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A collage of photos of women who have contributed to the history of SCU

SCU Celebrates Women’s History Month

March 2022

Every year, March is designated Women’s History Month by presidential proclamation. The month honors women’s contributions in American history. And this page honors women’s contributions in SCU history, past and present. Check back throughout the month to watch the page grow as we feature SCU women who are contributing to SCU’s history!

SCU Women history makers:

LACC and SCU has appointed numerous women in leadership positions throughout its 111 year-old history!

Linnie A. Cole, DC, DO, ND was LACC’s first woman president from 1923-1924! And Wilma Churchill Wood, DC, ND was Secretary/Owner from 1929-1947. There are numerous women who have played key roles in leading SCU to where it is, today. A detailed account of the first 100 years of the institution and its personalities can be found in “Healing Evolved: A 100 Year History of Los Angeles College of Chiropractic & Southern California University of Health Sciences”. The book is available for purchase in the SCU Campus Store.

SCU Women contributing to SCU’s history:

 AnaAna Facchinato, DC, MHS Dean, Los Angeles College of Chiropractic

Dr. Ana Facchinato will be celebrating her sixth SCU anniversary this year and her third anniversary as Dean, in May. She was appointed Dean of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC) in May 2019. Prior to SCU, Dr. Facchinato served as a Dean in a Chiropractic college in Brazil for five years.

What are your words of wisdom for other women going into Chiropractic, healthcare, or beginning their careers? 

Never be afraid to ask questions or express your opinion, in a professional way; and always be kind to others.

Who are your Chiropractic or healthcare sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

She is not in the healthcare area, but my mom is my ultimate hero! I consider Sira Borges, M.D., DC, an industry shero. Dr. Borges is the Founder and Former President of the Brazilian Chiropractic Association, and is also on our LACC Advisory Board. My sheroes at SCU include Melissa Nagare, DC, LAc, CCSP, Vice President for SCU Health System/Chief Clinical Officer; and SCU Provost Tamara Rozhon!

What’s your favorite  affirmation that helps you keep going?

“Just keep swimming” –Dory, from Finding Nemo. I see it as: no matter the obstacle, keep swimming. It may be hard, and you may need a break (or more), but keep swimming!

Jenny Yu, DACM, LAc.

Dean, Eastern Medicine Department

Dr. Jenny Yu has served as the Dean, Eastern Medicine Department at SCU since 2017, and has been SCU faculty since 2001. She’s been with SCU for 21 years, altogether!

What advice do you have for the next generation of women considering Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine, and women who are beginning their careers, today?

I would advise the next generation of women to never give up on their dreams and to not be defeated by obstacles. Be confident, determined, and persevere when you encounter difficulties along their your career path. Distance proves a horse’s strength, and time proves a person’s character. Success comes with hard working, good planning, and strong emotional intelligence. Frustration and self-doubting would only be in the way to achieving success.

Who are your Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

Dr. Cathryn Hu (pictured on the left, and Dr. Yu, right) is my mentor and role model who plays a significant role in my career. I worked in Dr. Hu’s office for seven years and learned so much from her, in knowledge, skill set, and professionalism. Dr. Hu is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve known in both Eastern and Western medicine. She is like a walking encyclopedia. Her patient-centered attitude is second to none. She truly enjoys her work and has dedicated her entire effort to integrative medicine. She reminds me of the energizer rabbit on the battery commercial. She has shown me the expectation of being a doctor and keeping the bar high.

What’s a favorite quite that help keep you going?

“Age is simply a reference number.”

A headshot of Dr, Ann McDonald

Ann McDonald, Ph.D., MA

Founding Program Director, Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program

Dr. Ann McDonald is the Founding Program Director for the future Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program. She began developing the program in August of 2021 and the inaugural cohort is scheduled to begin next winter, in January 2023!

What are your words of wisdom for the next generation of women considering OT?

The breadth and depth of possibilities are endless when considering a career in Occupational Therapy.  As Value-Based Care continues to be a priority for all health care consumers, future practitioners will find unique and creative ways to meet the occupational performance needs of clients, patients, and populations with a focus on lifestyle health, health equity and inclusion as well as inter-professional collaboration.

Who are your OT sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

My mother is basically my hero and a saint for raising 10 ‘wild’ children all who turned out to value the importance of health and care for others.

