Welcome to the Upstate Health Professions Alumni Association!

We serve over 5,300 alumni living and working coast-to-coast across the US


Integrity • Engagement • Tradition • Service • Generosity • Inclusion • Mentorship • Stewardship


Our Mission: to foster lifelong relationships to ensure financial support for the College and its mission to educate a continuous source of quality health care professionals.

We seek to connect, strengthen, cultivate and nourish relationships among our alumni, students, faculty and friends. We work to accomplish this through scholarships, faculty enrichment, reunion events, and providing emergency funding for students in crisis, among other activities. 

Scholarships: The Alumni Association is an important source of funding for student scholarships, which are only possible through the loyal and generous support of alumni across the decades. In the years since its first scholarship in 1995, the association has awarded more than 550 scholarships to Upstate's Heath Professions students. 

Stay tuned: We are in the process of updating your Upstate Health Professions Aumni Association website, making it a great resource to learn about job opportunities, events, scholarship information and much more.


“Joan O’Brien Scholarship” honors beloved Radiation Therapy program chair as she retires

A new scholarship is being established to honor longtime Radiation Therapy Department Chair Joan O’Brien, MSEd, RT(T) as she retires after nearly five decades of distinguished service to Upstate. O’Brien also serves as senior associate dean of the College of Health Professions.

O’Brien announced her retirement effective December 31, 2021, after 45 years of leadership and commitment to preparing Radiation Therapy students to be the finest in their field.

Read more and learn how you can honor Joan with your gift in support of the scholarship fund.


College of Health Professions alumni recognized for distinguished service at Fall Faculty Convocation

Story from Upstate News

President’s Award for Outstanding Voluntary Faculty:    Philip Messina, RT ’91, LRT                                                                 

Academy of Upstate Educators:                                         Amy DeBlois, DPT ’15, PT, NCS                                       


Messina and DeBlois were recognized with twenty-five other individuals and a local company by Upstate Medical University during Fall Faculty Convocation, held September 16 in the Weiskotten Hall courtyard.

The event was held in the Medical Alumni Auditorium before an audience of friends and family members of the award winners. The campus community also was able to view the event via live stream, or in person.

Awards recognized individuals in numerous categories, from Professional Service and Voluntary Faculty to Research and Diversity.

Among the key community honorees were Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, who both received the President’s Award for Distinguished Service.

Read more.

Upstate Respiratory Therapy alumni and faculty stepped forward to help after 9/11

From left, Instructor David Wolfe, then-students Greg Frani and Brad Kropf, and Instructor Nancy Feocco

Story by Charles McChesney, with Distinction

Greg Frani, RRT '02, EMT-P was a second-year student in the Respiratory Therapy program at Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions when terrorists attacked America on September 11, 2001. A volunteer firefighter, he wanted to do something to help. He soon got the opportunity.

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), the national association for respiratory therapists, has a Disaster Medical Assistance Team, recalled Sheila Young (AAS '83/BS '85), MS, RRT, RT, who was a member of the Respiratory Therapy faculty in the College of Health Professions at the time.

The AARC reached out to the respiratory therapy community and schools to ask for help, she said. “Due to the poor air quality, we knew that respiratory problems, like shortness of breath and cough, would be prevalent. We volunteered to assist in any way that we could.”

Two teams traveled to New York. They worked in a makeshift space at the 13th Precinct House, about an hour’s walk from Ground Zero. For two days, they worked long hours providing pulmonary function testing for those working at the site of the World Trade Center.

“It was mostly police officers, with an occasional firefighter,” remembered Kathleen Beney, MS '74, RT, RRT-NPS, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Respiratory Therapy Education in the College of Health Professions. First responders would come in from working at Ground Zero, looking through the debris and wreckage for possessions and remains.

Read more

CLS Professor published in National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

In a recent review article, Paul Johnson, PhD, MBA, DABCC, FAACC, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Lab Sciences, along with two clinical biochemistry co-authors from the CDC, describe the importance of biological variation (BV) of clinical lab test results in https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34130605/

Congratulations to Dr. Johnson and his co-authors!


