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Prominent Alumni

Physical Therapy

Christopher Pogson, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, has over 12 years of clinical experience in orthopedics, sports medicine and neurologic physical therapy. Chris received his Bachelors degree in Physical Education, with an emphasis in Exercise Physiology, from California State University, Sacramento. He pursued graduate studies at Mount Saint Mary’s University, where he earned his Masters degree in Physical Therapy. In 2001, Chris was awarded the Kaiser Los Angeles Orthopedic Manual Therapy Fellowship, during which he studied complex orthopedic injury management.

Before starting Pogson Physical Therapy, Chris worked at the UCLA Sports Physical Therapy Center for over five years. He currently serves as a Residency Advisor for the UCLA Family Health Sports Medicine Fellowship and is a clinical instructor for Mount Saint Mary’s University & USC Physical Therapy interns. In his private practice Chris works with a wide range of patients, including adolescent, collegiate, professional and Olympic caliber athletes.

Mary Thode received an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in Exercise and Sport Sciences and a Master of Physical Therapy from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles. Mary has extensive experience and post-academic training in assessment and treatment of the general and athletic spine and extremities. She utilizes an integrated manual therapy approach reinforced by functional exercise patterns. Strength and flexibility deficits are identified, and addressed with treatment emphasis on reducing potential vulnerability and future musculoskeletal breakdown. Mary is currently pursuing her transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy credentialing.

Elijah Bishop attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, receiving a Bachelors degree in Sports Medicine with a minor in Nutritional Sciences in 1999. Shortly after, Elijah obtained a certification in massage therapy. In December of 2002, he obtained a Master of Physical Therapy degree from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, CA. Eli has worked with several prestigious clinics, including the HealthSouth Sports and Rehabilitation Center in Malibu, CA, and Athletic Physical Therapy in Westlake Village, CA.

Eli is the founder and director of Elite Physical Therapy and Wellness in La Quinta. He combines the principles of manual therapy, fitness, Pilates, and various forms of bodywork to restore function and improve one’s sense of well being. Eli has developed sport-specific training regimens for several professional athletes and is a well known strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer.

Gerard Donayre is a Physical Therapist and Director of the new Balance Rehabilitation Inc. clinic in San Pedro, California. He is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist who received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California in 2002. In his current role, Gerard has integrated orthopedic, neurological, health and fitness rehabilitation principles to offer South Bay residents a transition from rehabilitation to wellness.

Kevin Husley is CEO and Founder of RehabAuthority, an outpatient physical therapy company specializing in back and neck care.  We have 10 clinics throughout southern Idaho and one in Wyoming.  I am actively involved in the American Physical Therapy Association, which is the professional association for all physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.  The APTA is headquartered in Alexandria VA and serves 72,000 members.

MA Religious Studies

Sister Carol Brong is a 1966 graduate of the College and returned many years later to receive a Masters Degree in Applied Spiritual Theology in 2003. Sister Carol served in elementary schools in south Los Angeles both as a teacher and as an administrator. After a few years of CSJ community service, Sister Carol took the position of Learning Resource Center Director at the Mount’s Doheny Campus, where she served for 13 years. She then served three years in the Registrar’s Office and after a year’s sabbatical, took the position of Assistant to the AA Dean where she ministers today.

Giovanni Perez , MA ’06 has been Director of Religious Education in two parishes of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He writes of the MA Religious Studies Program, “The MA program has been the greatest investment and enriching experience towards making my ministry more efficient and meaningful. I am forever grateful for the level of education, challenge and expectations of the Religious Studies MA program at the Mount. After more than seventeen years of full-time Religious Education ministry I am looking forward to other ministerial positions as a Pastoral Associate in parishes of this Archdiocese.”

Perez credit’s the Mount’s graduate religious studies program with changing his own world views. “I am more aware of injustices towards women and minorities, and committed to employ my position towards expanding the building of a more just world. My relationship with colleagues and partners in ministry has also been positively influenced. Finally and perhaps most importantly, my children are now setting their education expectations towards obtaining at least a master's degree in their own lives.”

