SJSU Proud to Graduate First DNP Cohort

Author: Maya Carlyle
May 25, 2021

SAN JOSE, California, San José State University; May 25, 2021:

In 2012 the CSU system launched a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in California, aimed at elevating nursing practice in the state and increasing the potential pool of future nursing faculty. The northern California program was a consortium made up of Fresno State University and San José State University, working together to support their students in an online environment. The CSU Northern California Consortium DNP (NCCDNP) program ran for several successful years, graduating seven cohorts.

“The DNP program was life-changing and I know just how cliché that sounds. I entered the program as a seasoned Clinical Nurse Specialist but really left with a clear vision as a leader in nursing… The DNP has afforded me a broader view of healthcare and allowed me to influence nursing in a variety of ways in my current role. I’m forever grateful for my DNP.” said Lisa Walker-Vischer RN, DNP, CNS, CCRN, 2014 NCCDNP graduate and current CSU faculty member.

In 2019, San José State University branched off and launched its own DNP program within The Valley Foundation School of Nursing. One of the program’s mottos frames it well: the best of the past has been, and will continue to be, used to create the future of nursing and nursing education, and to improve patient outcomes in Santa Clara County and throughout California.

Michelle DeCoux Hampton, RN, PhD, MS, and one of the two program coordinators, explained, “[With] the program localized to SJSU, there is greater potential for partnership with the state-of-the-art medical centers and healthcare systems in Silicon Valley to work collaboratively toward promoting a culture of excellence in evidence-based practice, improved healthcare quality, and safety for residents of Santa Clara County and Northern California.”

Graduating DNP nurses will be practitioners who, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), will develop “a blend of clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills […] to be able to critique nursing… and design programs of care delivery that are locally acceptable, economically feasible, and which significantly impact health care outcomes.”

These nurses are graduating now, in May of 2021, after 21 months of hard work and learning in leadership, implementation science, biostatistics and epidemiology, DEI and cross-cultural practice, data management and informatics, and instructional design, among many other skills and subjects. The program could not have seen 2020 coming, but these nurses overcame. And now, after five semesters of hard work, dedication, creative innovation, implementing positive change even as they learned, and the usual amount of blood, sweat, and tears, the DNP program at SJSU is proud to watch its first cohort of Doctors finish what they started.

Our graduates spent the years of their academic work also juggling many other demanding roles. Many were parents, teachers and program leaders, managers of multiple departments in multiple hospitals, program managers, department directors, and many took on more work, responsibility, and stress as the COVID-19 epidemic became a pandemic and changed everyone’s life. Through it all, our DNP students persevered.

“…[To the DNP program] Thank you for all of your dedication and patience.  Thank you for your passion for excellence in education.  Thank you for putting together a DNP program that I am absolutely proud to have been a part of. Thank you for not letting a global pandemic diminish the power of this program.  Thank you for holding me to high standards so that I don’t question whether I’ve earned this degree.  Thank you for knowing how important the support team is and making sure we had an amazing (and I do mean amazing) team in Maya and Brian. Thank you for bringing on instructors who share your passion for excellence and who value students as people and future nursing leaders.  Thank you for knowing that Ruth and Michelle were the best leadership team in the world for this program, because they truly are the best. […]  You set some high standards for us but it’s okay because you hold yourselves to those same standards.  You are authentic.  You are approachable… Thank you for making TVFSON at SJSU shine so brightly for all the degrees/programs.  It has been a great ride!

Always a Spartan, though one concerned with hand hygiene,” – Tammi Reeves-Messner, DNP, MS, RN, RNC-NIC: 2011 BSN, 2016 MSN, and 2021 DNP graduate – all from SJSU.

Our 2021 DNP graduates:

Lynette Vallecillo Apen, DNP, RN, CNS, CNE
Division Dean, Nursing and Allied Health, Evergreen Valley College
Doctoral Project: Nursing Academic Leadership: An Urgent Workforce Shortage in California Nursing Education

Ena Andrea Arce, DNP, MSN, BSN, RN
Health Center Manager, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
Doctoral Project: Programmatic Colorectal (CRC) Screening during a Pandemic: Nursing Telemedicine Education Among Latinx Adults in an Ambulatory Safety Net Clinic

Vanndy Linda Loth-Kumar, DNP, MPH, PMHNP-BC
Integration Services Lead, AACI; Public Health Nurse, Santa Clara County Public Health Department
Doctoral Project: Evaluation of a Wellness and Recovery Medication Services Program