I was also fortunate to have worked briefly alongside St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta who tirelessly met the heath and spiritual needs of those with the least. I took some vacation time from my job at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles where I worked as an Occupational Therapist, to go work at the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta India before I started my doctoral degree at USC. I went by myself and did inquire ahead of time to see if this would work. This was in July of 1994, so all communication was in writing, since email was not possible. I worked in the Orphanage and Home for the Dying in Calcutta, both of which were established by Mother Teresa.

What’s a favorite quote that you like to keep top of mind?

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” -Dr. Seuss

A photo of Dr. Raheleh Khorsan with her mother and her two daughters.

Raheleh Khorsan, Ph.D.

Program Director, Master of Science in Medical Science Program

Dr. Raheleh Khorsan will be celebrating her sixth SCU anniversary this year and her first anniversary as Dean of the Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) Program, in May. Her teaching and research career started at SCU back in 2002 to 2006, and she began teaching again at SCU in 2016. She was appointed Director of the Master of Science in Medical Science Program in May 2021. Prior to SCU, Dr. Khorsan served as a Senior Research Associate at the Samueli Institute for 10 years and was a WOC Research Associate at the VA Greater LA for three years. 

What are your words of wisdom for the next generation of women considering medical science, or healthcare fields?

“Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore!” Florence Nightingale (Nightingale, ca.1852/1979, p. 29) This quote is in the dedication page of my doctoral dissertation. I went to this phrase 100 times or more during my journey as a graduate student. In essence, never be afraid to start your journey and fail multiple times. This is especially true since so many incredible women worked diligently and with struggles to create paths for the next generation of females in healthcare fields and sciences.

Who are the medical science sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

Where can I start? My female mentors at SCU, at UCI (my Alma Mater; Zot Zot), at the Samueli Institute, Rand Corp, or those hundreds of women that held my hand, lifted me up in my journey, and shaped me to who I am today (colleagues, friends, and family). I can write volumes of books dedicating these women who made me who I am today. For this blog I’ll discuss only six extraordinary women, for every year I have been at SCH. 

  1. James (Miranda) Barry MD (1789 –25 July 1865) who was our first female surgeon and transgender physician in the British Army. She became the British Army General Surgeon and lived as a man in both public and private and it was not until her death in 1865 that it became known that Dr. Barry was indeed a female. 
  2. Elizabeth Blackwell, MD (1821-1910) who became the first woman in the United States to be granted an MD degree in 1849. She was turned away by more than 10 medical schools. Dr. Blackwell refused a professor’s suggestion that she disguise herself as a male to gain admission. “It was to my mind a moral crusade,” she wrote at the time. “It must be pursued in the light of day, and with public sanction, in order to accomplish its end.”
  3. Florence Nightingale (12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) who set the example of today’s compassion care and commitment to patient-centered care. Thanks to Nurse Nightingale’s lasting contributions as the founding Mother of the modern nursing profession including her training of Nurse Linda Richards (July 27, 1841 – April 16, 1930), the first professionally trained American nurse.
  4. Susan LaFlesche Picotte, MD (1865-1915) was devoted to healing Native Americans, Dr. Picotte would become the first Native American woman in the United States to earn a medical degree.  Dr. Picotte graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania at the top of her class in 1889. When she returned home, she served a population of more than 1,300, often walking miles and working long into the night.

In respect of connecting Black History Month to Women’s History Month I would like to celebrate these two incredible women: 

  1. Susie Baker (née King Taylor: August 6, 1848 – October 6, 1912) was born into slavery and despite harsh laws against the formal education of African Americans, Nurse Baker attended two secret schools taught by black women. She was the first African-American U.S. Army nurse during the Civil War. King served in a newly formed regiment of Black soldiers organized at Port Royal Island off the South Carolina coast by Major General David Hunter, commander of the Union’s Department of the South. After the war, she helped to organize a branch of the Women’s Relief Corps.
  2. Rebecca Lee Crumpler (née Davis: February 8, 1831 – March 9, 1895) was the first African-American female to earn a medical degree, graduates from New England Female Medical College, Boston. In 1883, Dr. Crumpler published A Book of Medical Discourses. Dedicated to nurses and mothers, it focused on maternal and pediatric medical care, and it was among the first publications written by an African American about medicine. “I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to relieve the suffering of others,” wrote Crumpler in her groundbreaking 1883 publication, A Book of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts.

What’s your favorite affirmation that helps you keep going?

The affirmations quoted above from Nurse Nightingale, Dr. Blackwell, and Dr. Crumpler are my favorite affirmations that I think are best suited for my students. In my words, take the chance, don’t give up even when faced with failure, be true to yourself and remember why you chose this path. This path, beyond all else, was to heal and end the suffering of your patients. Be proud, bravo.

