The following article is from TAP into South Plainfield.
Altierus Career Education, formerly known as Everest College, held an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday October 18th to celebrate their new name and to highlight the transformation that has occurred over the past two years at the campus. Tours through the school were available and students showcased their skills. Medical Assistants gave blood pressure checks while Medical Administrative Assistants spoke about Breast Cancer Awareness. Dental Assistants explained preventative dentistry. Pharmacy Technicians gave tours of their classroom laboratory and compounded lip balm to give away. Massage students gave complimentary ten minute massages and Electricians displayed how power is distributed within a house from start to finish.
“What is special to me is that twenty years and a month ago, I enrolled in this program in Medical Assisting at one of our Newport Campuses in Virginia,” said Altierus Career Education South Plainfield Director and Academic Dean Yvette Adams addressing the large crowd gathered. “I could have never imagined that twenty years later I would be running one of these schools that I attended. So for me, it is very special not only to be in this room, but to be with this company at this time when we’re experiencing such change.”
Altierus Career Education is a nonprofit provider of career training offering hands on skill development for an affordable education and certification in order to fully prepare students for their careers. The school currently offers six diploma programs: Medical Assistant, Medical Administrative Assistant, Dental Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Massage Therapy and Electrician.
“The name Altierus is inspired by our mission to provide an alternative education path that is a tier above existing models in which all of us–faculty, career specialists and financial aid experts–serve as a team to care for the ‘whole student,’” said Adams. “We surround students with a community of accountable peers and faculty, and provide them one-to-one guidance as they achieve the technical and workplace skills they require to succeed.”
Among the special guests in attendance at the ceremony were South Plainfield Council President Derryck White, South Plainfield Councilwoman Christine Faustini, Director of Social Services for the City of Plainfield Ron West, Social Services Administrator of Plainfield Shep Brown, Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce Vice President Craig Schlosser, Vice President of Faculty and Policy with Zenith Education Group Deborah Watson, Senior Vice President and Provost of Academic Department of Zenith Education Group Mary Ostrye as well as Altierus Career Education Alumni.
Altierus Graduate Angel Mira spoke before the crowd saying that he served in the United States Navy and struggled to find a job in the electrical field when he transitioned into civilian life after returning home.
“Before I went to this school, no company wanted to hire me,” said Mira. “It was a great thing to walk in graduation as an honor graduate of this school. I love where I work now. My new job is like family. I really thank the school for giving me this opportunity. I’m really proud to say that I made the right choice and I’m proud that I graduated from this school.”
“We have a critical shortage of skilled manual labor,” said Electrician Instructor Joseph McCullen. “Every contractor out there is like, ‘I can’t find anybody that can turn a screwdriver the right way.’ The uniqueness of Altierus is that we do real hands-on like they do on the job-site. That’s what the employers need. They all said they want to experience. And we give them that experience.”
Now a non-profit organization, Altierus Career Education of South Plainfield is able to offer grant programs, scholarships and an initial twenty percent tuition reduction. They have established a holistic admissions process designed to connect students to the programs that are the best fit for them with campus-based academic and personal support programs to help students stay on track and graduate.
“While dreams come true for many, what we must realize is that America continues to face a significant skills gap,” added Adams. “Nearly half of all job openings are for middle skills jobs and those that require more than a high school diploma, but less then a high school degree. So our existing institutions whether they be community colleges or for profit schools often times come up short with helping those students achieve those skills without excessive debt. So what we are trying to do here at Altierus is to bridge that gap by providing an affordable, student centered experience, that provides training for jobs in high roll industries where skilled workers are lacking.”
Several non-profits set up tables and gave away material at the open house event including; Middlesex Family Support Center, Mobile Middlesex County Support Center, Division of Catholic Charities, HOPEs Organization of Plainfield and Community Access Unlimited. Hot 97 of New York provided music for the afternoon.
During the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Altierus presented $25,000 in funding to local organizations that help to improve educational outcomes for underserved communities. The GO! awards were presented to YouthBuild Newark in the amount of $15,000 accepted by Travis Reid. ZOI Wholeness was given $10,000 accepted by Timothy Davis. In recent weeks, more than 30 GO! awards were presented to organizations in the communities that Altierus serves nationwide.
“We do a lot of community work,” said Altierus employee Timothy Davis speaking of his work in conjunction with ZOI Wholeness. “We go out to different townships, different school systems and offer up an opportunity for families to be strengthened. There are trained coaches and professionals that actually do this and I serve in that capacity to help out that particular organization. It’s an awesome program.”
Altierus focuses on forming partnerships with employers as their mission is to provide students with the knowledge and resources necessary to succeed in today’s workforce.
“We’ve seen an explosion demand for massage therapists,” said Colleen Crooker, Owner of Massage Envy Spa in Edgewater and Woodbridge. “Our partnership over the course of many years with Everest and now Altierus is the reason we have built out business as we have. If you are a person who is recovering from cancer, if you are a person who has fibromyalgia or arthritis or other conditions then you need to know just how helpful a massage therapist can be to addressing those concerns.”
Altierus also partners with community organizations for child care and food bank support. They provide “Dress for Success” vouchers for interview-ready clothing and have created a Student Ambassador Program where students help and support one another.
“As Ambassadors, we’re ‘Go To’ students,” said Carlyne Boyd, student in the Dental Assistant Program. “Basically if another student is in the time of need, we help them. If they can’t go to school, we help them go through the program to get money to go to school with car pooling. We help out around the school with events like this.”
As part of the many changes they have put into effect on the South Plainfield Campus, Altierus also instituted a complete curriculum review and provided enhancements to facilities and labs that reflect the work environment. The school offered tours after the ribbon cutting ceremony so that students could showcase their skills.
Receptionist Jessica Basantes has been working with the school for nearly two years and has witnessed the transformation first hand. “It’s major. It took awhile, but we’re very excited. All the students created boards spread around the hallways displaying what they do throughout the time that they’re here.”
“We go to class for eight months and you get a lot of information in those eight months,” added Boyd. “They do help you get certified, they pay for your certification. They help you beyond just being in the class and being in the school so even after graduation, they’ll still the number one go to to help you out with your career. I graduate next month and I’m just so excited to graduate. I would recommend the program to others.”
Altierus students continue to receive support from the school even after graduation with their lifetime professional network and ongoing skills training.
“I like this school because it’s more hands on,” said Medical Assistant student Dhayana Grullon. “They help us a lot exiting and give us a lot of counseling. Every month, you’re supposed to meet with your counselor and see how things are going. They’re more like family.”
“We are focused on student outcomes,” added Adams. “And that means partnering with our community, teaching the soft skills as well as the technical knowledge that employers require, and supporting the student one-on-one to help them succeed in the classroom and on the job.”
“My lead therapist at Woodbridge is a graduate and is simply awesome,” added Crooker. “In working with massage therapists who graduate with competence from Altierus, but then come and we continue the education. It really is a partnership in lifelong, career long picture. So we’re very grateful for that partnership and look forward to continuing it.”
“The focus of every change that we have made has been to better serve our students, to make them more successful in the classroom and on the job,” added Adams. “Altierus Career Education provides a pathway for students to gain the education and hands-on training they need to begin their career.”