Advance Practice Symposium: 8 Virtual Presentations you can complete at your own pace between September 13  - November 19, 2021

The purpose of the Symposium will be to facilitate the education of Advanced Practice Providers on the distinctive & progressing areas of Sepsis, Pain & Addiction, Care of the LGBTQ Population, PrEP & PEP, Enhancing Patient Experience, Neurology, Palliative Care & Wellness. 

The Symposium is open to all NPs, PAs, CNS, MDs, DOs, Nurses, Residents, Fellows & Students.

See full details on the Symposium brochure HERE.

Register securely HERE.

CHP alumna in the spotlight!

"I was accepted into the SUNY Upstate Medical University, College of Health Professions DPT program in 2012. Words cannot express my gratitude to the faculty and staff of SUNY Upstate. Without them I would not be where I am today.They taught me to be a lifelong learner, to see the big picture, and most importantly, to always be myself."                                                                                                                                                                                                          -Lauren Shirley




Our very own Lauren Shirley, DPT (’16), PT was featured in the May/June edition of the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA) PT newsletter! The NYPTA has over 6,000 members including PTs, PTAs and students.

Read it here.

Congratulations, Lauren!

Dean Beissner establishes College of Health Professions Diversity Endowment

 The current juniors (class of 2022) in the BSRT program represent very diverse backgrounds. They bring the wealth of their heritage to our country and community.

College of Health Professions Dean Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT, has long understood that a diverse health care workforce is necessary in order to appropriately care for an increasingly diverse patient population. Improving diversity among health care professions can enhance patient experience and increase patient satisfaction. Noticing a diversity gap within the College’s influx of students, Beissner established the College of Health Professions Diversity Endowment to support initiatives to increase the diversity of student populations, retain students of color and provide conscious education and training.

Click here to support this initiative with your gift to the College of Health Professions Diversity Endowment or call the Upstate Foundation at 315-464-4416.

Dr. Beissner said, “We are excited to launch the endowment. As the fund builds, we are focusing on promoting the endowment and recruiting students, faculty and staff. Once the funds are available, we will have a complete package on how it will be expended.”

The dean is working in conjunction with Upstate’s Student Affairs Department to recognize existing fractures in the current programs and modify what needs improvement. “Upstate’s College of Medicine has tremendous focus on diversity and inclusion. The College of Health Professions could offer low cost initiatives for education and training for an inclusive workplace,” Dr. Beissner said. “We must clarify where we can reach out.

“Years ago, I attended a conference where I was the only white person in attendance. It was eye-opening to understand this feeling and have a different perception of those who experience it much more often,” Dr. Beissner added. “Students of color remain underrepresented in many health profession programs.”

The fund will support enrichment programming, student and faculty recruitment and retention and community engagement. Dr. Beissner will also be reaching out to local high schools to learn about factors that influence minority groups.

Dean Beissner created a graphic to show percentage of non-Hispanic population within the US workforce, by health profession.

College of Health Professions highlights alumni

Alumni featured in the CHP newsletter from the following programs:

Click on a program above or click here to read all about them!


Retiring faculty from the College of Health Professions set up funds to strengthen programs

Dr. Carol Recker-Hughes

Physical Therapy Department

Dr. Recker-Hughes has over 25 years of experience in the role of Director of Clinical Education and is a 1979 alumna of SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Your gift to support the Dr. Carol Recker-Hughes Physical Therapy Clinical Education Fund will honor Dr. Recker-Hughes’ commitment to the Clinical Education Program and will augment much needed enrichment resources.

You can donate here: https://www.upstatefoundation.org/Recker-Hughes



Dr. Dale Avers

Physical Therapy Department

Dr. Avers has worked in the fields of geriatric and outpatient PT for over 40 years, and has been with Upstate’s College of Health Professions for 18 of those years!

