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For Immediate Release
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

Riverview Institute changes lives through rigor, support, opportunity

     Rochester, Mich. – Photographs of an Oakland University Riverview Institute graduation ceremony reveal many things about the ambitious and dedicated students attending their commencement, but what is most evident in their gleaming smiles is the joy and pride they feel.

     "The pictures of our students graduating – that's what says it all," said Barbara Penprase, Oakland University associate professor of nursing and director of the institute. "It is this unbelievably moving event, particularly because for many of these families, the graduate is the first person in their family to complete an education beyond high school."

     Graduation is also a deeply moving event because many of the hundreds of students who have worked their way through nursing assistant, patient care technician, licensed practical nurse or accelerated second degree programs faced varied and formidable challenges along the way.

     With rigorous programs that set high learning expectations for students, the Riverview Institute welcomes future Detroit area health care workers who may have struggled in previous educational settings, who have limited financial resources and who face logistical challenges such as managing an academic schedule with part- or full-time work, meeting parental and family obligations or struggling with health issues.

     "We do have resources available to help students transition from the doubt and concerns they come to us with," said Michelle Moss, who handles student advising, admissions, academic monitoring and student support in her role as the institute's administrative secretary.

     Carmen Johnson, the institute's program and staff director, added, "For the most part, they stick in here as best they can, and we really try to support them along the way."

     Often this support will take the form of tuition payment plan options and assistance through the Michigan Works program, remedial and college entry-level academic instruction, and both academic and life counseling services.

     With a 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, Riverview offers a challenging curriculum augmented by technology and equipment that exposes students to and prepares them to master the very latest in health care advancements. The facility, located at the former site of St. John Riverview Hospital, features two hospital-replicated teaching labs equipped with human and critical care room simulators.

     Skilled and accomplished Oakland University instructors round out a set of programs that give students many advantages, so long as they're ready and able to invest the time, effort and commitment it takes to earn respected and marketable certifications.

     "There are many who strive to be successful and few who are able to succeed against tremendous odds," said Kerri Schuiling, dean of the School of Nursing at Oakland University. "At the Riverview Institute, we see people succeeding against tremendous odds everyday. The faculty and staff work diligently to support our students along the way attending to needs that many might overlook."

Penprase explained that at the end of each six-week to yearlong certification program, most of the students who enroll find success. The LPN program in particular has been successful in sending knowledgeable, professional and dedicated graduates into Detroit's communities.

     "The LPN program is really a shining star, because the students are coming out of it very successfully. They're finding positions in their own community and giving back to it," she explained.

     "Our students are actually being sought throughout the community because their level of skills are so high when they graduate."

     In fact, students in the LPN program have a nearly perfect percent pass rate on the national licensure board exam, and to date, they've had a 100 percent job placement rate following graduation.

     What follows aligns with Oakland University's commitment to support Detroit's resurgence in an evolving economy that is seeing less and less reliance on unskilled labor. Riverview graduates are successful in securing employment in the health care industry, and they're drawing a great deal of reassurance and confidence in knowing that this is a stable component of the region's and the state's plan for economic and social prosperity in the new century.

     "What we see is how they've made a better life for themselves and their families, and that's what makes this job so rewarding," Johnson said.

     Jacqueline Glover, the institute's director of operations, said that student success stories and Riverview's partnerships with organizations including the Detroit Job Corps, Access Detroit, Focus Hope, the Detroit Medical Center, St John Providence Health System and the Veterans Administration are helping to spread the word of growing opportunity in Detroit's health care settings.

     "We're not a hidden secret any more," she explained. "We have a passion for helping our graduates find good jobs, and to be honest, I wouldn't want to be doing it anywhere else," Glover said.

     Schuiling said that Oakland University's work at the Riverview Institute is certainly a demonstration of it commitment to community engagement, but that it is also something more.

     "It is an active, dedicated approach to working with the citizens of Detroit; being part of the revitalization of a great city. It is a testament of our belief in Detroit and those who live there," she explained.

     "It is helping our neighbors to help themselves to be successful and find work that not only pays well, but also provides a sense of deep satisfaction."

     To learn more about the Riverview Institute and the programs it offers, visit or call (313) 499-4033.

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Oakland University is a doctoral, research-intensive university located in Oakland County, Michigan. The university has 139 bachelor's degree programs and 127 graduate degree and certificate programs. Dedicated to delivering a distinctive undergraduate experience that is complemented by the strength of its graduate offerings and research accomplishments, Oakland University is organized into the College of Arts and Sciences, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and the Schools of Business Administration, Education and Human Services, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Nursing and The Honors College. Visit Oakland University on the Web at