Spotlights

Knights in Nursing

Welcome to the college's new Knights in Nursing spotlights page. Each month the college will feature a new Knight in Nursing, telling his or her personal story and how UCF played a role.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Corrine Medeiros: Caregiver using compassion to overcome tragedy
“The Pulse tragedy was a powerful experience for me, and serves as a reminder of why I choose nursing and nursing continues to choose me. It is not simply what I do, but it is who I am.” Meet Corrine Medeiros, ’17BSN alumna, ER nurse and caregiver using compassion to overcome tragedy.
 

Corrine Medeiros, BSN alumna, future ER nurse and caregiver using compassion to overcome Orlando Pulse tragedy.

Knights in Nursing: Corrine Medeiros

Caregiver using compassion to overcome tragedy

“The Pulse tragedy was a powerful experience for me, and serves as a reminder of why I choose nursing and nursing continues to choose me. It is not simply what I do, but it is who I am.

Being a Level One Trauma Center, we see many patients on a daily basis who are experiencing their worst day or a tragic event.  But working in the ER that night forever shaped my nursing care. Compassion has always guided my nursing, and that was magnified after the tragedy.

I grew up with a desire to help those around me – be it strangers or those I know and love. My family is filled with nurses, law enforcement officers and firefighters. It didn’t take me long to realize my passion for nursing and emergency medicine.

Being a nurse in the ER is unpredictable, constantly challenging of the mind and body, and requires you to give your entire heart and caring nature. But the camaraderie of the team and fast-paced care is something I am drawn to. It is where my heart lies.

Twenty years from now I hope to be an experienced ER nurse leader, making changes in the field and inspiring others on a large scale. I am confident that I have the tools to succeed from my education at UCF. It has paved the way for my career by providing opportunities to lead, inspire and accomplish my goals.”


Corrine Medeiros ’17BSN, RN
Emergency Department Nurse, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Orlando Health
Mentorship Committee Member, UCF College of Nursing Alumni Chapter Board
Historian for Sigma Theta Tau International Theta Epsilon Chapter (nursing honor society)
Former historian for Orlando Chapter of the Student Nurses Association at UCF

Corrine Medeiros: Caregiver using compassion to overcome tragedy
“The Pulse tragedy was a powerful experience for me, and serves as a reminder of why I choose nursing and nursing continues to choose me. It is not simply what I do, but it is who I am.” Meet Corrine Medeiros, ’17BSN alumna, ER nurse and caregiver using compassion to overcome tragedy.
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Meet Martin Schiavenato, a 2007 alumnus of UCF's Nursing PhD programMartin Schiavenato: Using an orb to manage pain in babies
“I’ll never forget that baby. She lived a short life in excruciating pain. It was that encounter that inspired my research and decade-long quest to create a solution to manage pain in newborns.” Meet Nurse Martin Schiavenato, ’07PhD alumnus and champion of babies who can’t verbalize their suffering.
 

Meet Martin Schiavenato, a 2007 alumnus of UCF's Nursing PhD program

Knights in Nursing: Martin Schiavenato

Champion of premature babies who can’t verbalize their suffering

“I’ll never forget that baby. As a NICU nurse, I was accustomed to caring for preemies. She was different – full-term and appeared so beautifully healthy. Unfortunately, she suffered from a genetic disorder that rendered her skin useless and every measure of comfort hurt her. She lived a short life in excruciating pain. It was that encounter that inspired my research and decade-long quest to create a solution to assess and manage pain in newborns.

It is not easy to remain focused and single minded for more than 10 years, but there is a significant motivating force to keep me going. Prematurity is not going away, and in fact now rising in the U.S. What I’m doing needs to be done.

After initially developing an orb-type device, inspired from a polygraph to measure nervous system responses, we went back to the proverbial ‘drawing board’ to design a new way to capture facial grimacing. Our solution is a new mouth sensor that we expect to complete by August 2017, and have received funding for the first ‘human demonstration’ project or device trial in the NICU immediately after.

To help bring this and other innovations to the bedside, where they’re needed, I’m launching a startup this May to house and commercialize three of our technological developments. As a nurse scientist with a passion for technology to evolve, UCF provided an opportunity for me to learn to collaborate with computer scientists and engineers. This is something that has remained a foundation to my current research and career.”


