Category Archives: Member News

Nicholas McHugh, LA Tech Class of ’10, helps astronauts suit up at NASA

Nicholas McHugh had a good excuse for taking extra time to respond to an email from his alma mater.

His NASA team in Houston was preparing for, then successfully executing, a spacewalk outside the International Space Station.

“Spacewalk was great!” said McHugh, whose team is gearing up for another set of up to five spacewalks through October to upgrade some aging batteries on the space station. 

A Louisiana Tech Class of 2010 biomedical engineering major from Whitehouse, Texas, McHugh today trains astronauts for NASA’s human spaceflight programs. It’s part of his role in what NASA calls its “Flight Operations Directorate” in Extra-Vehicular Activity, or EVA.

Just another day in the office preparing for space might have McHugh figuring out how to make an airlock better, continuing his certifications in NASA’s longest training plan (since it involves human astronauts), even developing training and operational material for supporting spacewalks on the moon.

“I could be training the next astronaut on the moon; how exciting is that?” McHugh said. “I can think of nothing more exciting other than doing the moon walk myself.”

Every day bring McHugh and NASA a bit closer to that possibility. The recent spacewalks are in support of the orbiting laboratory’s assembly, maintenance, and upgrades to enable the space agency’s ambitious goals for the Artemis lunar exploration program — the name for NASA’s plan to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon with the goal of sending humans to Mars.

Although McHugh works as both an instructor and flight controller, he specializes in training in the space suit, the astronaut’s big, critical life support system. “I feel like my education in Biomedical Engineering prepared me in its systems more than any of the other engineering disciplines,” he said.

McHugh has classrooms all over Johnson Space Center; on any given day he can go from teaching an introduction about how the airlock helps astronauts transition from spacewalking to vacuum, to teaching an astronaut how to resize the space suit when they get on orbit in another facility.

He’s preparing currently to teach a two-day class to an astronaut. They’ll cover everything about the day of a spacewalk except the spacewalk itself: getting in the suit, the medical requirements and procedures to prevent decompression sickness, malfunction response, and post-spacewalk operations for getting out of the suit and maintaining the suit.

“This particular lesson primarily takes place in a vacuum chamber where, on the second eight-hour day, the crewmember will get to go to vacuum for the first time ever while wearing a space suit,” McHugh said. “Listening to the excitement in the astronaut’s voice as the years of space suit training finally all come together is one of the most rewarding activities of my job.”

He’s also working with other engineers to design a new space suit, one to replace the suits that have been used since the 1970s.

“I also support the execution of related activities from Mission Control,” he said. “This is one of my favorite aspects of the job. I get to then watch my students, the astronauts, actually use the classes I taught in real-time, while supporting them from the ground.

“One thing I really remember from Louisiana Tech, which I use frequently, is signal processing,” McHugh said. “Since Tech placed an emphasis on signal processing, I am able to better understand and analyze the data coming from complex life support systems; it just happens that the complex life support system I support is a space suit. Additionally, my understanding of biomedical devices and their interaction with the human body helps me better support the astronauts while they prepare and perform a spacewalk.”

Since McHugh was very young he knew he wanted to be a biomedical engineer. He originally focused on medical research, but working for an ambulance company as a dispatcher while a Tech student exposed him to communications and emergency situations and helped him realize that he “liked that kind of environment and didn’t want to lose the skills I gained while working there,” McHugh said. “Becoming a flight controller was an easy choice to make.”

In Houston he works with at least two other Louisiana Tech grads, International Space Station Flight Director Paul Kohnyaand flight controller Stephen Zenter (Industrial Engineering, ’06).

For students who want to know more about becoming a NASA professional, NASA Pathways is a program that provides opportunities for students and recent graduates to be considered for employment. McHugh also said internships with companies that support NASA are critical.

“It would be awesome to have more Bulldogs working at NASA,” McHugh said. “Being at Johnson Space Center, I’m in a sea of (Texas A&M) maroon and (University of Texas) burnt orange.”

McHugh also offered good advice for Bulldogs interested in success at NASA – or any other part of life.

