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Archive for July, 2013

2013 Nursing Graduate Gabrielle Pakhtigian named 2012-13 Atlantic 10 Scholar Athlete of the Year

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Molly Gallagher
July 10, 2013


PHILADELPHIA – Gabrielle Pakhtigian has been named the 2012-13 Atlantic 10 Conference co-Scholar-Athlete Athlete of the Year, it was announced by the Conference office yesterday.

Voted on by the league’s Directors of Athletics, the award is given to the best overall male and female student-athlete, based on their athletic success and academic prowess. There was a tie in the voting for both the men’s and women’s award, marking the first tie in the voting since 1995-96 and the first-ever tie for the women’s award.

“I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to represent our team and school in this way,” Pakhtigian said. “The La Salle women’s soccer family means the world to me and I’m honored to represent the talent of such a special group of people.”

Pakhtigian, who last week was named one of two Atlantic 10 NCAA Woman of the Year nominees, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a 3.90 GPA.

“Only because of Jesus was I able to have success in the classroom or on the field,” she said. “This recognition is really a reflection of the hard work, dedication, and focus of the girls and our coaches and staff.”

The starting goalkeeper for the Explorers last season, Pakhtigian earned first team all-conference honors in leading the Explorers to their first-ever A-10 title and second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

“Our entire staff and team are incredibly proud of Gabby’s remarkable accomplishment,” head coach Paul Royal said. “Gabby’s dedication to her academics, teammates, University and faith is the pinnacle of what we want from our La Salle student-athletes. It’s an extraordinary award for an exceptional person.”

The North Wales, Pa. native led the A-10 with nine shutouts and ranked fifth in goals against average (0.94). She ranks second all-time at La Salle in wins (32), second in shutouts (16.5) and third all-time in goals against average.

Pakhtigian also served as La Salle Women’s soccer’s SAAC representative as well as serving on the Student Affairs Committee. She was selected to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American and All-District Teams, and twice earned a spot on the A-10 All-Academic Team. She was also a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and a four-year member of the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Pakhtigian shares the award with a familiar face, fellow women’s soccer student-athlete Colleen Williams of Dayton.

Be sure to watch the Feature Friday interview with Gabrielle Pakhtigian from October of 2012 to learn more about this exceptional former student-athlete.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

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On Friday, May 18, 2013 at approximately 10:30 a.m., when Dr. McGrorty was called to the stage to receive a hard-earned doctoral degree—two women stood up. An assistant professor in La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. Anne McGrorty became one of the first three graduates from the University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. And at the same time, just a little farther down Broad Street, her daughter, Dr. Alison McGrorty, received her medical degree at TempleUniversity.

“My gift to my daughter is showing her the importance of loving your work—it never feels like work when you love what you do,” Anne said. Regardless of which Dr. McGrorty you’re referring to, “we are both dedicated to improving the health of children.”

Anne will continue the career in pediatric nursing she has cultivated over the past 35 years—and Alison will soon begin her residency in pediatric medicine at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

“This idea that there’s a line drawn in the sand between nurses and physicians, it doesn’t exist in my world,” Anne said. “I’ve been collaborating with physicians my whole life in nursing. One day, my daughter may be one of those physicians I collaborate with, and I hope she is.”

While each woman walked her own path to becoming Dr. McGrorty, the two traveled a parallel journey. “I was in a unique position where I wasn’t just a phone call away, I was down the hall,” Alison says. While she pored over medical textbooks in her upstairs bedroom, her mother churned out clinical research papers in the basement. Both women racked up an impressive number of clinical hours in the hospital—once even running into each other at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children while Alison was completing an infectious disease rotation and Anne was teaching a class of nursing students.

When they weren’t at the hospital during working hours, they were often there during visiting hours. In the midst of their studies, they unexpectedly found themselves on the other side of stethoscope when John (Anne’s husband and Alison’s father) discovered he had a brain tumor. “Suddenly the things we were talking about in my classes started to hit closer to home, and it gave me a new perspective,” Alison said. “It taught me how to look beyond the diagnosis and realize there is a face and a heart and a family there and that sometimes is more important than what the prognosis is.”

During this difficult time, the family clung to the “three Cs” that had always been an emphasis in their household—character, commitment, and courage. “A lot of times, people look at how tragedy is going to disable us, rather than how it’s going to enable us to do things better,” Anne said. “We survived as a family and encouraged each other to achieve our goals.”

A craniotomy removed John’s tumor and restored him to health, but the harrowing experience added a whole new dimension to Anne and Alison’s medical education. “It’s a challenge when you have to put yourself into that other role. I wasn’t the nurse there and Alison wasn’t the physician; quite honestly, we had to take a step back and let other people do their jobs,” Anne said. “Going forward, I think about my patients or their family getting the same news we did, and I know what that’s like. I’ve walked in their shoes. There were lessons we learned—not always the easy way—but, quite frankly, I’m glad we had the opportunity to learn them because it makes us better at what we do.”


-Colleen Mularkey, ’06


SLP Grads Embrace New Careers

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Choosing a major as an undergraduate can be difficult, and oftentimes students change their minds about their chosen paths. For Janice Gordon and Matt Sayers—both of whom are graduating from La Salle’s Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program this month—that change came after entering the field in which they had studied as undergraduates.

Gordon graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The Blooming Glen, Pa., native then worked as a research associate for the Selective Mutism Research Institute in Jenkintown, a nonprofit organization that studies selective mutism among children. Through the Institute, Gordon met Evelyn Klein, Ph.D., a professor in the Speech-Language Pathology program at La Salle.