Martin Schiavenato, ’07PhD, RN
Alumnus of the UCF’s first Nursing PhD cohort,
Associate Professor, Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing,
Affiliate Professor, WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
Founder of the future startup, “Little Foot Innovation”

Martin Schiavenato: Using an orb to manage pain in babies
Meet Martin Schiavenato, a 2007 alumnus of UCF's Nursing PhD program“I’ll never forget that baby. She lived a short life in excruciating pain. It was that encounter that inspired my research and decade-long quest to create a solution to manage pain in newborns.” Meet Nurse Martin Schiavenato, ’07PhD alumnus and champion of babies who can’t verbalize their suffering.
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Karenna Thatcher: Missionary making health care more personal
“I think of myself as a former patient who became a nurse.” Meet Karenna Thatcher, ’17MSN alumna from the first health care simulation cohort and missionary making health care more personal.
 

Knights in Nursing: Karenna Thatcher,  Missionary making health care more personal

Knights in Nursing: Karenna Thatcher

Missionary making health care more personal

“I think of myself as a former patient who became a nurse. So it was a natural next step in my career to move from bedside care to patient experience.

The field is more than surveys. It’s advocating for more accessible, wholistic and affordable care, and connecting the voice of communities directly to the health care systems serving them.

Right now, we’re using game-based learning to inspire frontline team members to deliver care focused on the mind, body and spirit. Acting as facilitator for these learning events is the highlight of my job!

Interactive learning through simulation makes things personal, and I believe it is the future of hospital education. I feel honored to have studied under some of my scholarly heroes in the Health Care Simulation program at UCF, and be part of my hometown’s story.

I overcame a lot to get here. After my lung spontaneously collapsed, I was forced to learn about a new scary world: health care. Through that experience, God called me to nursing. I was 20 years old. After a 30-day hospitalization, I changed my major and never looked back.

Starting over was hard work. I worked in fast food in the morning before classes at night. My mom and grandma helped when they could, as it was just the three of us. I am proud to be part of their legacy – strong women raising strong women.

Now as someone blessed with so much, I am called to give resources and talents to serve those with less. My dream is to combine simulation education and mission trips – partnering with local hospitals to run drills on emergent patient conditions to improve outcomes in understaffed and impoverished countries.”


Karenna Thatcher, ’17MSN, RN
Alumna of UCF’s first Nursing and Health Care Simulation MSN cohort
Patient Experience Project Manager/Consultant for Adventist Health System

Karenna Thatcher: Missionary making health care more personal
“I think of myself as a former patient who became a nurse.” Meet Karenna Thatcher, ’17MSN alumna from the first health care simulation cohort and missionary making health care more personal.
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Patricia Delgado: Practitioner spreading hope, healing and education
“I didn’t just want to volunteer to assist those in need, but seek a career in which it will be my responsibility to do so on a daily basis.” Meet alumna Patricia Delgado, a nurse practitioner spreading hope, healing and education.
 

Patricia Delgado

Knights in Nursing: Patricia M. Delgado

Practitioner spreading hope, healing and education

“I didn’t just want to volunteer to assist those in need, but seek a career in which it will be my responsibility to do so on a daily basis.

It is the reason why I wanted to become a nurse practitioner. Receiving a HRSA grant allowed me to focus my energy on my studies and giving back.

In 2004, I went on my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic and it left a lasting impression. The people were so happy and grateful to just be seen. Since then, I have led two other medical mission trips to that region and plan to join a volunteer group that travels annually to Nicaragua.

Of course, our own community needs help too. I was introduced to Shepherd’s Hope while in the Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at UCF. Since graduation, I have continued to volunteer at the center providing care to the underserved with the same passion and competence that I do in my practice.

My background is in intensive care, but my passion lies in keeping people out of the hospital by empowering them with the knowledge and tools they need to keep healthy. As a nurse practitioner, I am able to provide compassionate care while taking the time to listen to each patient and educate them on their specific needs.

While all of my patients inspire me, what really makes it worthwhile is when a patient looks me in the eye, smiles and says ‘thank you.’ To quote my UCF nursing professors, nursing is not about the job or the tasks. It’s the attitude and spirit behind what we do.”


Patricia M. Delgado ’08, ’10, ’15MSN, ’18DNP, ARNP
Nurse Practitioner, Volunteer at Shepherd’s Hope Health Center, Longwood
Nurse Practitioner, Dermatology and Skin Cancer Surgery Center, Orlando

Patricia Delgado: Practitioner spreading hope, healing and education
“I didn’t just want to volunteer to assist those in need, but seek a career in which it will be my responsibility to do so on a daily basis.” Meet alumna Patricia Delgado, a nurse practitioner spreading hope, healing and education.
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Nurse Mackenzie Chase, ‘16BSN alumna, UCF's 2015 Homecoming Queen and family advocate with a heart of gold.Mackenzie Chase: Family advocate with a heart of gold
“Although I never got the chance to meet Marlie, that sweet little girl left a lasting impression on my heart. She has shaped who I am as a person and as a pediatric nurse.” Meet Nurse Mackenzie Chase, ’16BSN alumna, UCF’s 2015 Homecoming Queen and family advocate with a heart of gold.
 

