Awards and Achievements
The Excelsior College Alumni Association offers an opportunity for graduates to apply for one of its annual alumni awards. This honor gives recognition to outstanding graduates whose achievements inspire fellow graduates and students.
Read the instructions and complete the Alumni Award Application Form (PDF). Applications are due January 15.
2013 Award Winners
Alumni Achievement Award
Recognizes outstanding academic, professional, personal, and community contributions that are representative of our graduates. Presented to a graduate whose achievements may serve as a role model to inspire other graduates and students.
Alyson Breisch, RN, MSN, FCN
Carrie B. Lenburg Award
Presented to an outstanding nursing graduate in recognition of the accomplishments and vision of Dr. Carrie Lenburg, coordinator of the Regents College Nursing Program from 1973 to 1990. It commemorates her commitment to helping nurses attain their educational and professional goals. This award is presented to a nurse who demonstrates a commitment to nursing education as well as academic and professional accomplishments in the field of nursing.
Michael E. Gonzales
C. Wayne Williams Award
Named after the College’s first president, this award is presented in recognition of outstanding public service and community involvement by a graduate.
Previous Award Winners
Susan R. Legaspi
Susan R. Legaspi, CPA, CFF, ACFE, of Los Angeles, California, graduated from Excelsior College in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in General Business degree. She’s currently a partner with Zuehls, Legaspi & Company (ZLCO), a multi-disciplinary accounting and consulting firm.
Jeffrey T. Stewart
Dr. Jeffrey T. Stewart of Jersey City, New Jersey, graduated from Excelsior (then Regents) College in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree. He is an assistant professor at the New Jersey Dental School and a practicing endodontist.
Anthony E. Munroe, EdD
Dr. Anthony E. Munroe of Chicago, Illinois, graduated from Excelsior (then Regents) College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree. He is president and chief executive officer of Munroe Management Group, LLC, a health care consulting practice with expertise in leadership, governance, and organizational operations.
Formerly president of Advocate Trinity Hospital, Dr. Munroe was named one of the Top 25 minority health care executives in the United States by Modern Healthcare Magazine. He was also the recipient of the 2003 Robert S. Hudgens Memorial Award for young health care executive of the year, awarded by the American College of Healthcare Executives and was included on an Up & Comers list by Modern Healthcare and Witt/Kieffer. Previously, Munroe served as president of St. John Detroit Riverview Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and as president and chief executive officer of the Economic Opportunity Family Health Center, Miami, Florida.
Originally from Bronx, New York, Munroe completed his doctoral studies with a focus on health systems, earning an EdD in Health Education at Columbia University, Teachers College in New York. He also earned two master’s degree—an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master’s of Public Health from Columbia University. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where he is national committee vice chairman.
Munroe’s community involvement includes service on the board of directors of Health Choice Network; advisor to The Miami Fellows Program; Scottsdale Child Development Center, Decatur, Georgia; the Community Advisory Board of the Brooklyn Medical Center—New York University; the Columbia University Joseph Mailman School of Public Health’s Alumni Executive Advisory Board; and on the board of directors of the Southside Chicago YMCA.
As one of the first ten Kellogg Foundation and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s national Public Health Fellows, Munroe is also a fellow and a board certified health care executive of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). The American Public Health Association published his research abstract on the impact of Medicaid managed care on the children of New York City, and he has a number of other articles and research projects on topics including cultural competency in health care, which have been accepted for presentation and publication. A dynamic speaker, Munroe often participates on panels and as a keynote speaker; he was a featured speaker during the Economic Summit coordinated and sponsored by the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The mayor and board of commissioners for Miami-Dade County have designated an “Anthony E. Munroe Day,” recognizing him for his service and expertise. He has also received a prestigious Congressional Certificate for his work in health care.
Jerry L. Neff, Brigadier General, USARNG (Ret.),
Brigadier General Jerry L. Neff, USARNG (Ret.), has always been well focused and a high achiever. He set off on a career in banking by the age of 21, beginning as an assistant trust officer for National Bank of Sarasota. He had already joined the Army National Guard — at age 18 — an event that served to have a profound impact on his life.
Mr. Neff became very successful as both a guardsman and a banker. Over the next 20 years, he was steadily promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, while also achieving leadership banking positions from senior trust officer to senior vice president to area executive vice president at First Florida Bank, N.A.
His resume was quite impressive by the mid-1980s; yet, he sought more both professionally and personally. It was during that time that he enrolled at Excelsior (then Regents) College and soon graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1987. This academic achievement proved to be a defining experience in his life. Neff states, “I gained a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability to serve my community in civic, economic, and social organizations after completing my degree.”
The conferral of his baccalaureate degree had an almost immediate impact professionally. He became county president of First Florida Bank and graduated from the National Commercial Lending Graduate School the following year. Continuing his successful career through several banking acquisitions and mergers, Neff’s numerous accomplishments were recognized by the Florida Bankers Association in 2004, when he was named Banker of the Year.
