Each year, John F. Kennedy University selects alumni - one representing each college of the University - to honor as the University's Alumni of the Year. We welcome this opportunity to applaud these individuals who are excellent role models for both our alumni and students. Each has gone on from JFK University to apply the knowledge and insights gained to the benefit of their fields, society, as well as themselves.
The following are the 2015 Alumni Award Recipients.
COLLEGE OF LAW
Lowell Richards,'79, JD, had a private law practice emphasizing criminal trials for 20 years. He was appointed to the Contra Costa County Superior Court in 2001 and currently serves as a Commissioner for the Contra Costa Superior Court in Pittsburg. In this role, his assignments have included traffic, small claims, domestic violence, civil harassment, restraining orders, unlawful detainers, and juvenile delinquency and dependency cases. Additionally he is a member of the State Bar of California, Federal Bar/Northern District of California and the California Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions.
Prior to earning his law degree, Lowell was first a musician, earning a BS in Education/Music major from Ohio State and performing as a professional musician in numerous big bands and symphony orchestras. He was also the chief music arranger for the West Point Band of the US Army. His career path took a turn when he became a computer systems engineer at IBM. Along the way he became a certified flight instructor for multi-engine aircraft and holds six US and world aviation records.
Nancy McCullough Engle, '98, JD, has been teaching law since 2000. She has served on the Academic Standards Committee for the College of Law for over seven years and was twice honored as the law school’s Professor of the Year. Among the classes she teachers are the New Student Orientation, Contracts, Legal Research and Writing, and Exam Skills Lab.
COLLEGE OF GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDIES
Susan Chritton holds a graduate Certificate in Career Development. As an executive coach, she uses personal branding methodologies, combined with her skill as a master career counselor, a career management fellow and her master coach certificate from the Hudson Institute. Her book entitled, Personal Branding for Dummies, was the #1 personal branding book on Amazon for over 18 months. She is a frequent speaker on personal branding throughout the country.
Khemya MitRahina, M.A., earned her master’s degree in Arts & Consciousness Studies at JFK University and went on to obtain her PhD in Natural Health of the Healing Arts. Khemya also began her own practice: Khamitic Healing Arts Center, where she instructs individual classes in music and the arts as a therapy and a guiding light to young people who struggle with A.D.D. and Autism. In addition, she developed a non-profit organization where she writes her own grants to fund her school programs in dance, music, and African drumming. Khemya currently instructs dance and music classes at San Joaquin Delta Community College and Modesto Junior College.
Daniery Rosario, MA, received his master’s degree in Sport Psychology. It is his mission to foster commitment, resilience, and integrity through sports. He has a strong interest in the study of aggression in sports and has recently published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology. Daniery currently serves as the Athletic Director at Leadership Public Schools, a high performing charter high school located within the violent and drugged plagued "Iron Triangle" of Richmond, California.
Debra Vinson, M.A., graduated in 2001 from the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. Debra has committed herself to teaching and facilitating non-violent conflict resolution for over a decade. Debra works full time and in the evenings mediates conflict between families in Antioch. She has a passion for Social Justice as it relates to children and families, and currently sits on Contra Costa County Family and Children’s Trust Committee in the Mental Health seat. Debra is an elected Antioch School Board Trustee.
COLLEGE OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES
Juan Castillo, BS, Criminal Justice Leadership, has served a notable career in law enforcement spanning 30 years. During his career, he served in a variety of positions and special assignments, ranging from fugitive recovery, drug investigations, and gang task forces throughout Northern California. Juan has been recognized by the Oakland and San Francisco Police Departments and the Alameda County Sheriff Departments and received the Medal of Valor – Silver Star from the State of California Division of Adult Parole Operations, among other awards.
Juan has also been active in his community of Brentwood, serving as a member of the city’s Arts Commission since 2008 and served as Commission Chairperson in 2010. And in 2014, he was a member of the Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury – a panel of 19 County residents who are appointed each year to function as an independent body to investigate matters under the guidance of a Superior Court Judge. Juan plans to continue his education and to explore the road of entrepreneurship in the law enforcement arena.
LaTonya Castillo, BS, Criminal Justice Leadership, enjoyed a distinguished career in law enforcement, serving in positions in probation and parole for 20 years. Most recently she was Assistant Unit Supervisor of a high-risk Sex Offender Parole Unit with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Over the years, LaTonya worked with teams to address issues of family preservation, child abuse, and youth crime prevention throughout the State and in 1999, she was named Public Service Officer of the Year.
LaTonya’s goal is to mentor minority children to encourage them to pursue their dreams. She and her husband have opened their homes and their hearts to foster children and are working to be role models for children displaced due to abuse, neglect, or dysfunction – to help shape the lives of our future generation. LaTonya also volunteers with area youth teams while continuing her studies here at JFK University to earn an MBA.