Sonya Over – Staff Highlight

United Career Institute Mt. Braddock is excited to introduce Sonya Over, our very own Financial Aid Advisor!

Sonya’s professional journey began back in 1993 when she graduated Summa Cum Laude from California University of Pennsylvania. She worked hard also to pass the CPA exam in May of 1993.

Before landing at United Career Institute, Sonya held a few different positions. She worked as a finance director with public housing for 10 years, a business manager with the local school district for five years. She was an executive director for a drug and alcohol recovery center for five years. Sonya says that her wide variety of professional experiences has nurtured her desire to see people succeed and achieve their dreams. “I spent decades working in public housing, public education, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. This all gave me the firm belief that anybody can change their lives and, more importantly, anybody can succeed with the right attitude and a strong support system,” she said.

Sonya has been with United for a number of years in a part-time capacity. “I had worked at PIHT (now United Career Institute) as needed for several years, and I really liked the family like atmosphere and the ‘student first’ attitude during my time. There is a common and collective goal among all staff to do whatever it takes to help the students. When the full-time position opened, I realized it would be a great fit to take me into retirement.” Sonya also loves the familial atmosphere amongst staff. “Having a united front with co-workers that have quickly become family makes going to work enjoyable.” She also notes that the school’s small size gives each employee the ability to get to know each student and provide support when needed. Sonya hopes to be able to continue to work in an environment that allows her to make an impact on many people.

Sonya loves her family, and one of her proudest accomplishments is being able to say that she and her siblings are the first generation of college graduates on both sides of her family. “The work ethic instilled in all of us by our mother has allowed us to achieve success in our individual paths.” In fact, Sonya cites her mother as her motivation in life. “Although my mom is no longer with us, she was always and always will be my greatest motivation to do well and make her proud.”

In Sonya’s spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her cat. “Most people don’t know that, although I really love animals, cats were never my favorite. I was a dog lover. However, when my neighbor convinced me to adopt a rescue named Patti Cat, I fell in love, and she is now my special cat. I can’t imagine life without her.”

To learn more about the financial aid process or to speak to Sonya yourself, request information here!

Financial Aid 101

You must make many important decisions when enrolling in career training classes, and financial aid is one of these decisions. Determining exactly how you will pay for your training and degree is a critical step to enrolling in school.

At United, we assist each and every student through the enrollment process, from the first time we speak with you, to creating your personalized financial plan, to helping you sign up for classes.

Financial Aid Process

Figuring out your financial aid can be complicated and confusing. There are so many different options, so how do you know which ones will work best for you? This is why we are here for our students every step of the way through the financial aid process.

“Financial aid is very complex, and there is a lot of detail. If a student has no idea what kind of student aid they qualify for, that is completely fine. We will walk each student from point A to point Z,” said Parker Rhoads, Financial Aid Advisor.

After completing your admissions interview next, you will meet with a financial aid advisor for your financial aid appointment. During this meeting, we assist students by walking you through the steps to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which must be submitted to qualify for federal/state grants and loans.

Next, after completing the FAFSA, we work with each student to create a personalized financial aid plan just for you. This plan will break down exactly how you will pay for school, so you can be confident about earning your degree and starting your path to an exciting new career.

“Our goal is to get our students graduated with as little debt as possible,” said Parker. “We understand that many of our students have been to college before, especially in a university setting, and it didn’t work out, so keeping their debt low is extremely important.”

Once your personalized financial aid plan is completed, you will confirm that the plan works for you and sign your financial aid documents.

At United, we have a financial aid officer here on campus, so students can pop in to ask questions or call whenever. We are a smaller school, so you don’t have to go through 10 different people to get ahold of the person you need. If a student has a question, all you need to do is call the school and ask to speak to someone in financial aid. In addition, students get access to our loan assistance department so that they can ask questions about your loans at any time.

Types of Financial Aid*

As you go through your financial aid appointment and review your personalized financial aid plan, you will learn that there are many different types of financial aid programs available to those who qualify.