Elisa Nguyen, DNP, MS, RN, CMSRN
Director of Clinical Services, Stanford Health Care
Doctoral Project: The Effectiveness of Resilience Training for Nurse Managers: A Case Study

Sandy Phan, DNP, MSN/Ed, RN, NPD-BC, CRRN
Nursing Professional Development Specialist, Stanford Health Care
Doctoral Project: Promoting Civility in the Workplace: Addressing Bullying in New Graduate Nurses Using Simulation and Cognitive Rehearsal

Tammi K. Reeves-Messner, DNP, MS, RN
Assistant Nurse Manager, Kaiser Permanente
Doctoral Project: Neuroprotective Care in the NICU: A Quality Improvement Project

Reynaldo G. Rosario Jr., DNP, MSN, RN, CPHQ, LSSBB
Enterprise Quality Manager – Accreditation, Regulatory Affairs, & Licensing (Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, and DePaul Health Center)
Doctoral Project: Quality Improvement Initiative: To Improve Surgical Wound Classification

Dominique Ellen Teaford, DNP, RN, PHN, PMH-C
Supervising Public Health Nurse III, County of Santa Cruz – Health Services Agency
Doctoral Project: Website Redesign Project to Improve the Quality and Usefulness of the Perinatal Mental Health Coalition’s Resource Website

Stacey L. Teicher, DNP, MSN, PNP, BSN, RN
Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Kaiser Permanente
Doctoral Project: The effects of telehealth on patient satisfaction and information recall for breast cancer survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Silvia L. Turner, DNP, MSN/Ed, CRRN, RN
Nurse Educator, New Nurse Employee Orientation Coordinator, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System
Doctoral Project: Virtual Training Impact on Nurses’ Self-Efficacy of Safe Patient Handling Equipment Usage

Colleen A. Vega, DNP, RN, MSN, ACHPN
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Stanford Health Care; Lecturer, San Francisco State University
Doctoral Project: The Effects of Virtual Reality on Symptom Distress in Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant

Additional questions? Please contact the DNP team via email at


Contact for more information
Phone: 408-924-3182
Fax: 408-924-3135
Mailing Address:
The Valley Foundation School of Nursing, DNP
1 Washington Square, HB420
San Jose, CA 95192-0057

AACN quote taken from:

New Scholarship for Nursing Students in Memory of Charlene J. Castelli (1945-2021)

Charlene J. Castelli, a 1994 Summa Cum Laude graduate of The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San José State University, passed away on February 13, 2021 after a four-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Charlene was 75 years old at the time of her death. She died peacefully at home in Sunnyvale surrounded by her husband Larry of 53 years and her four children Tony, Regine, Andrea, and Terry. Charlene is also survived by ten loving grandchildren. Charlene had six siblings and she was the youngest member of her very close family. She was also the only member of her family to earn a college degree.

Charlene entered college later in life after raising her four children. She started at De Anza College in Cupertino only to take a few classes for fun, but soon decided to pursue a degree in nursing. She earned her Associate in Arts within two years, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and moved directly into the nursing program at San José State University. She graduated within two years from SJSU and also passed her RN exam along the way. Charlene worked as a care nurse at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation for a few years before entering the research department at PAMF. She soon joined Merck & Co. as a medical research coordinator for their clinical development trials. Charlene then continued her career in research trials as a clinical site manager for Genentech. She worked almost exclusively on Phase 1 clinical trials, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Charlene’s strong work ethic and personable manner contributed to her success as a research coordinator and inspired other family members to pursue their educational and career goals. Charlene retired in 2014 to enjoy more time with her family, as well as pursue both national and international travel.

Lawrence J. Castelli, Charlene’s husband, established a scholarship in her memory at San Jose State’s Valley Foundation School of Nursing to continue her legacy supporting future generations of nurses and research.

The Charlene J. Castelli Memorial Scholarship will provide support to Nursing students with at least a 3.0 GPA who have returned to college or started a career later in life and who has financial need but doesn’t qualify for federal financial aid.

Visit to learn more ways you may honor the memory of a loved one with a legacy gift.

