Community Collaborations and The Valley Foundation School of Nursing

By: Maya Carlyle

Memory Kits

Working nurse and faculty member of The Valley Foundation School of Nursing (TVFSON), Marilyn Reiss-Carradero (RN, MSN, CCRN)  is on the Rapid Response Team at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center as well as on the Palliative Care End of Life committee. In 2015, she was working with a SJSU nursing student who was learning under her guidance. This student experience was mostly focused on the technical aspects and critical thinking of nursing.  More though, this student learned about the caring that goes hand in hand with nursing.

Marilyn and a group of ICU nurses had previously piloted a program adapted from the 2014, 3 Wishes Project  at St. Joseph’s Healthcare ICU in Hamilton, ON, Canada, which set out a way for clinicians to connect empathetically with patients and patients’ families while working in the emotionally heavy environment of an ICU and caring for patients as they reach the end of their life. This connection was facilitated by a “memory kit”;  a small collection of items – ribbon to tie a lock of hair from the recently deceased, clay to impress a hand print, a small ‘forever’ candle (a battery powered votive), and a sympathy card for the healthcare team to give messages to the family. The kits are kept in the department, completed (with permission of the family), and then shared with the family.

This memory kit is one small way to help families in the sacred moments after the death of a loved one. It also  facilitates the beginning of the grieving process.

The student who was shadowing Marilyn that year moved quickly to help support this program, with the help of the Alpha Tau Delta (ATD), a professional fraternity/sorority for nursing professionals. Immediately upon hearing about the program, the ATD students began finding ways to support it, including creating a committee for the planning of long term fundraising. Since joining the program, ATD has helped fund and create up to 170 memory kits every year.

Since 2015, the SJSU Nursing students have been very faithful to this project, even through the COVID-19 pandemic. A meaningful and memorable bond forms when the bedside nurse is able to utilize the kit and present the items to the family. We are very grateful to the students for their time and generosity.” – Marilyn Reiss-Carradero

Sue’s Story

Sue's Story PosterAnother moving story of collaboration is that between The Valley Foundation School of Nursing and The Sue’s Story Project. The Sue’s Story Project was begun by Robin Shepherd, Chuck Berghoff, and Sue Berghoff, a “tough but fair” teacher who had spent seven years in the Department of Linguistics and Language Development at San José State University, after a dynamic career in tech. After being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a fatal neurodegenerative disease that is the second leading cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s, Sue decided to turn her diagnosis into a good for the world, educating healthcare professionals, advocating for research, and shining a light on Lewy Body Dementia to lessen the stigma and bring hope to families coping with the disease.

Having connected in 2019 with The Valley Foundation School of Nursing via Dr. Stefan Frazier of the Department of Linguistics and Language Development, The Sue’s Story Project now works with TVFSON faculty members Dr. Nancy Dudley and Dr. Daryl Canham to educate and empower nursing students and the wider community. Through interactive workshops including panel discussions with subject matter experts, healthcare and social services professionals, and connections to local medical facilities, this partnership seeks to continue Sue’s dream of education and hope.

Robin ShepherdTogether, we can #DisruptDementia, one beautiful mind at a time.

Ways to donate to the cause and steps for requesting a workshop presentation can be found on The Sue’s Story Project website.

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:

Antiracism Reprogramming in Health Professions Education Workshop

By: Dr. Kathleen Wong Lau and Dr. Michelle DeCoux Hampton

San José State University hosted the “Antiracism Reprogramming in Health Professions Education” workshop on April 7, 2021. The workshop featured CSU East Bay scholars, Dr. Alicia Swartz and Dr. Claire Valderama-Wallace, who laid the foundation for antiracism praxis in the context of Critical Race Theory and Emancipatory Practice frameworks within health and healthcare education. Among the nearly 60 attendees were faculty from nine institutions: six California State University campuses, one private university, and two out of state public universities.

SJSU’s greater Antiracism Reprogramming Initiative is the culmination of work to address several challenges facing higher ed institutions within health and human sciences education: the historical moment of widespread recognition of racial inequities and their devastating impact on life outcomes (including COVID-19); heightened expectations from black, indigenous, and the people of color (BIPOC) students and communities for a faster rate of change on racial systemic equity in curriculum, research, scholarship, and internship placements; the mismatch of the racial/ethnic demographics of faculty to the students they teach, and even more so to the students outside of the academic pipeline; the demands from professional students that faculty prepare them to address and respond to systemic racism in health outcomes; and, younger generational expectations from professional and graduate students that faculty understand intersectionality and the specificity of intersectional systemic inequities pulled through into their educational experiences.

