ORLANDO – Usually when people hold an open house, it’s to sell their home by showing off just how nice it looks inside.
When Centura Institute held an open house on Tuesday, it wasn’t because the commercial property was for sale. Rather, they wanted people to know they exist — and have plenty to offer.
“We’ve been here for 12 years – a long time,” said Danielle A. Brown, the campus executive director of the business at 6359 Edgewater Drive. “We try to do open houses once or twice a year, and it’s basically to bring more awareness to us.”
That awareness, she added, isn’t necessarily for lack of clients. Centura has classes for students who want to enroll in one of four programs: medical billing and coding, medical assistant, massage therapy, and practical nursing. These programs, Brown said, are a reminder that health care is still a growing field in an otherwise weak economy, and students can take their new skills anywhere in the country.
“There is still a need for all of those types of positions in this economy,” Brown said. “Those jobs are transferrable. You can use those skills anywhere you go. We have seen our students go from struggling to support their families, to being very successful.”
Centura Institute trains students for a career in the health care field, one of the few industries – education is the others – that has managed to continue creating new jobs even in the midst of the steep economic downturn in 2008 and 2009.
Brown said students can get a degree, then expect to find themselves in demand pretty much anywhere in the U.S.
“This is a very transient state,” she said. “The United States – period – has a need for health care.”
Knowing that there are still more unemployed people than jobs being created, Brown said people should take a serious look at health care as their future.
“We get people right out of high school, to people who are 65,” she said. “It’s never too late to go back to school.”
Katie Stone is one of those students. She recently completed Centura’s massage therapy program, and has no regrets.
“It’s an awesome program,” she said. “There’s an opportunity for you to master an art, because it truly is an art. It’s as ancient as some of the oldest civilizations. Massage therapy has been going on since the start of time.”
That program lasts 11 months, said its coordinator, Michelle Alley, and students are always ready to welcome the public in so their can do some – well, homework of sorts.
“We have a student clinic and they do free massages for the public,” Alley said. “It’s part of their curriculum. It’s the last thing they do before they graduate. And we have some very nice treatment rooms here.”
“I think it’s a calling,” Stone added, as she stood outside in the institute’s parking lot under a blue tent, offering massages to the people who showed up for the free food and opportunity to learn more about the school’s programs.
It’s also a great career option, Stone said.
“You can work on your own as a therapist, or in a clinical office,” she said. “You can work in hospitality, or you can work with pregnant moms, or with chiropractors. There are a huge number of options.”
That’s exactly the message that Centura hopes to get out to its prospective students, Brown said.
“When you leave here, you will be ready to take your licensing exam,” Brown said. “Massage therapy is all about holistic health. The message therapy program is really exciting. You can go into a medical field like chiropractic or you can work at the hotels.”
Centura Institute was started in 1977, although the Orlando campus opened much later, in 2001.
But even with 12 years behind it, not everyone knows Centura exists – hence, the open house.
“We use it a couple of times per year to remind people that we’re here,” Brown said. “We usually do it to get the community back here. It creates awareness of their own health.”
It also gives the public a chance to meet the Centura instructors, she said, and find out what the average student is like.
“It’s an opportunity to see someone like them and know that they can do it,” Brown said. “It’s important for people to know that regardless of their past, they can start from scratch.”
To learn more about Centura Institute, call 407-275-9696.
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