70 Stories of Impact
Celebrate 70 leaders from our community who are developing and promoting the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.
1960s: Building a Strong Foundation
Since its beginnings, USF provided a comprehensive nursing program stressing the importance of compassion for the whole person: body, mind, and spirit and the importance of collaborative leadership in practice.
Charlotte Marvin Brandt
BSN '65, PHN, MSA-HCM, FNASN Alumni Board of Governors (Past), president of California School Nurses Organization 1997-1999, and contributed a number of articles on Strategic Planning to the National Association of School Nursing magazine. Served on 18 nonprofit boards locally and statewide, including Links for Life, the nonprofit breast cancer support organization.
"USF's education ensured I learned that our training could make a difference in the world. I took Sr. Sylvia seriously when she told us we should take the Jesuit Mission of Service into our communities."
Sylvia (Campbell) Corson
"Since I left the Bay Area after graduation, I felt comfortable in any location where we moved (Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Austin, TX). Most of my career was in critical care and as a nursing supervisor. Then I worked in Employee Health until my second retirement in December 2022. Since 2002, I have taught the Creighton Model of Fertility Care (NFP) and have helped many couples struggling with infertility. While my field had never really been women's reproductive health, this has been the most rewarding thing I have done in my nursing career. And I am still very active in this venture!"
I have been forever grateful for my education and have always been very proud of USF. We left USF knowing where to find the answers, confident in our skills, eager to learn more, and ready to make a difference."
Marcia (Marcie) Noltner Leach
"I worked at Kaiser (premie nursery), SF Public Health (where I discovered school nursing), Shriners and SF State Diagnostic School (where I loved working with challenging children), Ross and Kentfield Rehab (where I learned reality), then Drake High School (where I realized that teaching groups could prevent problems later), and finally Marin COE (where it all came together and I mentored many student nurses).
I appreciated USF's emphasis on values and on using our talents. I now recognize how the practical parts of nursing meant so much more when merged with Jesuit values.
I hope I have inspired the many student nurses I mentored and been an example of caring to families and colleagues. I helped many get the care they needed at difficult times and was always 'approachable.'"
Donna Morrison Routh
As both a nursing faculty member and a critical care nurse, I became uncomfortable with the extensive medical treatment given to our patients at the end of their life, when we had little understanding of what they really wanted. So, I got a certificate in Health Care Ethics from the University of Washington, became a hospital ethics consultant and integrated what I learned from both when teaching my students. I continue this trajectory in retirement as the representative from the Oregon Nurses Association to the Oregon State POLST (Portable Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) Coalition.
Currently Donna is the President of the Board of Trustees for the Oregon Nurses Foundation, the representative from the Oregon Nurses Association to the Oregon State POLST Coalition, and Faculty Emerita from Linfield University School of Nursing.
USF taught me that it was not only important to know how to take care of our patients, but to appreciate the impact of their health or lack of it for each person."
Kathleen (Kathy) Ratigan Farrell
Health care is a right, not a privilege.
We were the first class of 60 and the last to wear the green stripes with starched pinafore clinical uniforms!
I'll never forget giving the Salk polio vaccine on sugar cubes at the Gill Theater, the passing of both Medicare and Medicaid laws, caring for the first patient with a kidney transplant from a non-identical twin, and the first patient with a hip replacement on the West Coast!
USF, the Jesuits, and the Sisters of Mercy prepared me to function independently, think critically, and provide compassionate care for individuals and populations.
I continue to volunteer in my parish and in work with families affected by mental illness. There is no health without mental health.
Rita Widergren Transitions to Home Health
"Following my ongoing concern about patient post-hospital care management and continuity, I transitioned from hospital nursing to home health, eventually partnering with two other public health nurses in the initiation of a licensed home care agency called Heart of Humanity Health Services, Inc. from 1997-present."
Linda joined the Army Student Nurse program at the end of her sophomore year in the University of San Francisco BSN program. Many students joined the military because the war in Vietnam was ramping up.
Linda graduated in May of 1966, took the board’s exam in June, and then worked at St. Mary's Hospital for the summer until she received her nursing license. She left San Francisco by the end of August ‘66, flew to San Antonio, Texas, and underwent six weeks of army training at the Medical Field Service School. After training, Linda’s first duty station was at a female medical unit at Walter Reed in Washington, DC. A couple of months later, her supervisor recognized she needed something more challenging, so she helped Linda transfer into a male neurosurgery unit. Linda shared that this was an excellent experience for her and her professional development.
I credit USF with teaching me very, very well. It was a superb education, shared Linda.
Sandra DeBella Bodley Brings More Diversity to Nursing
"I designed the curriculum and worked with Associates Degree in Nursing programs to bring greater diversity. Since my 2nd or 3rd retirement I have been a health care activist in my local community. I served as president of the local Health Action chapter in 2020 and now am chair of the Advisory Council."