MS Nursing

Dr. Tori Canillas-Dufau, or “Dr. Tori” as she is known by her students, is an Associate Professor at the Mount and a Registered Nurse (RN) with over 30 years of diverse experience in the fields of nursing, education, administration and mental health.  She is the epitome of a lifelong learner and holds four masters degrees of which three were earned at the Mount: Health Science, Counseling Psychology, Educational Administration and Nursing.  Additionally, she has a doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University.

Dr. Canillas-Dufau taught Vocational Nursing initially before becoming the former Health Careers Specialist/Director of Vocational Nursing for the LAUSD - Division of Adult and Career Education. In those roles, she taught and supervised the health careers training programs for the entire district for 20 years.

Additionally, after teaching intermediate and advanced medical-surgical nursing at the pre-licensure level in the Mount’s Evening/Weekend Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program for 15 years, in 2008 "Dr. Tori" joined the faculty of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. In this current role, she is responsible for providing graduate nursing education in the areas of nursing leadership, education and research.  She is honored to guide and mentor future nurse educators and nurse leaders in their pursuit of their career goals.

Dr. Canillas-Dufau is one of less than 3,000 nurses in the country holding national certification from the National League for Nursing (NLN) as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE). Finally, Dr. Canillas-Dufau has been recognized for her demonstrated subject area expertise and teaching excellence, as she is a passionate student and patient advocate.

Dr. Sandy Carroll has been adjunct faculty at Mount St. Mary's since 2006.  She is a full time, tenured faculty at College of the Canyons where she is department chair and lead faculty for beginning medical surgical nursing.  She also teaches nursing research and theory in an online format at National University, and is a part time fundamentals instructor at CSUN.  Dr. Carroll received her BSN from the University of Texas, Arlington, her MSN from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, and her EdD from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Her dissertation topic was 'Resiliency as a factor in the successful completion of a CCC-based ADN program.'  Dr. Carroll is an ad hoc textbook reviewer; is on the editorial board for Teaching and Learning in Nursing (a publication of the NOADN), is an at large member of Sigma Theta Tau, and is married with three children as well as three grandchildren.

Dr. Hernani L. Ledesma Jr. graduated from the Mount with a MSN (2007) and ADN (2006).  He is currently a Clinical Risk Manager for Citrus Valley Health Partners in West Covina, California.  His clinical experience was in the Emergency Department and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Hernani has been an Emergency Instructor for California State University at Fullerton (ELM, RN to BSN), Instructor for Mount Saint Mary’s University (ADN) and a teaching assistant (MSN).  He is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International (Upsilon Beta).  In his spare time, Hernani volunteers as a camp nurse for Re-Creation Summer Camp/Weekend Getaway/ACE camps that serve adults and children with developmental disabilities and as a construction laborer for Habitat for Humanity.  He is also serving as a Board Member for the Sherman Group, Inc. which is a non-profit corporation that serves the needs of youth from ages 12-17 years of age.  Hernani successfully completed his final oral defense at Pepperdine University in November 2011 (Doctor of Education in Organization Leadership).

MS Counseling Psychology

Diane Dameron graduated from MSMU in 1986 with a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in 1991. She has taught child development at the community college level and spent many years working with non-profit community centers. Ms. Dameron spent 8 years working at the Fleet and Family Support Center, Naval Station North Island in San Diego and is currently an academic advisor at the Navy College Office. She says that it is very rewarding seeing hard working sailors, airmen, and marines earn their degrees while on active duty.

Christopher Drennen is a 2006 graduate of the Mount’s MS Program in Counseling Psychology. He is currently the Director of Worship and Spiritual Growth with the Villanova University campus ministry program.

