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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! 

Sabrina Clayton
RN '22

Sabrina ClaytonSabrina Clayton works as a nurse in the emergency department at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “It is an honor to assist with the healing care of our nation’s veteran heroes,” she stated. Clayton, also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was a recipient of the College’s Caring-based Academic Partnerships in Excellence: Veteran RNs in Primary Care (CAPE-V) scholarship. During her time at Florida Atlantic, Clayton was active in both the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and the National Student Nurses Association. She intends to continue making an impact in her patients’ lives by maintaining their dignity, respect, and actively listening to their concerns. 


Misako Nagata
PhD '20

Misaka NagataMisako Nagata's PhD journey embodied what she really felt excited about: nature 1' immersion. Her life and work immersed contrasting nature: high-tech intensive-care vs. high-touch self-care; allopathic nursing vs. holistic nursing; the Western culture vs. the Eastern culture; and high-rise buildings vs. high-relief trees. 1l1e COVID-19 pandemic shifted her worldview. She believes the application of nature immersion could be beneficial for those who engage in one's own health, healing, and well-being. The phenomena of nature immersion continuously inspires her to sow the seeds of the new global stage of research and practice: integrative nursing.­

Jinga Oglesby-Brihm
DNP '19
Jinga OglesbyAfter receiving her DNP, Jinga Oglesby-Brihm, aimed to establish a clinic in an underserved area, which soon became a reality when Empower Healthcare, Inc opened in Pahokee, FL. This non-profit clinic specializes in primary care and women's health. "My passion is to empower patients to live healthier lives," Jinga states. She accomplishes this through a multi-step process that includes acknowledging her patient's personal health journey, cultivating a safe environment and meeting her patients where they are to co-create a personalized health plan.  

Bryanna Streit LaRose
DNP '19
Bryanna LaRose
"The most rewarding aspect of my work is seeing the positive impact of caring approaches on a patient's health and wellbeing."  Bryanna LaRose works in a family practice in Cary, North Carolina, where she sees patients with a wide range of chronic and acute medical conditions. She incorporates caring science in her patient care by using holistic assessments and determining what matters most by listening to their concerns. Each patient is treated respectfully and included in designing their plan of care. She educates patients on ways to incorporate more health-promoting behaviors into their lifestyle, which also empowers them. Her research project as a DNP student, which focused on improving health of older adults through the use of therapeutic interactive pets, is being published. 

Stacey Ravid
PhD '19

Stacey Ravid

Stacey Ravid is teaching pharmacology at FAU's College of Nursing and mentoring nursing students. Additionally, she works with a world-renown surgeon on holistic modalities for post-surgical pain relief. She has 4 articles that are in various stages for publication and acceptance modifications prior to publication. She also has a consulting business for helping individuals with pain and improving their immune systems. As a result of COVID-19, she is involved in research focused on Ozone therapy. 

Kevin P. Hanaway
DNP '19; MSN '12 

kevin hPrior 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.

Christin Patricia Lissmann
MSN '18
Christin Lissman ''I live and love nursing. It's not 'what I do.' Rather, it is 'who I am.' Talk to any nurse. He or she will say, 'I am a nurse,' not 'I work as a nurse'. I think therein lies the fundamental heart of nursing." 
Christin Patricia Lissmann is a registered nurse at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the Medical ICU (MICU) turned COVID-ICU. lt is a Level 1 trauma/ teaching/magnet-recognized facility. She says, "it's where the miracles happen:' Recently, she started teaching as a clinical instructor for Marquette University's College of Nursing. Christin is also a full-time nursing student pursuing her DNP as an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner from Marquette University.

Sandra S. Daccarett
DNP '18; MSN-GNP '11; BSN '03

Sandra Dacarett Sandra Daccarett has worked in private practice and as a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner at FAU's Louis & Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center for more than nine years. Her capstone project on enhancing dementia education and screening in the Haitian population was published in 2021 in the Journal of Community Health Nursing. She is passionate about improving healthcare in the Haitian and Hispanic communities, reducing disparities through education in faith­based organizations, and providing innovative programs in the areas of dementia and COVID-19 disease prevention and vaccination. She regularly travels to Haiti on medical missions and teaches neurology in the BSN program in Leogane, Haiti. She said, "Jam proud to be an FAU graduate, grounded in caring." 

Clare Johnston 
DNP '17; MSN '17; BSN '13
Clare JohnstonClare Johnston has received multiple degrees from the College of Nursing. "My experience at FAU were great," this former Sigma Theta Tau member states. She currently works as a Nurse Practitioner (APRN) for a private practice doing adult/geriatric care, treating both acute and chronic conditions. Johnston is also an active member of the American Nurses Association and the South Florida Council of Advanced Practice Nurses. She hopes to to make a transformative change in her career by educating patients about health prevention as well as education on disease process and progression. 

Zahra Rehemi
PhD ' 17
Zhara Rehemi
Zahra Rahemi earned her BSN and MSN degrees in Iran before completing her PhD program at FAU's College of Nursing. After graduation, she began her career as an Assistant Professor at Clemson University School of Nursing. During her doctoral program and career, she has been very active in scholarship and research. She has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals and research projects related to culturally diverse older adults and end-of-life care planning. Her other research interests and publications are related to chronic diseases and interventions to increase quality of life and health of patients with chronic diseases

Ellen A. Morris
MSN-DNP '17; BSN '14

Ellen Morris

Ellen Morris is the Director of Clinical Implementation and Clinical Data Specialist for Jvion, Inc. She assists organizations in applying artificial intelligence insights to optimize care and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, she serves as a subject matter expert and bridges the gap for technical and meaningful clinical use. She served as adjunct faculty at FAU and Walden University. Her clinical experience as an RN and FNP includes healthcare delivery in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Ellen's areas of interest include improving efficacy and efficiency for better patient outcomes, commination across healthcare settings and leveraging AI to augment clinical
decision making. 

