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December 2018 nursing graduates

December 2018's LSU Health New Orleans nursing graduates include a survivor of a brain tumor, a husband and wife, a student whose mother had a stroke during the last weeks of her clinical rotations, and a young father whose wife is also now a student, necessitating some interesting classroom visits.

Kayla Pelman was diagnosed with a brain tumor in high school. After undergoing surgery, she was in and out of the hospital for 5 ½ months. Despite her health challenges, Pelman completed a bachelor's degree in biology and worked with chronically ill and disabled children during the summers. The campers encouraged her to return to school and become a nurse.

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John and Abby Landreneau each earned an Associate’s degree from LSU-Alexandria in 2002. They started the RN to BSN program 18 months ago as part-time students. Says Abby Landreneau, “My husband and I have worked very hard to complete this program, and our daughters have had to sacrifice a great amount of time with us for a year and a half.” The Landreneaus wanted their children to attend the diploma/awards ceremony to see what they were able to accomplish as a family. “We believe that being together at the ceremony would allow our daughters to understand what all of their sacrifices have made possible and set an example of what they can achieve,” she added.
Dean Porche and John Landreneau
As she was finishing up her clinical education, Nicole Koppi got a phone call that changed her immediate future. Her mother had had a stroke. Koppi recalls, “Every faculty member was so very accommodating and caring. It was clear that I was not alone. I knew there were always multiple faculty members who were just a phone call away whenever I needed advice, school-related or resources in the community. I had such a solid support system in the School of Nursing for which I cannot thank them enough.”

Patrick Haggerty Jr sometimes found himself without child care because his wife, Alyson, is also enrolled in LSU Health New Orleans Career Alternative RN Education (CARE) Program. “With both of us pursuing nursing degrees, I had to bring my youngest son to class a couple of times. I am grateful that the School of Nursing allowed me to bring him to class.”

These students were among the 125 LSU Health New Orleans students who received their diplomas in December, including 117 nursing students. The School of Nursing recognized their graduates at a diploma/awards ceremony.

Amanda Keller, who graduated magna cum laude, was the Valedictorian. Sarah Laiche, a cum laude graduate, was the Salutatorian. Other cum laude graduates were Maria Amaya, Rebecca Austin, Morgan Bush and Moriah Copeland.

Dean Porche and Nicole Koppi
Because of Nicole Koppi's active participation and leadership in the Student Nurses Association and InterProfessional Student Alliance, she won multiple awards at the graduation/awards ceremony, including the Dean's Award, Student Nurse Association (SNA) Outstanding Graduate Award, Dolores Scheerle Memorial Entrepreneurial Award for the undergraduate student, the New Orleans District Nurses Association (NODNA) Leadership award, and a MUSES award.
Other students honored were Karla Banks, Joseph Eppling, Briana Garcia, Janice Hall, Megan Martinez, Keithen Potts, Randa Ritter, Rebecca Trainor, and Elizabeth Tran.

A complete list follows.


Doctor of Philosophy

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Catherine Dione Kim, Elizabeth Dione Kim

Human Genetics

Kirsten Wood Termine


Elia Caesar El Hajj


Doctor of Medicine

Christopher Andrew Merrill


Master of Science in Biostatistics

McKensie Patton Osborn

Doctor of Philosophy in Biostatistics

Omar Saleh I Aldibasi

Master of Public Health

Patrick Vincent Dugais


Doctor of Nursing Practice

Brandy Michelle Barbarin, Joseph James Eppling, Summer Andrews Marshall, Kirk Allan Martinson, Keithen Dewayne Potts, Rebecca Acosta Trainor

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Stefany Elizabeth Achee, Maria Juliana Amaya, Morgan Elizabeth Aucoin, Rebecca Elizabeth Austin, Karla Renee Banks, Stephen Daniel Bardot, Jane Marjorie Bordelon, Brielle Kayla Bordes, Sarah Lynn Bourgeois, Corinne Elizabeth Brewer, Audrey Joan Britsch, Kimberlin Mary Brown, Marissa Golemi Burgin, Morgan Alexandra Bush, Bianka José Caldera Jirón, Bridgette Nicole Candilora, Amber Nicole Clement, Maria Guadalupe Colina, Ashleigh Johnetta Conerly, Jekeitha Chavonne Cook, Moriah Rebekah Copeland, Claire Louise Cunningham, Beth Misiak Demoruelle, Giavanna Marie Deville, Carson Nicole Dore, Brittany Alexandra Dorsey, Ronald Joseph Drez III, Cassi Rae Ernst, Zelene Ja'Mere Ester, Ashley Marie Fisette, Taylor Ann Fisette, Jordan Mae Fitzsimmons, Lauren Alexis Flettrich, Katie Marie Fleuriet-Smith, Elizabeth Marie Flowers, Rene Alexa Francis, Briana Camille Garcia, Margaret Alice Gardner, Braiden Elizabeth Grzych, Taylor Martin Guillory, Patrick Edward Haggerty Jr, Kori Alden Hammond, Madelyn Page Harris, Laura Victoria Hernandez, Karly Diana Hodapp, Toi Rayion Holmes, Emily Nicole Ilgenfritz, Emily Jean Ingrassia, Gabriella Carolyn Irwin, Casey Jackson, Charona Ann Jacobs, Elizabeth Ann Jacobsen, Jordan Noel Jarreau, Shelbie Lee Jones, Kenya Cornelia Ardean Denise Jorden, Jenny Hae Kang, Mary Katherine Karam, Amanda Grace Keller, Nicole Rene Colbert Koppi, Jennifer Leigh Kropog, Genevieve Irene Labowicz, Sarah Elizabeth Laiche, Abby Aucoin Landreneau, John Derrick Landreneau, Bailey Jene' LeBlanc, Veronica Mary Lebourgeois, Kimberly Ann Lobell, Jessica Amelia Macaluso, Kassidy Marie Marchand, Megan Elizabeth Martinez, Karina Julissa Matute, Warren Alden Mautz, Kailee Elizabeth Meier, Sarah Elise Moreau, Lauren Elizabeth Murray, Robert Anthony Nagin Jr, Olivia Ann Napolitano, Lena Dung Nguyen, Tessa Elizabeth Norris, Taylor Adrienne Odum, Yeon Gee Oh, Kacie Elaine Orso, Jamie Lynn Owens, Kayla Jane Pelman, Jenna Breann Pertuit, Richard Peter Ponthier III, Vanessa Ramirez, Gabrielle Christine Ricca, Renee Antoinette Richard, Brianna Nicole Riley, Randa Lee Ritter, Caitlin Michele Robert, Amanda Claire Robertson, Erin Alexandra Rose, Courtney Dale Rossi, Ryan Joseph Rumney, Brittany Shene' Russell, Kimberly Marie Scanlon, Amanda Jean Schiro, Megan Nichole Simon, Parker Thomas Smith, Michelle Marie Symms, Madison Noel Thompson, Elizabeth Huu Tran, Morgan Rose Truitt, Abby Elizabeth Truxillo, Margaret Natalie Tully, Danielle Marie Waltz, Rachel Elizabeth Wells, Rebecca Elizabeth Williams, and Delia Margurite Young.