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Institute of Medical Careers in Penn Hills holds first graduation ceremony

Samson X Horne
| Friday, July 29, 2016, 3:36 p.m.
Institute of Medical Careers graduates were recognized in the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Institute of Medical Careers graduates were recognized in the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Institute of Medical Careers valedictorian Lesa Pope delivers her address aduring the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Institute of Medical Careers valedictorian Lesa Pope delivers her address aduring the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Gabriella Zastko, 10, takes a selfie wearing graduate Jennifer Castro's cap at the Institute of Medical Careers' first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Gabriella Zastko, 10, takes a selfie wearing graduate Jennifer Castro's cap at the Institute of Medical Careers' first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Jennifer Castro during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Jennifer Castro during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Mary Lou Mattern during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Mary Lou Mattern during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Electa Rawls during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Electa Rawls during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Jonathan Elash during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Institute of Medical Careers graduate Jonathan Elash during the local school's first commencement program on July 27, 2016, at the Comfort Inn in Penn Hills.

A Penn Hills career training center recognized more than 200 graduates in its first graduation ceremony on July 27.

The Institute of Medical Careers had the ceremony at the Comfort Inn on Rodi Road as it celebrated the achievements of 220 grads.

“We're changing lives based on career training,” said Michael Euliano, IMC president.

“Hundreds of students have changed their lives by creating an education based plan to be successful and get into the job market in the Pittsburgh region.”

IMC is a nationally accredited for-profit career school that has been operating in the Pittsburgh region since 1995.

It offers training in medical, dental, phlebotomy, business, accounting and massage therapy degree programs.

Jennifer Smith, IMC educational director, said tuition rates and flexible class scheduling attract students, and its medical assistant program has an 82-percent placement rating.

“We are a hands-on classroom setting with a 20-to-1 student-teacher ratio. (Students) get one-on-one time with instructors,” Smith said.

Included in the ceremony were 44 graduates from the last several years.

Valedictorian Lesa Pope is a 2014 graduate who earned a 4.0 grade-point average and found a job with a global medical billing and coding company shortly after finishing.

Pope, 34, of Monongahela, said she appreciated the small classroom setting that not only made instructors easily accessible, but also gave students the opportunity to learn from one another.

“If anyone needed individual attention, they could get (it from the instructor),” she said.

“It was give-and-take. Everyone helped each other. If someone struggled, (other students) would help them understand.”

“It felt like everybody was family,” said Jennifer Castro, 34, of West Mifflin.

Castro graduated this year and was the recipient of the Phlebotomy Programmatic Award, recognizing the graduate from the phlebotomy program with the best GPA, attendance and professionalism.

She said she needed to pick up her daughter from near Allentown, where she was staying during the summer; she was able to show her daughter that “no matter what's going on, school is important.”

Castro said she was motivated by her instructors and classmates, and thinks they are part of the explanation of why she had perfect attendance and finished with a 3.8 GPA.

“They believed in me in days I didn't believe in myself,” Castro said.

Community Service Award recipient Kayla Macey finished two programs at IMC, one in 2014 studying medical assistance and one in 2015 studying medical billing.

Macey, 27, of Delmont earned a 4.0 GPA in both programs and now works as an assistant supervisor, auditing records for medical equipment.

“It was a long road and definitely worth it in the end,” she said.

“(IMC) has helped me in so many ways. I have a great job and I just bought a house.”

Macey, who before enrolling at IMC was working at a salon for $8 per hour, said she isn't sure what she would be doing had she not completed the programs.

“Sometimes it brings a tear to my eyes. ... I'm really blessed to have found this place.”

Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or shorne@tribweb.com.

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