News Briefs

News Briefs

Students explore systemic racism in the nursing profession

Heritage University BSN students meet with Dr. Peggy Chinn and Dr. Lucinda Canty

A visit by leaders in nursing is taking Heritage students’ voices to a national audience. In October, two nursing educators who are at the forefront of a movement to address issues of racism in the field of nursing visited Heritage to meet with students.

Dr. Peggy Chinn and Dr. Lucinda Canty traveled to Heritage to spend the day with students in advance of addressing colleagues at the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing. The pair, along with Heritage’s director of the Nursing program, Dr. Christina Nyirati, and Valorie Taylor, clinical director at Tacoma’s MultiCare Health System, are organizers of Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing. The initiative, which launched in September 2020, aims to open discussion that focuses on coming to terms
with racism in the field of nursing, to elevate the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other nurses of color, and to inspire changes that address racism on a national level.

“We wanted to represent the voices of nursing students as part of our keynote address at the Commission,” said Nyirati. “Drs. Chinn and Canty suggested visiting Heritage to hear from our students about how the university is standing up to fulfill our mission of creating a just society for all.”

The pair spent several hours with students, faculty and administrators, including time spent at a Blessing of the Hands and Hearts ceremony at the Heritage Teepee, in an informal listening session with the students. page14image59142544

Heritage professors join boards of directors

Two Heritage professors recently joined the boards of directors at Washington state organizations and non-profits.

Miguel Juarez in class

Miguel Juarez in class

Social Work Field Director and Associate Professor Miguel Juarez, Ed.D., joined the National Association of Social Workers’ (NASW) Washington Chapter Board of Directors. NASW appointed Juarez to serve as the chapter’s first vice president. He will oversee the chapter’s diversity plan as part of his duties.

Kristin James-Dunn


Assistant Professor Kirstin James-Dunn, Ph.D., joined the Seattle Shakespeare Company’s board of directors. James-Dunn is the first board member from eastern Washington and will act as primary representative and vital liaison to Washington arts communities for “all points east of the Cascades.” page27image58999408



Multimillion dollar grant to bring expantion of Nursing and enhance STEM programs

The U.S. Department of Education Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (DHSI) branch awarded a $3 million grant to Heritage University to expand its Nursing program and upgrade its science laboratories.

The grant will allow Heritage to expand its current nursing program to allow registered nurses who are currently working in the field but do not have a bachelor’s degree to go back to school to earn that degree.

“The faculty at Heritage have worked very hard to establish a world-class BSN program at Heritage. This award by the Department of Education to expand the program validates their accomplishments. The grant will allow for a significant expansion of the program resulting in even more highly qualified nurses ready to serve the people of the Valley,” said President Andrew Sund, Ph.D.

In addition to the RN to BSN degree pathway development, the university’s science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) offerings will expand with new laboratories for environmental, health and physical sciences. The existing biology, chemistry and physics laboratories at Heritage will be redesigned and equipped to meet the rigorous demands for effective STEM degree programs instruction.

The grant also allows for upgrades to the university’s information technology services, improvements to its institutional data collection and analysis, and the development of a financial literacy program for undergraduates.

Federal grant allocates funds for STEM Education Center on campus

A $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will expand outreach to high school students to prepare them to pursue college studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and help Heritage build a new 4,700
square foot STEM Education Center on the Toppenish campus.

The five-year grant will allow the university to employ mentors to work with high school students interested in STEM fields as a means to increase the number of college graduates entering into technical fields in the Yakima Valley.

The soon-to-be-constructed education center will include laboratories, learning spaces and state-of-the-art equipment to support STEM programs. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in late 2022.

Campus mourns loss of friend and volunteer

On November 15, 2021 Sister Marina Rose Parisi (nee Virginia Catherine Parisi), passed away unexpectedly at Trios Kennewick Hospital. Parisi was a long-time supporter of Heritage University and a volunteer singing teacher who with worked children in the university’s Early Learning Center.

Parisi was a member of the Catholic order of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) for more than 66 years. Through SNJM, she devoted herself to teaching children, mostly those who were poor and from underserved communities,

as well as teaching religion and sacramental preparation. She spent 19 years working with children in Western Washington and Oregon before moving to Peru, where she spent 17 years working as a teacher and principal in Arequipa. When she returned to the United States, she moved to Wapato and worked as the director of religious education for 14 years. Her work at Heritage began after retiring from a career that spanned 40 years and two continents.


Early Learning Center to get new home

The generosity of two anonymous private donors is improving learning for Heritage’s youngest eagles. The university broke ground on a new state-of- the-art Early Learning Center on December 3. The new $3.2 million facility will contain five classrooms, It will serve children between the ages of 12 months and kindergarten, providing pre-kindergarten instruction known to be invaluable in later years of scholastic achievement.

“Our early learning programs are designed to offer experiences that enhance and enrich each child’s cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical and creative development,” said ELC Executive Director Claudette Lindquist. “Our basic philosophy is one of freedom to learn, grow and make choices and we have structured the environment to reflect that belief.”

The center is slated to open in the winter of 2022. The new ELC will allow Heritage to increase the number of children served from 75 to 90.



In the United States, there are only two universities designated by the United States Department of Education as both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and a Native American Serving Non- Tribal Institution (NASNTI). Heritage is one of them.

An HSI is an accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institution of higher education with 25% or more of its total full-time enrolled students who identify as Hispanic. A NASNTI is a postsecondary institution not affiliated with American Indian and Native Alaskan tribes and has an enrollment of 10% or more of its full-time students who identify as Native American. In the fall of 2020, the undergraduate student population consisted of 67% Hispanic/Latino and 10% American Indian or Alaska Native students.

Being and an HSI and NASNTI qualify for additional funding that can pay for programming that benefits the university and all of its students, regardless of race or culture.