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Alumni Spotlight

The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing has about 7,000 alumni, with about 88 percent of them serving communities in Florida.  We are so proud of the difference our alumni are making.  Many of the alumni featured here are engaged in advocacy and leadership that improves the health of our communities.  We salute them! 

Kyra (Waligora) Mendez
BSN 2014

Kyra Mendez

Kyra (Waligora) Mendez, worked with Dr. Tappen on her undergraduate research project to study Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers in conjunction with the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center. She accredits FAU for providing her opportunities to become proficient in clinical skills and how to practice caring science as a nurse. In addition to providing a foundation for her research background, Mendez also expressed how much the College’s teaching philosophy impacted the way she practices nursing. Mendez is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute and looks forward to giving back and being able to train and mentor the next generation of nurses and researchers.


Kevin P. Hanaway
MSN, 2012 and DNP, 2019 

kevin h

Prior to becoming a RN, Kevin Hanaway was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and earned a MDiv from Christ the King Seminary. He started as a staff RN and rose in the ranks to become Administrative Director of Critical Care/ED/Med/Surg at Virtua Health System in New Jersey. He was named a Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives in 2007.  Over the past 10 years, he has worked at Boca Raton Regional Hospital and pursued advanced graduate studies in nursing. Since becoming a Nurse Practitioner, he has been employed by the Pulmonary & Sleep Associates of South Florida in Boca Raton. He is currently in the DNP program at FAU, on the medical staff at BRRH, and continues in pulmonary practice.


Doreen Cassarino
DNP, 2013

Doreen Cassarino

Doreen Cassarino is a family nurse practitioner from Naples, Florida in practice providing primary and specialty diabetes care.  She is actively involved in legislative activities at all levels. While serving as FNPN president, she directed the development of a strategy that propelled NP legislation to historic success. She has served as the Florida Representative to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Legislative VP for the NP Council of Collier County, and co-chair of the Florida Coalition of APNs. She was appointed by the Governor to the Board of the Florida Center for Nurses, where she now serves as Chair.


Melissa Durbin
MSN, 2010 and BSN, 1996

melissa durbin Melissa Durbin is the Chief Nursing Officer/VP at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. She is a devoted and inspiring leader who has instilled a passion for excellence and innovation within the nursing team. Melissa supports continuous growth and development of the nursing staff focused on evidence-based practice. Since graduation, she has advanced in both her clinical expertise and her leadership experience in a variety of roles.   Her selection as a board member and President-Elect of the Nursing Consortium of South Florida and the Past-President of South Florida Organization of Nurse Executives  is a tribute to her leadership at the hospital as well as her commitment to the profession of nursing on a regional level.


Courtny Hopen
BSN, 2016

Courtny Hopen After graduation, Courtny Hopen accepted a job at a major New York City hospital as a Registered Nurse. Through the hospital’s Vizient/AACN nurse residency program, she completed an evidence-based practice project focused on maintaining equality for LGBT patients. She served as one of the founding members of her unit's Transgender Council and as a unit representative on the hospital-wide LGBT Council. In 2018, she won a Balm grant and attended the national American Holistic Nurses Association conference. She plans to continue applying the holistic training she received at FAU to patient care and become a board certified Holistic Nurse. 


Katherine Molinet Drum
MSN, 2004

Kathy Molinet Katherine Molinet Drum is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and works in a private internal medicine practice in Ft. Lauderdale. Kathy is committed to increasing public awareness of the importance of public health issues, health care access, and preserving patient’s rights for all citizens. She has been very active in the Broward County community for many years. She currently serves on the local and regional board of the American Lung Association, and on the FAU College of Nursing Advisory Board. She has served as State President of the Florida Medical Association Alliance; President of Hospice Hundred; President of the Broward County Medical Association Alliance and South Florida Council of Advanced Practice Nurses; and Elder and Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Lauderdale. She has also served on the FAU National Alumni Board, FAU Broward Seaside Burrow, and Regent Bank Community Advisory Board.