“Never accept ‘good enough’,” he said. “Do your best today, and tomorrow, make your best better.”

NSU, Centenary sign agreement for accelerated nursing degree

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University and Centenary College of Shreveport formalized an agreement Thursday that will allow Centenary graduates who hold a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, chemistry or related science to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from NSU in an accelerated curriculum. 

The memorandum of understanding grants Centenary students preferred admission to the BSN Accelerated Curriculum (BAC), an intense, fast-paced program that helps students achieve the BSN degree within four semesters.

NSU president Dr. Chris Maggio underscored the quality of Centenary’s students, faculty and administrators as he discussed the benefits of the new partnership which was several years in the making.

“This is an exciting day,” said Maggio. “We know that you produce a number of wonderful graduates at Centenary who are well-prepared. We want to utilize these strengths and accelerate and streamline the process. There were a lot of moving parts to this, but we knew, at the core, that we had two outstanding institutions who were willing to help students and to help the healthcare profession.”

“This agreement builds on Centenary’s strengths in the biological sciences and helps us provide an easy pathway for students to be able to pursue their passions,” said Centenary president Dr. Christopher L. Holoman during the signing ceremony.  “Collaborating with NSU is a great opportunity for us to serve the people of Louisiana and fill a really desperate need for nurses in our state. NSU is such an important part of our community, both in Shreveport and in northwest Louisiana, and we are really grateful to be able to create this partnership.”

The agreement will provide academic advising to Centenary students about the BS to BSN (BAC) curriculum, assist Centenary students in the advising process to ease the transition between institutions, and provide a program leading to degree completion in 15 months. Faculty and administrators from both Centenary and NSU will communicate regularly to ensure that the agreement is achieving its goals. NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health and Centenary campuses are located just three miles apart in Shreveport’s Highland neighborhood.

Centenary students interested in the BS to BSN (BAC) program must complete a bachelor of science degree in biology, chemistry or a related science field and graduate with an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. They must also complete all prerequisite courses for the BSN degree and pass all required entrance examinations with satisfactory scores.

“We will have a dedicated faculty member guiding the students,” said Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health. “We also feel students learn from other students and have arranged for the accelerated students to integrate with traditional BSN students in some courses.”

Information on the BS to BSN (BAC) program is available at or by contacting Clawson at

Centenary MOU Signing:

Northwestern State University and Centenary College signed an agreement that will allow Centenary graduates who hold a degree in biology, chemistry or related science to enroll in an accelerated program to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from NSU.  From left are NSU Nursing Faculty Dr. Pam Simmons, Dr. Pam Holcombe, Dr. Anna Morris, Dr. Dana Clawson, dean; NSU Provost Dr. Greg Handel, NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio, Centenary President Dr. Christopher Holoman, Dr. Scott Chirhart, professor of biology; Dr. Rebecca Murphy, associate professor of biology and chair of Centenary’s biology department, and Dr. Karen Soul, interim provost and dean of the College.

CHRISTUS’s ’68 Mustang Raffle Raises $90,000 for Three Local Charities

Shreveport, Louisiana, Sept. 9, 2019 – James T. Ruben, Jr., was the lucky “Mustang for Good” Raffle winner. Ruben drove away in the beautifully restored 1968 Ford Mustang yesterday, but the real winners were the three local benefitting charities. The raffle raised over $90,000 for the Cara Center, Gingerbread House and Holy Angels. These three local organizations will equally share 100% of the proceeds for the health and well-being of local children, families and individuals with disabilities.

John Treadaway, classic car enthusiast and owner of Treadaway’s Auto Supply in Shreveport, found the mustang in a field in Haughton with a tree growing through it and had a vision of how to restore it and give back to our community. 

“We are still in shock at how much money our community donated to these three amazing organizations.” said Amy Heron, Executive Director of CHRISTUS Foundation Shreveport-Bossier. “We are so grateful for John Treadaway and the team he created for all of the hard work put into this Mustang. We know James is still overcome with excitement about winning, and we are thankful that so many people wanted to give back to these three local charities. They are helping children who have faced unthinkable experiences, like abuse or neglect, and helping individuals with disabilities live their best life.  Every dollar makes a difference, and the money raised from the raffle will make a long lasting impact in our community.”

