Welcome to the Upstate Health Professions Alumni Association!

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SUNY Upstate Connect

Check out your new alumni networking platform!

It’s a fun, easy-to-use site to expand your professional network, reconnect with classmates, find opportunities for career advancement – even seek or give mentoring assistance to Upstate alumni and students. You can share your accomplishments, initiate discussions, share photos – and so much more. We hope you join us in making SUNY Upstate Connect a valuable tool for your alumni community.

Click here to join and stay connected!


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

Student Admissions hosts virtual events for several programs

Student Admissions is hosting virtual events for several of our bachelor’s and graduate programs including Nursing (BS, MS and DNP), Radiation Therapy (BS/BPS), X-ray and Ultrasound (BS/BPS), Clinical Laboratory Sciences (BS), Respiratory Therapy (BS), Medical School (MD, MD/PhD and MD/MPH), Physical Therapy (DPT), Physician Assistant (MS) and Clinical Perfusion (MS).  To register, please visit https://engage.upstate.edu/portal/virtual-events. If you are unable to participate, visit our Open House webpage for videos about the various programs and education opportunities offered at Upstate:https://www.upstate.edu/prospective/events/oh-videos.php. For more information, email MeyerW@upstate.edu


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.


Application of Pain Sciences – February 20 & 24 - save the dates!

Michael Costello PT, DSC, OCS, MTC

Upstate Medical University Department of PT Education, is pleased to offer Advanced Applications of Pain Sciences. This two-day REMOTE learning (8 contact hours) post professional continuing education course will help you to update knowledge, enhance clinical decision making, and transform practice.

Day One: Saturday, February 20 – 8 am to 2:30 pm
Day Two: Wednesday, February 24 –6:30 to 8:30 pm

This will be hosted over Zoom and links will be sent to registrants prior to the course.

Instructor:   Michael Costello PT, DSC, OCS, MTC

     Assistant Professor, Ithaca College Physical Therapy Department

     Instructor and Mentor, Cayuga Medical Center Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency

     and Spine Fellowship Programs


Click here for course description and registration


Upstate's front line pushes hard to save lives through pandemic

© N. Scott Trimble | strimble@syracuse.com/N. Scott Trimble | strimble@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS 

A medical technician grabs equipment on the Upstate University Hospital Covid ICU floor Wednesday, December 16, 2020. N

Story from Syracuse.com

The county’s daily average of hospitalizations over the past week was 324. Compare that with 302 daily hospitalizations during the previous week, according to the county data.

"Today, 324 people are hospitalized," county executive RyanMcMahon reported. "Of those patients, 47 are in intensive care. Another 20 are awaiting a negative test before being released."

McMahon said Monday’s new case numbers may also be down. He suggested through his Twitter account that the most recent data may show that the spike in cases after Thanksgiving may be subsiding. “Hopefully we will not see a Christmas Surge,” he added.

Read more.

After 1st vaccinations in Syracuse, SUNY Chancellor celebrates Upstate's achievements during pandemic

Story by Andrew Donovan

From Albany, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras was watching as the first people were vaccinated against coronavirus at Upstate Medical University.

Malatras wants the community and state to celebrate not only the first shots in arms but Upstate’s role in developing the Pfizer vaccine.

Upstate coordinated people to be participants in the vaccine trial and its chief infectious disease doctor, Dr. Stephen Thomas, was the lead principal investigator in the study.

Watch WSYR-TV video here

Upstate’s Dr. Stephen Thomas to participate at FDA vaccine hearing


Stephen Thomas, MD

Story by Emily Kulkus

Upstate’s chief of infectious disease, Stephen J. Thomas, MD, will participate at a public hearing Thursday as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers whether to issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Thomas is the coordinating principal investigator for the world-wide Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial, which is showing more than 94 percent efficacy in preventing COVID-19. Upstate serves as one of the global phase three vaccine trial locations.

Read more.


Upstate Strong - Free Thank-You Concert! Friday, December 4



Friday, December 4, from 7-8pm

The Upstate Foundation's sponsor supported, free-to-the-public streaming concert is a thank you to Upstate Medical University's front-line workers, health care providers and researchers, and members of the Central New York community who have supported and continue to support Upstate University Hospital during the pandemic.


We can't wait for you to join us this Friday!
Click here for viewing on Friday.