Michael D. Reilly
DNP, 2015; MSN, 2005 and BSN, 2003

Michael Reilly Michael Reilly is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Since leaving FAU, he has acquired a plethora of experience working in primary care, urgent care, cardiovascular, and emergency care.  His personal interest and passion include men’s health after he recognized there were few places where a man could go for this unique care. Dr. Reilly is the co-founding partner and the Director of Medical Operations of Super Male Men’s Clinics in central Florida, a unique clinic focused on mens’ overall health and vitality. He also co-authored a published article in the International Journal for Human Caring, “Leading & retaining a multigenerational nursing workforce: Leadership grounded in caring science.” He is an active preceptor with many nursing programs. In addition to nursing, he is a volunteer paramedic/firefighter with Marion County Fire-Rescue and sworn Florida State Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol.


Jineal Shinn
MSN, 2016

Jineal Shinn

Jineal Shinn is the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for Memorial Regional Hospital South and the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute. Her career at the Memorial Healthcare System spans more than 20 years when she began as a Nurse Clinician at the Healthcare System’s Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.  She moved into a leadership role as the Nurse Manager for the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Unit and the Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit.  Shortly thereafter, she moved to a position as Director of Nursing for Inpatient and Ambulatory Services at the pediatric hospital.  And, in February 2016, she was appointed Chief Nursing Officer.  She is currently serving on the Board of the Nursing Consortium of South Florida. She has dedicated her life to nursing, a profession she finds inspires her every day to make a difference in the lives of the people she has the privilege to serve.  She is credited for bringing innovation to the clinical setting for improved outcomes and for fostering a collaborative work environment. 


Patricia "Pidge" Gooch
MSN, 2008

goochSince graduating from FAU, Pidge Gooch moved to El Paso, TX in 2009 as the Administrative Director of Critical Care and Emergency Services at Tenet's Providence Memorial Hospital, where she served on the governor's Emergency and Trauma task force for two years. She was promoted to Chief Nursing Officer at Doctors Hospital of Manteca in 2011, and then was appointed Chief Nurse Executive of the Central Valley of Kaiser Permanente in 2014. She was promoted to Executive Director of Kaiser’s Northern California Regional Patient Care Services Operations in 2016.


Marcella Marie Rutherford
PhD, 2007 and MSN, 2004


Marcie Rutherford was the founding Dean at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Nursing.  Her research and scholarship focuses on health policy and economics related to the value of nursing to the health care delivery system. Currently, she is working on a national project related to academic-service partnerships, focusing on preparing nursing students to identify co-occurring behavioral health issues in patients receiving care in acute or primary care settings.  She is a Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow Alumna, graduating in September of 2016.  


Rebecca S. Koszalinski
PhD, 2014 and MSN, 2007

koszalinskiRebecca Koszalinski was appointed as an Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Under the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Ruth Tappen, she developed innovative tablet-based technology called Speak for Myself®, that gives patients who cannot speak the ability to communicate. Since her graduation she has had many successes including receiving a scholarship award from the Tennessee Nurses Association, being named as Quest Scholar of the Week; and receiving a patent and copyright for Speak for Myself® (with Dr. Ruth Tappen).  This work is facilitated by an internal grant to update her Speak for Myself ®application. She is also working with engineering faculty on predictive modeling for sepsis in the emergency department through a second internal grant.  


Darline B. Riggs
MSN, 2009

riggsDarline is the Commissioner for the city of Miramar, becoming the city’s and Broward County’s first Haitian-American elected commissioner. Her leadership skills were honed throughout her nursing career.  She began as a health care technician in the pediatric emergency room. After completing her BSN and MSN at FAU, she focused on nursing education and quality management. Darline continues to serve her community as a nurse and Commissioner.

