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February 16, 2018, All Locations – American Institute students, faculty, and staff brought focus to women’s heart health again in 2018 as they joined the National Wear Red Day and Go Red for Women movement by wearing their red and focusing on educating those within their circle of influence about heart disease in women.
The American Heart Association’s annual Go Red For Women campaign originated in 2004 as they faced a challenge in both awareness and understanding of heart disease among women and their healthcare providers. Historically, heart disease had been associated with older men primarily and there was a lack of understanding about how the disease presented in women that was causing preventable deaths.
American Institute is proud to be part of the education and community awareness efforts to help women ‘know their numbers’ and proactively manage their heart health for longer and healthier lives. With the assistance of Jenifer Morack, Director of Garden State Go Red For Women, the Somerset, NJ campus was privileged to host a seminar on campus from two women who shared their passion for this cause, namely Laura Vetter, RDN, CDE, CSO, CSP, an Outpatient Nutritionist at St. Peter’s University Hospital, and Pamela Coleman, an American Heart Association Go Red For Women Survivor Ambassador. Ms. Coleman was born with congenital valve disease that required several surgeries over her lifetime and affected her pregnancies, resulting in additional emergency procedures to correct. She is focused on educating the public on women’s risks for heart disease and how they can both protect themselves and how to address issues should they have some type of heart disease. Ms. Vetter provided insight into healthy eating and nutritional facts to help heart and overall health. Her presentation focused on types of food, the impact they make on heart health and the preparation of meals as important to healthy living.
Chief Operating Officer / Campus President Christopher Coutts shared, “As a husband and father to three girls, I’m passionate about making sure that women’s heart health is better understood and researched. The support from our local NJ AHA community in providing this seminar to our students and staff in Somerset is a huge help to bringing this message home to our student community and their circle of influence. I’m proud to be a part of the more than eight thousand residents of NJ engaging with this cause on social media, in addition to our communities in Connecticut and Florida.”
Attendees enjoyed sampling the services available at the Student Salon & Spa throughout the evening, including chair massages, mini-facials, blow-outs, and mini-manicures.
Campus President Amanda McLure noted, “This annual event is an important part of helping students exercise their business skills in addition to their cosmetology and massage skills, as they help promote it to the community and see the fruits of their labors on the day. I’m proud of our students and staff for making this a ‘not-to-be-missed’ event in Margate.”
July 15, 2017, Toms River, NJ – On July 15, nearly two dozen students, staff, and friends from American Institute’s Toms River campus came together at the Great Walk in Pier Village to take part in the annual Colon Cancer Alliance Undy Run/Walk.
Stacy Chait, Senior Admissions Representative for the Toms River campus, formed the first AI team to participate in the walk after her boyfriend’s father passed away from colon cancer in February 2015. It has become an annual event.
“We do the walk in his memory every year,” Ms. Chait said. “It’s amazing how much support we get from American Institute. Working together, our team raised over $1,000 this year.” Toms River students also contribute to the cause by purchasing the “right” to wear denim to class on “Blue Jean Wednesdays.”
American Institute encourages students and staff to take part in community events and to support causes that touch their hearts. Service is one of the school’s core values, and events like the Undy Run/Walk provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the community.
“It was great to have so many students and staff being a part of this important day,” said Ms. Chait. “I am so happy that I work for such an amazing organization. I can’t thank my American Institute Family enough for all they do for the walk every year.”
“This meeting gives students the opportunity to see new dental equipment, ask questions from leading vendors, and get hands-on training in the latest technologies,” said Tim Bush, Campus President. “Most importantly, our students are able to meet dental professionals in the area and make connections that could help their career.”
Sessions at this year’s event focused on topics ranging from stress reduction in the office to infection control. “Every year, the students find this event to be an exciting, interesting, and educational experience,” said Mr. Bush.
American Institute’s participation in the Charter Oak Dental Meeting benefits students in many ways. Students enjoy exceptional learning and networking opportunities, and faculty and staff make important connections in the field as well.
“As a provider of career training for the post-secondary student, activities like this allow them to build their professional network more quickly and effectively in their field of choice, and enhance the ‘soft skills’ learning that occurs for our students throughout their program. Those skills are what employers are in dire need of today,” noted Chief Operating Officer Christopher Coutts.