1970s: Growing the Profession
Responding to the changing trends in health care, the School of Nursing moved forward with their commitment to its students and to the welfare of the public, by strengthening its curriculum, increasing its enrollment, and developing strategies to attract a more diversified student body.
Linda Ann Watson neé Massolo Blends Nursing with Interior Design
"I left bedside nursing to further my education in Interior Design. I became a Health Care Design Consultant and worked with architects and designers in creating research-based therapeutic environments. I participated in a Health Care Design Institute comprised of architects, designers, doctors, and nurses in an interdisciplinary approach to patient care environments. Wherever I travel I ask about the local healthcare and nursing. I have met village nurses, an Amazon shaman, and a public health nurse in Thailand. I joined a public health nursing project in Sicily testing diabetic immigrant women who must fast for Ramdan to see how their religious beliefs affect their disease. Nursing has never ceased to be fascinating."
I have met village nurses, an Amazon shaman, and a public health nurse in Thailand."
Linda Ann Watson neé Massolo BSN ’70
Suzanne Grant and Kathrine Avison: Nursing Alumnae Lead Medical Mission to Assist Hondurans
Some families traveled for days to meet USF nursing alumna and her medical team. The patients were children, mostly with maladies like clubbed feet, poorly healed fractures, and, in the case of one young man, a severe machete wound from being attacked.
"Problem-solving and critical thinking are skills USF taught me. You have to figure out how to solve problems with what you have in front of you."
"I plan to keep doing these missions," Grant said. "Mainly because there is such a tremendous need, and I have a skill that can help. To sum it up, 'the purpose of life is a life of purpose.' That is my particular team's motto."
Maureen O'Hara: USF Alumni Service Award
"USF put out a different kind of nurse...deeply rooted in the values of the Jesuits, the Sisters of Mercy, and an outstanding faculty. I started as a new grad in 1972 as an oncology staff nurse at Stanford University Hospital's in-patient hematology-oncology unit and retired 42 years later.
Precepting, educating, and mentoring students and colleagues, I have had an impact on the next generation of RN's who are our future.
And although I knew every day I worked that I had made a difference in the lives of those special oncology patients and families that I cared for....and received more than I gave....that these awards validated that, in my own small way, I changed the healing of the world from where I was!"
Dale Denice Wood: Dedicated to Future Nurses
"I dedicate this to future nursing students."
In high school, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in nursing, and admissions recruiters came to school to encourage us to apply, so I did and got into the nursing program at USF! I was proud and happy, but soon a career advisor said, “You will not make it. You should not pursue nursing.” I felt discouraged. I shared my experience with my mom, who helped me turn things around. I gained the motivation I needed to prove myself. I became a great nurse, and I made sure the advisor saw me graduate!
Read the full story Dale Denice Wood: Dedicated to Future Nurses.
Katherine Abriam-Yago Inspires Future Nurses
"I am a professor emerita at The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San Jose State University, where I taught for 35 years. I am first generation and the first Filipina tenured Professor and Director in the School of Nursing. I have served as a consultant to nursing schools for implementing student retention programs and faculty workshops for teaching diverse students. I also belong to the Philippine Nurses Association of Northern California and continue to mentor faculty, alumni, and students."
Mary Willis 2023 Alessandri Service Award
USF is where Mary made lifelong friends and found a lifelong career. Clinical rotations at St. Mary’s Hospital, Letterman Army Hospital, Children’s in Oakland Hospital, Sutter Hospital (then Mary’s Help Hospital), and Kaiser Geary Hospital were among her many clinical experiences. Sr. Geraldine, Dean of the USF School of Nursing, and Dr. Green, Assistant Dean, were resourceful, helpful, firm, and kind. The faculty were great clinicians, teachers and mentors and inspired Mary to become a nursing professor. It was their example that led Mary to earn a master’s as a Clinical Specialist in Care of Adult Nursing from Boston College ’83 while working weekends in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Massachusetts General. After Boston College, Mary taught on the faculty at the University of Portland School of Nursing. While on faculty, Mary also practiced nursing on Friday evenings in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St. Vincent’s Hospital; in addition, Mary volunteered at the Portland Marathon Medical Tent and once a week at the YMCA Cardiac Therapy Phase III Class.
A favorite memory from her time on the Alumni Board was when USF received a 10-year unrestricted accreditation. The reviewer wrote wonderful comments about the university curriculum, leadership, and student involvement, but what made Mary proudest were the comments on commitment to diversity at USF. The evaluator wrote “USF really walks the talk.” Perfect for a school in a very diverse city. To learn more, please go to the Mary Willis 2023 Alessandri Service Award webpage.
1980s: Expanding Professional Roles
In the School of Nursing, new programs were being developed to meet the growing need for nurses. New teaching strategies and the increased use of computers within the university enabled the school to keep abreast of the changes in health care that were taking place.
