2018 Alumni Award Honorees

Alumni Achievement Award: Robert S. Smith ’84, Irving, Texas

Smith works at Top Care Medical/Mi Doctor family medical practice in Irving, Texas. He has had an extensive career in the medical community and also served in the military.

Smith served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1978–1989; stationed throughout the U.S., he served as a court reporter, hospital corpsman, and a health service technician. He was last stationed at McClellan Air Force Base where he was admitted into school for physician assistant education. He has been associated with many professional organizations, including as a fellow with the National Hispanic Medical Association, member of the board of directors for the American Heart Association, director-at-large with the Mi Doctor Medical Board of Directors, fellow and founder of the Physician Assistants for Latino Health, president of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants, and as a distinguished fellow with the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Smith has committed many hours to helping in his community. He has coached youth football, soccer, and basketball and has volunteered with Habit for Humanity. With his church, Smith has organized various food drives, health fairs, and construction projects. He writes that he was the first in his family to earn a college degree and is a lifelong learner, saying “My educational accomplishments were all from the foundation I achieved through Excelsior’s vision of allowing prior course work and military training to be blended into a substantive degree that was easily accepted by others.”

Smith earned an Associate of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior University (1984), a Physician Assistant Certificate at UC Davis PA Program, a Master of Science in Advanced Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University (2006), and a Doctor of Health Science from A.T. Still University (2017).

Carrie B. Lenburg Award: Shirley A. Jones ’11, ’15, Noblesville, Indiana

Jones is a nurse with Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has worked in the health care field for more than 30 years and is also an accomplished writer.

Jones has served on the faculty of national conferences and won top honors from the American Medical Writers Association. She has authored and co-authored many nursing and medical books and shares her expertise as a contributing medical expert on Sharecare.com, the online medical information platform created by WebMD founder Jeff Arnold and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.

She has various professional certifications, including paramedic, pediatric advance life support provider, advanced cardiac life support instructor, basic life support instructor, tuberculin skin test, and several certifications with EpicCare, including inpatient procedure orders, inpatient orders, and inpatient principal trainer.

Jones earned a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in informatics from Excelsior University (2015), Associate in Science in Nursing from Excelsior University (2011), Master of Health Administration from Indiana University (1988), Master of Science in Allied Health Education from Indiana University (1979), and a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from Indiana University (1974). She writes that her work as a health care author and educator would not be the same without Excelsior University.

C. Wayne Williams Award: Roger Parrino Sr. ’89, Bellerose, New York

Parrino is the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). He has had an extensive career in public service, including more than 20 years with the New York City Police Department and four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps as a civilian. He most recently served as senior counselor to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Commissioner Parrino provides overall direction and leadership for DHSES and New York’s efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from man-made and natural disasters. For example, he has directed recent response and recovery missions to long-term flooding issues from historic high water levels on Lake Ontario, severe storms and tornados in spring 2017 and 2018, and the Halloween 2017 vehicle ramming in New York City, and he was an integral part of the Governor’s Cabinet deployed to assist the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Commissioner Parrino has earned many awards for his work, including the Department of Homeland Security Distinguished Public Service Medal, two United States Marine Corps Certificate of Commendations, and a NYPD Medal of Valor for actions taken on September 11, 2001. He is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was also a member of the Defense Legal Policy Board.

He comes from a family dedicated to service. His father is a World War II veteran and a retired NYPD detective; his brother is a Vietnam veteran and his sister is a retired college professor. Parrino’s step-daughter is a teacher and his two sons are both Marine Corps infantry officers.

Commissioner Parrino earned a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior University in 1989.