“We celebrate Light It Up Blue because this is a very important cause, and many of our students, faculty and staff are directly affected by autism,” said West Hartford Campus President Tim Bush. “It also ties into American Institute’s learning experience, because we value service. We want to get our students involved in outside events to create a connection with the community.”
Light It Up Blue is an annual event created by the nonprofit organization Autism Speaks. It coincides with the United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day and launches World Autism Month.
In cities and communities worldwide, homes, businesses, iconic buildings and landmarks – including the White House – are “lit blue” for a day. Autism Speaks also sponsors community events and educational activities to increase understanding and acceptance and promote support for people with autism.
“American Institute has participated in Light it Up Blue for several years, and we are happy to join in that tradition in the new Somerset campus as well” added Somerset Campus President, Jamil Gilmer. “We all dress in blue and take photos of everyone who participates to help spread awareness.”
According to Autism Speaks, autism spectrum disorders refer to a range of conditions that can include difficulty with social skills, repetitive behaviors, communication challenges and other issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates autism affects 1 in 68 children in the United States, and rates of diagnosis have risen over the past decade.
“Many pathologies are studied by our students because we are an allied health school,” said Mr. Bush. “Light It Up Blue is an opportunity for our students to research and learn about autism while they see it in their social media and news feeds as well.”
On all American Institute campuses, March is designated for “Blue Jeans for Babies” dress-down fundraising efforts. Students and staff donate funds, “permitting” them to wear blue jeans to class on Wednesdays and/or Fridays. All the money raised is donated to the March of Dimes, where seventy-seven cents of every dollar directly supports research and community programs.
Carmen Haynes led the initiative on the Clifton campuses. “I went to every class to introduce our event, explaining the importance of Blue Jeans for Babies and how crucial students’ donations are to the March of Dimes.” Instructors also posted flyers in online courses as well as around campus and reminded students about the fundraiser throughout the month.
“Dozens of students are participating,” said Ms. Haynes. “Including many ‘repeat supporters’ – students who have consistently supported the cause. So far, we’ve raised more than $100, and we’re only partway through the month!”
Blue Jeans for Babies is one of many national and international fundraising and awareness campaigns that American Institute encourages students to support.
“We participate in these events to support important causes and to show students the importance of being active in our community,” said Assistant Campus President, Sherry Muse. “Teaching the students to be concerned about the community and to participate in events like Blue Jeans for Babies directly supports our core values and the educational experience.”
March 5-11, 2017, all locations – American Institute joined in the week-long international celebration of the contributions made by dental assistants. This year’s theme for Dental Assistant Recognition Week (DARW) was “Patient focused with passion and purpose,” reflecting the growing importance of dentistry’s role in health care and the responsibilities of dental assistants.
“Dental Assistants are an important part of our AI family, and they are critical team members in every dental practice,” said Brooke Baran, Vice President of Education. “American Institute is proud to take this opportunity to honor our hardworking students and graduates who demonstrate constant dedication to their careers.”
The Toms River campus hosted a lunch for dental assisting students and faculty. Guest speaker Dr. Greenberg of Mt. Holly Family Dentistry, spoke about the role of the dental assistant and what dentists expect from an extern coming into the office.
“Dr. Greenberg’s presentation provoked a lot of questions from the students,” said Donielle Fitch, Director of Education. “It was a very intimate conversation, as Dr. Greenberg sat with the students and shared insights from his 30+ years of experience.”
A group of 12 students and two faculty members also traveled to Baltimore to tour the National Museum of Dentistry. Designated by Congress as the official museum of the dental profession in the U.S., the museum houses an extensive collection of more than 40,000 dental instruments, furniture, artwork and exhibits focused on the importance of oral health. For many of the students, it was an eye-opening experience.
“The students were very impressed by the history of the leaders in dentistry, including the many women and minorities who have held and now hold significant rolls in dental education and in professional organizations,” said Ms. Fitch.
Favorite moments during their visit including viewing an old black and white clip from the television series “The Little Rascals,” in which one of the kids has a dental appointment. “It was very funny, and the students enjoyed comparing that treatment room to the rooms we have today.”
Other exhibits reminded the students how far dentistry as advanced over the years. “They were astounded (and a little grossed out!) when they realized that long ago, assistants didn’t use gloves while assisting.”
