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Ultimate Medical Academy Celebrates Commencement for Thousands of New Healthcare Professionals

Virtual ceremony highlights moving personal stories of academic success and career readinessVirtual ceremony highlights moving personal stories of academic success and career readiness

Tampa, Fla. – June 13, 2021 – Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), a non-profit higher education institution with the mission of equipping and empowering students to excel in healthcare careers, hosted more than 5,500 graduates from UMA’s Clearwater campus and Online community in a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 12. The live-streamed event honored the thousands of UMA students nationwide who will earn their degrees and diplomas between November 10, 2020, and July 11, 2021.

In addition to the graduates themselves, thousands of proud family members and friends from across the country joined the celebration.

Dr. Rick Rigsby, the bestselling author and creator of the inspirational viral video “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” delivered a riveting keynote address in which he encouraged graduates to stay true to their passion, be adaptable, and never stop learning.

Dr. Rigsby has taught at several colleges, including Texas A&M University, and served as coach, mentor and spiritual trainer for numerous non-profits, corporations, business leaders and professional sports teams.

In addition, two graduates shared moving stories of their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, discussing how UMA’s programs and student support services helped them reach their goals.

Amanda Nelson was a truck driver who wanted to continue her education but wasn’t sure how she could fit school into her job schedule.

“UMA seemed different,” Nelson said. “The reviews showed that this school cared about its students and went above and beyond to help them succeed.” Then COVID-19 hit and Amanda sadly lost her job. She was unsure if she would be able to continue with her education, but got a lift from her New Student Advisor, Imani Smith.

“Imani made sure I knew about resources offered to help students during such hardships,” said Nelson. “She also stayed very positive and kept motivating me to not give up.”

Amanda persevered, finishing her program with a 4.0 and Alpha Beta Kappa Honor Society membership. She now works as a claims analyst.

Ciera Walker had been working service jobs but was searching for a place to fit in that would bring out her best.

“It was not until I first walked the halls of UMA Clearwater during an open house that I felt a spark of interest,” she said. “The warm welcome I received at UMA and the knowledgeable people I spoke to gave me the sign that UMA could be right.”

The onset of COVID-19 brought Ciera’s academic career into doubt, as she was unaccustomed to online schoolwork. But then her UMA instructors stepped in, helping her keep a schedule and find peer support to adapt to the online learning environment. Like Amanda, Ciera persevered and was hired at her externship site as a medical assistant.

“My UMA journey defined the real me,” she said.

The pandemic highlighted the importance of quality healthcare and the need for a diverse workforce of healthcare professionals. UMA graduates stand ready to meet that need.

“Our graduates embody perseverance, commitment and a drive to serve others – traits that will help all of us in our journey towards a healthier society,” said UMA’s Executive Vice President Geordie Hyland. “Higher education is never easy, but the fact that this class completed their studies amidst a global pandemic is beyond impressive. We are proud of them all and look forward to watching them pursue successful careers in healthcare.”

2021 UMA graduates enter a field in extremely high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than 15.7 million workers will be needed to fill new and open healthcare positions in communities throughout the country in the decade leading up to 2029, and demand has only grown during the pandemic. UMA prepares students to meet this growing need by offering a variety of program areas including Healthcare Accounting, Health Information Technology, Healthcare Management, Medical Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding and more.

UMA will continue to support graduates, partnering with allied healthcare employers around the country to identify talent needs, and all graduates are assigned a Career Services advisor to help connect them with openings that match their new qualifications as well as assist with resume and job interview preparation.

To learn more about UMA’s healthcare programs, visit

About Ultimate Medical Academy: The need for skilled allied healthcare workers in the United States is critical and continues to grow. Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) is an accredited, nonprofit educational institution that helps to meet that need by equipping and empowering students to do vital work at the heart of healthcare. In addition to offering diploma and associate degree programs, UMA works closely with healthcare companies to connect students directly to job opportunities.

Founded in 1994 and based in Tampa, Florida, UMA offers hands-on learning at its main campus in Clearwater, Florida as well as content-rich, interactive programs through its online campus. The institution supports students through every step of their journey with access to academic support, interview and resume coaching, job search assistance, technical support and more.

UMA has more than 60,000 alumni and 14,000 students nationwide. It also has three individually accredited centers for Continuing Medical Education (CME) that provide ongoing training and professional development opportunities to more than 30,000 physicians, nurses and other medical professionals throughout the U.S. annually.

UMA is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The continuing medical education programs are individually accredited and are not included within the institution’s grant of accreditation from ABHES. Learn more by visiting

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