Dede Ramsey Makes Lifelong Friends
"I have always worked in health care and believe in helping others and finding ways to improve how care is delivered to patients by ensuring they receive high quality and safe care. I also volunteer at food drives to help those in need meet a basic need to sustain their health."
The friends that I met at USF are now treasured friends. We have shared marriages, births, graduations, deaths, and many celebrations, in addition to being there for each other throughout life events. I feel blessed to have these people in my life these past forty years!"
Dede Ramsey BSN ’82
Katheryn Darlington Provides Behavioral Health Services in the Tenderloin
"The most important part of my education at USF has been realizing the change we can each bring to the world around us in our personal and professional lives by applying our education and skills with integrity and compassion to those we serve each day. I was one of the nurses able to influence many to consider and begin to accept the importance and value of not only providing excellent physical care for our patients but to recognize and accept the research being done to validate the impact of emotional, mental, and spiritual support."
They found placement for me at a Senior Citizen center in the Tenderloin to provide Geriatric Psych support in the community. It was an eye opening, challenging, and memorable experience! It helped me to grow as an individual, nurse, and citizen in our world."
Katheryn H Darlington BSN ’84 and Mentor
"I graduated in 1987 and have held USF in my heart ever since. USF education taught me how to think outside the box and go above and beyond the traditional aspects of my career. Higher education was greatly emphasized. While getting my BSN, professors talked about 'when you get your Master's.' I thought I just want to get through my BSN, but then I did go on and get a Master's degree!"
Professional journey: UCSF in Neurosurgery, then Mills Hospital in Acute Rehabilitation, followed by Home Health at Alexian Brother's Hospital (now Regional Medical), and have now been at Dominican Hospital since 1997, working in Employee Health, Home Health and now in Cardiac Rehabilitation. I truly enjoy coaching patients to get back to their baseline health.
1990s: Responding Proactively to the Changes
Kim J. Scott ’97, Esker-D Ligon ’97, and Shelitha R. Campbell ’97 met at USF's School of Health and Nursing Professions over 25 years ago. They spent their undergraduate years studying to become nurses while creating a foundation of trust and care that would become the backbone of their friendship.
Luanne Linnard-Palmer MSN '91
I have been a nurse for 38 years! I am also a tenured professor of nursing at Dominican University of California and a pediatric clinical nurse in pediatric oncology hematology for Stanford Children's Health. I deeply appreciate how challenging health care is now for families and how difficult it is to become a professional nurse.
USF helped me launch my teaching, research, and writing career. I love to write and have published 11 texts and nine articles. My areas of interest are error reduction, families that take children against medical advice, and best practices for safety in all healthcare settings.
I'm making an impact by being a devoted nurse to vulnerable families with children being treated for cancer. I am a symptom specialist and take pride in my contributions to pain management.
2000s: Renewing Hope
Stay tuned! New profiles will be added soon.
2010s: Improving Lives
Matthew Welters Thrives in Pediatrics
"I have been honored to have helped so many sick children over the last 11 years of my career as a nurse. Working in institutions that push the boundaries of caring for the sickest children and serving the neediest socioeconomic patients and families is humbling. I always say nursing is a profession in which you use equal parts of your brain and heart, and in pediatrics, that sentiment couldn't be more true."
Cathy Coleman, Extraordinary Healer® Award for Oncology Nursing
A quote from a patient: “Cathy Coleman possesses a multitude of exceptional nursing skills and talents. But what made a difference in my breast cancer journey was Cathy’s innate ability to pass on a feeling of empowerment to her patients. With Cathy’s gentle encouragement, I quickly saw that educating myself on breast cancer treatments would be essential in guiding decisions that would have a strong bearing on my future health. Cathy provided her expertise in helping me to understand my pathology and biopsy results. Additionally, she did so in the most compassionate and clear manner. But where her heart shines brightly is that she is a nurse who will go the extra mile to ensure that her patients feel supported. She truly understands the meaning of patient-centered care.”
"I am the founder of Behavioral Fitness, a mental health start-up that brings curated tools and resources from the behavioral sciences to the mainstream. All people should have access to improving their mental health and well-being."
Veronica Palustra MSN '13, DNP '16
"Reflecting on my personal journey with COVID eyes: 'Please come back if your N-95 gets wet or damaged; I’ll replace it for you because I want to see you again.' Those were the words I said to my colleagues and friends in the command center as I issued out the PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of my roles was incident commander, and my educational journey had prepared me well for this moment to anticipate the needs of the whole and to care for every person visualizing the face of God in everyone. This image was played out while we had CNN in the background reporting death tolls, including healthcare workers, which made every encounter personal because healthcare workers were dying on the front lines."
