Class of 2011 - Fall- Biographical Sketch
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH SCHOOL OF NURSING
NURSE ANESTHESIA PROGRAM
Class of 2011 – Fall Start
Tamara Baxter is from Portland, OR. She obtained her BSN from Washington State University. Her first
nursing job was in Seattle at Harborview Medical Center in the Burn/Peds ICU. From there she worked in a
rural hospital in Idaho for approx 9 months. She then moved to Portland OR and worked as a ICU float
nurse for 2 years and an IV therapist for the final 9 months or so before moving to Pittsburgh. Tamara is
married to Charlie Baxter and they have an adorable 2 year old daughter, Norah.
Marissa Berg is originally from Pittsburgh and moved with her family to Monterey Bay, California when she
was two years old. She grew up in California, and completed her BSN at California State University, Fresno
(near Yosemite), where she was also on the Equestrian team. She moved back to Pittsburgh in July of 2007
after graduating and worked for one year in the emergency department at UPMC St. Margaret, and one year
in the Surgical/Trauma ICU at UPMC Presbyterian. She loves anything outdoors, especially running, hiking,
and mountain biking, and loves going back to California to visit her family (and the ocean!).
Jake Carlson grew up out west in Idaho Falls, Idaho; and yes, some of his extended family still grows those
famous Idaho potatoes. Growing up in Idaho meant lots of outdoor fun, everything from mountaineering to
wakeboarding. Jake has been skiing since he was six years old, loves the outdoors, and is an Eagle Scout.
After high school he spent five years in Northern Utah and graduated from Utah State University with a B.S.
in biology and minors in chemistry and business management. While in college he volunteered on a Ski
Patrol, worked as a Firefighter/EMT, and was a state EMS instructor. Saint Louis, Missouri was the next
stop, where he earned a BSN in a second bachelor’s accelerated program while working full time nights as a
patient care tech to put himself through school. His CCRN experience was in the Medical ICU at Barnes-
Jewish Hospital/Washington University Medical Center in Saint Louis. He is very excited to be around some
mountains in Pittsburgh and out of the very flat and humid Midwest. Interests include skiing, kayaking, scuba
diving, wakeboarding/water-skiing, hiking, camping, biking, and watching lots of movies.
Kelly Corlew was born in Michigan but has lived more than half her life in Houston, Texas. She obtained
her ADN in Michigan and her BSN from the University of Texas- Medical Branch in 2002. She enjoys all
populations of nursing care and therefore, worked in Neonatal and Pediatric ICU at Memorial Hermann
Children's hospital and also worked Adult CVICU at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. She enjoys the
warm weather and most activities that involve water.
Nicole Cournoyer is originally from a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania and moved to Pittsburgh to
pursue a degree in nursing. Nicole graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BSN in 2008 and upon
graduation began working in the Neuroscience ICU at Allegheny General Hospital. She currently lives in the
North Hills with her boyfriend of five years, Umberto (who is originally from Italy), and in her spare time
enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.
Jessica DeSalvo is a Pittsburgh native; having been born and raised in Penn Hills, Pa. Indecision in regard
to a career led her to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Robert E. Cook Honors College in
pursuit of affordable liberal arts credit and a clue. Whilst exploring other fields, she serendipitously
discovered nursing and fell in love with the nurse anesthesia field. Upon completion of her BSN/Psych minor
in 2007, she returned to Pittsburgh, working in the Neuro ICU at Allegheny General Hospital and traveling as
much as possible in her free time. Jessica also greatly enjoys music, the outdoors, reading for pleasure,
history, and random conversation. She considers herself extremely fortunate to have discovered this
incredible career path and to be afforded the chance to pursue it.
Class of 2011 - Fall - Biographical Sketch
Amy Dorn is originally from Pittsburgh and currently lives in Gibsonia, PA with her fiancé Darrell. Amy
obtained her ADN from Community College of Allegheny County (2004) and began working at UPMC
Passavant in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. During this period she attended the University of
Pittsburgh to complete her BSN. Amy and her fiance enjoy movies, film, and photography. She also enjoys
running, going to the gym, food, and spending time with family and friends.
Brett Fadgen is from Allison Park, PA. He graduated from Gannon University and was working as a
Paramedic/rescue specialist in the greater Pittsburgh area and in Erie, PA prior to choosing nursing as a
career. He obtained his BSN from Duquesne University's second degree nursing program. Nursing
experience includes the Cardio-thoracic ICU at UPMC Presbyterian and Flight Nursing at STAT MedEvac.
