Aileen Luckowski – Student Highlight

United Career Institute is thrilled to introduce you to one of our co-Students of the Month, Aileen Luckowski! Aileen is a Practical Nursing student at United Career Institute.

While she has attended other post-secondary institutions, Aileen felt that United was her best option. “I’ve attended post-secondary education before, but I really felt like United being a smaller campus, was best for my learning style,” she said.

Prior to enrolling in United’s Practical Nursing program, Aileen was working a steady job, but she constantly felt that she needed more from her life. “Before I decided to attend United, I was working full time as a VIP Butler at a casino.  Although it was a very financially stable job, I left every day feeling as if I was meant to do something much more in life, which is why I chose to pursue Nursing. I chose Nursing because I want to help people and know I make a difference every day,” she said.

Aileen did her homework when it came to choosing nursing schools. She loved that she could get a very well-rounded education at United. She said, “I chose United because of their excellent NCLEX- PN* pass rates, small class sizes, and knowledgeable instructors.  The instructors came from all aspects of nursing, so I knew I’d get an in-depth education.  There was no other institution around that offered instructors with OR, maternity, pediatrics, behavioral health, and long-term care experience all under one roof.”

In addition to the well-rounded education she receives, Aileen chose United because of the small school atmosphere. “My favorite part of attending United would probably be the home-like classroom experience. Larger schools sit you in a large lecture hall, and you’re really just a number,” she said.

Aileen graduates from United in a few short weeks, and she is so excited to share that she already has a job lined up! “My ideal job after graduation would be in an emergency department. Luckily, with the skills I’ve attained at United, I’ve already been offered and accepted a full-time position in my local hospital’s emergency department.  It’s a great feeling knowing that in a little over a month, I’ll be graduated and starting my nursing career in the department I had my sights set on,” she said.

Although she is almost done with her United experience, Aileen still has big goals for her educational future! “In five years, I’d like to be beginning my Master’s Program for Family Nurse Practitioner,” she says.

As a final thought, Aileen said, “I would refer friends to United because I myself am a success story considering I’m in my late 30’s with a teenager, and I was able to do this program with the backing of great instructors and a good classmate support system.”

To learn more about United’s Practical Nursing program, request information here!

*Passing the NCLEX – PN exam is required to become a Practical Nurse.

Sakya Baker – Student Highlight

Practical Nursing student, Sakya Baker, began her journey with United Career Institute in April 2021. United is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, an important advantage in Sakya’s search for schools. Another reason Sakya chose United was the location. The campus is located on Lincoln Highway in Irwin and is easily accessible from the turnpike and surrounding areas in Westmoreland County.

Before attending United, Sakya was a CNA for 15 years. She always wanted to further her education but did not feel she had the support system. Now she’s got her amazing support system and an 11-year-old daughter cheering her on! Sakya says, “a big part of her support system is the staff members at United Career Institute, who really want to see you succeed.”

United Career Institute prides itself on having supportive instructors with experience working in their respective fields. One of those staff members is nursing instructor Tina Fenyus, who teaches Sakya’s favorite classes. When asked why she said it is because “she is passionate about nursing and genuinely wants you to succeed.”

After graduating, Sakya hopes to work in a long-term care facility as an LPN where she will get to use the knowledge and skills United taught her. When asked where Sakya would like her life to be in five years, she said she would like to follow in the footsteps of her favorite instructor, Tina! Sakya said, “I plan to further my education and eventually become a nursing instructor.” Having a caring and encouraging instructor is a major reason Sakya would recommend United Career Institute to a friend or family member.

If you are interested in learning more about United, request information here!

Cassidy Winck – Student Highlight

United Career Institute is thrilled to introduce you to our August Student of the Month, Cassidy Winck.

Cassidy is a student in United’s Medical Assisting program.

United Career Institute is Cassidy’s first experience with a post-secondary institute. Prior to attending school, she was a part of the workforce. “I was working full time at Pediatric Associates as a receptionist,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy’s decision to attend United was driven by some of her friends who attended previously. “I chose to come to United Career Institute because two of my mutual friends came here a couple of years ago,” she said.

Cassidy’s experience as a receptionist at Pediatric Associates was part of what drove her decision to pursue medical assisting at United. She said, “I chose medical assisting because while I was working at Pediatric Associates of Westmoreland, I was able to see what a medical assistant was and became interested in what they do daily.”

Cassidy’s favorite part of attending United is the bond she has built with her fellow classmates. “My favorite thing about United Career Institute are the friends that I made while being here,” she said.