Your gift to support the Dale Avers Leadership Award Endowment will honor Dr. Avers’ commitment to the Physical Therapy Education Program and will provide an annual award to a third year Doctor of Physical Therapy student in recognition of leadership abilities. 

You can donate here: https://www.upstatefoundation.org/Avers



Claire Aloan, RRT 

Respiratory Therapy Department

Claire is a Clinical Associate Professor, Department Chair and Program Director of the Respiratory Therapy Program and a 1974 alumna of SUNY Upstate Medical University.   

Your gift to support the Shelley Mishoe, PhD Endowment for Respiratory Therapy will honor Claire’s commitment to the Respiratory Therapy Program and will aid in education among Respiratory Therapy faculty.

You can donate here: https://www.upstatefoundation.org/chpalumni/donate. In the drop-down box, please select the Shelley Mishoe, PhD Endowment for Respiratory Therapy.


Postponed by the pandemic, College of Health Professions celebrates fall 2020 students with White Coat ceremony

The College of Health Professions welcomed students who should have celebrated in August 2020. They were recognized at a formal White Coat Ceremony held at the Medical Alumni Auditorium, Weiskotten Hall, on April 5 - eight months later due to Covid-19 restrictions. The ceremony was a hybrid event, with students and speakers in person; families and friends watched via livestream. Students were distanced in classrooms and viewed the speakers via livestream, then crossed the stage individually as their names were acknowledged.

Professor and Dean of the College of Health Professions, Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT, welcomed the students, “This event usually marks the beginning of professional studies for our students. While the timing is a bit off, I am very pleased to hold this event in person, rather than in a timely manner last fall, but apart.”

Event sponsor Nascentia Health was represented by Chief Clinical Officer Andrea Lazarek-LaQuay, MS, RN, whom Upstate College of Health Professions and the Health Professions Alumni Association share their sincere gratitude for their continued sponsorship.

“Marvel and DC can keep their cape-wearing heroes because we’ve all learned that the real heroes wear white coats,” Lazarek-LaQuay said.

The students were also welcomed by the President of Upstate Medical University, Mantosh Dewan, MD, as well as the President of the Health Professions Alumni Association, Anthony Kurec, MS ’86, MASCP, MLT(ASCP), H, DLM and Ruqiyah Shaik, vice president for the College of Health Professions, Upstate Student Government Medical Biotechnology, Class of 2021, and others.

The white coats are a gift to first year students from the Health Professions Alumni Association.

Click here to view the ceremony in its entirety.

Forbes names Upstate Medical University #35 of 500 of "America's Best Large Employers" for 2021

Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to identify the companies liked best by employees in our annual ranking of America's best large employers. Read more


Once a Syrian refugee, now a respiratory therapy student

Story by Susan Keeter

Fidaa Aljabbarin, a respiratory therapy student at Upstate, whispers “so terrible” when she describes her brother’s fatal asthma attack. She remembers Anas, 15, struggling to breathe, their father putting him into the family car and racing to a hospital in Damascus, Syria. Soldiers at a road block forced them to turn back. Helpless, their father watched as Anas gasped. He died in the car. 

Her family escaped Syria in 2013, and lived as refugees in Jordan for several years. There, Aljabbarin learned some basic English language words — chair, couch, boy, girl. Her family — mother, father, six brothers and two sisters — applied to be accepted in the USA as refugees. They waited. Read more.

A message from your Upstate Health Professions Alumni Association

One of our alumni recently emailed to say, "I have this incredible urge to put on a white coat and sit at a bench to help out. After being away from a pipette or microscope for 20 years - I probably would hinder rather than help."

The Covid-19 situation has reawakened that need that led all of us into health care in the first place, a fundamental desire to help others.


Many of you are leading the way on the front lines, and for that we are profoundly grateful.

If you are among those in a position to help, your support is needed. Our students are facing many sudden and unexpected challenges, which may go on for some time. Students in three CHP programs will not graduate on time, which brings with it a host of complications.

