Five years ago, Esteffani Alcantra was living in the Bronx and was a patient outreach manager for a hospital system.
Five years ago, Esteffani Alcantra was living in the Bronx and was a patient outreach manager for a hospital system. She oversaw a team of 12, but the single mother knew that without a degree, chances of advancement were slim.
To give herself more time for school, five years ago Alcantra and her daughter, Amber, moved to Reading to live with Alcantra’s stepfather. She initially took a less demanding secretarial job and began working on a liberal arts associate degree from Reading Area Community College.
“I started working at the hospital at 19 and received three promotions, but when I asked for either another promotion or more money, I was told you hit a dead end because I didn’t have a degree,’’ said Alcantra, 30, who earned her associate degree in 2015 and her Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Leadership (BASTL) from Bloomsburg University in May 2017.
Alcantra, who now works as a customer service representative for a plastics manufacturer, said she was attracted to the BASTL program for its flexibility – classes were online or at her community college – and the wide range of topics covered. At her current job, she’s used the practical skills such as web design and virtual tools to communicate with coworkers and clients in distant locations, as well as leadership training to help her resolve conflicts and better communicate with those at various levels in the company.
“The degree makes you a well-rounded leader because you get into accounting and management and other technical skills as well as intrapersonal skills and cultural diversity that you experience everywhere,’’ Alcantra said. “As a single mother of one and a full-time employee, the ability to take online courses and satisfy the Bloomsburg curriculum at RACC was definitely a determining factor.’’
In the future, Alcantra said she wants to pursue a masters in instructional technology and eventually move into a position where she is involved in training and development. In addition to being important to accomplish her career goals, she said advancing her education was something she needed to do for her daughter.
“I want my daughter to take after me and I have to lead the way,’’ she said. “As a parent and as a leader, you can’t just tell others what they need to do, you have to model the behavior you want others to show.’’
After consulting with employers who are looking for skilled managers, Bloomsburg University created its Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Leadership program especially for individuals with associate degrees who are working and need flexibility. Up to 60 associate degree credits are accepted and half the BASTL classes are online and the rest taught at Bloomsburg’s partner institutions: Bucks County Community College, Community College of Philadelphia, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton Community College and Reading Area Community College, and the State System campus in Center City Philadelphia. Learn more.
Amie Croteau was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was living there with her husband, her mother-in-law and two children, when her husband was offered a dream job opportunity in software development at a company in Boyertown PA. So they sold their home and relocated to Sinking Spring in the summer of 2015.
An entrepreneur at heart, Amie planned to continue developing her multi-level marketing business in Pennsylvania. But after settling into her new home, she soon realized there were greater opportunities available to foster her appetite for success. But in order to capitalize on these opportunities she needed to further her college education. After hearing about the excellent academic programs and student success stories emerging from Reading Area Community College, she decided to enroll.
With the encouragement and guidance from key members of the RACC faculty, particularly Brian Savage, Dr. Danelle Bower, Dr. Donna Singleton and Dr. Christopher Costello, Amie immersed herself, and soon thrived in the RACC culture.
She quickly became an inspiration to all of those around her by challenging them to raise the expectations of themselves in both academic success and personal growth. These leadership traits carry the trademark of a student who cares about her future and the future of everyone around her.
In addition to her coursework in attaining her AA in Business Administration and AAS in Web Development, Amie became a fixture in RACC student organizations and programs. She has:
- Completed an internship position with the Big Brother/Big Sisters of Berks County
- Became a Student-Certified Leader
- Served as the PTK Public Relations Officer
- Served as a class mentor for the Web App Development program students
- Served as Web Master for RACCs’s nationally-acclaimed publication The Front Street Journal
- Served as a developer for the RACC Real Life website
When Amie is not on or around the RACC campus, she finds time to give back to her new community. She became a Juliette Girl Scout Leader, assists in the local Boy Scout troop, and is the videographer for the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church.
Most recently, Amie earned the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship and Named 2018 Phi Theta Kappa New Century Scholar.
She will use her scholarship to attend Penn State University to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Technology degree this fall.
Annie Carl set out on a path to success and RACC started her on that journey. “RACC is what truly got me established in the roots of my career and has honestly unfolded my whole professional life.”
Annie enrolled in RACC right after graduating from Antietam High School and pursued a degree in psychology. While attending her first semester, Annie realized she needed a different course of study. Not knowing which major best suited her, Annie sought guidance from RACC’s faculty and staff. And, with their support and encouragement, Annie decided to try Medical Secretary and Transcription. Once she started in the secretarial program, Annie found that it was not only a perfect fit, but she excelled in it. “Linda Bell and Susan Heller were always available whenever I needed help. They influenced and motivated me because they saw so much of my potential and that gave me the confidence I needed to keep moving forward.”