Following the April 7th workshop, opportunities for deeper engagement for health and human sciences faculty will be offered in summer 2021. The summer institute empowers and equips faculty intellectually to integrate systemic racial equity into their everyday work of teaching, research, scholarship, and service. Just as importantly it creates thought partners with other faculty within and across disciplines and institutions as they encounter necessary analysis, strategies, and feedback to transform their work with a systemic racial equity lens. The summer institute will pair synchronous sessions to provide an overview and conclusion of learning activities with asynchronous, online activities in our learning management system, Canvas. Faculty will engage in a series of modules that provide exposure and access to a compendium of resources, slides, exemplars, videos, and articles to support their work in key areas. They will also be guided in reflection and engagement regarding issues of race, racism, and antiracism in their personal and professional lives.

The Antiracism Reprogramming Initiative was made possible by Dr. Kathleen Wong Lau’s appointment of Dr. Michelle Hampton as a Spring 2021 Faculty Fellow for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Hampton coordinated the April 7th conference and is leading the effort to develop the summer institute with SJSU Faculty Champions: Dr. Monica Allen (Public Health and Recreation), Dr. Denise Dawkins (Nursing), Dr. Nicole Dubus (Social Work), Ms. Rochelle McLaughlin (Occupational Therapy), Dr. Pamela Richardson (Occupational Therapy), Dr. Tamar Semerjian (Kinesiology), and Dr. Sheri Rickman Patrick (Nursing). Beyond developing content for the summer institute, Faculty Champions will work to promote antiracism awareness and intradepartmental accountability after its conclusion.  It is hoped that this transformative work will not only help retain historically underrepresented BIPOC students, but also retain historically underrepresented BIPOC faculty and researchers. All of this will shape a community of healthcare professionals and researchers that is more representative, and thus able to close equity gaps beyond a “lift all boats” approach (where disparities and gaps still remain). This approach also goes way beyond merely addressing climate issues surgically through microaggression training, anti-bias training, etc. We believe that our approach anchors and makes these types of training more relevant and more likely to be understood within a systemic equity framework.


Dr. Colleen O’Leary-Kelley, Director/Professor, The Valley Foundation School of Nursing Meets with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, District 19

Dr. Colleen O’Leary-Kelley had the opportunity to meet with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, District 19, Oct. 21, 2019 in her Washington D.C. office. Dr. O’Leary was attending the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Academic Leadership meeting with a colleague in Washington DC and was able to schedule an appointment with Congresswoman Lofgren to discuss issues relating to nursing education and research. “She is the representative for the San Jose area and welcomed us for a brief visit,” says Dr. O’Leary. “She is a strong supporter of San Jose State University.”

SJSU’s Center For Healthy Aging in Multicultural Populations (CHAMP) Offers San Jose’s Seniors Health Screenings and Information

On Thursday, September 29, the 24th Annual Senior Resource & Wellness Fair, presented by the County of Santa Clara Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), in partnership with the City of San Jose Parks & Recreation Department, and SJSU’s Center for Healthy Aging in Multicultural Populations (CHAMP), took place at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose.

Approximately 400 people in the community came out to the Wellness Fair to receive information from 85 different programs that provide information and services to the senior population.  There were about 70 vendors from community agencies. Participants were able to receive a multitude of health screenings – flu shots, blood pressure, glucose, dental, spine alignment, skin, mood, cognitive function, falls prevention, fitness, biofeedback, and hearing tests which were provided by Walgreens, SJSU students and other agencies.  Several workshops and fitness demonstrations were also held throughout the day, including Laughter Yoga, Fair Housing Rights, Cal Medi-Connect, and Nutrition.

More than 40 students, led by faculty from six San Jose State departments, participated in offering screenings or healthy living advice to older adults at the event. Students from the following departments offered information/screenings on the following topics:

  • Social work – Mood and wellness screening
  • Nursing – Blood pressure screening
  • Kinesiology – Information on evidence-based exercise
  • Occupational Therapy – Falls and balance
  • Recreation Therapy – Biofeedback to improve breathing and managing stress
  • Communicative Disorders – Ear inspections; and Cognitive wellness screening

“The Wellness fair offers SJSU students a wonderful opportunity to practice their communications skills, learn how to engage seniors in screenings and health education, and learn about the role of multiple disciplines and the array of community services available to promote wellness and healthy aging,” says Sadhna Diwan, Ph.D.,Professor, School of Social Work, Director, Center for Healthy Aging in Multicultural Populations.

Photos by Lauren Chun, Megan Dejan and Mickie Lau, students from Dwight Bentel & Hall Student Advertising and Public Relations Agency, School of Journalism and Mass Communications:

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