Application of Pain Sciences – December 5th and 9th - save the dates!

Michael Costello PT, DSC, OCS, MTC

Upstate Medical University Department of PT Education, is pleased to offer Advanced Applications of Pain Sciences. This two-day REMOTE learning (8 contact hours) post professional continuing education course will help you to update knowledge, enhance clinical decision making, and transform practice.

Day One:  Saturday, December 5th – 8 am to 2:30 pm

Day Two:  Wednesday, December 9th – 6:30 to 8:30 pm

This will be hosted over Zoom and links will be sent to registrants prior to the course.

Instructor:   Michael Costello PT, DSC, OCS, MTC

     Assistant Professor, Ithaca College Physical Therapy Department

     Instructor and Mentor, Cayuga Medical Center Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency

     and Spine Fellowship Programs


Click here for course description and registration


Upstate's the answer for Downstate Twins

Radiation therapy student and 2020 recipient of the Thomas Grady Scholarship for Radiation Therapy, Chelsea Merine '21 plots a radiation treatment under the supervision of Tierney Dygert, RT(T) '09, clinical education coordinator,  at the tomography machine in the Upstate Cancer Center.

Story by Susan Keeter

A 15-week internship at a cancer center transformed Chelsea Merine’s life plan. “I never saw myself as a ‘science person’ but when I shadowed a radiation therapist, I loved the technology and the human interaction.”

At the time, Chelsea was working on an associate’s degree in social sciences at Rockland Community College, located near her childhood home and 50 miles north of Manhattan. The internship was required but Chelsea was enchanted by the friendships that developed between the radiation therapists and cancer patients during the multiple days of treatments. She graduated with an associate’s degree, and went to SUNY Binghamton.  Read more.


CHP Alumna will be recognized on special live website, September 10

Charlene Hubbell, BS '69, MT(ASCP) SBB, among others, will be recognized at Upstate's annual Employee Recognition Day (ERD).

Like many other events during this pandemic, Upstate’s annual Employee Recognition Day (ERD), that was set for Sept. 10, will be virtual, in a way.

To ensure everyone’s safety, large gatherings such as ERD cannot occur this year. The gathering usually attracts more than 600 employees for a luncheon celebration at the Oncenter. This year the recognition of more than 1,200 employees celebrating five-year milestones of service will be rolled out on a special website: www.upstate.edu/erd, which goes live September 10.

“We’re certainly disappointed that we cannot gather in person for this special event,” said Gwynne Conway, co-chair of the ERD committee, with Sharon Adkins. “However, we want to ensure that we celebrate the outstanding work of our employees and recognize them for their dedication to Upstate, and we’ll do that online this year.”   Read more

Watch Employee Recognition Day, Live, here.


Cardiovascular Perfusion team, alumni, launch first ECMO Specialist Certification exam

From left, Bruce Searles, Jeff Riley, Ed Darling

Story from Upstate News

An Upstate Medical University professor led the team of specialists from across the country to develop the first certification exam for an advanced piece of operating room equipment that is being used frequently with severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Jeffrey Riley, MHPE, CCP Emeritus, LP, a research associate professor in the department of cardiovascular perfusion at Upstate, along with alumni Edward Darling, MS, CCP and Bruce Searles, MS '93, CP are leading and developing the first ECMO Specialist Certification Exam. Riley has been a perfusionist—the person who operates the heart-lung machines during open-heart surgery and life-support equipment in the ICU—for 46 years, with most of his career spent at the Mayo Clinic. Read more...


PT professor teams with associate dean, professor at the College of Nursing to discuss importance of sleep during recovery from stroke

With excerpts from Upstate's HealthLink On Air

Problems with sleep can worsen a person's health in the year after a stroke. Discussing their research on this topic are physical therapist George Fulk, PhD, PT, FAPTA, professor of physical therapy in the Upstate College of Health Professions, and nurse Karen Klingman, PhD, RN, associate dean and associate professor in the Upstate College of Nursing. They explain their recommendations for those who are recovering from a stroke, and why sleep is so important for recovery. 

"It's a challenging process, yet we had few revisions with our research project," said Dr. Klingman. "We received help from our peer reviewers who had given a lot of their time to this project and gave constructive feedback," she added.

Click here to see their research project.

Click here to hear their discussion.