Excelsior impacted Neff’s military career as well. He was promoted to colonel in 1992, selected to attend the United States Army War College from which he graduated in 1995, and was ultimately promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1997. He was awarded the Florida Cross twice (1997 and 1999), the highest award given to a member of the Florida Army National Guard, for outstanding service to the citizens of the State of Florida. He was also awarded the Legion of Merit by the U.S. Army and retired from service in 1999.
In addition to his banking and career experiences, Neff is thankful that he has been able to be of service to his community. He has been a board member of the South Florida Museum as well as the United Way and the Economic Development Council of Manatee County; charter board member of the Manatee Schools Foundation; and chairman of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves on the board of trustees of Blake Medical Center; as chairman of the Manatee Rural Health Clinic Foundation; chairman of the board of trustees of First Presbyterian Church, Bradenton, Florida; and president of the Military Officers Association of America, Bradenton Chapter.
Carey S. Clark, PhD, RN
Carey S. Clark, PhD, RN, of Arrowsic, Maine, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Excelsior College in 1999. She is an assistant professor at the University of Maine at Augusta, where she is developing a caring-holistic-integral curriculum in the RN-BSN program.
No award recipient in 2010.
Lorraine B. Sanders, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, CNM, DNSc
Lorraine B. Sanders, of Merrick, New York, a two-time Excelsior College graduate, is an accomplished educator who has dedicated her career to helping other nurses achieve their professional goals. Associate professor and director of the RN/BS program at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing at the City University of New York, Ms. Sanders earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing in 1983 and a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1985 from Excelsior (the Regents) College.
Sanders also earned a Master of Science degree in family health/nurse practitioner from Stony Brook University and a doctorate in nursing science from Columbia University. In addition, she has earned a Post Master’s Certificate in Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner from Stony Brook and a Midwifery Certificate from SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
An educator for more than 10 years, Sanders received the 2007 award for Outstanding Research Poster, “Nursing Research: Pregnancy after Diagnosis with HIV: Women’s Voices,” presented at the National Institute of Mental Health. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Honor Society of Nursing, and she serves as the vice president of the Alpha Omega Chapter. Her community activities include membership in the Medical Reserve Corps of Nassau County and service on a task force on perinatal mood disorders for the Nassau County Perinatal Service Network.
In addition to her many education and community contributions, Sanders has also coauthored a chapter in the book, Family Health Care Nursing: Theory, Practice, and Research, 4th Edition; and is the author of the forthcoming Reproductive Life Plans: Initiating the Dialogue with Childbearing Women and Their Partners.
Suzanne S. Yarbrough, PhD, RN
Suzanne Yarbrough, PhD, RN, shares the experience of many Excelsior College nursing students. As a military wife who was also an associate degree RN, she “struggled to find a BS nursing program that would give credit for prior educational work.” Fortunately, she discovered Excelsior (then Regents External Degree Program) and obtained her baccalaureate in nursing in 1984.
Dr. Yarbrough treasures her Excelsior degree, crediting it with making it possible for her “to pursue graduate education and my dream of becoming a nurse educator.” She earned a master’s in nursing from Texas Woman’s University in 1991, and continued on, achieving her PhD in nursing from that institution in 1994.
From the time she first began her nursing studies, Yarbrough has been actively involved in promoting the profession and improving nursing education. She has been a member of the Oncology Nursing Society since 1967 and has served as a manuscript and research reviewer. She is also on the Education Outreach Committee of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Evaluation of Learning Advisory Council for the National League for Nursing. Yarbrough is president-elect of Excelsior’s Tau Kappa chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International and cochair of the Greater San Antonio Nurse Executive Forum.
Yarbrough has been particularly interested in breast cancer screening and educational research and practice. She has published in these areas and spearheaded major endeavors, cochairing the First Invitational Conference on Competency-Based Nursing Education, which brought together nurse educators, health care industry leaders, and regulators to discuss efficient and effective ways to educate nurses. She was also a principal investigator for a study that assessed the validity and reliability of Excelsior’s Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination® (the capstone examination developed by Dr. Carrie Lenburg). Yarbrough has been recognized for her research, education, and teaching contributions with awards from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Appreciative of her education from Excelsior College, Yarbrough has given back in many ways. She served on the Alumni Association Advisory Board for two consecutive terms beginning in 2000 and was elected president from 2001-2003. As her volunteer work with the Board was ending, Yarbrough relocated to Albany to further serve her alma mater as the associate dean of nursing. Currently, she is the associate dean for undergraduate programs at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
She continues to support Excelsior’s nursing program, most recently by providing alumni testimonial for the College’s application to renew the program’s National League for Nursing Center of Excellence designation. Yarbrough states, “I hope that I will always be able to serve as an ambassador for innovation in nursing education wherever I am as well as for the Excelsior College nursing programs.”