Brett currently resides in the North Hills of Pittsburgh with his wife and two children.
Joe Farelli is a critical care nurse at the Medical Center, Beaver Pa. He has been an RN since 2005,
obtaining his ADN at the Community College of Beaver County, and later obtaining his BSN at Waynesburg
University. Prior to returning to school to obtain his nursing degree, Joe owned and operated a small fleet of
delivery trucks with FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh. He has many family members who are nurses and CRNAs,
including his mother who was an assistant director of nursing, and this guided his decision to pursue a career
in nurse anesthesia. Joe lives in Center Township, Pa. with his three children- Joel, Hannah, and Alyssa and
is a proud single parent. Joe is glad to be at Pitt, and is very much looking forward to December of 2011
Brittney Felix grew up in Punxsutawney, PA (yes, that’s where Punxsutawney Phil resides). After
graduating high school, she obtained her BSN at Duquesne University. Post-graduation she returned home
and worked in a Medical-Surgical Telemetry unit in Dubois, PA for a year. Brittney then moved back to
Pittsburgh to obtain Intensive Care experience and worked in the Coronary Care Unit at Allegheny General
Hospital for a little over two years before deciding it was time to return to school for anesthesia. Brittney
currently resides in Shadyside with her brother, Braydn, and her sister, Danikka, who both attend Pitt. This
Halloween she is marrying her high school sweetheart Aaron. In her spare time Brittney enjoys reading,
watching movies, and spending time with her family and extended family and her cat, Joan.
Brooke Gilliland is from Butler, PA. She obtained her AAS from Butler County Community College in 2003.
She worked in the ER at UPMC Passavant and also in the SICU at Butler Memorial Hospital. She attended
Waynesburg University North Hills for her BSN, which she completed in 2008.
Megan Grady is originally from Cleveland Ohio. She was an ICU nurse for 7 years, in adult SICU and PICU.
She spent 3 1/2 years as a travel nurse in 7 different locations. Megan is the 7th of 8 children in her family.
When she had free time, she enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and doing almost
Holli Hoffman grew up in Sykesville, PA. She attended the University of Pittsburgh for her BSN and
graduated in 2007. She then took a position in the CTICU at UPMC Presbyterian for two years prior to the
start of CRNA school. Holli enjoys reading, cooking, and going to concerts and sporting events.
Brittany Hucko was born and raised in Pittsburgh. She received her BA in Psychology from Penn State
University in 2003. After working at a residential treatment facility for children for a year, she decided to go
back to school for nursing. She received her BSN from Colorado State University in 2006, and worked in the
CCU in Colorado Springs for a year and a half. When her husband deployed to Iraq, she moved back home
to Pittsburgh and worked at CTICU Shadyside. It was the perfect opportunity for Brittany to fulfill her goal of
anesthesia school, since she happened to be living in a city with a top-rated program and would have the
support of her family when her husband had to deploy again. Her husband is currently home, allowing them
both to reside in Washington County, with their two American Bulldogs, Lucy and Vito.
Adam Jensen grew up in beautiful northern Utah, received his RN in 2005, completed his BSN at Weber
State University in 2007, and subsequently moved to Arizona to be with his future wife. In Tucson, Adam
worked in the Trauma ICU at University of Arizona's Medical Center until making the 2,300 mile trip to the
City of Bridges. Adam currently resides near Frick Park with Calvin the cairn terrier.
Class of 2011 - Fall - Biographical Sketch
Chris McGrann hails from Seattle, but comes to Pittsburgh by way of Maine. She has been in nursing since
1995, first as an LPN, and later as both a staff and travelling ICU/PACU RN. Her favorite nursing
experiences include working the medical tent at Burning Man in Nevada, being part of a surgical mission
team in Ecuador, and caring for a largely Mexican clientele in Yuma, AZ. Chris is the proud aunt of five
nieces and two nephews; they are constant sources of joy. She has been married ten years, makes a mean
mac and cheese, loves all kinds of music, knits things with skulls on them, and has three box turtles:
Tootsie, Foxy Brown, and Boy.
Julie Muckle, an avid Steelers fan and sports fanatic, has been raised and still resides in Cranberry Twp, 25
miles north of the 'burgh. After attending UNC Charlotte and playing collegiate soccer for the division 1
university, she returned to Pittsburgh to work in the MICU at Presby. She loves to participate in any outdoor
activity, especially running and skiing. Also, she enjoys spending time with her family, boyfriend, and friends,
volunteering, traveling the world, and most importantly, laughing and having fun! Life is too short to be
anything but happy!