Nurse Mackenzie Chase, ‘16BSN alumna, UCF's 2015 Homecoming Queen and family advocate with a heart of gold.

Knights in Nursing: Mackenzie Chase

Family advocate with a heart of gold

“Although I never got the chance to meet Marlie, that sweet little girl left a lasting impression on my heart. She has shaped who I am as a person and as a pediatric nurse. I find myself frequently asking, ‘What kind of nurse would Marlie want me to be?’

Through her legacy and endowed scholarship, I had the opportunity to focus on my studies and immerse in UCF life – learning beyond the classroom and making a lasting impact on the community. One of my favorite things every year was Knight-Thon. Last year was a full-circle moment as I participated as someone who now works with the very kids I have helped raise funding for since college.

I’ve always loved working with children. They have a unique way of seeing the world and are just so fun! Pediatrics gives me the opportunity to turn scary aspects of care into something kid-friendly – like using bubbles, songs or toys to start an IV. Care is also family-centered, which I love. Having the opportunity to be there to comfort and help patients and their families during a stressful and scary time in their life is something I cherish about the job.

I still maintain contact with Marlie's family – most recently experiencing another full circle moment of caring for her cousin. It has reminded me of the bigger picture of nursing – that each patient is an individual with hopes and dreams, and a family that loves them. And it has reinforced my reason to become a nurse – to advocate passionately for patients and their families.


Mackenzie Chase, ’16BSN, RN
Pediatric Emergency Department Nurse, Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children,
Recipient of 2015 In Memory of Marlie Kai Dodson UCF Oncology Nursing Endowed Scholarship,
2015 UCF Homecoming Queen,
Knight-Thon Alumni Team Member

Mackenzie Chase: Family advocate with a heart of gold
Nurse Mackenzie Chase, ‘16BSN alumna, UCF's 2015 Homecoming Queen and family advocate with a heart of gold.“Although I never got the chance to meet Marlie, that sweet little girl left a lasting impression on my heart. She has shaped who I am as a person and as a pediatric nurse.” Meet Nurse Mackenzie Chase, ’16BSN alumna, UCF’s 2015 Homecoming Queen and family advocate with a heart of gold.
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Marie SmithMarie Smith: Researcher using technology to improve mental health care
“Mental health awareness, prevention and treatment seems to be only addressed or funded during times of tragedy. But care should be continuous.” Meet Marie Smith, a PhD in Nursing student using technology and research to improve mental health care.
 

Meet Knights in Nursing PhD Student Marie Smith

Knights in Nursing: Marie Smith

Researcher using technology to improve mental health care

“Mental health awareness, prevention and treatment seems to be only addressed or funded during times of tragedy. But care should be continuous.

As a Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, I saw reoccurring themes from patients and families involving system fragmentation, overwhelming feelings and social disadvantages. One patient I will never forget. He was African-American, 22 years old, lost both of his parents to substance abuse and was adjusting to a new diagnosis of Schizophrenia. I went home that night with a burning desire to address socioeconomic factors to improve treatment for individuals with serious mental illness.

I recently received national funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Minority Fellowship Program for my research, which is using innovative technology to explore the “five A’s” to health care – affordability, availability, accessibility, accommodation and acceptability – related to mental health clinics and hospitals for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in Florida. Identifying individuals most at risk at discharge from a psychiatric facility could enhance continuity of care in outpatient settings.

The stories of patients whose lives are improved by mental health nursing care inspires me every day. There were many times where I felt I was not “good enough.” But I worked hard to turn challenges into successes in my professional and personal growth.

I have also been blessed to have support from my professors at UCF, PhD cohort colleagues and family that remind me of who I am and my goals. UCF has also provided tremendous opportunity for my research, including an interdisciplinary “Big Data” series where I could gain different perspectives for my research.”