  • Federal Pell Grants: This is grant money from the federal government to help fund your education that you do not have to pay back.
  • State Grants: Some states also have grant money available to help students fund their education that does not have to be paid back.
  • Grants/Scholarships**: These include both institutional grants offered by United and third-party scholarships from other sources to help pay for your education. We encourage students to research and apply for scholarships.
  • Student Loans: These are loans from the federal government or third-party providers that students take out to help pay for their education. Students are not required to make payments for their loans while they are attending school; however, we highly encourage them to make some cash payments to reduce their total amount of debt.
  • PLUS Loans: These loans are available for parents to take out to help pay for their student’s education. Parents must qualify for this type of loan.
  • GI Bill®^: For those who have served, you can use your veteran’s tuition benefits to help pay for your education.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement: This is for students who work for a company that offers tuition reimbursement to help pay for their employee’s education.
  • Cash Payments: Cash payments are what students make toward their own education, so they do not have to take out as many loans.
  • 529 Plan: This is a separate savings account for educational purposes that parents can set up for their children.

Your financial aid advisor will help you determine which specific types of financial aid you qualify for to help pay for your education during your financial aid appointment.

Completing the FAFSA

Filling out the FAFSA is critical to qualifying for financial aid. The information provided in this application will determine what types of financial aid and how much you qualify for. It’s important to make sure the information provided is accurate and up to date. Once your FAFSA is submitted, you will receive an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) number, which the federal government looks at when you apply for financial aid.

At United, we assist our students by helping them fill out their FAFSA or updating a previous FAFSA that may be incomplete. The FAFSA must be completed each year that a student plans to attend school.

“We are here to walk students through it, every step of the way,” said Parker. For anyone considering going to school, Parker says to “complete your FAFSA as soon as possible. Get in touch with our financial aid department, and we can walk you through the process, step by step.”

Join Us At United

At United, we are career-driven. We want to train students quickly so that you can begin your new career faster. “We provide our students a premium educational experience with face-to-face and personal interaction,” said Parker.

Our career-focused programs and supportive learning environment can help you start your career with the knowledge, skills, and experience to succeed. Explore our healthcare training programs and request information to get started today!

*For those who qualify.

**For those who qualify. See catalog for detailed eligibility requirements.

^ GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

Romona Thompson – Graduate Highlight

United Career Institute Mount Braddock is thrilled to introduce you to one of our graduates, Romona Thompson. Romona graduated from our Practical Nursing program and is now working in a nursing center while she works on becoming a registered nurse.

Romona came to United straight from Albert Gallatin high school. She chose United because it seemed like a great opportunity when she was looking for schools. Romona especially loved the hands-on classes that she had heard so much about. United offers students small classes, which not only gives students plenty of hands-on time, but also allows them one on one time with instructors.

Romona has always wanted to be a nurse, so when she was nearing the end of her high school career, she started to look for short-term, hands-on programs. She found what she was looking for at United Career Institute.

In addition to having short term programs, Romona also liked that United helped her through the financial process*. A part of United’s enrollment process is sitting down with a financial aid advisor so that they can help walk you through the financial side of going to school. This includes filling out your FAFSA and answering any questions you may have.

Romona’s favorite part of attending United Career Institute was the hands-on training she received. She also LOVED the annual holiday celebrations, such as room decorating for Halloween, Thanksgiving dinner, and Christmas door decorating!

Romona loved all the instructors she had while attending United’s Practical Nursing program, but two that stood out to her were Amy and Amanda. She said they both had major impacts on her. Her favorite classes while in school were her lab classes because they were a change from normal lecture.

In five years, Romona hopes to be a registered nurse and living in her own house, but for now, is enjoying her time working at Cherry Tree Nursing Center.

When asked if she would refer a friend to United, Romona said she absolutely would because it provides a great experience in the chosen field of study.

