Q&A with Angie Ratliff, Administrative Professional

How did you arrive at your decision to attend NE State?

I was a housewife. I had always been content in my life…sometimes I felt like I had given up something, but I just didn’t think about it very much. After I turned 40, that feeling got bigger. I wanted something more.

I wanted to go back to work, but I knew my skills needed improvement. I had known someone who attended NE State as a non-traditional student, and he talked about how great a place it was for older people still trying to find a path to follow. So, I started scouring the website for information.

Why did you choose to major in Administrative Professional Technology?

If you want to enter the business world, but you don’t have the technical skills to do it, you need the skills of an administrative professional. You need to know the most current and most used software that you will face in the workplace. You also need to know soft skills – communication, etiquette, negotiating, and presenting. Learning how to be an administrative professional teaches you how to enter the business world with all the skills that will be expected of you.

There are a few very nice bonuses to entering the workforce as an Administrative Professional. First, every single business needs you. Your skills are vital to the day-to-day operation of a company. Second, an entry-level job as an Administrative Assistant will expose you to more of the inner workings of a business than just about any other entry-level position. And, third, walking in with that degree from NE State is going to give you skills that most of your
co-workers do not have.

What were some of the toughest challenges you faced as an adult student?

Being a non-traditional student is HARD! I don’t want to sugarcoat that for anyone. You are always going to be struggling to get everything done. You will always feel like you are cheating someone you love out of something. There will be a day, when you are fighting a cold, your little one is home from school, you are in a spat with your husband, the laundry is piling up, your car is in the shop, you are late paying the electric bill, and you have about three hours of homework to finish in 30 minutes. You will have more than one of those days, but you are going to have those days (minus the homework) even if you don’t go back to school. At the end of all this hard work, you are going to be educated. It’s going to be worth it.

How big a role did the faculty play in your success?

The faculty at NE State is like my family. By that I mean, they wanted to see me succeed. They saw my potential long before I did. And, the amazing thing is, they are like that with every single person who enters their classrooms. They understand what non-traditional students are giving up to return to school. Most of them were non-traditional students themselves at some point. They know the sacrifice and the reward of getting an education.

What words of encouragement would you offer to a non-traditional student who’s thinking about attending or returning to college?

You are not alone. Whenever you are in a class and struggling with all of it, look around at your fellow students. Note the other non-traditional ones in the room. I can assure you that they are all struggling, too. It isn’t easy for anyone. When you look around at those other students, draw strength from them. They are your silent companions.

Your family loves you. While you are working on your degree, you are going to come to understand just how much your family loves you. You are going to fight with your spouse. They are also going to do your chores, walk the dog, make dinner, quiz you for your test, listen to your angry rants, and hold you when you cry.  Your kids are going to complain that you never spend time with them; you will cry yourself to sleep with guilt; you are going to blow off studying to go to their basketball game; and you are going to be their example of working hard to get what you want in life. Your mom, sister, dad, brother, cousin, step-daughter, and great grandmother are going to step up and be the person you need the most; and at the end of all this, they aren’t going to be the one with the degree. You are. That is how much they love you.

Can you provide a few details about your current employment?

I am currently employed as the Physician Recruitment Coordinator for Wellmont Medical Associates. The department recruits physicians in every specialty from all over the country to staff WMA positions in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. My role consists of providing administrative support to the department, as well as sourcing for physician candidates using a variety of methods. The most rewarding thing about my job is knowing that everything I do is with the goal of bringing the best health care to every person in our region. I am proud to say that what I do has a profound impact on people’s lives.

What are some rewarding things about being an administrative professional?

I am very proud of what I bring to the workplace. I have been able to use the skills I have learned at NE State to change and enhance some of our recruitment efforts. Because of my thorough education in software applications, I have been able to create flyers, mailers, and other visual ads to attract attention from potential recruits. I have created databases of residency programs to target specific specialties and top-performing doctors. It is a pleasure to say that I have brought talents and skills into my workplace that have enhanced the way others do their jobs. My co-workers are often stunned at the depth and breadth of my skills. These are skills I learned at NE State.