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Faculty

Dr. Steven A. Stargardter

President
Dr. Stargardter became Provost and Chief Academic Officer of United States University in January of 2013.  A native of New York City, he received his undergraduate degree at Fordham University and his doctorate at Boston College.  He spent a year during his doctoral studies as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Mainz, Germany, researching his dissertation: “Niklas Vogt, 1756-1836: A Personality of the Late Enlightenment and Early Romantic Movement.”  He went on to receive a J.D. from the University Of Washington School of Law in 1991. Dr. Stargardter has served as a faculty member, Continuing Education Director, Undergraduate Dean, and Provost and Chief Academic Officer. For the past 15 years he served as sitting President of first City University of Seattle and then John F. Kennedy University. Among other achievements, he oversaw the reaffirmation of regional and specialized accreditations at both institutions. Dr. Stargardter is especially committed to the creation and maintenance of a transformative and supportive educational environment for students traditionally underserved by American colleges and universities.

Faculty

George Peraza-Smith, DNP, GNP-BC, AGPCNP-C, CNE
Nursing Programs

Dr. George Peraza-Smith is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the College of Nursing at United States University. Peraza-Smith lives…

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George Peraza-Smith, DNP, GNP-BC, AGPCNP-C, CNE
Faculty

Dr. George Peraza-Smith is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the College of Nursing at United States University. Peraza-Smith lives in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Peraza-Smith has served in the faculty role for over 14 years teaching both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. His research interests include innovative pedagogies, gerontological nursing, long term care resident quality of life, and LGBT issues.  Dr. Peraza-Smith is a gerontological nurse practitioner that specializes in gerontology primary care and gero-psychiatry. In addition, he is certified as an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and a Certified Nurse Educator. Dr. Peraza-Smith received his BSN and MSN in Nursing Administration at The University of Texas Medical Branch, Post-Masters GNP Certificate at the University of South Florida, and DNP in Nursing Education at Case Western Reserve University. He maintains a private practice in long-term care and with a locate community free clinic.

Dr. Peraza-Smith is a nursing leader who currently serves on the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Nominating Committee. He is the chairperson on the Conference Planning Task Force for Sigma Theta Tau International and the Treasurer for the Florida Nurse Practitioner Network. Dr. Peraza-Smith is the chairperson for the Professional Recognitions Task Force for the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association and serves on the American Nurses Association Gerontological Nursing Scope and Standards Workgroup. In addition, he is a volunteer for the Red Cross and serves on several local community board.

Marco Curiel, MA
Education Programs

Mr. Curiel is the Director of the Teacher Credentialing Preparation Program, in the College of Education, at United States University…

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Marco Curiel, MA
Faculty

Mr. Curiel is the Director of the Teacher Credentialing Preparation Program, in the College of Education, at United States University (USU). Mr. Curiel serves as a university instructor and supervisor for credential candidates, supporting them in fulfilling their practicum experience towards credential completion. Mr. Curiel began his assignment at USU in 2011, serving as an adjunct professor within the department. Mr. Curiel is a retired school administrator, having served the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) for over 34 years.

Mr. Curiel attended San Diego State University and began his educational career as a classroom teacher at the elementary level. Later, he became a resource teacher at both, the school site and District levels, including three years in the District’s Race/Human relations Department. After earning a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and an Administrative Services credential, Mr. Curiel became a Middle School Vice-Principal. Two years later, he became the vice-principal of a large multi-track, year round elementary school. Two years after that, Mr. Curiel became a school Principal, serving 8 years at the elementary level and later, a total of 10 years at the middle school level. Mr. Curiel has the unique perspective of having been a teacher and administrator at both the elementary and secondary levels.

Mr. Curiel has extensive experience as a professor in teacher education, including 9 years as an adjunct professor with the Policy Studies Department at San Diego State University. In addition to his role at USU, Mr. Curiel also serves as an Interim Administrator, as well as, a Visiting Teacher for SDUSD. Finally, Mr. Curiel also serves on the Board of Directors for the Barrio Station, a non-profit organization, in Barrio Logan in San Diego. The mission of the Barrio Station is “to discourage delinquency, youth violence and gang involvement, and encourage civic responsibility and successful school performance among the youth.”

Cynthia A. Leaver, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC
Nursing Programs

Dr. Cynthia Leaver is the Associate Dean of Faculty and Research in the College of Nursing at United States University….