If your story sounds like Romona’s and you want to learn more about United Career Institute, request information here!

 

*Financial aid for those who qualify.

Thankful for Our Students in 2020

At United Career Institute, we strive to help each and every student reach their career goals. By providing continuous student support from the day you first contact us, all the way through graduation, and beyond, we work hard to help you start a fulfilling, successful career.

With healthcare training programs in essential areas like Practical Nursing, Medical Assisting, and Medical Billing and Coding, we can get you on the fast track to an exciting new career.

For us here at United, it’s an honor to train students in these essential healthcare areas, providing the education, skills, experience, and certification preparation to make a real impact in the local community.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re sharing what we are most thankful for at United: our students!

Check out some of our favorite moments from this year!

Hands-On Training

While enrolled in our healthcare training programs, students experience hands-on training to learn real skills they will use on the job in their healthcare careers. Check out these United students as they practice real-life medical skills in their healthcare classes!

Qualified Professionals

Congratulations to all our students who have worked hard to complete their classes, earn professional certifications, pass their nursing boards, and get hired! Check out some of these amazing students featured in our short video!

Student Experience

We love providing students with a supportive and positive learning environment while they train for future healthcare careers! Check out some of the fun our students are having in our short video!

Join Us Today

Are you ready to start a new career as an essential healthcare worker? With fast-track programs, small classes, hands-on training, and student support, United Career Institute may be the perfect choice for you. Explore our programs and request information today to get started!

Perryo Medical Center – Externship Highlight

One of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the medical programs at United Career Institute is the externship that students participate in at the end of their program. Externship takes place during the last twelve weeks of a student’s program and provides invaluable educational opportunities. It allows students to apply what they have learned in their medical classes in a real-world, hands-on environment. United Career Institute Mt. Braddock prides itself on the externship partnerships we have forged over the years and we love seeing our students excel in real life medical offices, clinics, and hospitals.

One of these partnerships is with Perryo Medical Center in Perryopolis. Perryo Medical Center is an internal medicine primary care office that has been in operation since 1998. In their 22 years of doing business, they have touched the lives of numerous patients. Their dedicated medical staff works hard to ensure that their patients spend more time with their service provider than waiting in the waiting room. “We help our patients live a healthier life thorough periodic evaluations, implementation of preventive health guidelines, timely referrals to specialists, health education, and wellness options that fit their lifestyle”, they proudly state on their website. Perryo’s mission is to provide their patients with personal attention, unparalleled dedication, and the highest quality health care that they deserve! The team at Perryo Medical Center is happy to report that business is great! Jillian Clay who is the site coordinator for Perryo says, “We are accepting new patients every day. We are constantly growing.” She continued, “Our five-year outlook is promising with continuous patient and organizational growth.”

 United students love their externships because it not only allows them to practice the skills they learned in their programs in a real-world environment, but it also gives them one on one time with employers in their area. Clay says that externships students will “receive a valuable education and hands-on learning at our organization.” However, the student isn’t the only one who benefits from externship partnerships with United Career Institute! The externship site also has a lot to gain. “The students keep us on our toes, up to date with new information, and we always welcome an extra set of hands,” says Clay.

Jillian left us with some advice for students entering medical programs this year. “Treat every patient as if they were your family.”

To learn more about United’s exciting externship program or if you are a medical site interested in partnering with you United, give us a call at 724-437-4600!

Meghan Murray – Staff Highlight

Meghan Murray is the high school admissions advisor at United Career Institute. She has been with United for almost five years and loves it because it allows her to combine her medical background with her passion for helping people.

Meghan chose to pursue the medical field because, at the time, she was a single mother working in retail and needed more financial stability. A friend recommended looking into healthcare. “I initially wanted to be a nurse, but my friend recommended starting slow so I decided to pursue phlebotomy.” Meghan took a 10-week phlebotomy course and began working part-time as a phlebotomist, while doing other work on the side. After working as a phlebotomist for a while, she decided she wanted to pursue becoming an EMT. She loved her work as an EMT so much that she decided to become a paramedic. Unfortunately, Meghan had an injury that prohibited her ability to get all her truck hours needed to finish her paramedic program.