A photo of PA Melanie Catalano posing with MSPA colleaguesMelanie Catalano, MSPA, PA-C

Program Director, Assistant Professor, Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program

PA Catalano became the Director of the Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program in April of 2021, and is celebrating her 4th SCU anniversary this month. She started on with SCU in March 2018.

Who are your PA sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

I am blessed to have been surrounded by several strong women throughout my childhood. My mother, a Professor of Nursing and single mom, demonstrated how to balance a career with motherhood. Her drive taught me to never settle and always challenge myself to accomplish my dreams. Her example instilled a resilience and strength in me, and I am forever grateful.

The awesome photo is of some of the incredible women I get to work with daily. Women supporting women! I could not do my job without every single one of them, as well as the other team members not pictured.

Pictured are: top row: PA Roshalda Williams, left; and PA Ashley Larsen (right); and bottom row Jennifer Villa (left); PA Melanie Catalano (center); and PA Erica Gomez (right).

A photo of Dr. ANUPAMA KIZHAKKEVEETTIL speaking at commencement. Anupama Kizhakkeveettil, BAMS, MAOM, PHD

Program Director, Ayurveda Medicine Department

Dr. Anu has been with SCU since 2004. She started on working in the research department and became the Founding Director for the Ayurveda Programs, which started in 2008.

What are your words of wisdom or best advice to the next generation of women considering Ayurveda, or healthcare fields; or women beginning their careers, today?

Women become more powerful when they embody love, compassion, and humbleness in their thoughts and actions. We automatically demonstrate patience, dignity, and respect. These are the most powerful qualities in the healing process. As a healer, we not only need to be experts in subject content, but we also need to believe in ourselves. We need to develop the skills in whatever work we do, care for others, and have the strength to face the challenges. As an emerging field of medicine in the U.S., Ayurvedic medicine can sometimes face challenging situations. But we must never give up!

Do you have any favorite women Ayurveda heroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

My mother is the great hero in my life. She is a very strong, compassionate, caring and loving woman. She radiates inner peace. She is the embodiment of peace and the strength of our family. Both of her children are in leadership roles in their professions. We have learned so much from her, simply by the way she handles her home.

Do you have any favorite quotes or affirmations?

Be strong and believe in yourself. Challenges will come in life, but move forward with a positive attitude, grit, perseverance, and patience. Carry peace at each step and never give up.

A photo of Dr. Toby Spiegel and her mother.Toby Spiegel, MA, PSY.D

Program Director, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences Program

Dr. Toby Spiegel has been with SCU since Sept. 2021 and is the Founding Program Director of the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences Program.

What advice do you have for the next generation of women considering health sciences fields; or women beginning their careers, today?

Be open to opportunities. There are so many opportunities now available to women in all fields, now is the time to challenge yourself. Find your focus and then set goals short and long term to achieve your dream. 

Who are your health sciences sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

The Women’s Health Movement emerged during the 1960s and 1980s during the second wave of feminism in the United States. For me, the pioneers in psychology Anna Freud, Mary Ainsworth and Karen Horney influenced my career path in the behavioral sciences.

My mother, Gilda (pictured on the left) was my role model and hero. She is a Holocaust survivor. From the age of 13 she survived many of the concentration camps, when finally liberated from Auschwitz age 19. She has taught me courage, resiliency and to trust my instincts. She taught me to be a free-thinker and reach for the stars.

Do you have any favorite quotes that keep you inspired?

To quote Oprah Winfrey, “create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”

A photo of Dr. Melissa Nagare, her daughters and her mother.Melissa Nagare, DC

Vice President for SCU Health System/Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Melissa Nagare has served as the Vice President of SCU Health since 2016. Prior to being VP, she was AVP from 2013-2016, and before that, she was Chief Clinical Officer from 2012-2016. Altogether, Dr. Nagare has served SCU for 15 years!

What is your advice to the next generation of women considering healthcare fields; or women beginning their careers, today?

Follow your passions. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams. Women are needed in healthcare fields and if healthcare is something you are passionate about, you will surely be successful and positively impact many lives.

Do you have any favorite women healthcare sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

My mother A photo of Dr. Melissa Nagare and her mother. was an early inspiration for me to go into healthcare. She is a dental hygienist. I saw her working and talking about patient care since I can remember. I think that helped me to know that she was in healthcare so I could be too if I wanted. Dean Yu and Dr. Meier were the women who mentored me in clinic at SCU. Dr. Davidson helped me a lot in chiropractic technique courses.