Garry William Jaunal, Esq.
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree in 1992 from Excelsior College, Garry William Jaunal immediately enrolled in a graduate program at Purdue University, where he completed a Master of Science in Management degree in 1994. In pursuit of fulfilling his ultimate goal of earning a law degree, he went on to complete a Juris Doctor degree cum laude from the Northwestern University School of Law in 1999.
Dwayn M. Hanford
Dwayn M. Hanford, of Springfield, Virginia, earned his Excelsior College Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree in 2005.
Samuel T. Watkins Jr. Samuel T. Watkins Jr. of Virginia Beach, Virginia, earned his Excelsior College Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts degree in 1999. A Department of Defense analyst for CACI Athena-International Inc., he also earned a Master of Science degree with a concentration in criminal justice management from Columbus University. He has been an active volunteer for more than 20 years and has shared his time and talents with many groups and organizations, both while on active duty in the military and as a member of his community.
An auxiliary deputy sheriff with the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office in Portsmouth, Virginia, Mr. Watkins began his career in law enforcement in 1998. His broad experience includes stints as a correctional officer, jail officer, police officer/field training office, and assistant watch commander. He is a certified Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) instructor and has instructed police officers and taught at the Navy Law Enforcement Academy. An All-Source Intelligence Analyst, Watkins is a 22-year Marine Corps and Army veteran.
Watkins’ volunteer activities include coaching for the Young Adults Bowling Association; serving as an instructor of the Anger Management and Problem Solving Skills to Violent Offenders program at Hampton Roads Regional Jail from 2000-2004; and working as a member of the school planning council for the Larkspur Middle School.
In 2005, Watkins received a Presidential Volunteer Service Award. He was also a recipient of a letter of recognition from Lockheed Martin Information Technology in the same year for saving the life of a woman who was suffering from a seizure. The U.S. Army recognized him in 1997 with its Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his work with young people as a supporter of the Partners in Education Program at Markham Elementary School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where he fostered goodwill among the students, teachers, and Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). He played a direct role in promoting academic enrichment and student achievement at the school during 1995-96. And in 1998, he was recognized for professional and academic achievement with an Outstanding Young Men of America Award.
Wayne A. Oppel, PhD, DSL, CSSLC, RMCM(SW)
Wayne Oppel, USN (Ret.) believes that each of us is accountable for our own personal development and that all of us are “entrusted with gifts and talents to be shared with others.” This philosophy has motivated Dr. Oppel to serve others in both common and unusual ways. He entered the U.S. Navy at the age of 19, completing 24 years of service during which he earned the Navy Achievement Medal twice (1980 and 1987) and the Joint Service Commendation Medal (1991). During his mid-20s, he became a volunteer football coach, an avocation to which he remained dedicated for the next 30 years.
Oppel has further broadened his service experiences through his civilian, professional, and volunteer endeavors. After retiring from the Navy as a Master Chief Petty Officer in 1992, he became the operations manager of the Louisville Kentucky Chapter of the American Red Cross. Subsequently, he was program director of Huntington West Virginia Family Services and program director and director of counseling of Consumer Credit Counseling of Forsyth County North Carolina, Inc., both of which provide consumer counseling services for senior adults.
His keen interest in serving the aging population continued to develop as he directed Stokes County Senior Services and the Aging Counsel to Seniors, Inc., where he oversaw all program services and activities. As a volunteer, Oppel cochaired the Aging Council Planning Committee (Stokes County, North Carolina) and currently cochairs the Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee, Forsyth County, North Carolina. He is a victim advocate for the North Carolina Senior Adult Victim Assistance Program. In 2001, he was awarded the George L. Maddox Award by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services for superior performance in aging leadership.
While Oppel’s service to the aging population grew out of his professional experiences, his dedicated commitment to a group at the other end of life’s spectrum stemmed from a personal experience. In 2005, Oppel and his wife, Katherine, lost two unborn sons. This event led Oppel to become involved with Heartstrings Infant Loss Support Group, an organization providing grief support to parents who have recently lost babies, pairing them with other parents who have suffered a loss. An active volunteer for Heartstrings, he was named Outstanding Community Volunteer by The Volunteer Center, Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2007, for his work with that group.
Oppel earned his bachelor’s degree from Excelsior (Regents) College in 1991 followed by two master’s degrees from Webster University. Wishing to formally add to his leadership skills, he completed a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University and a Doctorate of Organizational Management from Capella University. Oppel founded the OPPEL Leadership Consulting Group in 2003. He continues to head OPPEL Leadership Consulting, is an adjunct consultant with Renewal Consulting of Virginia, and serves as the executive director of Caswell County Parish, Inc., a community-based, collaborative organization of 26 member churches.