Live Webinar by Martin Finn, JD, CPA, LL.M.

Tuesday, July 28, 2:00 to 3:30 pm

Complimentary to all SUNY alumni, faculty & staff

A world-wide health crisis and the resulting economic turmoil have caused individuals to take a new look at their estate and financial planning, including the charitable aspects of that planning. This free webinar will review the essential estate planning strategies that every individual needs to consider in these trying times. Specific focus will be placed on recent legislation, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the SECURE Act and the CARES Act, and their impact on the choice of proper planning strategies. Questions and answers will follow as time permits.

REGISTER TO ATTEND                                        

About our Presenter:

Martin S. Finn is a Founding Partner of the Albany, NY-area law firm Lavelle & Finn, LLP. As an attorney and CPA, Marty brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding when advising clients on tax and legal matters, such as maximizing wealth and retirement income, personal and corporate tax planning, business counseling, estate and business succession planning and elder law services. 

Learn more at: https://www.lavelleandfinn.com/


College of Health Professions faculty member, named one of ten Gold Standard Faculty Award winners


       Erin Wentz

Congratulations to Erin Wentz, PhD, PT, PCS, assistant professor, Department of Physical Therapy Education, College of Health Professions!

The awards recognize faculty for “work exemplifying the missions of Upstate, with particular emphasis on professionalism, work ethic and character.”

"We are very proud of all of our amazing Upstate faculty and it is with great pleasure that we recognize these Gold Standard winners,” said Interim Upstate President Mantosh Dewan, MD. “With their excellence, commitment and dedication to our missions, they exemplify the best in us. But what makes this award special is that each one was honored by their peers. Congratulations to all.”

Listen to the script read by Dr. Katherine Beissner, Dean of the College of Health Professions, presenting the 2020 Gold Standard Award to Dr. Erin Wentz.

To read more about the Gold Standard Awards and other recipients, click here.

Respiratory Therapy Alumna participates with researchers and physicians from around the world

Story from the College of Health Professions

Physicians and researchers all over the world are sharing research and information on what works, and doesn’t work, in the struggle against COVID-19. “Hundreds of papers are coming out every week,” said Upstate Medical University College of Graduate Studies Dean Mark Schmitt, PhD. “Clinicians just don’t have time to go through it.”

Schmitt, other faculty members and student volunteers at Upstate Medical University created an effort to read through literature, look for the most useful information, and share it with Upstate’s Incident Command team on a weekly basis. Ashley Miller, BSRC, '20 of the Respiratory Therapy program who received the programs Academic Achievement Award as well as induction into Lambda Beta, the national honor society for the profession, actively participated with this group, bringing the perspective of Respiratory Therapists as critical front-line members to the COVID-19 team.

“Students have been a fantastic auxiliary work force,” said Christopher Morley, PhD, chair of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Upstate. The students’ work has been instrumental in creating models used by the Incident Command team coordinating the University’s response to the outbreak."

Upstate's Respiratory Therapy Program honored with credentialing success award

Story from Upstate News

Congratulations to the Respiratory Therapy Program for being recognized with the Distinguished RRT Credentialing Success Award by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC)! The dedication from the faculty to teaching has made a huge impact in lives of many. Read the story here.

Med Tech alumnus spearheads efforts for a safe return to campus

Excerpts from the College of Health Professions

1997 Medical Technology Alum, Paul Suits, MT '97, BS, CIC is leading efforts to provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff to return to the Upstate campus. Paul has a national certification in Infection Control and is the Director of the Department of Infection Prevention at Upstate. Paul will collaborate with teams and individuals to create infection prevention strategies, provide feedback, and sustain infection prevention strategies. Thank you for all your great work, Paul!

DPT alumnus explains why physical therapy is necessary in Covid-19 recovery

Zachary Boswell, DPT '16 and 2015 recipient of the Kevin J. Reistrom Memorial Scholarship, explains in a podcast why physical therapy is necessary for people who are recovering from a Covid-19 infection. He is a Doctor of Physical Therapy in Upstate's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Listen to his podcast here.