After graduating from RACC, Annie received a position at the Reading Hospital as an Outpatient Nutrition Clerk and continued her education by obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration and her certification as a Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist. This opened the door for Annie to move up the ladder at the hospital and to ultimately help her land the position she has today, Revenue Cycle Ambulatory Liaison. “RACC was what I needed to get me on the right track and set my future in motion. My Associate’s degree was just the beginning of my educational journey and it pushed me to want more.”
Annie is currently working on her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership in the science of psychology. This has brought her full circle with her interest in psychology and her excitement for healthcare. “I’m finally taking the courses that really appealed to me all those years ago, but I’m utilizing it in a different way that will better me in my career. And this is how RACC really made my life complete by giving me direction and driving me to pursue my passions.”
As she finishes her final semester at University of Phoenix, Annie looks back at where she started and cannot wait to see where the future takes her. “RACC provided me with the skills I needed to start my career path and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I’m going to continue growing and thriving all because of RACC.”
Looking for a career enhancement, Jennifer Crose found that RACC was her perfect solution. “I was hoping to further my education, but once I started at RACC I knew I was going receive much more,” says Jennifer.
After she finished high school, Jennifer entered the workforce. She needed to provide for herself and her daughter, Alyson, and without the benefit of a higher education, Jennifer turned to a cashier’s position. After working in retail for many years, Jennifer took a huge step for her future and enrolled at RACC. Quickly Jennifer found that RACC not only suited her budget, but it was also an excellent fit for her life as a single mother. “After not going to high school for many years, RACC’s support system really pulled me through and offered me direction and encouragement.”
Two of her professors, Janine Tiffany and Liz Dentzer, provided the guidance Jennifer needed. They gave her assistance both academically and personally. “The business division is stellar. Their patience and consideration is out of this world.” She was also astounded by the classroom atmosphere as an adult learner. “My instructors were understanding and all thoughts were urged and open discussions were common. I really felt like I was in a business setting rather than in a lecture.”
Jennifer graduated from RACC with an Associate Degree in Computer Technology and immediately received a position as a Help Desk Analyst. Today she works at Precision BI, starting out as Senior Technical Support Analyst, but recently receiving a highly coveted promotion to Project Manager.
Jennifer says that she cannot even image going back to her life before RACC. She gained the technical skills needed to further her career, plus critical thinking tools and problem-solving training that gave her an edge in her industry. “I am able to make appropriate decisions quickly and present myself accordingly to stay current in today’s business trends.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, RACC is a place of opportunity that took my life in a direction I never thought was possible. And it made me realize that my potential is endless.”
From living out of his car to climbing the corporate ladder at Ebay, Brian Savage directly credits RACC for changing his life. “RACC played a big part in turning my life around,” says Brian.
Brian dropped out of high school his senior year to pursue employment and later turned to RACC to obtain his GED. While working toward his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts, Brian admits that he was going through a difficult time in his life. “I literally lived out of my car for almost two years. Alone. No family. No anything.”
Brian says that he embedded himself into RACC; taking advantage of not only the education he was receiving but also getting involved in the school and being a part of the work-study program. During this time, Brain learned a lot about himself through the great relationships he made with professors and staff. Ben Rosenberger and Roger Kimpland are among the many RACC employees that helped influence his future. “They believed in me, embraced me and encouraged me.”
After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at Albright College, Brian started his own website design business. But it was after the cessation of his business that Brian’s career really took off. “I have been very fortunate to have had an exciting career in which I’ve had the honor to lead teams from around the world in website and application projects for organizations such as Ebay, Hasbro, Godiva, Sony, Dicks Sporting Goods, Toys-R-Us, Ferrari, and many more.”
Brian’s resume continued to grow with new opportunities and advancements, when ultimately his life hit a crossroad. Brian was offered an employment opportunity to move to Seattle and work with Amazon, but once again RACC would turn his life in a different direction. Brian, now married and father of two, was also given the opportunity to come back to RACC to teach and lead the website development program. And for Brian the decision was simple, RACC! “It was the combination of having the opportunity to be with my children on a daily basis and doing something that has real meaning in my life that brought be back to RACC.”
As the Website Development Program Coordinator and Associate Professor at RACC, Brian challenges his students to not only learn technology but to also take a hard look inside themselves to see who they really are and realize their hidden potential. He wants to give them the same motivation he was given when he was student. “I will now spend the remaining years of my career fostering success in students by encouraging them to pursue a greater quality of life and a satisfaction of self-worth.”