Meghan decided to continue working as a phlebotomist at The Washington Hospital and Highlands Hospital. It was during this time that she was first approached about teaching phlebotomy. She taught at National Career School, while also continuing to work as an EMT for Fayette EMS. Eventually, Meghan was approached by United Career Institute (Pennsylvania Institute of Health and Technology at the time) to lead our nighttime Cardio Phlebotomy program. Meghan ran this program for a year before transitioning to teaching day classes in some of United’s other medical programs. “I loved teaching. It was the perfect combination of helping people and utilizing my medical skills.” After teaching in the medical programs for a while, Meghan moved into high school admissions. “The environment is very welcoming and the staff is great. My favorite part of working at United is interacting with the students and helping them achieve their goals and be successful. I truly believe in our school and what it has to offer the people in our community.” Meghan went on to say, “I am motivated by the work that I do. I try really hard to work toward my goals. It makes me happy when students graduate and are successful.”

Meghan certainly has a lot to be proud of in her professional life, but she says she is most proud of her family. “I am proud to have the hard working husband and family that I do. My husband is a United States Marine. My mother is an LPN and my father works for Fayette County Behavioral Health Services. I am also the proud grandmother to the cutest little boy named Collin.”

Long term, Meghan would like to be able to finish her associate degree and officially become a nurse. She would also love to teach again. “I try to use my story to encourage my students to continue with their education and to show them how important it is. I also tell them how a background in the medical field can open many doors for them.”

Something interesting that not many people may not know about Meghan is that she is obsessed with Wonder Woman.  She has a collection of Wonder Woman items in her office and even has a sticker on her car!

To learn more about United’s medical programs and to speak with Meghan yourself, request information here!

Chelsea Lee – Student Highlight

Chelsea Lee is a student in United Career Institute’s Medical Assisting program. Chelsea also works at Applebee’s while she is going to school. Working while in school is common amongst United students and we strive to offer our students the services they need to balance family, work, and school life. Our fast-track programs are also designed to get students into the professional world as quickly as possible, helping to facilitate that balance even further. Chelsea has worked at Applebee’s since she was in high school, which coincidentally, is where she heard about United Career Institute. Meghan Murray, United’s High School Admissions Advisor, visited Chelsea’s school and piqued her interest in United. Chelsea was also a high-school scholarship recipient.

Chelsea says that she chose United because of the recommendation of a friend who recently graduated from United’s Medical Assisting program. “It seemed like a fun school to go to. The staff seemed helpful,” Chelsea says. Pursuing medical assisting seemed like a logical step for Chelsea. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse and thought medical assisting would be a good start.” (Many United students choose to pursue a Medical Assisting degree before moving into nursing because it helps prepare them for the fast-paced Practical Nursing program.) When asked what her favorite class has been so far, Chelsea said that the anatomy and physiology courses were her favorite because she loves learning about how the body works. Chelsea also said that, while she likes all her instructors, her favorite instructor is Medical Assisting Program Director, Kelli Workman. “I enjoy all the instructors, but Kelli Workman is my favorite because she explains things so that they are easy to understand, she doesn’t give up on us, and she will push you until you get it.” United Career Institute prides itself on the one-on-one attention our instructors give our students and the support we offer to help our students reach their educational and career goals.

Chelsea’s ideal job after graduation is in a pediatrician’s office. She wants to work with children because they touch her heart. Her five-year goal is to become a pediatric nurse. When asked If she would refer a friend to United she quickly responded, “yes, it is a fast-paced environment, but at the same time the ultimate learning goal is accomplished.”

If your story sounds similar to Chelsea’s and you would like to learn more about United Career Institute’s fast-track programs and hands-on training request information here today!