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New Alumni Society Board Members

The College of Nursing would like to welcome 5 new alumni society board members Kim Raines, Carolyn Castor Garver, Taylor Criste, Corey Hull, and Richie Keene. Get to know them by reading their profiles below!

Kim Raines

Why Penn State?

I chose Penn State because of the supportive faculty and mentors, the rigorous and engaging education students receive, and the amazing reputation that Penn State alumni uphold worldwide.

Why nursing?

I chose nursing because I find it intriguing and fulfilling every day. I never tire of the challenges and the power of a smile and human touch. Over the course of my career, I’ve also had the privilege of working within numerous environments as well. The diversity and richness of experience has transformative power and I cannot imagine a better choice for me.

What do you do as a nursing professional?

As a nursing professional, I seek to improve the patient & nursing experience and through the years I’ve come to see this from many angles. I’ve advocated from the bedside, lending strength to the patients’ voice. I’ve shared ideas and concerns at governance meetings to enhance delivery of care from within my unit. I’ve been in the hospital board room, analyzing and reforming processes based upon latest best practices in order to positively influence patient outcomes and nursing delivery across the institution. Currently, I work in a university setting and my goals remain the same. I am responsible for contributing working hands and innovative ideas as well as sharing past experiences for furthering future growth.

What is your favorite Penn State memory?

Gatherings of Penn Staters at tailgates and football games in Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, of course!

What was your best experience as a College of Nursing student?

There are many. However, as a Penn State student is where I was first challenged to take my passion for improving patient outcomes to the next level. My mentor and professor encouraged me to begin with data collection, then came a poster, and then I was presenting at a conference. I have learned that our students have the tools and innovation within themselves, they just need someone to believe in them!

If you were a traditional undergraduate student, did you participate in any activities at Penn State (SNAPS, THON, etc.)? Were you working, raising children, volunteering while completing your degree?

I was a first generation, non-traditional adult student. Working full time and raising four children, I certainly found college challenging. I finished high school without touching a computer and then along came college! I became friends with the IT Department quickly and learned which of my nursing friends could resurrect a lost document. I joined the Nursing Honor Society and with that brought career changing networking experiences. I thought I was too busy to join an organization but found that it  opened a new world of opportunities by meeting new people with different perspectives and trying new things.

What excites you most about being on the College of Nursing Alumni Society Board of Directors?

In sending my children off to college, I have come to greatly appreciate the role alumni play in supporting students through school, through internships and the like, and especially as students embark on their careers. I believe I can contribute in similar ways and am very excited about those opportunities.

What is your favorite snack/candy/junk food?

Dark chocolate and peanut butter.

When you have free time, how do you spend it?

With friends, sunshine, and jazz music as much as possible!

Where are you dying to visit?

I would like to travel to Italy on a pilgrimage.

Carolyn Castor Garver

Why Penn State?

Our family had always admired and followed Penn States Sports, so I was familiar with Penn State. I was the first in the family to go to Penn State. I was accepted at University Park but stayed at Fayette Campus close to family, also saving a little money. My older brother was a season ticket holder, so he took me to games each weekend. I then moved back and forth from University Park to Hershey Medical Center to finish my degree.

Why nursing?

I always liked Science and Biology in school.  I also like to help people, so it seemed like a good option with many different opportunities.

What do you do as a nursing professional?

I initially worked as a cardio-thoracic staff ICU nurse at UPMC Presbyterian. As an NP, I moved to UPMC Magee to assist with preoperative anesthesia care, and then to UPMC St. Margaret where I assisted with post-operative pain management with the anesthesia department. This was a 27-year span at UPMC.

Last year, I was asked by an Internal Medicine physician that I knew to assist in managing the Free Health Care Center for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The center is staffed with volunteer physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. We care for uninsured and under-insured individuals as a primary care center, and are a bridge to care for many Pittsburgh-born patients, but also immigrants from all over the world. The services under our roof are free and are funded through grants and generous private donations. We offer not only family practice, but also many specialists such as endocrinology, gynecology, pulmonology, ophthalmology, and physical therapy, to name a few. I have always felt valued as a nurse, but this population really gives me a warm feeling with their gratitude in assisting them.

What is your favorite Penn State memory?

I, like so many, have multiple memories, but the feeling of having a busy week in class and clinical and the excitement of a weekend is probably my favorite that repeated, especially each football weekend. Experiencing the town, the Berkey Creamery, football, and everything Penn State…then back to class and repeat again. That is the true definition of “Weekends were made for Penn State” and my husband and my family have got to repeat this for years as we are, of course, football season ticket holders.

What was your best experience as a College of Nursing student?

The variety of clinical locations and experiences. Being in Hershey in the 1980’s around the time of the first artificial heart programs was exciting and I would go on to take care of artificial heart patients in the 1990’s.

If you were a traditional undergraduate student, did you participate in any activities at Penn State (SNAPS, THON, etc.)? Were you working, raising children, volunteering while completing your degree?

