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SMU Programs Receive Congressional Recognition

SMU Group

Commitment to the community leads to Congressional recognition for two academic programs at Samuel Merritt University (SMU).  Community service and volunteerism have long been defining characteristics of students' education and the University mission.  Last month three SMU students and three faculty members received local and political recognition for their work at the Davis Street Family Resource Center (DSFRC), a local clinic in San Leandro. 

At the Center's 'From Our Hearts to Yours,' 40th anniversary celebration, staff and volunteer healthcare providers at the Clinic presented Suzanne August-Schwartz, DNP, APRN, FNP Director of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program and Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing , Rhonda Ramirez, EdD, FNP, Assistant Professor, Nisha Thapa, RN, FNP and SMU nursing graduate, Michael De Rosa, MPH, PhD, PA-C, Chair of the Master Physician Assistant (PA) Program and Professor, and Eric Chow and Julia Stevens, PA students, with congressional certificates from Congressman Pete Stark and State Senator Ellen Corbett, as well as a special recognition from the Davis St. Center. 

"The past two years the Davis St. Family Resource Center has seen a record number of uninsured and underinsured people living in and around Alameda County seeking medical care," said Dawn Valadez, development director.  "More than 5,000 families walk into our center every month and we could not do what we do without the support of the community and the partnership we have with organizations like Samuel Merritt University.  The students and faculty are a part of the Davis Street family."

The three students who received the congressional certificates were nominated by peers and faculty members for demonstrating honesty, integrity, responsibility and for committing time and energy in service to others.  "This year's honorees are extensively involved in both local and international community service." explained Dr. De Rosa.  "The student's outreach efforts are a manifestation of the University mission to serve in diverse communities."

PA group- Eric Chow, Julia Stevens & Dr. De Rosa

Nisha Thapa, a recent FNP graduate, was honored for her work in creating free health screening for uninsured immigrants from different Himalayan communities in the Bay Area.  "Patients from as far as Mountain View and San Mateo will come to the Davis Street clinic to be checked by the volunteer SMU physician assistants and nurse practitioner students," said Thapa. 

Along with fellow physician assistant student and recipient Julia Stevens, Chow was recognized for organizing a fundraising event last year that raised money for medical supplies to be used in the Davis St. Clinic.  "I am really honored by the recognition and I hope that our class can serve as a catalyst and motivator for future fundraising events," said Chow.  "It was truly humbling to have the support of many FNP and PA students.  We raised a lot of money in a short amount of time by working together for the same great cause."

"By working with the FNP students, we are able to uphold the goals of Dr. August-Schwartz' work in establishing a multi-disciplinary clinic for the local underserved," said Dr. De Rosa.  "This mutual collaboration between PAs and FNPs is a great depiction of the future of primary care medicine."

The clinic, which is celebrating 40 years of community and healthcare service, has been a refuge for low-income working class families in the Eden Area and its surrounding communities to improve their quality of life through short and long-term assistance.

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