Student Spotlight Archive

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School of Health Sciences students are shaping their futures by participating in research and contributing to positive change in the community. Please browse the stories below to see how our students are shaping the future and to see the variety of opportunities available for interested students.

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Alyssa Erin De Guzman


The School of Health Sciences congratulates Alyssa Erin L. De Guzman, who graduated from Stockton's Master of Science in Communication Disorders program in May 2022. Alyssa has been selected to share her student research as one of the 2022 Student Research Presentations award recipients at the upcoming November Alpha Eta National Honor Society conference. She will receive the award and be presented a plaque for this tremendous achievement. Alyssa was also selected to serve as a graduate commencement speaker at the 2022 May commencement.

Alyssa De Guzman


Briann Skiba


Stockton University’s Accelerated Bachelor Science in Nursing Program congratulates Student Nurse Briann Skiba, BSHS for her continued work educating students and clinicians on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).  On this topic, Ms. Skiba published an abstract of her work in a scientific poster at the Stockton Day of Scholarship 2021, has a literature review manuscript under publication consideration, and has been appointed a primary co-investigator on an IRB approved study for a new treatment protocol for NAS infants with neonatologist Dr. Alexander Friedman, DO.   She is currently working with neonatal nurse educators to develop professional audience NAS lectures to be presented at the local, state, and/or national level. 

Briann Skiba


Robin McClain


The School of Health Sciences congratulates student and New Jersey Society for Public Health Education (NJSOPHE) member Robin McClain for winning the SOPHE/NCHEC Helen P. Cleary Scholarship. Robin is an undergraduate of seeking a degree in Public Health, with a concentration in Community Health Education. McClain said " I look forward to the the time when I am able to fully become a passionate Certified Health Education Specialist in our local County of Atlantic, New Jersey."


Robin McClain


Harlee York


The School of Health Sciences is pleased to announce that Exercise Science student Harlee York is the first student in Program history to present research (as an undergraduate student) at a national meeting. Her first authored abstract titled “Changes in Analgesia, Hyperphagia and Depression are Mediated by Endogenous Opioids Following Forced Swimming Exercise” was presented as a poster presentation today at the Annual Meeting. The project was under the direction of Exercise Science faculty, Dr. John Guers, with Dr. Kelly Dougherty and Dr. Bryce Muth (both Exercise Science faculty) as co-authors. Below is a picture of the presentation.

harlee York and Dr. Kelly Dougherty


Erin Cannon

Dr. John Guers and Exercise Science student, Ms. Erin Cannon were selected to receive the Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Award from Stockton University. The award is funded through the of office of the Provost. Students and their mentors compose a written proposal and budget on how the funding will be implemented. The proposal that was submitted was so Dr. Guers and Erin could investigate the role endogenous opioids play in cardiac function following exercise. Erin will be trained how to use a cardiac ultrasound machine to conduct the research. This project will provide information on how opioid blocking drugs, commonly used for addiction and weight loss, influence cardiac function when exercise involved.

Harlee York

Congratulations go to Harleey York, a junior Exercise Science student, who presented at the Mid Atlantic Regional Conference of the American College of Sports Medicine (MARC-ACSM). She presented her abstract entitled “Analgesia, Hyperphagia and Behavior Modifications are Mediated by Endogenous Opioids Following Forced Swimming Exercise” during an undergraduate oral presentation session. The data presented were a result of a Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) award Harlee received to help fund the project which is under the direction of Dr. John Guers.

Harlee York

Brandon Donegan

Congratulations go to Brandon Donegan, a senior Pre-Physical Therapy BSHS student, as he was recently invited to serve on the Advisory Board at David's Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation. The foundation is a local non-profit that provided financial support as well as other services to individuals going through treatment for cancer. Brandon chose to work with the foundation for his service learning project.  "I was part of the first class at Stockton University to be partnered with David's Dream and Believe. From the first day I knew this was a foundation I wanted to support. Between David's heartfelt story about his battle with cancer and his dream moving forward, and Dani's compassion and desire to see this organization thrive, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to see the foundation, and the partnership with Stockton, be successful.

