Dean’s Message – Spring 2023

Dean Audrey ShillingtonWelcome to the Spring 2023 College of Health and Human Sciences newsletter.  Here at CHHS, we “Connect Passion to Purpose”.

This is one of the things I love about my job.  Every single day, I get to work and collaborate with others who are connecting their passion to purpose.  I continue to be impressed that so many of our faculty and staff work here at SJSU because of their deep belief in, and personal alignment with, the mission of our college and university– the belief that we are here to cause ripples of change for good.  We show-up, day after day, to assure students have access to the opportunities a college education affords.  We know those students will complete their degrees despite many social or economic barriers–students, and their families, who have made huge sacrifices to be here.   We know those very same students will take their knowledge and skills back to their communities to impact the health and wellbeing of their families and neighbors.

Our staff can speak eloquently about how the mission of the college and university gives their work meaning and a direction for their passion.  We have incredibly talented and deeply committed faculty who help our students take their passion and connect it to purpose.  They do this with their award-winning instruction and research, mentoring students in their labs and scientific inquiry, engaging students in intellectual curiosity, learning, and skills development.

Passion is connected to purpose through a myriad of intensive internships and practica, where that connection is created in tandem with our community partners who teach and guide our students in the application of knowledge in real world settings.  In addition to numerous undergraduate programs and degrees, we have three doctoral programs that are graduating professionals whose passion is driving them to become innovative leaders in their fields.  We have seven masters programs connecting student passion to the purpose of becoming the next generation of advanced researchers, leaders, as well as policy and clinical practitioners.

I invite you to read the following stories that are just a small sampling of the impressive and impactful work that happens here every single day.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
Robert Byrne

First Room Naming for the College of Health and Human Sciences

By Sonia Wright

This spring we celebrated with the Vlasoff family as the first named room in the College of Health and Human Sciences was dedicated: the Susan Vlasoff Memorial Pediatric Nursing Simulation Lab.  The lab is on the third floor of the Health Building, home to our donor-named department, The Valley Foundation School of Nursing.  This new name honors an endowment which will provide support for supplies and equipment to the simulation lab, a vital immersive tool used to train tomorrow’s nurses.

The Susan Vlasoff
Memorial Pediatric Nursing Simulation Lab.
© 2023 SJSU, photo by Robert C. Bain, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Susan Vlasoff Memorial Pediatric Nursing Simulation Lab is home to tools, interactive human-simulation mannequins, and hospital-like equipment which allow student nurses to hone the skills needed to caretake the health of our smallest and youngest community members.

​​Susan ‘Suzy’ Jacobs Vlasoff grew up in the Bay Area and attended SJSU for her undergraduate degree. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 1970. Seven years after starting her nursing career, she married Dan, and they raised their daughter Elizabeth in Campbell. Suzy worked at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, first in oncology and then moved over to pediatrics and the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) where she spent the rest of her 30+ year career. She was a woman’s rights supporter and interested in helping other young nurses become successful.

The Susan Vlasoff
Memorial Pediatric Nursing Simulation Lab.
© 2023 SJSU, photo by Robert C. Bain, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

When asked to talk about her mother, Elizabeth described her as a “spitfire.”  Dan added that she was a very outspoken, opinionated person – perfect for a nurse advocating for her patients, as well as her fellow and future nurses.

75 Years of San José State Air Force ROTC

By Benjamin Goirigolzarri

For 75 years, San José State University, the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) and its Department of Aerospace Studies, and the United States Air Force have worked in close partnership to develop leaders of character who are equipped to lead our nation’s military. The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at San José State University was established shortly after the inception of the U.S. Air Force in 1947 and has since seen its graduates lead across the private and public sector. Through the College of Health and Human Sciences’ unwavering support and rigorous curriculum, Detachment 045 has produced Air Force Senior Leaders, Air Force Wing Commanders, leaders in academia and industry, and U.S. Representatives committed to serving American interests both domestic and abroad.

On Thursday, May 4, San José State University’s President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson joined Air Force Senior Leaders to celebrate 75 years of committed partnership. The event featured remarks from SJSU’s President, Moffett Field’s 129th Rescue Wing Vice Wing Commander, Colonel Jeremy Guenet, Air Force ROTC Commander, Colonel Corey Ramsby, and Detachment 045’s Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Sullivan. The event also included former Detachment 045 Commander, Lt Col (Retired) Kirk Brown, whose father was the very first Commander in 1947. They collectively highlighted the countless benefits shared by SJSU, CHHS, AFROTC, and the local community even in the honest light of historical challenges. Lieutenant Colonel Sullivan echoed this with, “Our student population is small, but they are mighty, and will become immediate ambassadors carrying the values they learn at SJSU and Air Force ROTC across the world.”

