By Helena Tavares Kennedy
Astar Education Institute in Manassas is a valuable resource for a wide variety of people as it helps them “overcome educational barriers in our increasingly globalized world.” With a location in Manassas and another one in Shanghai, China, Astar Education Institute offers personalized education and dedicated support for its students. The institute’s tagline, “education, opportunity, stability,” strikes a chord with many students who come to the institute for help, including the 500 students from the Prince William region that benefit from Astar’s services each year.
What makes Astar unique is that it’s a “full-service training center that helps students every step of the way and is essentially a ‘one-stop shop’ for jumpstarting or changing careers,” said Carly Palmer, Astar’s admissions director. “Our student services do not end when someone graduates from our programs. Astar stays in touch with students to ensure they are successful and have ample opportunities provided to them.”
Demonstrating that Astar goes a step beyond to assist students once they’ve graduated, the institute often helps students secure employment and get sponsors for work visas as well as offering them resumé building workshops and interview skills seminars. The institute even helps domestic and international students further their education by assisting them with getting placed into bachelors, masters or PhD programs.
A Variety of Programs Fill Community Needs
Astar offers several programs, such as language, vocational programs, placements, and cultural exchanges, but its key programs right now are English as a Second Language (ESL), certified nursing assistant (CNA) and personal care assistant (PCA) programs, which accommodates both domestic and international students.
“ESL is the foundation for all other programs since English is a second language for the majority of our students,” said Palmer. “After improving language skills, students can switch to a shortterm vocational program to earn a valuable certification in that career field in less than two months.”
Astar also now offers the option for CPR training as part of any program. “CPR is offered to individuals at our Manassas location or to employers in the community at their locations for convenience,” said Palmer. “The PCA and CNA Programs are so important to the local community because there is a serious shortage of trained caretakers as the population ages. Many home health care companies and assisted living facilities are understaffed and having trouble finding qualified candidates. Astar’s programs address these needs by providing trained individuals to help care for the elderly all over Northern Virginia.”
Connecting Students with Employers
Astar maintains close partnerships with several area employers for scholarship and tuition reimbursement programs for its students. “We are able to match students with companies before they start their training, so the employers will cover most of the tuition costs,” said Palmer. “Many companies will even allow students to work for them while finishing classes, so they can earn money and gain experience at the same time they get trained.” Even better, when students complete Astar’s programs, they often have a secure job lined up with a potential raise once certified. “Students don’t have to worry about paying for tuition costs out of their pockets because employers cover the majority and take the rest out of student’s paychecks over time,” said Palmer. This can be a huge help for people who want to get certified and study while working but can’t afford to.
Making a Difference in People’s Lives
One student, Xiangtan Liu, said, “I came to Astar two months ago and lived with one of its host families. These past two months have been a great opportunity for me to improve my English speaking skills. I feel that I am speaking more fluently and making fewer mistakes than I did before. I have learned lots of vocabulary too. The teachers and students are friendly and easy to get along with. I will forever cherish the friendships and knowledge that I now have thanks to Astar.”
Another student, Karina Velasquez from Peru, said, “During the six months I have been at Astar, the teachers and staff helped me to learn English, so I can communicate much better with other people. I feel so happy here because every day I am learning important skills. I have the best teachers, and they make class interesting and fun.”
Located at 7864 Donegan Drive in Manassas, Astar is convenient for many since it is right off of Sudley Road and within walking distance of several shopping centers, restaurants, daycare facilities, the Bull Run library and other useful venues and resources. You can find more details about the programs and contact information at astarinstitute.org.