She also loves the instructors she’s had at United. “I haven’t found a teacher I didn’t like here. All of the teachers are helpful, supportive, and push you to do your best.”

Cassidy has some big plans for her life after graduation. “After graduation, my ideal job is to be a medical assistant.” She continued to say “I would [also] like to have a house and a family of my own.”

Cassidy said she would absolutely refer United Career Institute to a friend. “This school has shown me that hard work pays off.”

To learn more about United Career Institute, request information here!

Amy Smith – Student Highlight

Before stepping on campus at United Career Institute, Amy Smith, one of our medical assisting students, spent some time at Slippery Rock University.  After her father suffered from some severe medical conditions, she, unfortunately, did not return.  Thankfully for us at UCI, that lead her here!

Amy did a lot of traveling and volunteer work before leaping back into her education.  When asked why she chose UCI, Amy said she saw the banner while visiting a local restaurant and decided to speak to one of our Admissions Advisors to get the ball rolling.  After her appointment, she knew this was something she could manage and wanted to earn her degree.

When asked why she chose to work as a medical assistant, Amy replied that she “enjoys working with people.”  Amy hopes to apply her “knack for making people feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations” to her future career as a medical assistant.  This “knack” is something we all have seen, as you can frequently find Amy in a study group with her peers, performing random acts of kindness and lending an ear to anyone who needs it.

Amy said her favorite part of UCI is the people.  She said she had no idea she would “meet so many truly wonderful people” when she decided to attend United.  Amy “thinks this profession attracts helpful and genuinely kind individuals, and we have a school full of them!”

When asked about her favorite instructor, Amy picked one of our newest team members, Annette Crowe. Medical terminology was once an intimidating class for Amy, but it is now Amy’s favorite class, thanks to Annette’s “down-to-earth and funny way” to approach the course.

After graduation, Amy feels like she could find herself working in a doctor’s office and maybe even offering private tutoring to struggling students.  In five years, Amy hopes to be “living in the moment by trusting and enjoying the story of her life.”

When asked if she would refer a friend or family to attend United Career Institute, Amy quickly replied, “I absolutely would refer a friend or family member.” In fact, her own daughter, a high school senior, is the first person she is recommending our school to.

We here at United feel it is truly a pleasure to have Amy as a student on our campus, and we can’t wait to see where life takes her.

Amber Berdar – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is thrilled to introduce you to our July Student of the Month, Practical Nursing student, Amber Berdar.

Amber started her journey with United as a student in our Medical Assisting degree program. She said, “I attended United before for the Medical Assisting program, and I had a very good experience. Everyone was very helpful, and you learned a lot of information that helps in the long run.”

Many United students who have long-term dreams of being nurses choose to start their journey in the Medical Assisting program. This program is slower-paced than the Practical Nursing program so that students can gain a base knowledge of the medical field in a less stressful environment. Students can often work while attending school because the United Medical Assisting program is a smaller time commitment than our Practical Nursing program. This was the case with Amber. “I was working at Mount Macrina Manor nursing home as a CNA and went to school for Medical Assisting at United. After I got my MA certification, I got a job at Adagio and worked there full time until it was time for me to start the PN class,” she said.

Amber discovered United when she was still in high school and trying to determine what to do with the rest of her life. “I was at a job fair in Cal U while still in high school, and the school really caught my eye. I took the brochures home and was deciding which program I wanted to do. When I went for a tour of the school, [it]wasn’t too big or too small, and all the people there seemed very kind and inviting when you came in. I just knew that the school was a place for me, and it was going to be a good experience.”

Amber has many family members who work in the medical field, and that is what initially got her interested in a long-term career in healthcare. “All my family is in the medical field, and they encouraged me to go for nursing. But, most importantly, my mother and boyfriend are my biggest support systems, and they are the ones that pushed me to go further, and I’m glad that I made the decision to become a nurse,” she said.

The hands-on clinical experience she gets is Amber’s favorite part of attending United, and her favorite instructor is Danielle. She also really loved her Med Surg class. She said, “This class was very fast-paced and a lot of information, but I loved learning about all the different diseases and disorders that can happen and how to take care of the patients while they are sick.”

Amber’s ideal job after graduation is no surprise, considering how much she loved her fast-paced Med Surg class. “I would like to work as either a trauma nurse, ER nurse, or on the Med Surg floor. I like a fast-paced environment with a lot of things to do,” she said.

In five years, Amber hopes to be working as a trauma nurse in a hospital, but her educations dreams haven’t ended either! “I also see me furthering my education by becoming an RN or going for NP,” she says.

