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Ultimate Medical Academy Unveils Mascot – the Pumas – to Kick off the Healthcare School’s 25th Anniversary Year

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ultimate Medical Academy’s founding yesterday, the nonprofit healthcare higher education institution unveiled its first mascot – the Pumas – to almost 2,000 employees and 150 students at UMA’s Tampa Bay area facilities.

UMA was founded in 1994 as Ultimate Learning Center, Inc. At that time, UMA was a single campus with 25 students in Clearwater, Florida. Today, UMA serves hundreds of students in Clearwater as well as almost 15,000 online students and more than 45,000 alumni across the nation.

UMA President Derek Apanovitch noted why the healthcare school picked the Puma as its mascot. “Just like UMA students and staff, pumas constantly adapt to change and overcome barriers, including thriving in different habitats throughout the U.S. Their power, beauty, and grace wonderfully represent the talents and can-do attitudes our graduates bring to healthcare employers.”

As part of the 25th anniversary year kick-off celebration, UMA proudly made a donation of $4,000 to ZooTampa at Lowry Park in support of the Pumas mascot and protecting cats in the same family, including the Florida Panther, the state’s official animal.

The ZooTampa sponsorship includes naming a bench in the Florida area of ZooTampa, which features the habitat that currently supports three panthers. The bench will be inscribed, “Ultimate Medical Academy Pumas Proudly Support ZooTampa and Protecting the Florida Panther.” It also includes supplying a large cat enrichment item.

“ZooTampa congratulates Ultimate Medical Academy on the Pumas mascot and thanks UMA for supporting our efforts to care for our rescued and rehabilitated panthers,” said ZooTampa Chief Advancement Officer Mark Haney. “The bench will be a symbol of UMA’s 25 years of healthcare education and community impact while the large cat enrichment item will help our panthers display their efficient hunting skills, promote their physical activity, and highlight their agility.”

As part of its conservation mission, ZooTampa provides a haven for selected Florida wildlife deemed non-releasable by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Since 1988, ZooTampa has rescued and rehabilitated 13 endangered Florida panthers, seven within the last six years. ZooTampa continues to expand its capacity to provide long-term care to Florida’s threatened and endangered animals. Currently, three panthers call the ZooTampa home: Lucy, Micanopy and Walter.

Ultimate Medical Academy is a nonprofit healthcare educational institution with a national presence. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida and founded in 1994, the school has more than 45,000 alumni and offers content-rich, interactive online courses to 15,000 students as well as hands-on training to hundreds of students. UMA students have access to academic advising, one-on-one or group tutoring, resume and interview coaching, job search assistance, technical support and more. UMA is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Learn more by visiting

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