Community-Engaged Student and Alumni Activities and Research

By: Dr. Jie Gao, Dr. Yinghua Huang, Dr. Faranak Memarzadeh and Dr. Jooyeon Ha

HTEM Community-Engaged Teaching Practices

The Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management (HTEM) has been using community engaged teaching practices to enhance students’ learning in hospitality, tourism and event management. In Spring 2021, students in HSPM 130 (Events Production) and HSPM 140 (Meeting, Convention and Event Industry) engage in planning and producing two major virtual events to apply their learning into practice: (1) Spring 2021 HTEM Graduation Celebration Virtual Event and (2) Learning in Events Virtual Showcase, an exhibit to showcase learning in event management curriculum. With the leadership of student Event Directors, Esther Roldan Cervantes and Jordan Partida formed two student groups for both events, built their core team organizational structure, created a proposal and timeline, set up regular team meetings, and have progressed well on the events. Jordan extended the showcase invitations to HSPM 86 (Special Events Management) and HSPM 142 (Tradeshow Management), and her event team has created a website to promote the event across the campus. In addition, students in HSPM 175 (Entrepreneurship in Hospitality) teamed up with students in Jordan through the Global Solution program, which is a virtual exchange initiative supporting workforce development in the U.S., Iraq, and   Jordan. The program improves global citizenship, strengthens problem-solving skills, and develops enduring connections while enhancing students’ job skills through online collaboration. Senior students in HSPM 177 (Hospitality Service Management) and HSPM 184 (Directed Reading) also participated in Castell@College Panel Session with many executives, who talked about hospitality careers and leadership, their real-life experiences, work-life balance, opportunities and obstacles. Given the practical needs of the industry, these community-engaged teaching practices are of great value to HTEM students who can learn by participating in hands-on opportunities.

Connecting Alumni with HTEM Students

The HTEM department was proud of holding the first Alumni Career Panel and Workshop in February by inviting five alumni with diverse backgrounds and working experiences, who were Mika Barrett (What If Syndicate Restaurant Group), Katalina Beltran (Comtel Systems Technology), Brea Carrillo (Owner, Events by Brea), Melissa Leong (Apple), Sarah Welker (Salesforce). The workshop aims were (1) to provide career advice to current students, (2) to connect HTEM alumni with students, and (3) engage alumni into higher education in HTEM. The workshop generated many career tips from the alumni panel, including adapting to changes in the industry, using the versatile hospitality skillset, being creative in response to COVID-19, thinking outside the box, professionalism and networking. Participants enjoyed learning about alumni’s stories, experiences and active interactions:

“It was very informative and helpful. Everything went smoothly. I enjoyed so much the event. The breakout rooms particularly helped narrow down everyone’s interest.”

Collaborative Research on Community Food Security

Dr. Yinghua Huang collaborates with Dr. Wencen Wu (College of Engineering) and a local food rescue organization on a collaborative research of developing a blockchain-based intelligence system to improve community food security, which was funded by the 2020-2021 SJSU Multidisciplinary RSCA Stimulus Grant. Dr. Huang’s team has developed and published a blockchain-based mobile app in Apple App Store and Google Play that enables food-related stakeholders (e.g., donors, rescue organizations, assistance agencies) to share data, secure food safety, and track food delivery. Hunger at Home, a food rescue organization, has used the app for food rescue operations since this March. Other food donors (e.g., restaurants, farms) and assistance agencies (e.g., food pantries, homeless shelters) can submit food requests, schedule food delivery time, access food order information, and track food rescue logistics in real-time. The app is Helping Hunger at Home and its partners to improve traceability, transparency, food safety, and logistic efficiency for serving people in need.

Encouraging Healthy Food Behaviors Through WHISK

By: Jamie Kubota, MS, RD

“WHISK” or Wellness & Health Inspired Student Kitchens was created to provide a vetted resource for hands-on nutrition programming for the San José State University campus community.  Encouraging people to take “WHISKS” in the kitchen, the program aims to give members of the community the tools needed to promote healthy food behaviors and establish healthy relationships with food. SJSU nutrition students are recruited and trained to lead the programming, providing additional practical application opportunities to complement required academic coursework. Utilizing the peer-to-peer model, WHISK emphasizes budget-friendly plant-forward recipes that are quick and easy to prepare in order to reduce barriers to cooking and encourage fruit and vegetable intake.

Developing relationships with campus community partners has been key to the development and implementation of WHISK programming.  Prior to COVID, WHISK Ambassadors could be found leading demonstrations at the SJSU Campus Community Garden, hosting nutrition education presentations at the Timpany Center, running cooking classes in the residence halls in collaboration with Faculty in Residence, providing recipes and samples of food prepared from pantry ingredients for Spartan Food Pantry participants, tabling with Fresh Approach on the Paseo, among other activities. Since the transition to remote learning, WHISK has pivoted to provide remote programming, leading Zoom cooking sessions and sharing materials through social media.

