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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With the abrupt announcement of the closing of Brightwood Career Institute, downtown area students were left in a panic wondering what they were going to do.

Brightwood isn’t the only school suddenly closing its doors Friday, Education Corporation of America, which owns Brightwood and nearly 70 other campuses across the country made the same announcement.

That leaves some 20,000 students, including here in Pittsburgh, wondering if their money, credits and time invested all went to waste.

Students at Career Institutes often consider themselves non-traditional students, whether a four-year college just isn’t for them or they need to start working and making money immediately.

For students at Brightwood, they say this is just one additional hardship they can’t take.

“It’s just really disheartening, and I’m heartbroken.”

“I was shocked, I was devastated, almost two years and I was supposed to start my fieldwork, my clinical on Monday.”

These students, like most at Brightwood Career Institute, were left with no recourse or a backup plan when the Penn Avenue school announced it would be closing Friday. Many were already in hardship situations

“I went to school with many single moms and we’ve struggled to get through this process.”

A process they can’t finish now despite all the work, lost wages attending classes, the childcare, parking and tuition costs spent on plans to make a better life. They were counting on an associate’s degree or certification program at Brightwood to make that happen.

“This is a heartbreaking experience for students they’ve worked hard, they’ve struggled,” said Karla Byrd at Geneva College Center For Urban Biblical Ministry.

That’s why schools like Geneva College’s Pittsburgh campus are reaching out to Brightwood students. With a new nursing program, the directors at the Point Breeze location thought it might be a good fit for some of the Medical assistant students at Brightwood who are worried about transfers, money and more.

“For financial aid, we’ll work with you.”

Another Pittsburgh school trying to lead Brightwood students out of the darkness is also in the city, Pittsburgh Career Institute.

“Our hearts immediately went out to them, we as a career school here down in Pittsburgh want to step up and help these students,” said Peggy Brinton, Dead of Education at Pittsburgh Career Institute.

For the medical assistant students at Brightwood, they have a similar program at PCI, while not occupational therapy there are other options for those interested in the medical field.

“However, we have respiratory therapy, we have surgical technology we have a veterinarian program as well.”

Brightwood also had trade certification programs also offered at other Pittsburgh schools who are opening their arms to the students filled with fear and anxiety, schools like Bidwell, Triangle Tech, Pittsburgh Technical College and Rosedale Tech are all opening their doors offering to show these students how to transfer and that when one door closes, another opens despite the hardship its caused.

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