Marie Smith, MSN, MS, ARNP-BC, EMT-B

  • Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Community Health, Grace Medical Home, Orlando, FL
  • Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Community Health, Stewart-Marchman Act Behavioral Healthcare, Daytona Beach, FL 
  • PhD Student, UCF College of Nursing, Class of 2019
Marie Smith: Researcher using technology to improve mental health care
Marie Smith“Mental health awareness, prevention and treatment seems to be only addressed or funded during times of tragedy. But care should be continuous.” Meet Marie Smith, a PhD in Nursing student using technology and research to improve mental health care.
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Dr. Victoria LoerzelVicki Loerzel: Advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer
“How did I go from a history major to cancer nurse researcher? I chose to change my path to follow what I love, and chose to be challenged to make myself better.” Meet Nurse Vicki Loerzel, ’07PhD alumna, associate professor and advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer.
 

Vicki Loerzel, PhD alumna, associate professor and advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer.

Knights in Nursing: Vicki Loerzel

Advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer

“How did I go from a history major to cancer nurse researcher? I chose to change my path to follow what I love, and chose to be challenged to make myself better.

Soon after graduating with a history degree I realized that it wasn’t for me. I applied to nursing school and was accepted. That began my career in cancer nursing and academia. 

My first job was a bone marrow transplant nurse at Cleveland Clinic while I pursued a master’s degree in oncology nursing. The first exposure I had to research was here at UCF, working as a research nurse for a nationally funded study – and it was exciting! A nursing PhD program was just beginning, and I was in the inaugural class. In the years since joining the faculty full time after graduation, I have been appointed to an endowed professorship and awarded federally funded grants.

My research focus on improving quality of life for older adults with cancer became clear early in my career. While working on a study, I discovered older survivors behaved differently than younger survivors. They tend to minimize cancer, often doing little or nothing to manage symptoms, and are at high risk for severe side effects. But they don’t have to live like that.

My current funded study is helping get their mind ‘into the game’ of proper self-care with an innovative educational tool. I never would have thought about using technology without my colleagues’ encouragement to think outside the box.

As a nurse, we have many options and I love sharing that with students. Research is hard work, but it is never boring.”


Vicki Loerzel, ’07PhD, RN, OCN
Alumna of UCF’s first Nursing PhD cohort,
Associate Professor, UCF College of Nursing
Beat M. and Jill L. Kahli Endowed Professorship in Oncology Nursing
Director of nursing's Honors in the Major (HIM) program, encouraging undergraduate research

Vicki Loerzel: Advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer
Dr. Victoria Loerzel“How did I go from a history major to cancer nurse researcher? I chose to change my path to follow what I love, and chose to be challenged to make myself better.” Meet Nurse Vicki Loerzel, ’07PhD alumna, associate professor and advocate of improving life for older adults with cancer.
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John W. Rothwell, III: Health care warrior for veterans and the underserved
“I am on track to complete my DNP in May. That is when the real work starts. I hope to start a street medicine clinic that meets veterans ‘where they are.’” Meet John W. Rothwell, III, ’13BSN and ’15MSN alumnus, DNP candidate, and health care warrior for veterans and the underserved.
 

DNP Candidate John W. Rothwell, III, former flight medic, U.S. Army

Knights in Nursing: John W. Rothwell, III

Health care warrior for veterans and the underserved

“I am on track to complete my DNP in May. That is when the real work starts. I hope to start a street medicine clinic in Brevard County that meets veterans ‘where they are.’ Veterans experience many barriers in accessing health care and face many obstacles that delay care.

UCF supports veterans, and provided me my first opportunity to earn an education when I returned from the Middle East. To me, the strategic relationship that the College of Nursing has with the VA was critical. As a veteran, there are not only career benefits in performing clinical rotations at the VA, but there is a strong emotional and psychological bond when helping your fellow soldier.

My time in the military was committed to serving those in need. But I knew long before then that my life would be dedicated to the underserved. When I was young, I was diagnosed with an unknown bleeding disorder and unable to receive care through our insurance. Duke University Medical Center approached us with a possible treatment and after 11 years, I was cured. That moment inspired my life’s work.

What gets me up in the morning is knowing that I have a greater purpose today, than yesterday. My chair said it best, ‘the learning is in the doing.’ Today I have to learn everything I can, so that tomorrow I can do better.

My doctorate work has focused on helping a local non-profit health care system that provides free medical services to the uninsured. But after I complete my doctorate, I hope to do better for both veterans and the underserved.”


