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.

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.

CHHS and Air Force ROTC: Building Leaders for Tomorrow

By: Captain Marshal Neubauer

Upon first realizing that within the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) lies the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a program to generate officers to lead the future of American airpower, one might reasonably wonder what the two have in common. However, CHHS, SJSU, and ROTC all share many of the same goals and aspirations for students here in San Jose. SJSU’s overall mission is to educate future leaders through learning and character development. CHHS strives to advance health and well-being for all, through preparing effective practitioners, developing transformative leaders, as well as generating and translating impactful knowledge. These parallel exactly ROTC’s own mission to develop leaders of character for tomorrow’s Air Force. We are all dedicated to developing the future leaders who will influence and improve the society they live in.

Specifically, CHHS realizes its mission through building community capacity and wellness through community engagement and partnerships. ROTC values the communities that host all detachments across the nation. Here at SJSU, ROTC cadets run a chapter of a community involvement organization called Arnold Air Society. This organization is dedicated to community service, performing over 100,000 hours of community service over 100 college campuses. Across the entire Air Force, one of the responsibilities levied on all members is the need to participate in the community, engage with community organizations, and strive to improve wherever the Air Force might be. Volunteering and supporting the community helps build relationships of mutual support and respect and allows the Air Force to share unique expertise and experiences to support the community.

Beyond the missions discussed, ROTC core values also align with SJSU nicely. SJSU lists Excellence and Ethics as foundational values, which parallels with the Air Force’s own Integrity First. These values are listed first for both organizations, forming the underpinning upon which all success is built and demanding the highest standards of academic and professional behavior. The next AF core value, Excellence in All We Do, again, matches SJSU’s value to excel in teaching, research, and service. The final AF core value, Service Before Self, aligns with SJSU’s value of Engagement and Entrepreneurship, and it is embedded in everything a military officer does through a dedication to creativity and innovation. The AF Chief of Staff, General Charles Q. Brown, stated in his strategic approach document Accelerate Change or Lose, “Airmen must be multi-capable and adaptable team builders, as well as innovative and courageous problem-solvers, and demonstrate value in the diversity of thought, ingenuity, and initiative.”

The specifics of how may separate CHHS and ROTC, but we all are working toward the same goals for the same reasons, and ROTC looks forward to continuing to contribute to the college and its efforts to help all students grow and succeed.

Message from Dean Shillington – Spring 2021

Welcome to the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) Spring 2021 newsletter.  During the fall semester I collaborated with college leadership to develop new CHHS mission, pillars, and commitment statements.  All this work evolved from the College’s new name, more intentionally health-focused identity, and a commitment to SJSU’s mission and Transformation 2030.

Our faculty and staff juggled and balanced multiple roles.  They are our instructors, mentors, and advisors preparing students to meet the every-changing demands and needs in our professional workforce.  They are scholars, researchers, and scientists tackling many of the community’s most challenging health needs through cutting-edge prevention and intervention efforts.  Our faculty and staff have been involved in serving their communities and professions by sharing their time, talent and expertise.  They, along with our incredible students, have continued to stay engaged, supporting each other’s mutual learning and growth despite challenging circumstances.  I am so proud of how everyone showed-up and leaned-in this year, particularly since many have been balancing these exceptional efforts while additionally taking care of loved ones, home schooling children, and assuring that students are supported.  I am in awe of everyone’s tireless tenacity and deep commitment to the College and SJSU.

I invite you to read the following stories that reflect these efforts that are advancing our new CHHS mission and pillars.  And, bear in mind, all this creativity, innovation, and progress has happened while we have walked together through social upheavals and a global pandemic.