I like most others have family who has, or is currently, battling a cancer diagnosis. I am proud to be part of a foundation that attempts to lessen the burden of the diagnosis, while providing a support system to show the patient they aren't alone."

After graduation from Stockton in May Brandon plans to pursue a one year master's degree, then enter medical school in September 2019. "Cancer research is one of my main fields of interest. Hearing the doctors talk at Hope Under the Sea really showed me the difference I could potentially make." 

Donegan Student Spotlight

Brandon Cheatham

Congratulations go to Brandon Cheatham, a senior Health Science major, as he was recently named as a National Transfer Student Ambassador to the 16th Annual Conference of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. He was selected through a national competition which recognizes outstanding students who have tremendous success as a transfer student. After transferring from Rutgers University, Cheatham became involved in co-curricular activities and assumed leadership positions in several organizations. He also serves as an intern in the Office of New Student and Family Programs.  Brandon is dedicated in helping new transfer students become acclimated to Stockton and through his excitement and enthusiasm has implemented TRANSFERmation, a pre-Orientation leadership retreat specifically designed for transfer students. "As a transfer student an student leader, I saw the need for more transfer programming at Stockton and with the help of Tom Grites and Jen Radwanski, I was able to move forward with my proposal for TRANSFERmation. We will now be able to launch the first year of TRANSFERmation this June," Cheatham said. Tom Grites, assistant provost of Academic Support Services, and Jen Radwanski, director of New Student and Family Programs, and Brandon presented “Collaborative Efforts to Engage Transfer Students in Their Own Success” at the 16th Annual Conference of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. 

Brandon Cheatham Spotlight

Cassandra Hrusko


Cassandra Hrusko, enrolled in the DPT program , qualified as an All-American by finishing sixth in the 1500-meter run at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championship last May. The honor came in the final meet of a career in which she was a four-year letter winner in three sports, cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

Hrusko ran a time of 4:28.52 to finish sixth in the 1500m. Hrusko's time not only was a personal best but also broke her own two-day-old school record by four seconds. She set the previous mark of 4:32.89 in the prelims on Thursday to advance to today's final, where she placed sixth out of 12 after posting the 11th-fastest time of 22 runners in the prelims.

Belko and Hrusko capped their brilliant careers by becoming the first two Stockton females ever to earn All-American status in a track event. All 22 of the indoor and outdoor All-American kudos in the history of Stockton women's program had come in four field events (pole vault, high jump, javelin, discus). Lewis' seven All-American honors have been in the triple jump (3 outdoor, 2 indoor) and long jump (1 outdoor, 1 indoor).

Brittney Soler

Congratulations go to Brittney Soler as she has received a Stockton University Foundation Scholarship Award.  She is the first student enrolled in the Exercise Science program to receive a Foundation scholarship. The award provides a total of $1000 that will be applied to the 2017-2018 academic year. 

Jodie Davis

Jodie Davis, a Public Health and Chemistry major, has earned a scholarship with United Planet and will be traveling to Ghana for a eight week stay where she will be working on global health service projects.  Jodie is the only student in the country to be fully funded in this scholarship opportunity which is highly competetive.  Congratulations! The scholarship is made possible through the Bonner Foundation and her efforts as an AmeriCorps Bonner leader in Stockton's Service Learning program.  Excited about this opportunity Jodie recently said, “I’m involved with public health because of my community and upbringing." “Growing up in Jersey City, N.J., I’ve seen the best and worst of people. Many families were forced to skip out on paying bills for months in order to buy their prescriptions. Even after buying their prescriptions, I noticed that my community still didn’t have the appropriate health care resources for better treatment.