Congratulations and thank you to all our dental assisting students, faculty and graduates for their dedication to this valuable profession. A week isn’t long enough to honor your many contributions.
“As educators, we recognize that reading impacts a child’s future success by building vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension,” said Shannon Arnold, Director of Career Services. “We are proud to support this effort in our Toms River community by bringing in children to our campus for a ‘reading corner’ featuring books by Dr. Seuss.”
Families of students and staff arrive to find the campus decorated with characters and quotes from Dr. Seuss’ books, with complimentary copies of his books handed out to the first ten children to arrive, and children also enjoy coloring activities and refreshments.
“This is always a fun event for the campus, because the children are so engaged,” said Ms. Arnold. “One young girl even climbed into my lap to help me tell the story!”
American Institute celebrates education at every level, and strives to create opportunities to connect with the community. Read Across America is a particularly popular event, because it allows students and faculty to share their love of reading with the next generation.
“We all grew up with Dr. Seuss,” said Campus President, Tim Rodgers. “Reading his books again is as much fun for us as it is for the children.”
Most of all, the adults enjoy watching the children respond to the stories. One young girl was so excited by the story that she jumped out of her seat and waved two balloons, while a very young baby surprised his mother by listening intently through the entire event.
“We love to get our students’ families involved in events here at the campus. The children are so excited about seeing the classrooms where their mom or dad is learning just like they do in their schools,” said Ms Arnold. “It reinforces the message that learning never has to stop, even if you’re grown!”
To celebrate National Chili Day on February 4th, American Institute’s West Hartford campus organized a Chili Cookoff. Staff members brought in examples of their favorite chili recipes and competed for the title of Champion Chili Chef.
Many students were surprised to find the buffet laid out in the cafeteria. “One student said, ‘We get to try them all? That’s awesome!’”
“They were all very different chili recipes,” said Campus Director Kim Colbert. “One was Santa Fe style, another was made with turkey, and one only had beans.”
About 25 students and a number of staff members sampled the different offerings and voted on their favorite. In the end, Apryl Campbell, Dental Assisting Program Director, won with 11 votes.
“Most of our events are education based, so we like to organize events just for fun once in a while,” said Ms Colbert. “It’s nice to take a break from the rigors of academic life and enjoy a meal together with students, instructors and staff.
“One student enjoyed a particular batch of chili so much, she asked the instructor for the recipe!”
“The Mall Expo spotlights chamber members to the Ocean County community-at-large,” said Toms River Campus President Tim Rodgers. “This year, shoppers got an extra treat – free massages from our talented massage therapy students.”
Over the two-day event, a dozen American Institute students performed more than 50 chair massages for Ocean County mall shoppers. Each free massage lasted about 15 minutes.
“So many people came for massages that we often had a line around our table,” said Mr Rodgers. “It is great for students to see how many people want to be worked on. It helps build confidence in our students and the industry they chose.”
The Mall Expo showcases local businesses like American Institute, providing a direct connection to future students and clients. “Events like this allow us to reach out to the community in a unique way that not only promotes the school, but also spotlights our massage clinic and the rewards of pursuing a massage therapy career,” said Mr Rodgers.
American Institute students also benefit from the opportunity to practice their techniques in a real-world setting. They are able to see different kinds of people with different types of injuries or situations, which helps broaden their skills.
“One woman who used a wheelchair thought that she would not be able to participate, because she would be unable to sit in the massage chair,” said Mr Rodgers. “When she was told that our student could massage her in her own chair, she beamed from ear to ear. She was ecstatic that she, too, could enjoy the experience. That left us all with a feeling of great joy and satisfaction.”
February 16, 2018, All Locations – American Institute students, faculty, and staff brought focus to women’s heart health again in 2018 as they joined the National Wear Red Day and Go Red for Women movement by wearing their red and focusing on educating those within their circle of influence about heart disease in women. The […]
January 17, 2018, Margate, FL – Students in training to become Cosmetologists and Massage Therapists provided complimentary services to their local community in Margate, FL, as they kicked off 2018 with a New Year’s Open House. Attendees enjoyed sampling the services available at the Student Salon & Spa throughout the evening, including chair massages, mini-facials, […]