Salutations Header


AHAPPY HOLIDAYS, HAPPY NEW YEAR!                                 November - December 2012

In This Issue
White Coat Ceremony
Salus MPH + Busy Life
Salus PCO Students at Special Olympics
Accidental Student Ambassador
NOSA Members Volunteer at Health Fair
VOSH Mission to Haiti

Join Our Mailing List

Salus University Alumni Association

Find us on Facebook 

Salus University Admissions

Like us on Facebook


The Salus community warmly welcomes its newest members:       

Richard Muttai, TEI Patient Representative


Tangier Robinson, Pennsylvania Ear Institute  Accounting Coordinator.


The Salus University community offers sincere congratulations to the following members:                     


Victor Bray, dean, Osborne College of Audiology, who received the Academy of  Doctors of Audiology (ADA) Joel Wernick Award. This award is presented annually in recognition of an outstanding educational contribution within the profession of Audiology or in the field of hearing science.


Naomi Crespo, who recently changed positions at The Eye Institute (TEI) from patient representative to coordinatorTEI Clinical Compliance.


Jasmine Singleton, who has  joined the Physician Assistant (PA) program as the PA Education program assistant after working as a patient representative at The Eye Institute. 


Girija Sundar, PhD, who has been appointed assistant professor and director of Distance Education programs for Osborne College of Audiology. Dr. Sundar has been a consultant for the development of the College's distance education programs and an adjunct faculty member for two years prior to this appointment. 



SOSH Officers 2012-2013

Congratulations to the new officers of SOSH (Students for Optometric Service to Humanity).  Above, L to R, are: Aaron Punim (treasurer); Kelsey Moody (external fundraiser); Kristina Ngo (president); Tamara Mendez (vice president); Priya Desai (internal fundraiser), and Chelsea Ryzuk (office manager).


Five partial Master of Public Health (MPH) degree scholarships, made possible through a collaborative partnership with the Armed Forces Optometric Society (AFOS), are being offered by the University. 
    These scholarships are for  dependents of AFOS members in good standing who wish to pursue an online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. For information.
Dr. Eileen Rall, AAA Presidential Candidate       Dr. Eileen Rall, AuD, Osborne College of Audiology adjunct, has been selected by the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) as a candidate for the office of president.
    Dr. Rall is program coordinator of the Assessment and Treatment Implementation program for Infants and Toddlers with the Hearing Loss- Enhancing Rehabilitation "CATIPIHLER," Center for Childhood Communication at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.
     Dr. Rall, twice named Professor of the Year at the Osborne College of Audiology, has her platform posted on the AAA website. The election will be held from January 30 through February 24, 2013. Best of luck, Dr. Rall!
Physician Assistant Students and Toys for Tots
Last week the Physician Assistant (PA) Class of 2013 presented a US Marine Corps representative with more than 200 toys for Toys for Tots.
    The effort to make the holidays brighter for children in need was spearheaded by PA class presidents Crystal Halloran '13 and Ayn Larson'14.
     Faculty members Dr. John Fitzgerald and Linda Haffelfinger, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, were present for the presentation. Utilizing recently added capabilities from a new PA classroom, program director, Dr. Richard C. Vause and four second year students from Brigham Young University - Idaho completing clinical rotations in the Boise area,attended via teleconference.


The annual NOSA (National Optometric Student
Association fundraiser
known as PCO Eyedol
has been renamed and recharged!  

Grab your dancing shoes, musical instrument, magic accessories, or brush off
your stand up comedy

Get ready to show
Salus' Got Talent!   

January 12.

January 18, 7pm
Hafter Student
Community Center

$5.00   or   $3.00 with
a clothing donation for 
Covenant House,

an organization that supports
homeless teens.

Show your talent - or come
to support your classmates.
It's a much anticipated
annual tradition open to students, faculty and staff - 
and guaranteed to be fun!  

Email for 
more information.


After a long, well-played and exciting season, the champions for the 2012-2013 basketball season have been crowned!

   Congratulations to the new champions: women's team, the Eyeballers, and the men's Team


    The entire season can be reviewed on the University's website, thanks to the weekly updates from Athletic Committee co-cordinator, Vittorio Mena '14OD. Team photos can also be viewed .  

     Congratulations to Team 2014AMatt Cain, Scott Sakata, Michael Bittner, Cameron Black, Timothy Whitmire, Vittorio Mena (captain) and Ryan Beers. They defeated Team 2014B in a hard fought game, winning 57-53.

     Team Eye Ballers, all Class of 2016, included:  Jenna Sembrat, Drue Bahajak, Tara Veverka (captain), Kelly Neal, Whitney Crosby, Gia Scavo, Melody Monroy, Samantha Price and Amber Parham.

