Always Aiming Higher
Every year, a handful of students stand out as they reach toward their fullest potential. We celebrate them here, and honor years of academic excellence, incredible achievement, and tireless service to their community.
Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award - 2019
Ms. Diana Schofield
The 2019 recipient was Diana Schofield, a 2019 Vocational Nursing (VN) graduate. Ms. Schofield found her calling in the medical field at a young age while living with and caring for her grandfather, an amputee. While in the VN program at Stanbridge, Ms. Schofield balanced her studies, supported her seven siblings, and worked her full-time job – all while pregnant with her first child. Despite these challenges, she was undeterred from her goal and graduated as valedictorian of her cohort. After graduating, Ms. Schofield hopes to pursue a career as a nursing instructor and help pass the torch of excellence in patient care to future nurses.
Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award - 2019
Mr. Christopher Nones
The 2019 recipient was Christopher Nones, a 2019 Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) graduate. Prior to starting the PTA program at Stanbridge, his father passed away and his mother was diagnosed with renal failure. After his father’s passing, Mr. Nones worked hard to support his mother while going to school and working. His parents and family were both his inspiration and motivation for pushing himself to be the best he could be in his studies. Mr. Nones is also recognized for inspiring his fellow classmates to reach their fullest potential.
Thomas A Fuentes Award for Community Service - 2018
Ms. Whitney Boetel
The 2018 recipient was Whitney Boetel, 2018 Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program graduate and founding president of the first Stanbridge honor society, the Pi Theta Epsilon Delta Psi Chapter for the occupational therapy program. Through her California Campus Compact student fellowship, Ms. Boetel was able to work with the WAVES Project, a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic scuba diving experiences to American combat veterans who have sustained injuries or developed PTSD. In partnership with WAVES and Stanbridge faculty, Ms. Boetel designed occupational therapy lessons to supplement the WAVES diving curriculum and was instrumental in bringing WAVES to Orange County.
Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award - 2018
Ms. Patricia Hansen
The 2018 recipient was Ms. Patricia Hansen, a 2018 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate and president of the Stanbridge University Student Occupational Therapy Association. She was the first student to receive the Stanbridge University Newman Civic Fellowship. With Campus Compact, Ms. Hansen partnered with the High Hopes Head Injury Program, working with survivors of head injuries and demonstrating her passion for helping people with disabilities. Before entering Stanbridge, Ms. Hansen served for four years in the U.S. Navy before enrolling in Stanbridge, where she managed to not only work on military-jet navigation systems but also advocate for victims of sexual abuse.
Rear Admiral Howard A Roop Alumnus of the Year Award - 2017
Ms. Erika Agustin, COTA/L
The 2017 recipient was Ms. Erika Agustin, COTA, a 2013 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate and Vice President of Alumni Association Events. Ms. Agustin is currently employed at Casa Colina Hospital, a rehabilitation center where she develops and directs treatment plans for patients who have had a cerebral vascular accident or traumatic brain injuries. She also raised over $2,000 for autism awareness and the HOPE Mentoring Project. Throughout her experiences, Ms. Agustin realized her true passion is for teaching and is pursuing further opportunities to help the underserved population in the Philippines.
Dr. Joycelyn Elders Perseverance Award - 2017
Ms. Katherine Karas
The 2017 recipient was Katherine Karas, 2017 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate. Ms. Karas began her career as an instructional assistant for the Riverside County Office of Education, during which she witnessed a transformative change in autistic children who received occupational therapy, prompting her to pursue a career as an occupational therapy assistant. For the next two years, she struggled with illness, family issues, financial woes and even commuted seven hours daily from Hemet to Stanbridge’s campus in Irvine and back, to earn her degree. Ms. Karas never gave up on herself or the children she was determined to serve. Ms. Karas was hired at an early intervention pediatric clinic the same day that she received her state license.
Thomas A Fuentes Award for Community Service - 2017
Mr. Jeffrey Yusam
The 2017 recipient was Jeffrey Yusam, 2017 Physical Therapist Assistant graduate. Mr. Yusam has served as the President of the Stanbridge Association of Physical Therapist Assistant Student organization and worked with the homeless at Lighthouse Outreach Ministries. Mr. Yusam also coordinated fundraising events and helped raise awareness in the field of physical therapy and raised money for March of Dimes and St. Jude’s Children Hospital. He was a fall 2016 Community Engagement Student Fellowship recipient.
Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award - 2017
Ms. Sasha Wise
This year’s recipient is Sasha Wise, 2017 Vocational Nurse graduate. In 2014, Ms. Wise and her five-month-old daughter were in a car accident, leaving Sasha with multiple injuries. Two months later, she began her Vocational Nursing program. As the terms progressed, Ms. Wise experienced painful physical issues, lack of child care for her daughter who suffers from epilepsy, and the death of several family members. However, against all the odds, Ms. Wise completed her courses and graduated with Cum Laude honors.