Amber had this to say about her overall experience at United. “I would refer a friend to United because this school is great for someone who wants to be in the medical field but does not want to go to a large college to become a nurse. You get a lot of great education attending this school, and I would want my friend to get the same experience I got.”

To learn more about United’s Practical Nursing program, request information here!

Shannon McClain – Student Highlight

Like many students before her, Shannon McClain attended a local community college before coming to United Career Institute. When asked what made United different than her previous school, Shannon said, “the staff at UCI are friendly and, all the classes are relevant.” United has six-week modules, this allows classes to go by quickly while ensuring that all the information they learn applies to the workplace.

When asked why she chose medical assisting, Shannon said, “I have a passion for helping others.” Her mom is also a medical assistant and an alumna of our Mount Braddock campus, so Shannon has a good understanding of the profession. 

Shannon’s favorite class in the program has been Anatomy and Physiology because she, “loves learning the body and body systems.” Anatomy and Physiology provide United students with a great understanding of how the body works and various diseases and disorders they will see while working as a medical assistant.

Five years from now, Shannon sees herself as a graduate of United Career Institute, owning her own home, working in a cancer center, and “striving to be the best she can be at 25!”

To learn more about United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting program, request information here!

Brandon Hegland – Student Highlight

People always dream of studying abroad, which is exactly what United Career Institute  Practical Nursing student Brandon Hegland was able to do. His studies led him to South America, and upon his return to the United States, he attended Mutual Aid’s Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program.  Though the training was rigorous, Brandon said it was an “amazing training experience.”

That rigorous training helped to prepare him for what to expect from United’s fast-track Practical Nursing program.  When asked about why he chose United, Brandon credited his sister, a graduate of our Mount Braddock campus, as his “inspiration for becoming a nurse.”

Brandon enjoys the small class sizes and the individualized instruction provided by his instructors. When asked who his favorite instructor was, he said Tina because “she really does know the material she teaches and is more than willing to present the material in different ways so that all her students can comprehend the lectures.”

Clinical experiences are Brandon’s favorite as they help put students in the industry and showcase their skills and work collaboratively with other nurses and patients.  Brandon says clinical allows him to “put all the skills learned into good use.” Clinical experiences have also presented the opportunity for Brandon to reflect on how much he has grown as a practical nurse.

When asked about his ideal job, Brandon didn’t have a specific organization or area in mind, but he does want to be somewhere where he can see the difference he makes in someone’s life.  In his time here at United, this comes as no surprise since Brandon can always be found conversing with his peers and the faculty and staff of United Career Institute with a smile on his face. Five years from now, Brandon sees himself being successful and back to traveling abroad while still keeping in touch with his fellow classmates, particularly Jodi.

To learn more about United’s fast-track Practical Nursing program, request information here!

Katelyn Burgman – Student Highlight

Before attending United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting program, Katelyn Burgman, like many before her, attended a local community college to pursue a radiology technician program. Katelyn did not have an enjoyable experience and quickly realized that she wanted to go into a field doing something she “actually enjoyed instead of just settling for a job,” and she landed at United Career Institute.

When asked why she chose United, Katelyn quickly responded, “I want to be a nurse, but I chose to get my MA first so I can have options and more knowledge of the medical field.”  Katelyn’s favorite part of attending United Career Institute is that the presented material isn’t overwhelming, and assistance is available.  Her favorite classes so far have been her three clinical courses because they provide a hands-on experience, and Katelyn is a hands-on learner.

When it comes to her favorite instructor, Katelyn couldn’t choose a specific one. “All of my instructors have shown caring and understanding, and I like them all in different ways.” This comes as no surprise, as the Medical Assisting program staff truly puts the student first, as does anyone at United.

Upon completion of her externship, Katelyn doesn’t have a particular specialty in mind but knows with the options available to medical assistant graduates; the possibilities are plentiful. After graduation, Katelyn sees herself being happy with the path she chose and having her life on track. We can’t wait to see what successes Katelyn has in her future as a medical assistant!

Shawn Hull – Student Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is thrilled to introduce you to our May Student of the Month, Shawn Hull! Shawn is a Medical Billing and Coding student and has been with us for almost a year. Since he stepped foot into this building, he has been a joy to be around!

