Local Nursing Professors Receiving National & International Honors


Local Nursing Professors Receiving National & International Honors

ESPAÑOLA — Two associate professors of nursing at Northern New Mexico College have recently been awarded distinct honors in their fields. Both of the honored faculty teach in the Associate Degree in Nursing program and sat down for an interview with the Valley Daily Post.

Lucas Gonzales, associate professor of nursing, has been selected to participate in the BUILDing SCHOLARS  2015 class of Faculty Summer Sabbatical. This highly competitive fellowship is awarded to five faculty members from throughout the western United States to engage in research at one of the Research Partner Institutions for a period of 10 weeks in the summer.

Gonzales will be spending 10 weeks this summer at the University of Texas Austin where he will be collaborating on a research project with Dr. Harrison, a senior researcher. They will be focusing on Latinas with visual impairments, studying how they learn about and access health care. Once complete the study will be submitted to a scientific journal for peer review and publication.

In an interview with the Valley Daily Post Gonzales shared his desire to continue working with the disabled population. Vision disabilities in particular hit close to home because his own son was recently injured, sustaining permanent partial loss of vision in one eye.

He would like to eventually bring his experiences from this project back to Northern to work with the disabled student population, working with veterans with disabilities and advocating for the disabled at the state level. “These resources allow those with disabilities to attain a degree which otherwise they could never get. It’s where I’m heading.” said Gonzales.

Gonzales also credited Northern New Mexico College with giving him the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in nursing that moved him from being a clinical nurse to teaching new nurses. Gonzales said “Northern has done a lot for me and for the community. I want to bring these experiences back and help the college and community.” This also means Gonzales plans to use this summer’s research project as a steppingstone to entry into a Ph.D. program.

Additionally, Katie Tomarelli, assistant professor of nursing, has been accepted to give a presentation on her research at the distinctive Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity this summer. This conference hosts leaders in the health care field from around the world.

Tomarelli who is in her first year of teaching at Northern came from Chicago where she completed her graduate work research while at Rush Medical College.

Tomarelli said she chose to come to Northern because she is attracted to the college’s mission of serving the Hispanic and Native American population of the region. In comparing Northern’s nursing associate degree program with those in larger cities such as Chicago, Tomarelli said “Northern’s program is exactly where it needs to be. It is an opportunity for a really affordable education to get you nursing certification and allows you to directly serve your community.” said Tomarelli. She also commented that northern New Mexico has much more going for it than people usually acknowledge.

The associate degree in nursing program has been graduating nurses since 1975 and the majority of nurses at the Española hospital came out of this program. Northern’s nursing program intends to highlight the successes of their faculty and program in the upcoming National Nurses Week May 6 thru 12.

For more information about the Northern New Mexico College associate degree in nursing program check out their website HERE