Rear Admiral Howard A Roop Alumnus of the Year Award - 2016
Ms. Angela Ponticelli
This year’s recipient is Ms. Angela Ponticelli, a Vocational Nursing graduate who has demonstrated excellence in her administrative and leadership roles at Laguna Beach Recovery and Concierge Nursing direct. Mrs. Ponticelli has served as the LVN Team Leader at the MemorialCare Medical Group and as the Charge Nurse at the Downey Retirement Center. In addition to her professional leadership, Mrs. Ponticelli served as the inaugural President of the Stanbridge University Alumni Association. Mrs. Ponticelli is being honored for her leadership, professional accomplishments, and positive impact on her community.
Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year Award - 2016
Mr. Joseph Ahearn
Physical Therapist Assistant graduate, Mr. Joseph Ahearn received the 2016 Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year Award. Mr. Joseph Ahearn works as a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) at the Goodwill Fitness Center of Orange County. Mr. Ahearn has regularly given back to the community for many years, mentoring junior high students and raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis awareness and research. He serves as a project coordinator for Stanbridge PTA students at the Goodwill Fitness Center, where he created a high impact service-learning program providing wheelchair fit assessments for those with spinal cord injuries.
Thomas A Fuentes Award for Community Service - 2016
Ms. Kathryn Scheuring
The 2016 recipient is Ms. Kathryn Scheuring, a 2016 Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) graduate and Vice President of the Stanbridge Student Occupational Therapy Association (SSOTA). Ms. Scheuring displayed outstanding leadership and compassion while serving with Life College, an organization that helps provide training in life skills and career preparation to young adults with autism, fragile X syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and Asperger’s syndrome. Ms. Scheuring developed an empowering curriculum to teach Life College students transitional skills for gainful employment.
Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award - 2016
Mr. Oscar Leynard Ferrer
The 2016 recipient was Mr. Oscar Leynard Ferrer, a 2016 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate. At the age of 20, Mr. Ferrer moved to the United States from the Philippines and worked as a nurse in New Jersey. When Mr. Ferrer first enrolled in Stanbridge University to pursue his goal of becoming an OTA, he was diagnosed with progressive cancer and began chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments while still attending classes. Struggling with medication side effects, Mr. Ferrer strove to balance medical appointments, his responsibilities as a father and husband and a college workload, persevering through various treatment regimens to successfully complete his degree on time. Mr. Ferrer is being honored for his commitment to education in the wake of personal adversity.
Rear Admiral Howard A Roop Alumnus of the Year Award - 2015
Ms. Jane Germaine
Ms. Jane Germaine, LVN, a 2011 Vocational Nursing graduate was honored with this award. Ms. Germaine is the Executive Director of Atria Las Posas, a 123-bed assisted living and memory care facility. Going above and beyond to bring happiness into the lives of her residents is typical for Ms. Germaine, who greatly enjoys bringing animals from her ranch to visit with the seniors. Ms. Germaine was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce to inspire the community in supporting the needs of its elder members. Ms. Germaine is honored for her tireless work on behalf of the senior community and her dedicated service to those in need.
Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year Award - 2015
Mr. Ismael Lopez
The 2015 recipient was Mr. Ismael Lopez, LVN, a 2009 Vocational Nursing graduate. Mr. Lopez has been the LVN Team Leader for the Head and Neck Surgery Department of Kaiser Permanente for the past five years. He is a recipient of the prestigious Kaiser Permanente Radiant Star and Everyday Hero award for saving the life of a man who had collapsed in his wheelchair while at lunch in the cafeteria. It is this level of devotion to his work, integrity, and accountability for those in his care that has made Mr. Lopez’s career extraordinary.
Thomas A Fuentes Award for Community Service - 2015
Ms. Julia Song
2015 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate, Ms. Julia Song was the recipient for the 2015 Thomas A. Fuentes Award. Ms. Song has been a leader on several mission trips to the Navajo Native American Reservation in Arizona, helping with construction work and organizing community arts and crafts events for youth and their families. To Ms. Song, community service is a reminder of why she chose Occupational Therapy as a career – to motivate those around her through love, faith, and service. Ms. Song exemplifies the qualities of servant leadership that Stanbridge University strives to instill in its graduates.
Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award - 2015
Ms. Dashanique Harmon
The 2015 recipient was Ms. Dashanique Harmon, LVN, a 2014 Vocational Nursing graduate. Ms. Harmon was born to teenage parents and lived in a group home while her father was deployed to Korea. Her mother, scared and under enormous pressure, turned to drugs to cope, resulting in Ms. Harmon and her brother being taken by Child Protective Services and placed in the foster care system. Ms. Harmon’s challenging childhood inspired her to become a nurse, and through hard work and determination, she achieved her goal. Ms. Harmon worked tirelessly to balance her studies at Stanbridge, motherhood of a four-year-old, and the demands of full-time employment as a Medical Assistant. As a natural leader, Ms. Harmon has excelled in her position as a nurse with Kaiser Permanente, and plans to continue her trajectory into Registered Nursing.