Rose Mannas Provides Care During COVID-19 Pandemic
"The “Nursing in the Jesuit Tradition” class highlights that anyone of any background is a full partner in their care. It has most recently applied in caring for those who have different views on vaccination status than myself. During a pandemic, it can feel frustrating to meet patients who might have misguided opinions or denial of the existence of disease. They are still members of my community, and when they present for care, they deserve the same respect and focus as all other patients. I’ve given my absolute best and am humbled to have the honor of touching so many lives on a daily basis."
"A Curiae looks to improve outcomes in the criminal justice system by working at the intersection of the court, public health, and community resources. My vision is to expand to areas around the country where A Curiae not only works directly helping the population but has a systematic impact to make change."
2020s: Preparing Health Care Professionals who Pursue Health Justice
Annmarie Munana is Guided by Jesuit Values
"By working in nursing education, I ensure we educate and graduate safe, competent, and caring nurses, who will also become nurse leaders in their own communities. As a member of the ANA Ethics Advisory Board, I guide, educate, and mentor nurses about ethics and practice across the stages of their careers."
It was very meaningful to me to continue my nursing and leadership journey guided by Jesuit values and core nursing values."
Annmarie Munana EL-DNP ’21 and SONHP Alumni Advisory Board
Charlene Johnson MSN ‘21, BSN ‘92
The most important part of my USF education was getting the opportunity. I initially went in to rejoin the Army as an officer program, but I had a change of heart. However, I was still allowed to stay and complete my BSN, which had been a dream since I was the first in the family to attend college. I appreciate that USF was the stepping stone to help me launch to where I am now.
I consider myself a change agent and trailblazer in so many ways. Currently, I am a Perinatal Nurse Leader, helping to transform ourselves first so we can transform our systems. I became a Caritas Coach after a brief burnout period, and the whole trajectory of my career began to ignite a passion that touched so many other lives. I am also a HeartMath Trainer and Healing Circle Facilitator.
In 2020, I was called to share my story and journey as I moved up the ladder of success, which became a powerful tool of transformation during the social unrest that we were experiencing in 2020. That year, a seed was also planted in me to start a podcast, "When the Moment Chooses You," which I started in July 2022 to inspire trailblazers and change agents, mostly nurses, to share their stories.
Heather Ford Gives Back to Nursing Students
"During my time in USF, I was in the Nursing Student Association and was co-founder of the Graduate Nursing Association. After graduating, I started working at Stanford Hospital on a Cardiovascular IICU. There I served as a preceptor and charge nurse. I now currently work at Stanford Children's Hospital in the PICU. I am giving back to current nursing students by serving as a clinical faculty at USF while also serving as a resource for job and interview preparation for new graduate nurses."
"Besides falling in love with recovery and addiction medicine, another area of delight that I stumbled into while at USF was teaching. I taught an evidence-based practice class and ended up with a fantastic cohort of students. I have absolute faith that every single one of these students will be an excellent nurse in just a few short semesters."
"In fourth grade, my life turned upside down with the news that my older brother, Matthew, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matthew and I were very close, so I would go to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and be there as a supportive sister and help out with his treatment."
"As a senior Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing student, I am fortunate to have shared many moments with people over the years. I have come to realize that it requires a degree of awareness and skill to navigate these unique moments. My own ability to create trust, make time, and establish myself as a healing presence to patients is one I credit to my professors."
"Silicon Valley has so much to offer for digital health informatics students like me. In my last project, I have been adding the US News County Health rankings to consider not only the disease perspective but also include things like education, housing, and socio-economic factors that influence the outcomes. I’m glad I am in a company that values health equity."
"Both Universities, USF and Santa Clara — where I did my undergraduate business program — have inspired me to be a person for others. Now, going even further, I want to be a person with others in their journey," shared Everardo.
"Having experienced a low-income neighborhood, I know what the lack of resources means. I saw the difference in produce, schools, access, and activities. I’ve lived in a food desert area and have chosen the affordable meals that affect people’s health. We had to travel to other locations for healthy food. Public health toward minority communities is in my plans. I’m passionate about the food industry and its connection to health."
"I’m focusing on addressing substance use disorders among college students, specifically community college students. Drawing from my experience growing up, I’m inspired and fueled to make a difference in young people’s lives."
"I’ve developed a feature for my unit in Epic called Unit Map. Having a Unit Map eliminates confusion about patients' location. Unit Map went live at the Outpatient Surgery Center and is continuously being implemented in other surgery units within UCSF."
Meet Jennifer Cayanan, ME-MSN student ambassador, Graduate Nursing Association (GNA) PR, and member of SSPN.
"My CNL courses have prepared me to improve our patient outcomes. I have learned to incorporate the social determinants of health, racism in the healthcare system, and how to best serve minority populations who sometimes fall between the cracks in receiving quality care."