Prior to attending United, Shawn served in the Air Force and then attended Triangle Tech. While some discouraged him from attending school at that point, he persevered and used their doubt as motivation to reach his goals. He says, “After I retired from the Air Force, I attended Triangle Tech and received my Associate in Specialized Technology Degree in Refrigeration, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Even though it had been many years since I attended high school, I took the opportunity to further my education to provide better for my family. When I first started talking about going back to school, there were some that said I was crazy and that I would be lucky if I graduate. That’s all it took, and two years later, I graduated first in my class with a 3.52 GPA.” Shawn worked as an HVAC installer for a local heating and air conditioning company before he decided to return to school again.

When Shawn began looking into schools where he could continue his education, he couldn’t ignore all the great things he heard about United Career Institute. “I had friends and family members who attended and graduated from United and heard nothing but great things about the school [and] its curriculum and staff. United’s reputation was hard to ignore, which made my decision to attend United a no-brainer,” he says.

Shawn is part of United’s Medical Billing and Coding program. His interest in this particular program comes from his desire to be in the healthcare field but his aversion to needles. He says, “There has always been a part of me that wanted to be a part of the healthcare field. I choose the Medical Billing and Coding program because, like I said a part of me always wanted to be a part of the healthcare field. The truth is I’m not a big fan of needles. I don’t like getting poked and I wouldn’t want to do that to someone else. That’s why I decided to go the office route.”

The small class sizes and attentiveness of faculty and staff are some of Shawn’s favorite parts of attending United. “I really like the small class size. It gives the teachers the ability to pass on all the information we need to succeed with less distractions than you would have with larger classes.” While Shawn thinks all of the faculty and staff at United are “awesome,” one instructor in particular stood out to him because of how welcoming she was. “I can’t say that I have a favorite. All the teachers and staff are awesome. They are always available if you need them. Whether it be before class or after, they always make themselves available. There is one, however, that comes to mind more than the others, Jade Teets. The first day of classes, Jade made me feel very comfortable, especially since I am the only guy in the school and all my new classmates are young enough to be my daughters.”

Shawn had a little less trouble selecting his favorite classes… “As far as my favorite class I would have to say first the coding classes and then Anatomy and Physiology. The coding class because that’s going to be a big part of my new career. A&P is just a very interesting area, and I learn something new every class. Not too bad for a 51-year old that thought he knew it all.”

After Shawn graduates, he hopes to work in a family practitioner’s office, though he says he would be happy in just about any healthcare setting!

In five years, Shawn wants what many people want…to be comfortable in his career. “In five years, I’ll be that much closer to retiring, again, but I see myself finally having a career that I feel comfortable in and enjoy as much as I did my Air Force career,” he said.

Shawn says he would absolutely recommend United Career Institute to a friend! “I don’t think there is another medical career institute around that can touch the personable and professional environment that United has. The staff are in a category of their own when it comes to secondary education. From admissions to financial aid to teachers they all are second to none. Knowing now how professional everyone is here at United, tells me I made the right and only decision to attend United Career Institute to finally fulfill my dream.”

United Career Institute is lucky to have a student as dedicated as Shawn! If your story sounds like his, request information here!

Shaquna West – Student Highlight

The pandemic has forced changes in many people’s lives, and United Career Institute Medical Assisting student Shaquna West is, unfortunately, no different. “Before COVID hit, I was working as a kitchen manager and working full-time.” However, like so many other food industry workers, Shaq (as she likes to be referred to) found herself back at home being a full-time mother of 6. “I love being with my family, but I also had a desire to take my education and career to the next level. I started originally with Penn Foster but wasn’t getting the help when I needed it. I felt like I was on my own, so I hopped online and searched for medical assisting school, and United Career Institute was the first to pop up,” she said.

After talking to a United admissions advisor and scheduling a tour, Shaq decided to begin her classes. Her love for helping people and her dream of ultimately becoming a nurse has driven her in her studies. “I love the smaller classes at UCI, because it allows the instructors to focus on the students. If you need help, they go the extra mile to get you the information you need.” Shaq listed Arianna as one of her favorite teachers because she pushes her to do better in everything, giving her the motivation she needs. She also enjoys Kelly Clark’s classes because she breaks everything down into terms that are easy for her and the other students to understand.

Shaq looks to the future often, and when she graduates, she envisions her dream career as one where she works in MaGee’s Women’s Hospital or Children’s Hospital. Five years from now, she can see herself continuing her education until she becomes a registered nurse.

In conclusion, Shaq felt obligated to express her feelings about referring others to the United Irwin Campus. “It’s a great school, and they truly put the students first. Everyone is so helpful and willing to get you any information you need!”  With Shaquna’s dedication and work ethic, we certainly see her being successful during her program here!

To learn more about United’s Medical Assisting program, request information here!