Staff and Faculty Champions

We would like to acknowledge the following staff and faculty members for their continuous support of our program. They have demonstrated their commitment to improving student health by adding mental health services to their course syllabi, welcomed the STEP Up program to their classrooms for activities like “Text, Talk, Act,” Kognito, and Guided Meditation, participated in various wellness trainings, and more.


Meet Ohlone faculty members who have integrated mental health issues in their course curricula:

Jeff O’Connell, Faculty, Math Department

Jeff has been a full time faculty member in the Math Department since 1996.  He has taught all of the classes offered in the department; his favorite has been “all of them!”  Jeff’s number one hobby is music and has been playing guitar since he was a kid.  He has held numerous leadership positions at Ohlone.  We are grateful for Jeff’s support of student mental health and his participation in the Student Health Advisory Committee.

Michael Navarra Smith, Faculty, Theatre & Dance

Michael teaches acting and directing and has directed many plays at Ohlone. He often introduces plays in his classes that bring awareness to mental health.  We are so grateful for his ongoing support of the Student Health Center and the STEP Up program and connecting students to support services.

Kimberly Ong

Kimberly Ong, M.S., Adjunct Instructor, Kinesiology,  Health/Wellness

Kimberly has been teaching health classes at Ohlone College since 2003.  She believes it’s important that all students are informed about what Ohlone offers on campus (health center and wellness events) as well as having students being involved in the Kognito module to communicate and learn from each other. She believes providing students more options will help increase a healthy living style.


Tracy Virgil,  Faculty, English Department

Tracy graduated and transferred from our very own Ohlone College, then the University of California at Berkeley with a B.A. in English Literature, San Francisco State University with a M.A. in English, and San Jose State University with a Masters in Information Science. Along with teaching as a Professor of English for thirteen years, she has also worked on writing projects NASA Ames Research Center and other technical writing projects in Silicon Valley. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking outdoors, playing classical piano, cooking, reading novels, and taking yoga and dance classes.


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Robin Kurotori, Professor and Program Director Health, Fitness, and Wellness

Professor Kurotori is one of STEP Up’s biggest champions. Teaching anywhere between 3-5 health and fitness classes each semester, she encourages her students to take part in mental health awareness events and assigns extra credit for participation.  Her students are also featured in STEP Up’s PSA (public service announcement) videos.

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Nancy Dinsmore, MSN, NP, RN-BC, Mental Health/Medical-Surgical faculty, Registered Nursing Program

Professor Dinsmore assigns her Nursing 306 (Nursing Care of the Mental Health Client & Advanced Gerontological Nursing) students Kognito interactive modules as part of the course curriculum.  Completion of Kognito modules support the completion of clinical hours for nursing students.  “The Kognito training modules are a perfect activity because they allow multiple responses, and show the outcomes of each,” says Nancy when asked about how the assignment contributes to the academic preparation of her nursing students.


Rob Dennis, Faculty, Journalism Department

Disciplines in communication fields, particularly journalism, play an important role in training future journalists, writers, editors, and photographers because these content developers influence how mental health issues are portrayed and reported.  Professor Dennis is responding to a national call from the U.S. Surgeon General on a national suicide prevention strategy through curriculum integration.  His spring semester 2015 Monitor newspaper production students are assigned to produce a series about student mental health that will run in the final three issues, and will include stories, photos and graphics, as well as a short video and other online components. Included in the course reader is the TEAM (Tools for Entertainment and Media) Up style guide on mental health reporting.

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