In addition to the Mustang worth $30,000, Ruben also received a full photobook that documented every step of the restorations, including all of the brochures and information on the newly installed parts and components.

Local businesses joined in the spirit of generosity for the restorations and the raffle by donating professional restoration skills, appraisal services, printing and promotional materials.  Generous donors included Tim’s Paint and Collision, Summer Grove Auto Care, Paul Lashley Paint Supply, and Black Sheep Powder Coating to help restore the Mustang; Nobody Customs and Restorations provided the appraisal, Paragon Press provided design and printing services for the tickets and posters, and Alpha Media donated billboard design and placement. Rountree Ford donated billboards and housed the Mustang for the community to see. These donations have helped to ensure that 100% of ticket sales can be donated via a tri-share between Cara Center, Gingerbread House and Holy Angels.

CHRISTUS Foundation Shreveport Bossier is facilitating the raffle with License G0003956.

LA Tech named Top Tier National University in 2020 USNWR rankings

U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) has ranked Louisiana Tech University as a Top Tier National University in its 2020 Best Colleges list released today. Louisiana Tech was also ranked No. 135 on the USNWR list of Top Public Schools.

Louisiana Tech was ranked No. 272 in the United States, second among public universities in the State of Louisiana on the National Universities list.

Princeton University retained the No. 1 spot on the National Universities list followed by Harvard University. Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University tied for No. 3.

“People on our campus share their resources, share their talents and share their ideas to accomplish things that others cannot,” said Tech President Dr. Les Guice. “This is a testament to our commitment to excellence, to our students, and to the mission of this institution as well as our faculty’s commitment to make a difference in the world.”

Tech’s Colleges also earned national recognition. This year, undergraduate programs in the College of Engineering and Sciences were ranked 134 in the nation. College of Business undergraduate programs were ranked 224 in the country, up from 235 in the 2019 rankings.

“I am convinced that the work that we do today and the investments that we make in education today will determine the opportunities for economic prosperity and quality of life tomorrow in our region and state,” Guice said. “We have an obligation to continue to grow our programs and integrate them with our research enterprise to positively impact the next generation of leaders and innovators.”

The USNWR rankings evaluate colleges and universities on indicators in seven broad areas: peer assessment; retention and graduation of students; faculty resources; student selectivity; financial resources; alumni giving; and graduation rate performance. The indicators include both input measures, which reflect the quality of students, faculty, and other resources used in education, and outcome measures, which signal how well the institution educates its student body.

USNWR assessed more than 1,800 four-year colleges and universities across the country. Based on categories developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, “National Universities” include institutions that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. programs, and emphasize faculty research.

NSU nursing program adds post master’s certificate

NATCHITOCHES – A Post Master’s Certificate in Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) at Northwestern State University has been approved by the State Board of Regents.

According to Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health at NSU, Louisiana has a shortage of advanced practice registered nurses who possess specialized nursing knowledge and advanced nursing skills to provide quality health care to adults, older adults and the elderly who are critically or chronically ill,  have urgent or emergent conditions, a traumatic injury or are at risk for life-threatening instability or rapid physiologic health deterioration.

            “For years NSU has produced the most nurse practitioners of any single state supported university in Louisiana,” said Clawson. “We are so excited to have one of the best AGACNP’s in the state, Dr. Bea Launius, as the primary faculty for our PMC AGACNP program. Dr. Launius has been the coordinator of the AGACNP program for over 10 years with outstanding results.”

Clawson said because people live longer with chronic health conditions such as coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, chronic kidney disease and other diseases, the need for AGACNPs will continue to escalate.

“Nationally there is a current shortage of adult-gerontological acute care nurse practitioners, because of the scarcity of this type of nurse practitioner program,” said Clawson. “In Louisiana, NSU is the only university to offer the post-graduate AGACNP certificate.”

