True Blue Alum is a special feature series that puts a spotlight on outstanding UMA alumni. This series showcases alumni who are serving their communities, excelling in their careers and accomplishing other noteworthy achievements.
We choose one distinguished UMA alumnus per quarter. The feature is published on the website, in the Alumni Newsletter and on our exclusive alumni networking platform, ConnectUMA. Featured alumni receive congratulations from UMA President Derek Apanovitch, a certificate of recognition and an official school spirit item.
Spring 2017: Jacqueline Guerrero
Our first True Blue Alum of 2017 has shown great success and strength throughout the past several years.
Driven by a desire to be a role model for her friends, family and other women, Jacqueline Guerrero, Class of 2013, has made a better life for herself and her 5-year-old son.
Jacqueline heard about UMA during a tough time in her life. She was pregnant and on maternity leave when she decided to further her education and career.
“I was doing research for an online school and UMA popped up,” she says. “I saw many good reviews and when I called, I loved the way they communicated with me. It was friendly and it felt comfortable.”
During this time, Jacqueline was experiencing personal issues at home. She kept pushing forward and finally overcame her biggest hurdle in her life. As a domestic violence survivor, Jacqueline became motivated to prove that you can always better your life and complete your goals by staying focused.
And Jacqueline did change her life. By staying focused, she was able to graduate with her Medical Billing and Coding diploma. Within a few months, she also landed the position of front desk medical billing specialist at MedAmerica. She has been working there for four years and has progressed rapidly within the company.
Now the front desk manager, she recalls when MedAmerica Group first reached out to her.
“They called me for the interview and I didn’t even remember applying. My [now] manager told me that my UMA Career Services advisor sent my resume. Thanks to UMA, I gained a great career.”
Jacqueline will be graduating again from UMA later this year with her Medical Billing and Coding associate degree. Going back to school has allowed her to bond with her son and set a good example for him. They sit together each night to do their homework, and she tells him that, “A family that studies together succeeds together.”
Jacqueline has become a beacon of light for others in her community. By sharing her story with other women, she encourages them to believe that anything is possible. We are so proud of Jacqueline for being an amazing role model to her family and her community, and for succeeding in her healthcare career.
Winter 2016: Angela Ribble
This quarter’s True Blue Alum has persevered through significant hardships to achieve success and create a better life for herself and her family.
Angela Ribble, Class of 2016, began her journey at UMA in 2013 when she decided to pursue career training and find a school that made her proud to be a student.
But Angela’s path to graduation took an unexpected path shortly after she enrolled. Angela began experiencing shortness of breath after giving birth to her third child, and a series of doctor’s appointments confirmed that she suffered from a potentially fatal genetic blood disorder.
Angela’s health forced her to take a leave of absence from UMA, but she didn’t let that become a roadblock to her success. After taking the time she needed to recuperate, Angela came back to UMA and finished her Medical Administrative Assistant diploma program. Her support system offered her the encouragement and inspiration she needed to continue.
“My wonderful family inspires me to keep giving it my all, and to take each day as it comes. They help me take the good with the bad, and realize that life is all about choices and doing your absolute best to make the right ones. There were days when I was so exhausted to the point of tears, but my kids’ hugs and kisses were inspiring, and I told myself everyday that I can do this, and each great grade only drove me to keep working even harder.”
Angela’s perseverance paid off. Through the help of UMA’s Career Services team, she found a position as a medical administrative assistant at Ithaca Eye Care Optometry. Angela began her job in July 2016 and continued her educational journey with UMA at the same time. We are thrilled to say that Angela graduated with her associate degree in October 2016.
“Raising three kids as a single parent and completing schoolwork is hard, but UMA has really helped me. They helped me get the education I rightfully wanted and deserved.”
Angela is now living the life that she always dreamed of, and we are so proud of all that she has accomplished. She is a wonderful example of the determination and grit found in UMA students and alumni.
Fall 2016: Leticia Barton
Our inaugural True Blue Alum is Leticia Barton, Class of 2016, who has shown determination, perseverance and incredible strength through life’s toughest challenges. Leticia graduated from the Medical Billing and Coding associate degree program, and we were honored to feature her as the online student speaker at the Spring 2016 Commencement ceremony.
Since graduation, Leticia continues to achieve success, most recently by securing employment at the Phoenix Spine Surgery Center as a Spine Care Specialist. In this role, Leticia is responsible for collecting information from patients all over the country and evaluating their eligibility for back and neck surgery. This includes understanding the kind of pain they are experiencing and collecting insurance information. Then, once the patient is approved for surgery, Leticia schedules the surgeries in Phoenix Spine Surgery Center’s own operating room, or at the nearby hospital where the doctors also perform surgery.
Leticia enjoys her job immensely and credits UMA’s Career Services advisors for helping her find the position. UMA worked with Leticia to find an opportunity close to her home so that she could still be there for her children.
Leticia is happy to have a career that keeps her busy and fulfilled, because she is still healing from the loss of her mother, Rena, who passed in October 2015 from breast cancer. Rena was also a UMA alumna who graduated from the Medical Billing and Coding program. It was her mother who inspired Leticia to pursue an education and create a better future.
“Like my mother, I am a proud Diné Native American woman who is beating all odds and fighting for my life and the future for my kids. My mother showed me that education is the most important door a person can open.”