John W. Rothwell, III, ’15MSN, ’13BSN, ARNP, FNP-BC
DNP Candidate, Class of 2018
Contract Nurse Practitioner at MedFast Urgent Care Centers, Schumacher Clinical Partners and Veterans Evaluation Services
Adjunct Faculty, UCF College of Nursing
Volunteer, Old Breed Rugby Club
2014-15 Primary Care Scholar Recipient
Former Flight Medic, United States Army

John W. Rothwell, III: Health care warrior for veterans and the underserved
“I am on track to complete my DNP in May. That is when the real work starts. I hope to start a street medicine clinic that meets veterans ‘where they are.’” Meet John W. Rothwell, III, ’13BSN and ’15MSN alumnus, DNP candidate, and health care warrior for veterans and the underserved.
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Carol Lawrence: Protector of mothers throughout childbirth
“Our efforts to decrease maternal morbidity is making a difference in our community, but our commitment and work will continue until we reach a rate of zero.” Meet Carol Lawrence, ’12PhD alumna and protector of mothers throughout childbirth
 

KIN_lawrence_banner.jpg

Knights in Nursing: Carol Lawrence

Protector of mothers throughout childbirth

“Our efforts to decrease maternal morbidity is making a difference in our community, but our commitment and work will continue until we reach a rate of zero.

Recently we were honored for our efforts to reduce complications in OB patients with the John Curran Quality Improvement Award from the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative. This award has been a career highlight for me, especially considering all of the great perinatal work being done.

Supporting mothers, from labor to mother-infant bonding, has been my passion since the beginning of my career when I worked as an OB nurse. I saw better outcomes when mothers and babies were allowed to stay together. This inspired my research and the creation of a reliable, validated instrument to measure mother-infant togetherness.

This journey has been personal because even my family has benefited from my evidence-based practice efforts. Last year I became a grandma and my grandson was able to experience undisturbed mother-infant togetherness in my hospital system. Knowing that I had a part in his care is especially gratifying. But my higher calling is that I want every family that delivers in our system, and across the nation, to have this same experience.

As nurses, our service to our patients is how we give to our respective communities. As a nurse researcher, I am able to give back to an even larger community by adding to the body of science. It is what motivated me to seek my PhD from UCF, which gave me a strong foundation in research methodology. For it is through evidence-based practice that we deliver excellent care, and our patients deserve nothing less from us.


Carol Lawrence, ’12PhD, MS, BSN, RNC-OB
Supervisor, Perinatal Practice, Education, Research and Lactation, Lee Health

Carol Lawrence: Protector of mothers throughout childbirth
“Our efforts to decrease maternal morbidity is making a difference in our community, but our commitment and work will continue until we reach a rate of zero.” Meet Carol Lawrence, ’12PhD alumna and protector of mothers throughout childbirth
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Shannon Hassett: Ally in the battle of managing diabetes
“When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I saw the good and the bad from many care providers. I knew that I had to become one of the good ones.” Meet ER Nurse Shannon Hassett, ’16BSN alumna, DNP student and ally in the battle of managing diabetes.
 

Shannon Hassett, ’16BSN alumna, DNP student and ally in the battle of managing diabetes.

Knights in Nursing: Shannon Hassett

Ally in the battle of managing diabetes

“From when I was first diagnosed with diabetes at 11 years old, I saw the good and the bad from many care providers. I knew that I had to become one of the good ones.

It was my middle school nurse who taught me about diabetes management that inspired me to pursue nursing, and it was my disease that inspired my passion within nursing. I feel that if God allowed me to have diabetes, then I was to use it for good and to help others.

I was able to begin to use my experiences to help others at UCF, where my Honors in the Major undergraduate thesis explored how technology could help adults better control their diabetes. Now as a nurse, it is the most fulfilling feeling when I am able to help my diabetic patients and have an immediate rapport with them. In the future, as an endocrinology nurse practitioner, it is my dream to become the primary care provider I would want to have.

Knowing how much I could truly help other diabetics that live the same struggles I do drives me to further my education and career. The UCF DNP program was a perfect fit. I am able to pursue my doctorate part-time while continuing to work full time, and gain valuable experience as an ER nurse. From the caliber of faculty and the vast research opportunities to the expansive clinical experiences, I have no doubt that I will be fully prepared for this future role.

I feel so blessed as I am fulfilling my dreams of changing the diabetes care world, one patient at a time.”


Shannon Hassett ’16BSN, RN
Emergency Department Nurse, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Orlando Health
DNP student, UCF College of Nursing, Class of 2021
Philanthropy chair, UCF College of Nursing Alumni Chapter Board

Shannon Hassett: Ally in the battle of managing diabetes
“When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I saw the good and the bad from many care providers. I knew that I had to become one of the good ones.” Meet ER Nurse Shannon Hassett, ’16BSN alumna, DNP student and ally in the battle of managing diabetes.
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