Upstate's Student Retention Emergency Fund #44555 will help address some of these student needs, such as housing, transportation, food, technology for remote learning, and other basic needs. 

THANK YOU for all you do, every day, whether you're in the thick of it or isolating at home.



CHP Alumni COVID-19 Updates: Information, resources, news and more:

Heart warming thank you video from Stony Brook University Hospital

Thank you to Upstate Chief Nursing Officer, Nancy Page, MSN, RN, NEA-BC for sharing the wonderful video of Stony Brook University Hosptial, thanking the Upstate respiratory therapists, nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy techs for their assistance during the Covid surge. Watch here.

CHP Alumnus shares his experiences from the front lines of COVID-19

Story from LocalSYR.com

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen many Central New Yorkers come together to help one another, including our healthcare workers. Upstate alumnus, Jason Meany, RT, BS '14, put his scuba business on hold to go back to his previous job as a respiratory therapist at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital and help his colleagues. Watch his story.

Upstate plays crucial role in managing emergency COVID-19 hospital at Javits Center in NYC

Story from Upstate News

Emergency Medicine physician Christopher Tanski, MD, MSEd, is working as the chief medical officer and Director of Nursing Recruitment and Retention Rebecca Milczarski, MSN, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, is working as chief nursing officer at the Javits Center. Division Chief of Hospital Medicine Housam Hegazy, MD, MLS, SFHM, FACP, CHCQM, is also on site assisting his Upstate peers. Read more.

Upstate University Hospital sending another team to Stony Brook Hospital on Long Island

Story from Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.

On April 14, another contingent from Upstate University Hospital headed downstate to help in the fight against COVID-19. The week prior nearly two dozen nurses got a hero's sendoff as they headed to Stony Brook on Long Island. 12 nurses, two respiratory technicians, three pharmacists and five pharmacy technicians traveled to assist efforts at Stony Brook Hospital. Read more.

In scary times, humanity brings us together, pulls us through

Story from Upstatenews

Prateek Harne, MD, a resident physician in internal medicine at Upstate, is interviewed by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper about his experience caring for the first person in Onondaga County to die of the coronavirus. Read more.

Ways that you can -- and should -- continue activity, even in isolation

Story from Upstate's HealthLink on Air

Even as people are sheltering in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Upstate exercise physiologist Carol Sames, PhD associate professor or Physical Therapy and assistant professor of Physician Assistant Studies, stresses the importance of staying active through exercise. She talks about ways to get a cardio workout or do strength training when you no longer have access to a fitness center. She also goes over the current recommendations for exercise: 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, plus two or three sessions of strength training and some flexibility training. Sames directs the Vitality Fitness Programs at Upstate. Read more.

How respiratory therapists prepare for the front lines of COVID-19 treatment

Story from Upstate's HealthLink on Air

Respiratory therapist Michele Pedicone discusses the importance of ventilators and respiratory therapists who care for some patients infected with the coronavirus. She explains how respiratory therapists train for such work, such as through the four-year program offered through Upstate's College of Health Professions, where Pedicone is an assistant professor of respiratory therapy. Read more.

Alumna's story written for Sirius XM host is tweeted to 200,000 followers

Michael Smerconish is a host on Sirius XM. He and the President of the United States host a program on CNN. Recently, Smerconish shared an essay on Twitter written by Patricia L. Carroll, RN-BC, RRT '77, MS, "The Hidden Heroes of COVID-19: Respiratory Therapists." Pat Carroll began her career as a respiratory therapist then, became a nurse. Read her story here.

Cuomo wants more ventilators, but are there enough specialists to run them?

Story from Syracuse.com

Claire Aloan, MS, RT '74, RRT-NPS, FAARC, director of the college's Respiratory Therapy program, explains how critical the expertise of respiratory therapists in the use of ventilators. Read more.


Read the Corona Virus Special Edition of Upstate Health magazine here.