Do you have any favorite quotes that keep you encouraged?

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg


A photo of Dr. Moonaz in Washington DC after leading the US Congress in a meditation practice.Steffany Moonaz, PhD, C-IAYT

Associate Research Director, Health Services Research

What are your words of wisdom to the next generation of women considering research science and/or healthcare fields; and women beginning their careers, today?

Things have changed so much in just the couple of decades since I started my career as a scientist. I remember being the youngest person and the only woman in a room full of older white men, around a big table where decisions were being made. I am rarely ever in rooms like that anymore. I think girls are growing up to believe that they can be scientists. I was at a March for Science with my daughter a few years back, and she made her own sign about having a scientist mom that I treasure. There was a particular juncture in my career that I think is still instructive, not just to women, but to anyone hoping to be a parent with a robust career.

Find the leaders in your field who are parents and talk to them about what it’s like- how did they make it work and what sacrifices were necessary in both work and family life? I wrote my dissertation with an infant on my lap while my husband was in night school getting his law degree. Those conversations with other women scientists and doctors steered me from being a career scientist at an R1 institution to being at a university like SCU that embodies values aligned with integrative health.

A photo of Dr. Moonaz's daughter at the March for ScienceWho are your women research science or healthcare sheroes; and/or women role models who shaped your career?

I remember really noticing when there were women in my science textbooks or when I saw a female doctor as a kid. So, there are a few inspiring examples. Mostly, it has been the women just one generation ahead of me who have been willing to serve as mentors for both career and in life. I find that women who received excellent mentoring are likely to pay it forward and serve as mentors themselves. I’m the third generation of women mentors and now serve as a mentor myself. It is far preferrable to the antiquated culture of women competing for scarce positions of representation and leadership.

What are your favorite quotes or affirmations that keep you motivated?

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” I now know that this quote is attributed to William Arthur Ward. It was on a poster in my dance studio growing up and I really took it to heart.

Another favorite of mine is by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is, “Never underestimate the power of a girl with a book.”

A photo of Ebere Ume, Ph.D., RN, PHN Developing BSN Program Director with • Sister Calista Roy, Nurse-Theorist (Pictured in the center), author of the Roy’s Adaptation Model (RAM).Ebere Ume, Ph.D., RN, PHN

Developing BSN Program Director

What advice do you have for the next generation of women considering nursing and women who are beginning their careers, today?

I would advise the next generation of women considering nursing to join us quickly. One thing that has always been known, but was significantly magnified by the pandemic is the critical need for nurses. Nursing is the heart and soul of healthcare. Therefore, sage wisdom is to assure future nurses that you are desperately needed. 

Secondly, the nursing workforce is aging and we need future generations to join forces with us now and get ready to take over the leadership realm of nursing and health care. I would also recommend to women at the beginning of their nursing careers to consider higher education. Dream big. Never get satisfied with your entry to nursing practice level.  We need nurse leaders, nurse educators, nurse scientists, nurse entrepreneurs, nurse lawmakers, and nurses in all spheres of society and influence. Prepare yourself. Educate to lead! Nurses must be at the table to continue to make a difference in our society nationally and globally. Be open. Be available.

Thirdly, Welcome and accommodate. The time is now to break down all barriers and silos in nursing, and to diversify healthcare in general. United, we all win. Finally, I would encourage all nurses to think and encourage diversity, equity and inclusion. Promote social justice and ensure health equity for all.

Do you have any favorite women nurse sheroes and role models who shaped your career?

I have several! A few of them include:

  • Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, cared for soldiers during the Crimean war
  • Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913). A famed conductor of the Underground Railroad, the former slave also acted as a nurse during the Civil War, tending to Black soldiers and liberated slaves. She established the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged & Indigent Negroes in 1908, where she cared for its residents until her death in 1913. Read more about Harriet Tubman.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845 – 1926). First Black woman to earn a professional nursing license in the U.S. Read more about Mary Eliza Mahoney.
  • Sister Calista Roy, Nurse-Theorist (Pictured in the center), author of the Roy’s Adaptation Model (RAM).

What are your favorite quotes about the nursing profession?

  • “America’s nurses are the beating heart of our medical system.” — President Barack Obama
  • “Nursing is one of the fine arts: I had almost said ‘the finest of fine arts.’” —Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing

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