College of Health Professions seeking Assistant Professor in Clinical Laboratory Science

SUNY Upstate Medical University is seeking qualified applicants for a 12-month tenure track position as Assistant Professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science Department.  Primary responsibilities include development and delivery of lecture and laboratory courses in Blood Banking to include coordinating clinical rotations; planning curricula; and preparation of examinations/student assessments. Participation in scholarly and professional activities pertinent to the field required. Other responsibilities include oversight of student capstone projects, academic advising of selected students in the department, and participation in departmental faculty meetings, student recruitment activities, and program accreditation. Click here for more details.

'07 Alumnus, Assistant Professor of CLS and Microbiology and Immunology is June 2020 recipient of the Exceptional Moments in Teaching Recognition

DPT student leads Upstate's involvement in the Heart Walk for American Heart Association

Four of the two dozen who participated, and helped Team Upstate lead the local fund-raising challenge, were (clockwise from top left) Jessica Degina, Adrianne Marquez, Erica Hecht and Jocelyn Penteck.

Story by Charles Mcchesney

Upstate College of Health Professions doctor of physical therapy student Jessica Degina, a member of the class of 2021, continued a tradition of having DPT students help organize Upstate’s involvement. 

“The students really organize it, I just help,” said George Fulk, PT, PhD, chair of the Physical Therapy program. Helping includes motivating students, he explained. Each year, the student who raises the most for the Heart Walk receives a copy of his book on physical therapy, “Physical Rehabilitation,” with co-authors Susan B. O’Sullivan and Thomas J. Schmitz. Read more.

Upstate’s new 419 graduates have first-ever virtual commencement

Story from Upstate News

Upstate Medical University conducted its first-ever virtual commencement on May 1st conferring degrees on 419 students who graduated from the Colleges of Health Professions, Nursing, Medicine and Graduate Studies.

Interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD, praised members of the class of 2020 for their resilience and dedication to a field centered on helping others.

“More than ever, we need each and every one of you,” Dewan said. “Close your eyes and walk across a splendid stage and out into a temporarily troubled world as a graduate and a hero.” 

New York Health Commissioner Harold Zucker, MD, JD, was the ceremony’s featured speaker.  The ceremony included a message from Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon who congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to stay and work in Central New York. Also addressing graduates were Dean of Student Affairs Julie White, PhD; College of Nursing Dean Tammy Austin-Ketch, PhD, FNP; College of Health Professions Dean Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT; College of Medicine Dean Lawrence Chin, MD; and College of Graduate Studies Dean Mark Schmitt, PhD. Student speakers included Heather Bedard, College of Nursing; Amber Walker, College of Health Professions; Yaa Takyiwaa and Jared Sweeney, MD, College of Medicine; and Adam Blanden, College of Graduate Studies. Read more.

Dean Beissner recognizes each 2020 CHP graduate individually

Thank you to Dean Katherine Beissner, PhD, PT and her Reception Planning Committee for highlighting each and every graduate of the class of '20 Health Professions programs in a special Commencement Reception video.

The Reception Planning Committee included class of 2020 CHP graduates Damian Hall, Tara McDonald, Christine Meore, Amber Walker and CHP Faculty Dale Avers, DPT, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Dominick DeMichele, MSEd., RT(R)(CT), Karen Thrasher, MS, RPA-C and Erin Wentz, PhD, PT, PCS. A special thanks to Linda Curry, CHP Dean's office and Steve Marks from Educational Communications.  Congratulations to the College of Health Professions, Class of 2020.

Watch 2020 CHP Commencement Reception Video


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.


Response to COVID-19: The Alumni Association staff will be working remotely until further notice. If you need assistance, please email chpalum@upstate.edu or call 315-464-4416 to leave a message and we will respond as soon as possible. Thank you.        



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.


Since its inception in 1992, the Health Professions Alumni Association has awarded more than 525 scholarships.  The association also provides support for continuing education, professional development, and other needs of the students, faculty and alumni of the College of Health Professions. Many alumni will remember receiving their first white coat as a gift from the alumni association.

The mission of the Health Professions Alumni Association is to enhance educational excellence and scholarship for health professions students of the Upstate Medical University campus, and promote collegiality among CHP alumni, students and faculty.  We hope you will join us in this effort.

To all of our alumni, please stay in touch. It’s quick and easy to update your contact information or to share your news and accomplishments in the alumni newsletter. Simply contact us through the secure online community on this site, by e-mailing us at chpalum@upstate.edu or by calling 315-464-4416.


To read the most current news, click here or select News and Stories from the menu on the left.