Annual Alumni Awards
The Stanbridge University Annual Alumni Awards highlight graduates who have made a lasting impact on their profession and community. As exemplary leaders, these graduates have gained unique distinction through their accomplishments in their careers and have brought a positive change to their community through civic engagement.
Each year graduates are nominated and selected for the following awards:
The Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year Award
The Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year Award recognizes an alumnus who has gained distinction through his or her professional accomplishments, and who has brought a positive change to the community through leadership and service.
The Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year Award
The Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievements, contributions, and leadership in the field of healthcare.
The Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award
The Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award recognizes a graduate who excels in giving back to our community by making a significant impact on the lives of those in need.
The Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award
The Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award recognizes a graduate who has shown extraordinary dedication to his or her educational pursuits in the face of adversity.
To learn how to nominate yourself or a fellow alumni for an award, please email email@example.com.
Read about our past award recipients and join us in celebrating their achievements.
2017 Award Winners
2017 Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year Memorial Award
Award Recipient: 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.
2017 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Memorial Award
Award Recipient: 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 the March of Dimes and St. Jude’s Children Hospital. He was also a fall 2016 Community Engagement Student Fellowship recipient.
2017 Nelson Mandela Inspiration Memorial Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Sasha Wise
The 2017 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. Ms. Wise completed her courses and graduated with Cum Laude honors this year.
2017 Dr. Joycelyn Elders Perseverance Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Katherine Karas
The 2017 recipient is 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 children with autism 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 upon 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.
2016 Award Winners
2016 Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Mrs. Angela Ponticelli
The 2016 recipient was Mrs. Angela Ponticelli, LVN, 2015 Vocational Nursing graduate and Stanbridge University Alumni Association President. Mrs. Ponticelli was acknowledged for her professional leadership as the LVN Team Leader at the MemorialCare Medical Group and as the Charge Nurse at the Downey Retirement Center. She has additionally served in administration and leadership roles at Laguna Beach Recovery and Concierge Nursing Direct, and has committed 12 years as a Newport Beach lifeguard.
2016 Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Mr. Joseph Ahearn
The 2016 recipient was Mr. Joseph Ahearn, PTA, 2014 Physical Therapist Assistant graduate. Mr. Ahearn was recognized for his active work as a PTA with the Goodwill of Orange County Fitness and Technology Center, where he, alongside program administration, created a high impact service learning program for Stanbridge students to provide patients with spinal cord injuries with wheelchair fit assessments. He participates as a peer tutor for PTA students, is a member of the Stanbridge University Allied Health Advisory Board, and serves as an Executive Board member of the Alumni Association.
2016 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Kathryn Scheuring
The 2016 recipient was Ms. Kathryn Scheuring, 2016 Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (OT) graduate. Ms. Scheuring has demonstrated compassion for her community through time spent volunteering with Life College, an organization that helps provide young adults with autism, fragile X syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and Asperger’s syndrome with training in life skills and career preparation. Ms. Scheuring developed an empowering curriculum to teach Life College students transitional skills for gainful employment. In addition to working with Life College, she also takes the time to volunteer as a soccer coach for the Special Olympics.
2016 Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award
Award Recipient: Mr. Oscar Leynard Ferrer
The 2016 recipient was Mr. Oscar Leynard Ferrer, 2016 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate. Mr. Ferrer was honored for his commitment to his educational goals in the wake of personal adversity. Having moved to the United States from the Philippines and began work as a nurse, Mr. Ferrer became inspired to help those in need to maximize their independence as an OTA. After enrolling in the degree program at Stanbridge University, hewas diagnosed with progressive cancer. Determined to provide his two daughters with a better future, he continued on to complete his education with distinction while undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments.
2015 Award Winners
2015 Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Ms. Jane Germaine
The 2015 recipient was Ms. Jane Germaine, LVN, 2011 Vocational Nursing graduate. Ms. Germaine is the Executive Director of Atria Las Posas, a 123 bed assisted living and memory care facility in Camarillo, CA. She has taken great pride in building close relationships with those living under her roof, and to the standards of care at her 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.
2015 Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Mr. Ismael Lopez
The 2015 recipient was Mr. Ismael Lopez, LVN, 2009 Vocational Nursing graduate. Mr. Lopez has been the Head and Neck Surgery Department Team Leader LVN for Kaiser Permanente for five years. He is a recipient of their prestigious Radiant Star and Everyday Hero awards, which are given in designation for exceptional employee performance, going above and beyond at both work and in the community. Mr. Lopez was recognized for a moment of selflessness when he came forward and saved the life of a man who had slumped over in his wheelchair.
2015 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Julia Song
The 2015 recipient was Ms. Julia Song, 2015 Occupational Therapy Assistant graduate. Ms. Song has been a leader on several mission trips to the Navajo Native American Reservation in Arizona, helping with construction work and organizing events of food, arts, and crafts for the youth and their families. She also visited several nursing facilities, providing elderly residents with greatly needed compassionate companionship and interaction.