Jacinto "J" Garrido
PhD '17; DNP '12

Jacinto "J" Garrido Jacinto "J" Garrido has a distinguished 26-year career as a retired Captain and advanced practice nurse in the United States Public Health Service (PHS). Garrido is most known for his role in developing the Special Operations Medical Unit, which is known today as the IHSC Special Operations Unit (ISOU). As chief, he created a cadre of health care providers with specialized medical skillsets to support air, land and sea operations. He advises nursing student to "be authentic and know that the most important factor and magic is you!"


Courtny Hopen
BSN '16

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.

Valarie S. Grumme
PhD '16


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

Jineal Shinn
MSN '16

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. 

Michael D. Reilly
DNP '15; MSN '05; BSN '

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.

Kyra (Waligora) Mendez
BSN '14

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. Kyra went on to receive her Masters of Public Health (MPH) '22 and PhD in Nursing '21 from John Hopkins University. 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.

Rebecca S. Koszalinski
PhD '14; MSN '07


Rebecca 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.

Andrea Wright-Mattis
MSN '14; BSN ' 05


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

Arlene T. Wright
DNP ' 13
Arlene Wright
"This trajectory has placed me in positions with insightful mentors and trailblazers creating impactful leadership opportunities giving rise to an increased awareness of nurse practitioners." Arlene Wright feels extremely fortunate to have been able to experience varied roles within the profession of nursing throughout her career. As the Director of Advanced Practice for Millennium Physician Group, she has been instrumental in the formation of a new nurse practitioner (NP) mentorship program. As President of the Florida Nurse Practitioner Network , she facilitated a new NP bootcamp to facilitate transition to the role of NP. She is also an adjunct clinical faculty member for various programs. She promotes her local NP group with the slogan, "Nurse Practitioners Make a Difference" every day. 

Doreen Cassarino
DNP ' 13

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.

Laureen M. Fleck
PhD '11; DNS ' 07; MS '00


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.


Melissa Durbin
MSN '10; 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.


Michelle J. Gonzales
MSN '09

Michelle Gonzales Shelly Gonzales is the Assistant Vice President of Nursing at Boca Raton Regional Hospital (BRRH), where she is responsible for operations of the inpatient nursing units, perinatal services, nursing administration, magnet program, and the education and professional development department. Prior to BRRH, Gonzalez worked at Delray Medical Center, starting her career as a bedside RN and Charge Nurse in the trauma intensive care unit, then served as the Director of Trauma Services, and Director of Education and Professional Development. She is a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the Florida Organization of Nurse Executives, as well as the Southeast Florida Organization of Nurse Executives, where she serves as
Vice President

Nikia Phillips
MSN '09; BSN '07

Nikia Phillips

Nikia Phillips graduated with honors from FAU in 2009 with a master's degree in nursing, while actively working as a board-certified nurse practitioner within a prominent OB/GYN & family practice. In 2014, she continued to enhance her skills in women's health by pursuing a post-master's degree in midwifery from Frontier Nursing University. With enthusiasm and dedication as a healthcare professional, Nikia become one of only a few family nurse practitioners in Florida to operate her own practice, NP Family Practice and Midwifery Care. She is the first midwife, as well as the first African-American midwife, to deliver at JFK hospital in Palm Beach County under her independent practice. Nikia is also the CEO & founder of 17 & ME, Inc., a non-profit organization that assists and empowers women ages 14-45 years old.

Darline B. Riggs
MSN '09


Darline 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.

Theresa M. Chenot
MSN '08; BSN '07

Theresa Chenot

Teri Chenot is a Professor in nursing at Jacksonville University and Department Chair of a Healthcare Quality and Safety Program, which culminated in her induction as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice. She received the 2021 QSEN Linda Cronenwett Leadership Award, honoring emerging nurse leaders. 
"I have been able to progress in my research area in interprofessional collaboration in quality and patient safety to improve health outcomes due to the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursings caring science philosophy and innovative programs." 

Patricia "Pidge" Gooch
MSN '08

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 '07; MSN '04


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.  

Marie Tamara Adonis-Rizzo
MSN ' 04


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.  

Katherine Molinet Drum
MSN  '04

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.


Dani Noell
MSN '06; BSN 1991

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.

Judy Frum
BSN '00
AlumniJudy Frum was one of five people appointed to the Board of Nursing in December 2022, by Governor Ron DeSantis. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Broward Health Imperial Point, and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce, and is an Advisory Board Member for Sheridan Technical School. She has received numerous awards, including a special Congressional recognition for collaborating on a rescue effort to evacuate nursing home residents in crisis during Hurricane Irma in 2017. 



Joanne Masella
MSN, 1994; BSN 1990

Joanne MasellaNursing and nursing education has been Joanne Masella's passion for nearly 45 years. She loves working with future healthcare providers and seeing the change in their expression when a new concept comes alive for them. She has been most successful in generating new program tracks for RN students. At Palm Beach State College, Joanne began the part-time evening weekend program for working students and helped to develop the RN program in Belle Glade. While at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she assisted with the development of a BSN-DNP program with a track for the Family Nurse Practitioner. Now, at NSU, Joanne is setting her sites on community engagement for nursing students. Her motto is f Mother Theresa, who said: "Do small things with great love."