I was in the work study program; it was some extra money but more fun meeting different people with different majors. I worked in a computer lab and at the Recreation Parks Department office. There I could increase my communication skills and learn other helpful office work that I have used in my nursing career.  I was a part of the nursing group and love that we were in the homecoming parade. We played West Virginia and dressed in our nursing uniforms carrying medical equipment as we tended to the Mountaineer on a stretcher.

What excites you most about being on the College of Nursing Alumni Society Board of Directors?

The opportunity to help the undergrads with expectations, advice and transition to professional practice is something I would have liked to have had as an undergrad. I often run into Penn State grads, as it is a small world, and I especially want to get more nursing graduates aware of the Alumni Society.

What is the best vehicle you’ve ever owned? Why?

My orange Jeep Liberty with a glide roof. I just loved that car, until the glide roof broke.  It always happens when there are too many bells and whistles!

What is something horrible that everyone should try at least once?

Go to a rival’s stadium and being outnumbered…but it is fun to see other campuses.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?

I am married to my husband, Paul, of 23 years, and we live with our 16 1/2-year-old Westie, Cappy, after Penn State’s Heisman Trophy winner. My nursing philosophy is basically the Golden Rule. I proudly have lived this and displayed my Penn State Pride…Oh, yes, my car license plate is PSU NURS so you may have noticed me if you live in Pittsburgh or travel on football weekends!

Taylor Criste

Why Penn State?

I grew up visiting family who lived in the State College area. After spending a summer in State College and attending Penn State Football games, it became my goal and dream to attend PSU.

Why nursing?

Growing up, I had the opportunity to interact with a number of different nurses in a variety of fields and many had a significant impact on my life. I decided to follow in their footsteps to care for people and impact their lives the way mine had been impacted.

What do you do as a nursing professional?

I am currently a nurse leader with experience in the ICU and ER; however, I keep my grounds at the bedside with a per diem job in a community emergency department.

What is your favorite Penn State memory?

I have so many memories from Penn State. From the football games to late night cheap pizza, there are too many to memories to pick a favorite. I am most thankful for the friendships, relationships, and networking opportunities I have from Penn State.

What was your best experience as a College of Nursing student?

One of my first clinical rotations, I went with a patient to Ultrasound. The test was delayed, and I sat in the hallway with the patient for nearly an hour and a half, just having small talk. I was thankful when the test was complete, and the patient returned to their room. I later got an email from the clinical instructor forwarded from a nurse on the floor about how much it meant to the patient that I sat with her. It made me realize, it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference.

If you were a traditional undergraduate student, did you participate in any activities at Penn State (SNAPS, THON, etc.)? Were you working, raising children, volunteering while completing your degree?

I didn’t get to participate in SNAP or other organizations as much as I would have liked to. I was working per diem as a technician in an emergency department, commuting back and forth to Pittsburgh on some weekends to work. I also worked with a faculty member from the College of Nursing on some research on the cognitive impact of obstructive sleep apnea. I had the opportunity to attend and present some of this research at conferences.

What excites you most about being on the College of Nursing Alumni Society Board of Directors?

I am excited to be a part of engaging alumni to continue to strengthen the mission, vision, and values of the College of Nursing Alumni Society.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Appreciate where you are in your journey, even if it’s not where you want to be. Every season serves a purpose.

What is something horrible that everyone should try at least once?

Canyon Pizza (before midnight).

Where is your favorite place to vacation? Where are you dying to visit?

I don’t like to vacation in the same place every year, the best vacation I’ve been on was when I spent two weeks in Hawaii. The top two places on my bucket list right now are Alaska and Australia.

Corey Hull

Corey Hull, on right.

Why Penn State?

I was born and raised in Centre County, 15 miles from campus. My entire family have always been Penn State fans.

Why nursing?

I was diagnosed with Diabetes at the age of 6, and the care I received made me want to make an impact on others.

What do you do as a nursing professional?

I am a Clinical Operations Manager for and Adult and Family Medicine clinic.

What is your favorite Penn State memory?

I worked for Penn Stats EMS and was able to resuscitate a spectator at Rec Hall, who recovered with no deficits.

What was your best experience as a College of Nursing student?

My senior practicum at Altoona Hospital in the ER.

If you were a traditional undergraduate student, did you participate in any activities at Penn State (SNAPS, THON, etc.)? Were you working, raising children, volunteering while completing your degree?

I worked part time while being a full-time student, to put myself through college. I have many great memories, particularly with my Penn State EMS colleagues. 

What excites you most about being on the College of Nursing Alumni Society Board of Directors?

I am very interested in helping give back to the students and to grow more interest from current and former students.

What is your favorite snack/candy/junk food?

Ice cream.

What is the best vehicle you’ve ever owned? Why?

Grand Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. It is very comfy and turns heads!

What is your dream work environment?

Working from home, no direct reports and bringing home 6 figures 😊

Richie Keene

Why Penn State?