“Since I’m going to Ghana, I’ll provide health care to residents of the city of Ho. I’ll be working at a teaching hospital under the influence of their health care team. My stay in Ghana will be eight weeks, so I’ll be able to rotate through different areas of the hospital such as the ER department, pediatrics, surgery and much more.” Jodie is also the 2017 Newman Civic Fellow for Campus Contact. “The Newman Civic fellowship is a year-long fellowship where I will be given different opportunities to demonstrate my leadership skills,” she explained. “I’ll have opportunities to study abroad, present research and also attend workshops throughout the nation. There are also numerous scholarships and post grad fellowships offered to Newman Civic Fellows.” Jodie is very committed to academic and community service as she volunteers with the South Jersey Aids Alliance, is president of Stockton NAACP chapter, and vice president for the New Jersey Youth and College Division of the NAACP.  She also developed a program called "Flex for a Cause" which addresses both hunger and lack of sufficient nutrition which some students are experiencing. Jodie credits the Office of Service-Learning and in her personal life, she is inspired by her family and her church. 

Jodie Davis

Congratulations to Erica Iannaco, a Public Health major, who recently completed her internship with Paul M. Sarnese, CHPA at Virtua in Marlton, New Jersey. In that pursuit, her manuscript "Best Practices for Preventing Violence in Home Health" was recently published by the IAHSS (International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety) Foundation. The foundation promotes and develops educational research into the maintenance and improvement of healthcare security and safety management as well as develops and conducts educational programs for the public.

 The article highights the many risk factors affecting the security and well being of the home healthcare worker. The article presents some staggering figures concerning the dangers and health risks facing home healthcare workers.  Some of those include: patients who live in high crime areas that can be dangerous, patients and their families can present danger through physical and verbal abuse, illegal weapons and illegal drug use in homes, and dangerous pets. However, the article explains how training, security prevention, and technology are combatting these potential dangers. Please click here to read the article in full. A special thank you to the Public Health faculty, and especially  Dr. Tara Crowell who oversees the program's internships, on their excellent mentorship. 

The Graduate Student Council awarded the 2015-2016 Graduate Community of Scholars Award to the Graduate Physical Therapy Club. This award is presented to a person or group that demonstrates dedication to academics and community service. Some examples of the many events sponsored by the Graduate Physical Therapy Club include dodgeball and quad rugby tournaments that benefit designated charities as well as food and clothing drives to benefit the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and the Mental Health Association.

Amy Higgins, President of the Graduate Physical Therapy Club, said, "This award is a reflection of the excellence and dedication that is necessary of a Doctor of Physical Therapy student. The amount of time and effort donated by these students is remarkable, as all of the club members are full-time students enrolled in the DPT program. It is an honor to be recognized by Stockton University and a reminder that we are truly making a difference in our community. We are appreciative that we have been blessed with the ability to commit to our profession while serving the community." 

Graduate Physical Therapy Spotlight

Graduate Physical Therapy Club members with their club advisor, Dr. Mary Lou Galantino

Alexandra Hay was awarded a Stockton Board of Trustees Fellowship for Distinguished Students to conduct her research project assessing whether VitalStim therapy paired with Biofeedback techniques improves swallowing ability compared to only VitalStim therapy in elderly dysphagia patients. In the project's summary, Alexandra clearly indicates the relevancy of her proposed project by stating, "Dysphagia, or difficulty with swallowing, impacts as many as 15 million Americans. One in 17 people will develop some form of dysphagia in their lifetime."

Dr. Kelly Dougherty serves as Alexandra's faculty advisor and stated, "The ideas contained in her student-initiated undergraduate research project are entirely novel and completely her own. This is extremely impressive for someone at her stage of training. She is an outstanding, hardworking student who very much deserves this honor." Both Dr. Dougherty and Alexandra were recognized at the Board of Trustees meeting on May 4.

Alexandra is a BSHS major with a pre-communication disorders concentration and gerontology minor. In her future, she plans to pursue a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and work with many diverse clients.


