooling was the way to go.
"There was something that kept drawing me back to the UMA site when I was making the decision about going to school and where I wanted to go," she said. "When I got the phone call from UMA, the vibe was just really good. The person I talked to was excited to talk to me. They made me feel really, really comfortable and that's what won me over."
Read More ▸
Know of a UMA alum who is accomplishing incredible things? Submit Your Nomination here. Your nominee could be our next True Blue Alum.
Staff Corner: Alumni Services
Kathy Stewart is one of the Alumni Team Leads at Ultimate Medical Academy. In her role, Kathy makes sure UMA graduates receive great support services.
"My highest priority is ensuring that our graduates get the service they need, and that it’s what I would expect if I were them," she says.
Kathy has been with UMA for more than two years, and she strives every day to change grads lives for the better. She says it's important to remind her team that the graduates they're assisting go through struggles in life just like they go through themselves. Her favorite aspect of being an alumni advisor at UMA is when she's able to give specialized attention to graduates going through hard or special circumstances.
Kathy continued, "Sometimes that means being a listening ear and sometimes that means fighting for them to get life's basic necessities beyond a job."
Kathy recalls a recent graduate she worked with who had been displaced by Hurricane Harvey. She says the graduate lost her home, didn't have a job, and her car barely worked—the same car she was living in with her children. With Kathy’s support, the graduate pulled through the situation and was able to find a position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where they assisted her so that she could move into a new home.
"She didn't give up and it paid off," Kathy said.
When Kathy isn't busy working with UMA graduates, she can be found cooking and baking. She actually ran her own catering business for many years. Kathy has an array of experience working with people and providing excellent service—from working as a substitute teacher, to working as a site supervisor with disadvantaged youth, to her retail sales experience. Kathy is also a published author, and has won several literary awards.
Kathy shares the same advice for our graduates’ professional and personal lives.
"Never give up. Keep trying and stop looking back. Get through or around all obstacles by keeping it moving."
Career and Life Advice
UMA’s In Healthcare Today blog offers insightful videos and articles to help you navigate and succeed in healthcare. We’ve selected our favorites and linked to them below.