      Congratulations also to the  Most Valuable Players of this season:  

 League MVP: Igr Shigol '15OD, (Team 2015) and Playoffs MVP:Michael Bittner '14OD (Team 2014A).

      Thank you to the University's Athletic Committee. All of the intramural sports enjoyed by the students, staff and faculty have been coordinated by the Committee, shown below, left to right: Xavier Thompson '14OD,  Vitto Mena '14OD and Tyler Doersam '14OD. 

 Xavier Thompson, Vittorio Mena, Tyler Doersam


The PCO SOSH (Students in Optometric Service to Humanity) chapter will host a Mr. Salus  pageant on Friday, January 25.

The men of Salus are invited to join in a good cause to help SOSH raise money for its annual humanitarian mission.

Stay tuned for details. It's bound to be a lot of fun! 

Gentlemen, start your "beauty" routines now!

Special Tradition:The White Coat Ceremony by Nan Myers

Shoulder patch PCO Shoulder Patch PA Program  

The chapel in Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel was filled to capacity on November 5, when family and friends watched with pride as students in the Class of 2014 for Occupational Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies, and the Class of 2016 Audiology and Optometry, received the symbol of their professions, the white coat to be worn during their clinical training.

    After a welcome by salus president, Dr. Thomas L. Lewis, each student's name was called by Dr. Anthony F. Di Stefano, vice president, Academic Affairs. With the help of their dean or program director, each student donned a personalized white coat, adorned for the first time with the new Salus University shoulder patch (see above) representing their program. Assisting students were Dr. Marian Gillard and Dean Audrey Smith, occupational therapy (the inaugural class); Dr. Richard Vause, physician assistant; Dean Victor Bray, audiology and Dean Linda Casser, optometry.  

    The University's first PhD students (Biomedicine), were not at the ceremony due to schedules and distance. Their coats were sent to them by program director, Dr. Pierrette Barker.

    The new shoulder patches, each designed with the Salus logo and featuring the name of a college or program, were the brainchild of the Salus University Student Council. Six students -- Emily Augar '13PA; Nurit Bor '15OD; Rahul Gupta '14OD; Rachael Lloyd '14OD; Samantha Nieves '15AUD, and Ruchi Shah '15OD, -- formed a White Coat initiative to bring the concept of creating the shoulder patches to fruition. Dr. Richard Vause aided in the final design.

    After all students had received their jackets, Dr. Di Stefano invited the students and all healthcare professionals in the audience to join him in reciting the Oath to Professionalism. Now a Salus tradition, the oath is taken at the start of each student's first year and will be repeated at commencement.   (White coat slide show

Salus MPH + Busy Life  by Nan Myers

"Getting an MPH was a natural for me. I had already been working in the non-profit field for 16 years," says MaryAnn Ragone '13MPH. "I received a master's degree in Administration in 2003 and I wanted to continue to further my education."                             

Being from a PCO/Salus Family--her father, Lawrence Ragone, OD '53, served as president of the PCO Alumni Association, taught at PCO and was a past member of the College's Board of Trustees-it was natural for Maryann to attend Salus. "I had begun looking at MPH programs," she says. "When I learned from my father that Salus was starting a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program, I knew the stars were aligned." She also credits her father for introducing her to the idea of public health. "I learned through him and his work that all people deserve good quality services regardless of the ability to pay."

     Seeing that the Salus MPH degree was an online program "made it all the more attractive to me. I have a very demanding job now and a concern was whether I could leave my professional responsibilities to get to class" in a traditional setting. "This program has given me all that I could ask for in public health."

     When not involved with the public health curriculum, MaryAnn serves as president and CEO of the South Jersey Eye Center (SJEC) in Camden, NJ. It is the only non-profit facility of its kind in the state completely dedicated to providing vital eye care services to poor, low income, uninsured, underinsured and homeless populations. MaryAnn joined as associate director and, in 2002, became chief operating officer. She was named to her current position in July 2012.

     The SJEC, originally called the Camden Eye Center, was founded by her father and fellow optometrists in 1961 to fill a need. Dr. Ragone saw clinic patients part time while continuing his optometry practice until 1994, when he retired and joined the clinic as executive director. "Unfortunately," both he and MaryAnn note, "the need is still there." Today there are four offices in addition to a 34-foot Mobile Vision Clinic completely equipped with ophthalmic instrumentation that makes its services accessible to schools, Head Start programs, day care centers, senior housing centers and more.