Andrea Wright-Mattis
MSN, 2014 and BSN, 2005


After receiving her BSN from FAU, Andrea Wright-Mattis had entrepreneurial dreams to become a business owner. She completed her MSN degree from FAU focused on nursing administration and financial leadership. With experience in health care and management, Andrea opened Hibiscus Palace Assisted Living Facility in 2015 and Hibiscus Palace II in 2016. Both facilities are helping to revolutionize the way we care for the elderly, by providing intimate and individualized care that can only be provided at home - in a Palace - to five or six residents at a time.


Valarie S. Grumme
PhD, 2016


Valarie’s experience in both academia and practice provided her with opportunities to increase nursing knowledge and enhance patient care. She received the College of Nursing’s Doctoral Scholar award for 2016.  Her research interests include understanding the transplant journey from multiple perspectives, nursing presence, and nurturing empowerment and self-efficacy in nurse leaders. In the past year, she published four peer-reviewed articles. Valarie presented her research at international and local conferences. She serves as an adjunct faculty member at FAU’s College of Nursing. She is currently the Clinical Manager for the medical intensive care unit and cardiovascular care unit at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.

Laureen M. Fleck

PhD, 2011; DNS, 2007 and MS, 2000


Laureen Fleck, family nurse practitioner, owns and manages Family Medicine of Boca Raton, a family practice located in the city. While working full-time in this practice, Laureen provides primary healthcare services to more than 4,000 patients. She been a Certified Diabetes Educator for more than 25 years, and her specialty is metabolic syndrome, diabetes, insulin resistance syndrome, and obesity. Laureen is the Chair of the Political Action Committee for the Florida Nurse Practitioner Network, Board Member of the International Orem Society, and member of the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She has published her work in diabetes and self-care in peer-reviewed journals. Laureen is Associate Graduate faculty in the graduate nurse practitioner concentrations at FAU. She believes in giving back to the community and her Alma Mater, and serves as a clinical preceptor for the College of Nursing.

Marie Tamara Adonis-Rizzo
MSN, 2004


Marie is currently practicing as a pulmonary nurse practitioner at Medical Staffing of the Palm Beaches. Over the past 12 years, she has worked in many areas - community health, education, acute care, long term care and rehab.  In 2010, she founded a continuing education company, “Premier Health ED.” Soon after graduation, Marie practiced with her with mentor, Dr Kathleen Jett at the FAU Wellness Center in Delray Beach. That experience sparked her passion in community health. In 2005, she and her colleagues received a grant, “The Haitian Elders Project.” That same year, she presented and published her thesis “The Haitian Health Beliefs of Haitian Elders related to Influenza”.  Marie is currently the Healthcare Coordinator for the Health Ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. She organizes and conducts fitness classes, educational programs on chronic diseases, immunizations, and an annual health fair. She enjoys the missionary trips she frequently takes to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and hopes to continue her journey to educate and promote healthy living and aging in the community, specifically with the underserved.  

Dani Noell
BSN 1991, MSN, 2006

Dani Noell

Growing up in Boca Raton, Dani Noell completed her BSN at Florida Atlantic University and returned in 2006 to complete her masters in nursing in 2006. Dani states that the high points of her FAU graduate studies included two trips to Thailand with Dr. Marilyn Parker and Dr. Locsin. Dani has been involved at the local, state and national level as a training consultant for maternal-child mortality review processes. In 2013 she was requested to travel to the Republic of Palau in Micronesia to help with training to establish a community based morbidity and mortality review as part of a public health quality care assurance initiative. Dani also works as a nurse at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital's Toppel Family Place Newborn Intensive Care Unit. She enjoys meeting FAU’s nursing students in the clinical setting. She is grateful for the caring based philosophy she received from her FAU nursing studies and is proud to see the theory of caring continue on in new nursing generations. Dani has been actively involved with the FAU Nursing Alumni Board since its inception in as Co Chair of Programs. She enjoys interacting with fellow alumni and envisions building the Nursing Alumni Society membership through activities with incoming and graduating nursing students.