“I loved watching her and other speech-language pathologists conduct a speech-language evaluation,” Gordon said. She was so inspired by Klein that she decided she wanted to be a part La Salle’s program.

Sayers’ background and transition into speech-language pathology was a little more complicated.  Originally from southern New Jersey, he began his undergraduate career as a cognitive science major because he loved linguistics. He then changed to opera and voice performance, but he later decided that he didn’t want a performer’s life. Sayers graduated in 1999 from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Latin American studies, with the intention of going into finance and international development.

Sayers worked in emergency assistance, mainly coordinating insurance payments for people who were injured traveling abroad, before eventually moving on to the qualified plans department at Vanguard.

“I just didn’t enjoy finance,” he said, “so I wrote down all the things that I was interested in.”

Sayers had an interest in the cognitive aspect of language and vocal anatomy, but he always thought speech-language pathology meant working in schools with children. He later discovered the medical field aspect of speech pathology, like working with stroke patients and those with swallowing disorders and head injuries.

“I really like how there’s an engineering aspect to voice and swallowing,” he said. “If you know how the system works, you can look at a disorder and see how to fix it.”

Once Sayers realized this option, he chose La Salle’s program because of the convenience of the pre-SLP online courses (which he completed prior to enrolling in the M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology program) and the great reputation the University has among employers in the field.

While Sayers’ interest focuses on the hospital and medical side of speech pathology, Gordon’s passion is working with children. La Salle’s program allowed them to get a taste of both fields, as it required time working in schools as well as a hospital rotation.

Gordon and Sayers agreed that the students and faculty in the program made an impact on their experience. Despite the competitive admission process for the program – only a small percentage of applicants are accepted – their classmates were all very supportive.

“Without my classmates, I would not have survived with any grace or dignity,” Gordon said. “It’s nice to have people who can make you laugh and remind you why you’re doing this.”

“Out of 29 students (in the program), there is no one I wouldn’t want treating a family member,” Sayers said.

“You combine the inspirational and down-to-earth faculty and the people selected out of a pool of applicants and you create a perfect storm for a really awesome two years,” Gordon said.

The biggest challenge they faced in returning to school was time management.

“I had limited time to put everything into my work and also learn everything in a new field,” said Gordon, who continued working full time while completing her prerequisite courses. “The faculty made all the difference.”

“Dealing with online education, it’s important to take ownership of why you’re doing it,” Sayers said. “For me, I knew it was starting a second career and to better myself.”

Following graduation, Sayers’ short-term goal is to go right into the medical field. Ideally, he would eventually like to work with head and neck cancer patients—people who have had changes to their speech and swallowing caused by cancer treatments. He is also looking forward to one day pursuing his Ph.D.

Gordon, meanwhile, is excited to jump right into being a clinician. She thinks she may later consider pursuing her Ph.D. and becoming a professor.

“I love connecting with people. I like thinking that academic work and teaching are ahead of me,” she said. “I had such a wonderful mentor in Dr. Klein that I want to be that for someone else.”


-Olivia Biagi, ’11

Learning to Give Back

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Nursing graduate Jillian Pintye, ’07 has arguably done more to give back to the world than most others her age—something that Pintye attributes to her time at La Salle.

Pintye, a native of Tuckerton, N.J., graduated with her nursing degree and a desire to help others in need. This, and the aid of then-La Salle Honors Program Director John Grady, encouraged her to apply for a Fulbright Grant. “He supported me tooth and nail through the application process,” she said. Her hard work paid off when she learned she was selected to study public health in Denmark as a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright grant.

From Denmark, Pintye joined the Peace Corps in hopes of helping other countries improve their response to health crises, something she realized she wanted to do after participating in a public health travel/study course that took her to a Mayan village in Guatemala during her junior year. Performing health screenings on the underprivileged children deepened her interest in public health nursing.

“Experiencing the health disparities present in the marginalized community we served unexpectedly shook me to the core,” she said of the trip. “I was overwhelmed by the burden of disease that was attributed to preventable infections.”

Pintye_Jillian_kidHer commitment to the Peace Corps brought her to Botswana, where she focused on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. After spending two years in a small, remote village coordinating data collection from clinics and planning effective HIV/AIDS programming, Pintye went on to work in the city of Gabarone, working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on HIV/AIDS policy.

“HIV/AIDS is pervasive in the very fabric of society in Botswana, and it has immense cultural implications,” she said. “I truly believe that if we can put a halt to the HIV incidence, Botswana will flourish.”

During her time in Botswana, Pintye relied heavily on what she learned during her time at La Salle, particularly her statistics and research course with Zane Robinson Wolf, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN. “Using what I learned in Dr. Wolf’s class, I was able to guide my health management team through HIV/AIDS programming evaluations and to aid decision makers on how best to respond to the HIV epidemic.”

While serving in Botswana, Pintye met First Lady Michelle Obama while she was visiting the country with a number of young girls from the village, many of whom were AIDS orphans. “It was amazing to see how cross-cutting of a role model Obama is to young women; she can touch hearts and minds from cities in the U.S. to the bush of Botswana,” she said.

Now, after serving three years in the Peace Corps, Pintye is studying for her Master’s in Public Health at the University of Washington, specializing in epidemiology-global health.

Stan Miller, M.D. Appointed Chair of La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board

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Stan Miller, M.D., MPH, FACS has been appointed the new Chair of La Salle University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board. He is currently the Executive Director for the Center for Public Health Research and Educational Programs in Public Health at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, and Acting Medical Director for Main Line Health Occupational and Travel Medicine Clinical Practice.

Miller earned his M.D. Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College and a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery, the American Board of Preventive Medicine with specialties in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine and in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Previously, he was a staff surgeon at Germantown Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.