NSU’s MSN program includes concentrations for six Nurse Practitioners (NPs): Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP, Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP, Family NP, Primary Care Pediatric NP, Psychiatric Mental Health NP across the Lifespan, and Women’s Health NP. To practice as an adult-gerontological acute care nurse practitioner in Louisiana, an RN must obtain a minimum of a MSN with a concentration in adult-gerontology acute care. The purpose of the AGACNP PMC is to provide the needed didactic and clinical education for RNs or APRNs who already possess a graduate nursing degree in a concentration other than adult-gerontology acute care, to meet the requirements to become an AGACNP.

            “We fully expect there to be many nurse practitioners who are prepared to practice in a single population return for their post master’s certificate in adult gerontology acute care to expand the population for which they can provide care,” said Clawson.  ““Many quality nurse practitioners desire this additional post master’s certification to provide care for a broader population of patients than is allowed with their current certification. Nurses have a heart to help as many patients as they can, this degree equips them to do just that.”

According to Clawson, the structure of the certificate program will vary depending upon coursework already completed during the student’s previous graduate work. Based on an individual transcript review and an analysis of the gap between previous master’s learning and the AGACNP requirements, the practicing nurse practitioner could earn the certificate in three to four semesters. To maximize flexibility, most of the courses will be available online, and clinical courses will be hybrid, with some in-class meetings and some online delivery. Students who successfully complete the proposed post-graduate certificate may apply to take a national certification exam. Upon passing the exam, the nurse may apply for advanced practice registered nurse license (APRN) with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing (LSBN) and practice in the state as an AGACNP.

For more information on Northwestern State’s College of Nursing, go to

LSUS Continuing Education & Public Service offers various courses and conferences in Sept.

LSUS Continuing Education & Public Service always aims to provide quality continuing education, lifelong learning, and public service programs. For the week of September 9 thru September 13 we will be offering a full slate of programs for adults seeking to expand their knowledge base or add to their professional development. Such course includes our new Effective Supervisory Leadership course, Paralegal institute, and Annual Suicide and Bullying Conference.

The Effective Supervisory Leadership Course will start on September 12 th and will run till November 14. They will meet every Thursday from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM. This course provides students with leading-edge, practical instruction in the following areas: Interpersonal skills, strategic and innovative leadership, Operational essentials, and Human resources best practice. The course fee is $579.

Our Paralegal Institute courses are currently available for registration and will begin on September 11. The Paralegal-Real estate will meet every Wednesday from 6 PM until 7:30 PM. The Paralegal-Family law will meet every Wednesday from 7:45 PM until 9:15 PM. A student can choose to take both at the same time in order to finish the Paralegal curriculum faster. Both of these courses cost $239 and are WIOA approved. However, if a student registers by September 5 they will get $20 off the regular course fee.

The 9th Annual Bullying Prevention & 14th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference will begin September 12 and will run for two consecutive days (from 9/12 to 9/13). Doors will open at 7:30 AM and the conference will run until 4:30 PM. The regular course price is $159, but if people register by September 5 th they will get $40 off the regular course fee. To view the conference schedule and breakout sessions use the link: Alternatively, simply visit our website ( and click our conference tab.

The LSUS office of Continuing Education invites anyone in the Shreveport-Bossier area to consider our course offerings for their professional development and leisure recreation. Interested individuals can enroll in these courses by registering online at or by
contacting Cheryl Irvin at 318.798.4177.

LSUS Continuing Education provides quality-learning experiences with professional instructors offering a flexible course schedule on campus and at other locations throughout the regional community for a multi-faceted and diverse population based on their educational needs.

Astronaut’s visit begins seventh annual ‘New Frontiers’ series at LA Tech on Sept. 24

Louisiana Tech University’s 2019-20 New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Series begins with a presentation by NASA astronaut Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor about medical research aboard the International Space Station Tuesday, September 24 at 6 p.m. in Howard Auditorium.

Auñón-Chancellor began working with NASA as a Flight Surgeon in 2006. In 2009, she was selected as a NASA astronaut.

For NASA, Auñón-Chancellor spent more than nine months in Russia supporting medical operations for International Space Station crew members in Star City. She also served as Deputy Crew Surgeon for STS-127, the 23rd flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, in the summer of 2009. 