MS Education

Rochelle Ginsburg received her Master of Science in Education from Mount Saint Mary’s University in 1982. She has spent over twenty five years working in primary and secondary education as both a teacher and administrator, including senior positions as Assistant Principal of the Hawthorne School and as Principal of the Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College and was recently appointed to the Human Relations Commission of the City of Beverly Hills.

Leslie Chang was born in Nicaragua, and raised in Los Angeles by a Nicaraguan immigrant mother and Chinese father. She is the youngest of three and is a first generation college student in her family. She attended Catholic schools in the Northeast Los Angeles area. After graduating from Sacred Heart of Jesus High School, Leslie attended Mount Saint Mary’s University where she received her Bachelors in Sociology with certification in Criminology. A year later, Leslie returned to Mount St. Mary's and completed the credentialing program and received a Master of Science in Education. Immediately after receiving her Bachelors, Leslie began teaching at a parochial school, Divine Saviour, in Cypress Park, building her teaching foundation. Four years later, began teaching at CALS Charter Middle School as the 8th grade Humanities and Reading teacher. Soon after, she became the assistant principal, and now, the Principal. Throughout her years of work in Cypress Park, Leslie has developed a strong commitment to the students, parents, and teachers, and hopes to help create future leaders. In her job as principal, she works with parents, assists teachers in teaching, designing curriculum, and most importantly, supports the students' learning. She is happily married, raising her son, and hopes to continue her work in Education by returning to school to receive an Educational Doctorate in the very near future.

Maria Ott, PhD, earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees at Mount Saint Mary’s University, and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California, majoring in Educational Policy, Planning, and Administration. Most recently, Dr. Ott served as the Senior Deputy Superintendent for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Previous to that role, she served 20-plus years with LAUSD as a teacher, principal, program coordinator, and district administrator. She also spent seven years as the Superintendent of the Little Lake City School District, an elementary school district serving the communities of Santa Fe Springs, northern Norwalk and southeastern Downey.

Dr. Ott has earned numerous awards, including AEOE Outstanding Administrator Award; AMAE Homenaje a la Mujer Recipient; Lamplighter in Education Recognition, Mount Saint Mary’s University; Distinguished Educator, California State University, Los Angeles; Educational Leadership Award, Council of Mexican American Administrators; Hispanic Woman of the Year Award, Mexican American Opportunity Foundation; and the USC Rossier School of Education R.O.S.E. Award.

Sister Kieran Vaughan began her college education at the Mount in 1959, receiving a Bachelors degree and later a Masters in Education (1974). After teaching in elementary schools, she received a doctoral degree from UCLA and began teaching in the Education Department at the College in 1978. She served the college as Chair of the Education Department for 13 years, as Director of the Administrative Services Credential and Degree Program for 18. Currently, she coordinates the Liberal Studies Major. In addition to teaching and advising, she is a councilor for the Sisters of St. Joseph. Sr. Kieran is also a mentor and advisor for Mount students who have received prestigious Rockefeller Awards.

Patricia Welch has received her Master of Science in Education in 1984.She is currently the director of the Lancaster Community Shelter, which serves men, women and children in the Antelope Valley. The shelter is run by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles.

MA Humanities

Jeffrey Bryant is a recent graduate of the MSMU Masters of Humanities Program. Jeffrey presented a paper at a humanities conference at UC Riverside in April, '07. As one of the newest MSMU graduate programs, the Humanities Program has yet to graduate many students, but Dr. Kidd believes that Jeffrey will make significant contributions in his future career. Upon completion of his MA in Humanities, Jeffrey will be starting a Masters program in Political Science.

Ana Thorne, a lifetime learner, is continuing her education at Claremont Graduate University where she is pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies.  After graduating from the Master’s in Humanities program at MSMU, Ana received an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.  She continues her full-time life which includes grant writing for a non-profit organization that serves people with disabilities.  Her efforts have garnered the organization more than $5 million over five years from foundations and corporate giving.  Ana plans to continue tutoring part-time and writing full-time.