This Spring 2016 semester, BSHS student Anthony Loteck represented Stockton University at the Shriver Cup, a basketball tournament hosted by Unified Sports (a division of the Special Olympics). Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities (called athletes and partners, respectively) on the same team; Anthony's team consisted of 8 athletes and 4 partners. This year, the Unified Sports Shriver Cup was held at Princeton University, and Stockton was one of 11 participating universities.

Anthony's initial involvement with Unified Sports was to complete a service-learning based group project. Throughout this semester, he and his group members spent time on Saturdays volunteering for Unified Sports. Due to Anthony's enthusiasm working with the athletes during this time, Unified Sports reached out to him to request his participation in the Shriver Cup. 

"My favorite part through the whole experience was honestly everything. From helping these athletes stay healthy in playing basketball, to building relationships with them, it was honestly a heart touching experience from start to end. The look on their faces when they made a shot, or every time I gave them a high five from doing a good play, the list goes on and on. I actually am even now looking forward to continuing helping Unified Sports in participating in soccer during the fall semester.

What I gained from this experience is something that is hard to put in words. If you would have asked me a year ago if I would do something like this, I probably would have not thought about doing it. Now after it is all said and done, I am now thinking about incorporating this experience into my future goals after I graduate from Stockton. Working with these athletes who have such huge hearts really inspired me to help out more."

 Anthony Loteck with team.

See more pictures by visiting the Stockton University Unified Sports Facebook page.

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) alumna Sarah Jacobsen was recently selected as Educational Services Professional of the Year for 2015-2016 for the Gloucester County Special Services School District. This annual award is given to one person among five campuses.

Sarah graduated from the MSOT program in 2011 and has worked with students with physical, mental, and behavioral disabilities since her graduation from Stockton. 

It is clear that Sarah is dedicated to her profession and passionate about helping students. "I have started many different programs to help better serve our population. One example is a walking program to get our students physically active. I also started teaching classes with other disciplines (speech, PT, social worker) to various classrooms that really needed a more integrated approach to help increase and develop many of the skills our students have difficulty with. I have created sensory rooms and programs to help students with difficult behaviors. I enjoy my job immensely and love being creative and helping others reach their goals. It was an honor to receive this award from my peers and even more of an honor to hear all the wonderful things they said about me."

Doctor of Physical Therapy student Mark Daitol and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Lauren DelRossi administered baseline ImPACT IDD concussion testing to Special Olympic athletes participating in the winter games at Stockton. They worked specifically with the athletes participating in street hockey. This special version of ImPACT testing was developed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Special Olympics is rolling out this testing for all athletes, and this was the first time ImPACT IDD was utilized. Mark and Dr. DelRossi tested 10-15 athletes.

Mark Daitol

Dr. Lauren DelRossi (left) and DPT student Mark Daitol (right)

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) alumna Erika Librizzi is now an occupational therapist at The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was recently featured on a news program talking about safety and older drivers.


BSHS Senior Gianna Pezzano presented at the 2015 annual meeting for the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago, IL. Her work was part of a team that included recent graduates from the biology and biochemistry/molecular biology programs. Their poster was titled "The Akt-mTOR Pathway is a Key Regulator of Neurogenesis in the Subventricular Zone".

The Society for Neuroscience annual meeting is the largest neuroscience conference in the world. This year, nearly 30,000 people attended over 5 days. According to Dr. Nathaniel Harman, Assistant Professor of Biology, "Gianna did a wonderful job presenting her work and engaging in conversation with scientists from the US and around the world."

In Fall 2015, three students majoring in Public Health completed internships with Paul M. Sarnese, CHPA at Virtua in Marlton, New Jersey. During this time, the students researched security system monitoring in health care facilities.

In March 2016, their research was published by the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) Foundation, which was established to foster and promote the welfare of the public through educational and research and development of healthcare security and safety body of knowledge. The students' publication, titled Security System Monitoring in Health Care Facilities, is available here