Gabrielle Petrill is from Greensburg, PA. She attended Connecticut College in New London, CT and
graduated with a Neuroscience degree. Gabrielle then attended the Second Degree Program at Duquesne
University and graduated with a BSN. Gabrielle has been working for the past two years in the CCU at
Western Pennsylvania Hospital. Gabrielle recently got engaged to James Driscoll. In her spare time
Gabrielle enjoys watching Pittsburgh sports (Go Pens!), playing ice hockey, and spending time with her
friends and family.
John Reichert grew up in Mentor, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University where he was a varsity
cheerleader for the Buckeyes. John graduated with his BSN in 2007. He stayed in Columbus, Ohio after
graduation and worked in the Medical ICU at OSU Medical Center for two years. John is very close with his
parents and identical twin brother. He currently lives in Shadyside and enjoys cycling, tennis, yoga, skiing,
playing the piano, and singing.
Brian Selai is originally from West Mifflin, but has progressively migrated further away and now resides in
rural Harrison County Ohio with his wife, daughter, a few labs, cats and 2 horses. Brian originally served in
the U.S. Army as an MP before settling down and completing his ADN from Community College of Allegheny
County in 1991. He stayed on at Shadyside Hospital where he worked through school upon graduation and
worked as an RN in CCU, CTICU, MSICU, and acute inpatient dialysis which included a short tour of duty as
the Unit Director and Renal section instructor to the Critical Care Classes. In 1999, he moved to the SICU at
the Dept of Veteran Affairs to care for his fellow former soldiers. Additionally, he did some agency work as a
PACU nurse at Jefferson and reignited his desire to pursue his original professional goals. Brian completed
his BSN through Chamberlain College of Nursing this past year. In addition to his occupations in healthcare,
Brian owned and operated a fishing charter business on Lakes Erie and Ontario for the past 15 years. His
passion for outdoor activities consumes most of his free time. He also enjoys bow hunting, weightlifting, fly-
fishing (fresh and saltwater), pedaling his road bike on those curving country roads, but most importantly
spending time with his family.
Kelley Smith grew up in Wexford, Pa where she currently resides. She graduated from Penn State
University with a bachelor’s in Hospitality Management. After college, she moved to New York City and
worked at the Waldorf~Astoria Hotel. Kelley returned to Pittsburgh to become a nurse. She went to CCAC
for ASN. Upon graduation, she worked at Presby’s Surgical Trauma ICU. Kelley has also worked at Mercy in
ICU and the PACU. She is part of Pitt’s RN to MSN program and completed her bachelor’s portion in 2008.
Kelley has a son named Jackson and an English bulldog, Lola - The two loves of her life. She also enjoys
Steelers football, family time, and living a very healthy and active lifestyle.
Katie Szelong is originally from Mt. Pleasant, Pa. She moved to Pittsburgh when she graduated Penn State
Fayette with her ADN. Katie began working at UPMC Montefiore on 8W (Medical Step Down unit) for 1 year
then transferred to UPMC Presby's Neuro/Trauma ICU. She worked in the Neuro/Trauma ICU for
3 years. While working she completed her BSN in 2008 at the University of Pittsburgh. Katie loves to play
the piano, and has been playing since she was 6 years old. She has gone on a mission trip to Jamaica as
an RN and hopes to someday travel on a mission trip as a CRNA. Katie loves to travel and spend time with
her family and friends and is thankful for the wonderful support system she has.
Class of 2011 - Fall - Biographical Sketch
Bridget Wilcox was born in Pittsburgh but moved to Houston, Texas at a very young age. She earned her
BSN from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. She moved back to Houston and started working at St.
Joseph Medical Center in the emergency room for two years. She then worked at The DeBakey Heart
Center at the Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. There she spent a year and a half in the
cardiovascular intensive care unit. After being accepted to Pitt’s nurse anesthesia program she was excited
to get back to her roots and experience four seasons for the first time in her life! She moved up here with her
two cats, Bernie and Oscar who absolutely love Pittsburgh. In her free time, she enjoys running outdoors,
reading and spending time with friends and family.
Chad Zajacs is originally from Cranberry, PA but has since lived in Nevada, California, and most recently
Utah. He received an A.S. from Dixie State College, an A.D.N. from Utah Valley University, and a B.S.N.
from Southern Valley University. He received most of his I.C.U. experience in the Medical/General I.C.U. at
Dixie Regional Medical Center in St George, UT. He enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, and spending
time with his wife. He lives in Cranberry with his beautiful wife and is happy to be back in the Pittsburgh
Revised: January 19, 2010