Alumni Stories

Alumni Stories

Capt. Patrick K. Amersbach (pictured here), graduated with a bachelor's in Nursing from HPU and is currently the commander of the USNS Comfort. The ship is now in New York to help during the coronavirus pandemic. From an article by The Baltimore Sun, "The Navy hospital ship Comfort sailed into the New York City harbor Monday, bringing 1,000 beds, 12 operating rooms, a lab, pharmacy, CT scanners, and more than 1,000 military medical personnel ready to relieve pressure on city hospitals overwhelmed by the coronvirus." 


Being born and raised on the windward side, I always found it nice to be able to obtain my bachelor's degree in nursing while enjoying the beautiful scenery that the Hawaii Loa Campus had to offer. The convenience and serenity of the Hawaii Loa campus is what initially drew me into HPU. Truth be told, I have never been the best student, I always found test taking to be challenging for me. I quickly discovered that the professors were always eager to help and answer any questions I had. It was obvious that the teaching staff were very passionate about nursing and helping grow and foster the next generation of nurses. 

After graduating from HPU in May 2012, I worked as a nurse aid in the ER at Straub until I was fortunate enough to be hired to the behavioral health new grad academy at Adventist Health Castle.  I worked as a psych nurse for two years and eventually transferred to our emergency department where I have been working for almost two years now. I love the ER, I have always loved emergency medicine and I am so fortunate to work with an awesome team. 

-Kanoe Vermeesch Brandon, BSN Alumni 2012

Desiree Tupas (Master of Public Health ‘18) was selected for the prestigious and competitive California Epidemiologic Investigation Service (Cal-EIS) Fellowship Program, which is designed to prepare epidemiologists for public health leadership positions in California. Beginning this summer, Tupas will work directly with an epidemiologist preceptor at the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) in Sacramento, California.

As a Cal-EIS fellow, Tupas’s main objective is to develop projects that entail performing analyses on data collected from California’s healthcare infrastructure. Her job duties will involve engaging in applied epidemiology to evaluate access to quality healthcare and to further understand the diverse needs of California’s healthcare systems.

“I am excited to be a Cal-EIS fellow for OSHPD because it’s a unique opportunity that will allow me to use my learned epidemiologic skills and background from HPU, to focus on various analysis projects that can contribute meaningfully to improving healthcare systems throughout California,” Tupas said.

While pursuing her MPH degree at HPU, Tupas completed a year-long student disease investigator position with the State of Hawaii Department of Health-Disease Investigation Branch. Tupas was part of the second cohort of the HPU Master of Public Health program. 

Starting my MSN at HPU was terrifying. I had not been in class for over 35 years. However within the first few classes, I became a part of compassionate group of nurses.  Everyone in our class seemed to merge into a wonderful group, sharing knowledge and experiences. The students were from so many different parts of the country and world. They also had a variety of nursing specialties among their backgrounds. Learning at HPU was a collaborative education that is unparalleled in many Universities.

My years at HPU gave me the confidence to seek out new career possibilities. I stopped thinking “ I can’t do that” and started thinking, “ I wonder how to do that.”I feel that my potential is endless, as long as I strive to seek on going knowledge.I am thankful for all of the guidance HPU has given to me through the amazing professors and passionate students.

-Kari Wilhite, APRN

2018 FNP Graduate