Helen Lee (MS, Fall 2020) and Cassie Boyd (BS, Fall 2020) hosting a cooking demonstration with Fresh Approach.

Senior nutrition student, Kara Gonzales, first volunteered with WHISK while fulfilling her community nutrition service learning hours. Inspired by that experience, Kara went on to become the WHISK student liaison to the Spartan Food Pantry managing a team of community nutrition students to develop social media posts that include nutrition education and simple recipes that take into consideration equipment, access to ingredients, and cultural preferences in order to make cooking more accessible to college students.  “As a student who has used the Pantry’s services in the past, this experience has allowed me to give back in a small way while practicing lifelong skills of cultural competency and leadership among our diverse student population.”

WHISK Ambassador Shannon Vo has this to say about the program. “Working with WHISK has been one of the most rewarding experiences of being a nutrition student here at San José State University. You get to have fun and be creative, all the while learning new skills and serving your community. The best part of the work for me is the recipes, where I just love coming up with ideas, trying them out, writing them, and teaching about them.”

WHISK Ambassadors leading a demo in the SJSU Campus Community Garden. (left to right:
Sabrina Lee, Camila Reygada, Multezem Mohammed, and Ashley Reinke)

Several SJSU graduates continue to volunteer as WHISK Alum Ambassadors.  Cassie Boyd, served as the first WHISK student assistant and is returning as a Master’s student in Fall 2021. She credits WHISK in helping her to gain cooking skills to create recipes that are simple to prepare, affordable and nutrient dense.  As a volunteer, “I have seen the program inspire growth in so many WHISK Ambassadors.  Personally, WHISK helped me learn how to talk to people about cooking and nutrition, not just in real life but over social media as well.”

For more information or to request a cooking/nutrition education demonstration, visit the WHISK website at or follow WHISK on Instagram at @WHISK_SJSU for current events, recipes, and cooking tips.

The Future of California Audiology Involves More Than Technology

By: Dr. Adam Svec

Audiology is a healthcare field dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. If someone in your family wears a hearing aid or uses a cochlear implant, it is likely that the device was fit by an audiologist. Among the many roles an audiologist plays, a top priority is using a combination of technology and aural rehabilitation in an attempt to improve the communication abilities for individuals with hearing loss.

In California, there is currently a shortage of audiologists, and a reasonably large portion of the community is underserved in terms of hearing and balance healthcare. One of the reasons for this paucity of care is that, until recently, California only had two accredited audiology graduate programs. With a population of nearly 40 million and audiology programs that collectively graduated under 50 audiologists per year, California communities have proportionally few opportunities for clinical services.

Fortunately, the audiology landscape in California is changing. Since 2019, new graduate programs have been introduced at California State University – Los Angeles, California State University – Northridge, California State University – Sacramento, and San José State University. The development of these new programs is a good thing for a variety of reasons.

At SJSU, the College of Health and Human Sciences aims to realize its mission through four pillars: 1) Promoting health equity and social justice; 2) Building capacity for interprofessional and collaborative practice and research; 3) Generating and applying health technology and innovation; and 4) Building community capacity and wellness through community engagement and partnerships.

Since SJSU is located in Silicon Valley, it may seem natural to perseverate on the third pillar. Hearing aid technology is rapidly changing, and the traditional hearing aid manufacturers are constantly developing new features for devices. However, hearing aids are rarely covered by insurance, and an individual can spend more than $6000 out-of-pocket for a pair, not to mention that those hearing aids will need to be replaced approximately every three to six years. In an effort to improve accessibility to affordable assistive devices, recent legislation has approved the expansion of “over-the-counter” hearing aids.

While the discussion regarding the impacts of more affordable devices is ongoing within the discipline of audiology, there are good reasons to focus our efforts, instead, on the first pillar. Dr. Michelle DeCoux Hampton and colleagues within the CSU system recently hosted a workshop titled, “Antiracism Reprogramming in Health Professions Education.” Dr. Alicia Swartz and Dr. Claire Valderama-Wallace walked the group through the alarming reality of racism that is built into the scaffolding of the healthcare system. The speakers asserted that healthcare education will keep reproducing inequality under systems developed by colonialism unless antiracism is considered a cornerstone of these educational systems, not just a component. As the CSU system re-emboldens its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, the state has an opportunity to train a new generation of audiologists who represent the communities that are historically underrepresented in hearing healthcare.

So, the challenge for all the CSU institutions has been demonstrated in plain sight: How do we ensure that the long-term effects of racism and inequity are reduced within hearing healthcare in California?