     As chief operating officer, MaryAnn also looks for ways for SJEC to reach other at-risk populations, including programs for infants, seniors and those who need to learn English. She continues the mission created by her father and has partnered with city and state health departments as well as corporations, foundations and the Lions Clubs International to ensure that no one is ever turned away from receiving vision care services.          

          MaryAnn speaks very highly of her Salus experience. "The courses have a depth and breadth to them. Along with the faculty, the courses-both in the core curriculum and the others-make it enjoyable to learn.  Everything I took fit so well with all that I do here (at SJEC). In addition, I love learning about other cultures. At the beginning of the 'Social and Behavioral Approach to Public Health' course we were asked to present a cultural bio to our classmates. It was fascinating. In this course, the instructor was in Hawaii and only four of the 22 students are U.S. based.

       "I also really enjoyed the refugee health course," she says. As a result of her Salus MPH education, MaryAnn has become involved with Healing the Children, a national organization that provides donated medical care to children in need.  She hopes to join them, possibly in the spring, on a mission to Peru. "This is something I've wanted to do for many years."

      MaryAnn credits her partner, Bob, with "being extremely supportive of my goal to obtain my MPH. He understood when I would go into hibernation for hours on end writing papers, studying for tests" and so much more. As a people person, MaryAnn says she wishes there was more of an opportunity for face-to-face with fellow students and professors. "I met lots of people on Skype, though. Maybe we will meet at graduation."    

Salus PCO Students at Special Olympics

by David Kong, Class of 2013 vice-president

On November 3, Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes sponsored by Lions Club International held an annual vision screening at the Special Olympics at Villanova University.  More than 80 athletes participated in the free vision screenings. All athletes who took part in the vision screening received free glasses and could choose between prescription glasses, sunglasses, or sports goggles. 

     Salus students, along with local Lions Club members, took patient histories, visual acuities, color and stereo vision, cover test, pupil testing, intraocular pressures, auto-refraction, retinoscopy, anterior segment and direct ophthalmoscopy. Faculty member Dr. Brandy Scombordi-Raghu of The Eye Institute (TEI) was the lead optometrist. She was joined by her husband, Dr. Rajeev Raghu, and TEI pediatrics resident Dr. Megan Sis as additional preceptors for the screenings.

     A record number of volunteers  -- 55 PCO students from all classes --assisted with the screenings. They are:

Class of 2013: David Kong; Aikaterini Koukas

Class of 2014: Jared Burd; Kimberly Dobrodziej; Tyler Doersam; Shannon Feng; Reta Guirguis; An Huynh; Chisom Ibebuchi; Magi Ibrahim; Lauren Lock; Allie Mercurio; Hanh Ngo; Crystal Pae; David Samuel; Jennifer Song; Jenny Tran; Eric Zhou. 

Class of 2015: Nurit Bor; Cassie Bruno; Caitlyn Cassey; Kathryn Clare; Jerson Desiderio; Jennifer Diamond; Alyssa Donahue; Sarah Ganz; Vaughn Huynh; Agnes Kim; Ashley McCann; Andrew McLeod; Andrew Meagher; Kelsey Moody; Aaron Punim; Tommy Rozelle.

Class of 2016: Victoria Galbreth; Mary Gouris; Zainab Hasan; Stefanie Hwang; Melissa Keller; David Lai; Andy Mai; Frank Mai; Melody Monroy; Shawn Morris; Jonathan Olmes; Tom Ravas; Jenna Sembrat; Kelsey Sieg; Daniel Situ; Bridget Veglia; Tara Ververka; Ting Wei; Belinda Weinberg; Heather Whyte; Shirley Yan.

A special thank you to all who helped out with this very successful vision screening. 

The Accidental Student Ambassador  

by Nan Myers

   When he graduated from Oral Roberts University (ORU) with a degree in biology, Larry Gabbin '15AUD really wasn't sure what he wanted to do next. "Like many pre-med students, I took the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)," he says. When his results weren't what he hoped for, Larry enrolled in Drexel University's two year post-baccalaureate program which "served the dual purpose of exposing me to healthcare career choices, while preparing me for those careers with rigorous coursework." That's how he learned about Salus University, where today he is a second year Audiology student and the 2015 class president.  

     Larry is also an accidental Student Ambassador for Salus. He was invited back to ORU by a former professor whom Larry originally contacted to update him. Larry went back to his alma mater and spoke with current pre-health students. "My presentation was directed towards both upper and lower classmen in the pre-health fields of pharmacy, medicine and physician assistant. The title was 'Footsteps in the Hall' and chronicled my personal journey from ORU to my current status as an audiology student, and also included the many healthcare programs Salus University has to offer."