Detachment 045 graduates will immediately tackle increasingly complex and demanding challenges that the world poses to its leaders. SJSU, CHHS, and its AFROTC program continue to prepare future leaders with the requisite critical-thinking skills, leadership experience and preparation, and the core values needed to navigate wicked problems and to ethically and morally command our nation’s military. The success of the AFROTC program extends beyond retention rates, graduation rates, or the impressive titles held by countless Det 045 graduates. It is measured by producing leaders of character whose “Spartan Airmen core values are so essential to who they are that they overflow into every interaction, changing our community and world for the better.”

Toward the end of the evening, AFROTC cadets and their families gathered alongside SJSU and CHHS leadership, Air Force Leadership, and the community leaders in attendance for a photo. The stage light lit up their faces, as if to recognize the illustrious lives of Det 045’s graduates and announce the promise of greatness among the attendees. Even after 75 years, the relationship between Air Force ROTC, the College of Health and Human Sciences, and San José State University continues to grow, galvanized by their shared commitment to integrity, service, and excellence. Here’s to 75 more years.

“The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” – Thucydides

Nursing Spartan Up, and Up, and Up

By Maya Carlyle

“Vanndy is somebody who is extraordinary, truly,” said Dr. Daryn Reicherter, MD, psychiatrist at AACI, a robust, multi-focus community health organization in San Jose, CA

He was being asked about Vanndy Loth, his employee, and a three time graduate from San José State University.

Dr. Vanndy Loth, DNP, MPH, MSN, RN, graduated from The Valley Foundation School of Nursing twice of those three SJSU graduations; first as she began her nursing career with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), and after her MPH for her Masters she graduated again from the School of Nursing in 2021, completing her doctoral degree as a member of the first graduating cohort of SJSU’s stand-alone Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

This spring, Dr. Loth has continued to be a Spartan, supporting her alma mater in a new way; this time agreeing to be interviewed as part of a project by the College of Health and Human Sciences to showcase the departments and schools under its umbrella.

“I have a strong desire to improve community mental health services through my nursing role…” Dr. Loth shared when she first applied to the DNP program. “My hopes are to gain insight into applying evidence based practice and to improve patient outcomes through improved quality of care. I [also] want to improve my skills as a nurse leader…”

And become a leader she did. While originally aiming to teach, Dr. Loth pursued nursing at the encouragement of her mother and found the work, from the beginning, to be “very rewarding.” Her first job as a new grad nurse from SJSU was in public health, working in the rural and less populous areas of Monterey County, where the competency and skills of TVFSON allowed her to tackle the more challenging cases to come through the clinic doors.

Now as a Program Manager in the Integrated Behavioral Health program at AACI, Dr. Loth continues to care for the community in culturally sensitive, policy-active, and educationally-focused ways. On May 3rd of this year, she and her AACI team were awarded a “Behavioral Health Community Hero Award” by the County of Santa Clara’s Behavioral Health Board for their work in addressing mental health in San Jose and the whole county.

During the interview for the College of Health and Human Sciences spotlight, Dr. Loth was asked what she thought might be next for her, now that she has her doctorate and has achieved some of the levels of leadership she had been aiming for.

“Teaching,” she responded, laughing a little at the full circle of her career. As a psychiatric nurse and community caretaker, Dr. Loth has a lot of knowledge to pass on, and looks forward to training the nurses who may one day take over her role.

Watch the College of Health and Human Sciences YouTube channel for highlights from Dr. Loth’s interview, coming later this summer.

For more information about The Valley Foundation School of Nursing, please visit or call 408-924-3131.

Research on SJSU Faculty in Residence Program Published by an Interprofessional Research Team

By Luis Arabit

On March 8, 2023, Dr. Luis Arabit, Occupational Therapy Assistant Professor, and a former Faculty in Residence (FIR) (2018-2020) at University Housing Services at San José State University, together with a team of faculty researchers from the various fields of Occupational Therapy, Biology, Education, Political Science, Mathematics, Psychology,  and Public Administration published a qualitative phenomenological research study entitled “The Impact of Faculty-In-Residence Programs on Faculty Development” ( The research article was published in the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice.

As lead author, Dr. Arabit was thrilled and immensely proud of the team of faculty researchers who worked collaboratively and tirelessly on this project. He stated that “Research such as these showcases the relevance of university-based FIR programs and its impact not just on students but also on faculty development.” The results indicated that faculty participation in FIR programs helped facilitate faculty development in teaching, research and service performance, which in turn created opportunities for student engagement, student sense of belonging and student success. Beyond the positive results, transcending themes of diversity, empathy, networking and organization were uncovered, which enhanced FIR faculty professional development. In addition, the study also found that to achieve overall positive impact of FIR programs, program goals and objectives need to be aligned and agreed upon by university, residential life administrators, and faculty.

The research project received a grant of $12,000 from Project Succeed of SJSU in 2019 with the assistance of the late Dr. Patricia Backer. Congratulations to the collaborative effort of this interprofessional team of researchers!