2015 Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Dashanique Harmon
The 2015 recipient was Ms. Dashanique Harmon, LVN, 2014 Vocational Nursing graduate. A challenging childhood inspired Ms. Harmon to become a nurse, achieving her dreams through hard work, faith, and determination. Ms. Harmon was born to teenage parents, living in a group home while her father was deployed to Korea. While pursuing her education at Stanbridge, Ms. Harmon worked tirelessly to balance her studies with motherhood (to her four-year-old son), and the demands of full-time employment as a Medical Assistant. It is this determination that has made Ms. Harmon excel in her current position as a nurse with Kaiser Permanente.
2014 Award Winners
2014 Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Ms. Brittanie Ngo
The 2014 recipient was Ms. Brittanie Ngo. Ms. Ngo entered the IT industry over 20 years ago with a Microsoft Engineer certification. She began her career as a database administrator at a non-profit organization prior to joining Fortune 100 companies such as Microsoft and Ingram Micro. Ms. Ngo graduated from Stanbridge University’s Information Technology program in 1998. Today, Ms. Ngo is a Vendor Business Manager at Ingram Micro responsible for the relationship, strategy and success of Ingram Micro’s vendor partners within the Cloud Services division.
2014 Clara Barton Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Ms. Kathie Duck
The 2014 recipient was Ms. Kathie Duck. Ms. Duck holds a degree from California State University at Fullerton in Communications and Public Relations. After the collapse of the mortgage industry, Ms. Duck decided it was time for a career change. She cites her sister, Michelle Daleo, as her biggest inspiration in becoming a nurse. In February of 2009, Ms. Duck graduated cum laude from Stanbridge University, ready to become a leader in her field. Today, Ms. Duck is a manager for Davita Bixby Knolls Dialysis Clinic in North Long Beach.
2014 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Ana Chavez
The 2014 recipient was Ms. Ana L. Chavez. Whether it was coordinating a school-wide initiative to collect warm clothes for people in Santa Ana and Orange, delivering food and words of encouragement to the homeless in Los Angeles, and distributing fresh produce to the hungry at the Free Pantry in Costa Mesa, Ms. Chavez always found ways to give to those in need. As a student of the Vocational Nursing program, Ms. Chavez volunteered at free medical clinics to build on her training outside of the classroom.
2014 Nelson Mandela Inspiration Award
Award Recipient: Ms. DeAnda Wilson
The 2014 recipient was Ms. DeAnda Wilson. Ms. Wilson enrolled in the Hemodialysis Technician program at Stanbridge University as a stay-at-home, single-mom to her six children. In addition toraising her children, she desired a career that would allow her to be a positive figure in the lives of complete strangers. Ms. Wilson was forced to overcome transportation difficulties by utilizing the public transportation system and ride sharing to get to school. She cites her inspiration for persevering through her program as desiring to be a strong example for her children and her family.
2013 Award Winners
2013 Rear Admiral Howard A. Roop Alumnus of the Year
Award Recipient: Mr. Jeff Upcraft
The 2013 recipient was Mr. Jeff Upcraft. As a professional soldier and Counter Terrorism Specialist in the Middle East, computers were just a hobby for Mr. Upcraft until he decided to enroll in Stanbridge’s Information Technology program. He was hired by NASA and for 8 years, ran their Dryden Flight Research Centers I/T contractors. Working for NASA allowed him to utilize both his IT skills and military backgrounds to help an already extremely sophisticated infrastructure move to the next level. Currently, Jeff balances his time doing research and development for military hardware and software, working as the Director of Information Services at Southwest Health Care Systems, and working full-time as an IT Business Development Consultant for a large government contracting company.
2013 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award
Award Recipient: Mr. Jiro Francisco
The 2013 recipient was Mr. Jiro Francisco. While in his program, Mr. Francisco coordinated teams of Occupational Therapy Assistant students to organize multiple OT Awareness Fundraisers, raising and donating $1,700 to the Special Olympics Southern California. He was instrumental in joining together leaders from the American Occasional Therapy Association and the Occupational Therapy Association of California with Stanbridge students and staff. He pioneered the first OTA student club at Stanbridge to allow students to learn from each other while studying for their classes and networking in the OT industry.
2012 Award Winners
2012 Thomas A. Fuentes Community Service Award
Award Recipient: Ms. Aleisa Bierman
The 2012 recipient was Ms. Aleisa Bierman. For two years, Vocational Nursing graduate Ms. Bierman volunteered at St. Mary Medical Center as a volunteer cuddler in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), feeding and holding premature and sick infants. During her time at St. Mary’s, Ms. Bierman found inspiration for her future profession and is currently continuing to learn from the nurses and staff at the facility. Volunteering also helped her in her studies and gave her real-world experience as she saw first hand how the professional nurses handled stressful situations, nursing duties and organization of tasks.