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Adrian McQueen: A recruiter and student mentor

NIAGARA FALLS – Adrian McQueen started her career in college recruitment after the economic crisis threatened her mortgage-related job. It has become a vocation that drives her to mentor students who are launching new careers of their own.

“It’s very rewarding when you see them blossom and grow,” said McQueen, a master admissions representative at Bryant & Stratton College, a for-profit school with 20 campuses in four states. Local campuses include McQueen’s base in downtown Buffalo on the fourth floor of the Lafayette Court building on Washington Street, where about 900 students are enrolled, and two other buildings in Orchard Park and Amherst with about 450 students each.

McQueen, 45, a Niagara Falls-native, earned a degree in sociology from Buffalo State College and worked for many years at a Williamsville company where she did a lot of refinancing of mortgages. Her work included going to job fairs to recruit new workers.

About seven years ago, just as economic troubles threatened to close her department, a former colleague working at Bryant & Stratton called to tell her about an opening at the school he thought she would be perfect for.

Now students she encourages to enroll in the programs at Bryan & Stratton that cost $534 a credit hour or about $32,000 for a two-year degree, stop by her office at the downtown Buffalo campus.

“I have a student sitting with me right now,” she said during a telephone interview. “I tell her she keeps me young. She does her work and I’m really proud of her. There’s been a big change in her since she’s been here.”

She said the young woman of 23 was raising a daughter and studying to be a medical assistant - work that includes taking blood and measuring a patient’s vital signs.

“I think when she first came, she wanted to get out of the house,” McQueen said. “Now that she’s been here, she’s bringing her projects and she shows me. She’s really proud of what she’s done. She’s focused. She gets excited. She talks about it.”

It sounds like you’ve found the perfect job.

I’m truly blessed. I thank the Lord that I work here. I have an awesome boss. My father passed away in 2011 … He contacted me and he sent pictures of his kids. He said, ‘I hope this makes you feel better.’ That’s the type of boss that I work for.

What sort of college is Bryant & Stratton now?

We don’t have the glitter here. We don’t have the game rooms and the fraternities and sororities. We don’t have sports. Our students are students who are very focused. They want to come in and get their education and start working.

We have the same accreditation as Buff State, E.C.C., Canisius. Our liberal arts courses are geared to go along with our major requirements courses: Intro to information literacy and research. Public speaking and rhetorical persuasion.

We’re offering all types of technological programs, medical programs. Our hot medical programs are medical assistants. It is a step above L.P.N. Licensed practical nurse. You go to school for one year to be a L.P.N. A step below an R.N. You graduate in two years or less. Medical assisting – You’re learning your anatomy and physiology. You’re learning all the guts of being a nurse.

The beauty of this is you don’t have to wait to get into a nursing program. Your credits will transfer over. A lot of our students will go to D’Youville.

Medical assisting is our most popular. And criminal justice. To become a police officer, all you need is 60 credit hours which in an associates degree. A lot of people want to be a police officer. Students want to help people. A lot of people who do the criminal justice program might have been in trouble. Most of our population is nontraditional students.

What is a non-traditional student?

A student who has been out of high school for awhile. Or a student who just got a GED, a single parent, a person who got laid off who wants to come back to school to further their education to redirect their lives.

Non-traditional students usually have an epiphany: ‘I need to go to school.’ They’ve made up their mind, ‘I’ve got to do something to better myself.’

Can you tell me a memorable story of someone you worked with?

Another young lady .. in her early 50s, she had a lot of problems with her daughter. She had to work because of her financial aid. She could not come full time. She took three classes each semester.

Her self-esteem was not good at all. She cried in my office all the time. She was a big cryer. A lot of things were going on with her daughter. She was very emotional. She cried a lot, but she finally graduated.

She wanted to work with the patients. She started working, she loved her job. She got in a situation where she’s helping the doctors when they’re doing surgery. She was very happy with that.

Now she’s grown. So now she’s going to the Orchard Park campus where she’s is taking our health care administrative program, which is a four year degree. You could run like a nursing home floor. You can work for insurance company. You could work for a doctor’s office …