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Cynthia A. Leaver, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC
Faculty

Dr. Cynthia Leaver is the Associate Dean of Faculty and Research in the College of Nursing at United States University. She received her AD and BSN in Nursing from Mount Saint Mary’s College, Los Angeles, CA; her MS in Nursing from University of San Diego; and her PhD in Nursing from Catholic University, Washington DC. Dr. Leaver completed the OnLine Educator Certificate through the University of Indiana, Office of Life Long Learning. Sponsored by Bravewell Collaborative, she completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in integrative medicine at NIH/NINR/CC, and completed the Integrative Medicine program with Dr. Andrew Wile, at University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.  She has practiced in many capacities within the profession of nursing over the course of her 30-year career as a nurse.   Dr. Leaver has taught undergraduate and graduate nursing in both on-campus and on-line arena over the last ten years and maintains an active clinical practice, implementing telehealth, as a family nurse practitioner. Dr. Leaver retains a seat on a nursing research council, and is actively involved in nursing professional organizations. She enjoys walking, gardening, cooking, and spending time visiting with family and friends.

Teresa Kiresuk, DNP, ADPC NP-BC
Nursing Programs

Dr. Kiresuk is the Director of the RN to BSN program in the College of Nursing at United States University….

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Teresa Kiresuk, DNP, ADPC NP-BC
Faculty

Dr. Kiresuk is the Director of the RN to BSN program in the College of Nursing at United States University. She is also certified as an Adult Gerontologic Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Kiresuk received a Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2010 from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN, a Masters of Arts in Nursing in 1994 at the College of St. Catherine with a specialty as an adult and gerontologic nurse practitioner, and a Bachelors of Arts in Nursing in 1992 from the College of St. Catherine.

Dr. Kiresuk has 22 years experience working in the primary care setting and currently maintains a part time practice providing primary and urgent care to underserved clients in their homes. She is an experienced user of telehealth as a way to deliver healthcare having spent 7 years using telehealth to deliver care to homebound patients with cognitive, brain, and spinal cord injuries.    Dr. Kiresuk has been teaching for 21 years including 15 years of online education and brings her expertise with technology into the classroom using the latest techniques and software to provide digital patient experiences and simulation to her online courses.

She maintains memberships in Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society for Nursing, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association and the National Gerontologic Nurses Association.  Dr. Kiresuk resides in Minnesota with her husband and two daughters.

Maria Luisa Ramira, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CEN
Nursing Programs

Dr. Maria Luisa Ramira is currently the Director of the Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program…

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Maria Luisa Ramira, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, CEN
Faculty

Dr. Maria Luisa Ramira is currently the Director of the Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program at United States University. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner and nationally board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner (AANP) and a current member of AANP and California Association of Nurse Practitioner (CANP). She is also a Certified Emergency Nurse.

Dr. Ramira received her doctoral degree in Nursing at the University of San Diego and her Master of Science in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner from the California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Furthermore, she has received Forensic Nursing Certificate from UCSD/John Hopkins University continuing education program. Dr. Ramira has over 20 years of clinical experience and over 10 years as nurse educator. Her research has been in the area of pediatric pain management in the emergency department and the experiences of foreign educated physicians who have transitioned to the family nurse practitioner role in the United States.

She is currently employed by the California Emergency Physicians, Med America and works as a Nurse Practitioner in Emergency Department. She was instrumental in initiating and coordinating the utilization of nurse practitioners at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center emergency department (ED) making her the first Lead NP employed in the ED.

Dr. Ramira has been an active member of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, the Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego and the Emergency Nurses Association. She is immediate Past-President 2014-2016 of Philippine Nurses Association of San Diego (PNASD) and the Education Chair for the PNAA Western Region (PNAA). She is currently the PNAA Vice President of the Western Region. She received the Advanced Practice Excellence Award from the Philippine Nurses Association of America on July 23, 2016.

Mirjana Zivkovic, Md. PhD
Health Sciences Programs

Associate Professor Born, raised, and educated in former Yugoslavia (Serbia). Degrees: MD, Master of Science in both health education and…

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Mirjana Zivkovic, Md. PhD
Faculty

Associate Professor

Born, raised, and educated in former Yugoslavia (Serbia). Degrees: MD, Master of Science in both health education and health care administration, and PhD in public health. Worked as a faculty at Belgrade University School of Medicine for more than 27 years, and finished in a position of Professor Emeritus; published in Yugoslavian and International journals; coauthored three books. Immigrated to the United States in 1997, and worked at Children’s Hospital for a while, then switched to teaching in the field of health care. Taught at National University, Grossmont College, and have been teaching at United States University for eight years now. The position changed over time from an adjunct instructor, to a part time coordinator of Master Program in Health Sciences, to full time Associate Professor, and Division Chair Master of Sciences in Health Sciences. Volunteered for Red Cross; volunteers for Cancer Coping Center. Practices yoga, likes to walk, read, and to watch movies.

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