That’s an easy one. Penn State has always been home to me. I was born at Mount Nittany Medical Center, was Centre Community Hospital back then. Many years of family trips up to State College for football games, and just walking around fill my childhood memories. So of course, when it came to college, I decided Pitt was the answer. For real…no joke. My major out of high school was not available at the time at Penn State, so I spent my freshman year at Pitt before making the correct decision to transfer to Penn State.  The environment, the location, the education, the facilities, the food, and the options available stood far and above any other school that I explored while looking into my transfer.

Why nursing?

Honestly, I hadn’t considered nursing at any point in my life.  I remember laughing at a guy that was a Nursing major in one of my classes, thinking that it wasn’t something that you went to school to obtain a 4 year degree for (I know, I know, I have learned a lot since then)!  I actually graduated with a focus in pre-dental/pre-med. I had no intention to go back to school after graduation and decided that I was going to be a ski bum. I used my EMT certification and got a job on the ski patrol at a mountain out in Utah (if you ever want to take me along on a trip, I know some great ‘hidden’ runs in the Park City area!), and worked closely with the nurses that staffed the clinic at the base of the mountain. I loved the knowledge and adaptability they had with each new patient, the interactions with the injured patients and their families, and most of all, their compassion to help people. I knew I wanted to be like them when I got my life together.

What do you do as a nursing professional?

Currently I am employed as a Family Nurse Practitioner at a clinic in Enola, PA. I work closely with a family physician, an internist, and we also have a pediatrician in our office as well. 

What is your favorite Penn State memory?

There are so many memories, but one stands out to me that seems to tie everything together.  The Old Main bell tower chimes always gave me a great feeling whether it was walking to class, home from a football game, or after the best and worst classes of my time there. It was always there, all around campus. Thinking of the chimes takes me instantly back to many great times at Penn State, and something that is so easy to experience with each visit back to campus with my family.

What was your best experience as a College of Nursing student?

I was not a traditional Nursing student with the College of Nursing. I returned to Penn State Harrisburg as part of the first cohort of the Second Degree Program at that campus. I think my best experience was also my worst. The very first patient that I interacted with as a student threw me for quite a loop. I had been to a few classes, tried on my stethoscope several times, showed my wife how to make the bed like we had learned, and walked into the patient room at the rehab facility with naive confidence. I never expected to hear the words “can you help me hold my pannus up so that I can pee?”  I had no clue what to do, but my clinical instructor chimed in and helped, and then proceeded to make fun of how pale I became during our after-clinic review. It was the best experience, because I knew I could do anything and that it couldn’t be worse than that (but it could be, as we all know).  It is a fun experience to look back on now and I am glad that is not a daily part of my routine.

You weren’t a traditional undergraduate student. What did this look like for you?

As I said before, I was a Second Degree student, and was married while getting my undergraduate Nursing degree.  I remember coming home from my first test and telling my wife that I think I would be able to handle this program, no matter how tough it was, and how much effort it took. She responded by crying and telling me she was pregnant. Our oldest, Breck, was born July 1 (a true terror/fiasco day in the hospitals I have since learned)

We lived in the same house we are in now, and I was a youth lacrosse coach at the same time. We were busy, but young, so it didn’t matter too much.  I consider my schooling to roughly last 7-8 years because I learned so much in my first job at the Penn State Hershey ED, including the decision that I wanted to return to school to further my education. I submitted my application for the Masters’ Degree program next to the hospital bed a couple hours before my second child, Collins Caroline, was born. I was accepted into the program, and took on working full time in the ED, coaching lacrosse, raising two kids, and studying quite a bit over the next 2.5 years.  All was good and well, and we were lucky enough to have another child, Cabot, during Christmas break, 5 months before graduation.

School was definitely a winding path for me, but I wouldn’t change my experiences, as I learned so much about myself, my family, my friends, my professors, and of course, Penn State.

What excites you most about being on the College of Nursing Alumni Society Board of Directors?

I am very interested in helping give back to the students and to grow more interest from current and former students.

What is your dream work environment?

I am still looking for a ski resort that is hiring a nurse/nurse practitioner.  If anyone has any leads, let me know!

What is something you’re really good at but embarrassed you’re really good at it?

I am really good at keeping track of bills. As in: at the grocery store I have a very good idea of how much the objects in the cart are, no matter how much there is.  (I know, addition).  Same with a bill at a restaurant.  I am embarrassed by it, because it is not something I am actively tracking, just something my head does…and then I become my Dad when I say “No, we can’t get dessert, we already spent $48.27 on our meal.”  I revise my answer, I am good at being my dad, and that’s embarrassing.

Where is your favorite place to vacation or where are you dying to visit?

I want to visit all of the National Parks.  We center our trips around them.  Our last trip was from Olympic National Park, to Mt. Rainier, to Crater Lake, to Redwood National Park.  I can’t wait to travel to Alaska…someday!