     While visiting ORU, Larry was also named Alumnus of the Month by the Minority Association of Pre-Medical students. 

     Larry Gabbin decided to become an audiologist because of a personal experience. "In the summer of 2010, I began to have bouts of hearing loss, imbalance and tinnitus in both ears," he says. "After an evaluation from an audiologist, I was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing and which may be a result of a high sodium diet." He learned about proper diet and exercise and was fitted with a hearing aid. "I have had no symptoms of Meniere's in nearly two years!"


NOSA Members Volunteer at Health Fair

by Candace Ellis '15OD, NOSA president

On Saturday October 20, the Salus University chapter of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) participated in the Healthy Palooza Health Fair hosted by the Living Hope Fellowship in northeast Philadelphia.

     We were proud to be among the key sponsors of the event, which included CBS Philly and the Temple Fox Chase Cancer Center. Our NOSA chapter provided free vision screenings during the fair. 

     We gathered history, performed visual acuities, stereo, color, confrontational fields, pursuits, ret rack, pupils, and direct ophthalmoscopy. We saw a number of interesting cases ranging from binocular pterygiums, blindness due to trauma, several cataracts, untreated glaucoma patients, and much more. Not only did community members benefit but this event, but it also served as a great learning experience for the PCO at Salus students.

     Dr. Mary Jo Thomas served as the faculty supervisor, and her thoroughness and engagement with each patient was admirable.

      The NOSA student volunteers were:

Nathalia Broderick '16                                       Cerina Buchanan '15

Gustie Christopher '15                                      Camille Cohen '14

Boris Drizik '15                                                     Candace Ellis '15

Vaughn Huynh '15                                               Caitlyn Kim '16

Andy Mai '16                                                          Tamara Mendez '15

Gina Pelaez '15                                                     Charlene Pineda '15

Rasraj Rana '14                                                     Ruchi Shah '15

Bryttani Sylvain '15                                             Chaz Truesdale '16

Joseph Wadas '16                                                Donald White '16

Shirley Yan '16

VOSH PA Mission Trip to Milot, Haiti

by James Deom '14OD, AOSA Trustee

     It was with great pleasure and honor that I was able to accompany two other third-year OD students, Kriti Bhagat '14OD and Kimberly Dobrodziej'14OD on our very first VOSH PA (Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity, Pennsylvania) mission to Milot, Haiti.               

       We were very lucky to be with a group of top-notch doctors from the St. Louis area and Iowa. As far as our medical mission was concerned, we brought medical and vision care to five distinct villages in and around the city of Cap Haitian. Many of the things we see in our life as essential --like eye care--are truly luxuries in third world countries like Haiti. Not even one person that we saw came in with a pair of existing glasses. We were hosted in these villages by churches, schools, and orphanages.                                   

     In all, we saw 1,265 patients throughout the week. Most were given reading glasses; however, those without a prescription were given a pair of sunglasses and a hat to decrease the incidence of debilitating cataract and pterygium.  Also found and referred on our trip were several cases of presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, several very high myopes and hyperopes, and one case of presumed Marfans Syndrome.
   If you are interested in donating to CRUDEM (Center for the Rural Development of Milot) to help those in need in Haiti visit  to learn more and donate. To see photos and read full story. 
Salus Thanksgiving Tradition 
Thanksgiving 2012 Group shot
Early on Thanksgiving morning, a little known annual University tradition begins while many members of the Salus community are still asleep.
For the past ten years, Salus employees, along with the manager of the company that manages the University's cafe, Williamson's, a division of Culinart, Inc., have joined forces to cook, deliver and set up a complete Thanksgiving meal for the Cheltenham Township and Jenkintown police departments.
      The nucleus of the group has been Joe Kellenbenz, director of Security, Esther Colon, bursar, and Dave Wisher, assistant bursar. This year they were joined by longtime volunteer Larry McClure, vice president of Strategic Planning, and Don Kates, vice president of Finance. The food, all donated by Williamson's, was again cooked by The Cafe's manager/chef Jim Rubeo. Volunteers since childhood, Cristina Colon and Kevin McClure participated this year while home from college, while Leo Kates marked his first Thanksgiving with the group.  
      This year marked the second year the group has cooked and delivered a complete meal to Hope Lodge, a temporary residence for families and patients undergoing treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center.   
(Photo above, courtesy of Larry McClure; left to right: unidentified Cheltenham Twp police officer; Larry McClure; Leo Kates; Don Kates; Kevin McClure; unidentified police department personnel; Joe Kellenbenz; Esther Colon; Cristina Colon and Dave Wisher.)