Auñón-Chancellor was most recently a part of the Expedition 56/57 crew that launched to the International Space Station in June 2018.

She is board certified in both Internal and Aerospace Medicine.

Established in 2013, the New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Seminar Series is a lecture series that brings world-renowned researchers from a variety of biomedical fields to the Tech campus. The series offers students and faculty the opportunity to learn and interact with leaders in their fields of study. Representing the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical research, the lectures are always free and open to the public.

Northwestern State offering flat rate for RN to BSN degree


NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s College of Nursing has been approved to offer a flat rate of tuition and fees for Registered Nurses who would like to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

The University of Louisiana System approved the plan Tuesday in which students will pay a flat rate of $6,750, which includes tuition and fees) for 30 credit hours of nursing courses in NSU’s RN to BSN program.

Administrators plan to launch the program for the Spring 2020 semester. 

“The RN to BSN curriculum is an opportunity for RNs with either a diploma degree or an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) to return to school and earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree,” said Dr. Ann Deshotels, assistant professor of Nursing.  “We primarily recruit in ASN programs because diploma programs are phasing out. We also recruit in hospitals and other health care agencies where RNs are employed.”

The program is offered 100 percent online, but students who live near one of NSU’s campuses in Natchitoches, Shreveport, Alexandria or Leesville can take the needed general education courses, such as a history or a behavioral science, either in the classroom setting or online, Deshotels said. The eight RN to BSN nursing courses are only offered online.

The flat rate tuition cost of $225 per credit hour also applies to the general education courses that some students may need.

“We are so excited that Louisiana’s educational boards have approved NSU’s proposal to provide a substantial cost savings for working, associate degree registered nurses who desire to obtain their baccalaureate degree,” said Dr. Dana Clawson, dean of NSU’s College of Nursing and School of Allied Health. “Northwestern’s College of Nursing values the contributions of nurses and understands how hard it is to be a working professional, spouse and parent and return to school. Lowering the cost of tuition for these nurses is one way we can show our appreciation.”

“We recognize that the price of college tuition can have a tremendous impact on a student’s decision to pursue educational goals,” said Dr. Darlene Williams, vice president for Technology, Innovation and Economic Development.  “Launching an alternate pricing model for the RN to BSN program will allow NSU to continue to be responsive to the needs of our state while lowering the cost for our students.”

Nurses who hold a BSN have increased opportunities for career mobility such as moving into leadership positions.  The BSN is often the first step towards a Master’s of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree where nurses are prepared to become advanced practice registered nurses, nurse educators or nurse administrators. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, there is a growing body of research that clearly links baccalaureate nursing education to lower patient mortality rates and fewer adverse patient outcomes.

“Many healthcare agencies are now recruiting BSN-prepared nurses compared to the past due to professional, societal and governmental recommendations,” Deshotels said.  “RN to BSN students learn competencies needed to practice in 21st century public, community and critical care settings. They build on the knowledge learned in the ASN program with additional competencies added in informatics and evidence-based practice.”

Ryan Connella, a Shreveport native who lives in Oil City, earned his degree this year.  Connella was a charge nurse in the Surgical ICU at Willis-Knighton Medical Center when he enrolled in NSU’s RN to BSN program.

“This program was critical to achieving the goals I had set forth for myself. I needed to complete my BSN to continue to graduate school and NSU seemed to be the perfect fit since I was planning on attending graduate school there also,” Connella said.  “I learned a significant amount in regards to research, leadership, ethics and community nursing that I am able to use in daily practice.”

Deshotels said the investment is worth it to achieve professional goals, especially for nurses who are employed full-time.

“Balancing work, family and school takes a highly motivated, responsible and determined individual,” she said.  “Faculty advise students to not overload their schedules so that they can be successful, especially if the student plans to continue their education at the masters and doctorate levels.”

“We specifically proposed this tuition amount so that it would cover the basic costs of educating these students, but still be the lowest in Louisiana,” Clawson said. “Providing seamless articulation for the associate prepared nurse to obtain a higher degree, while simultaneously meeting Louisiana’s workforce needs is what NSU does best.”  

For more information or to apply for NSU’s RN to BSN, contact Deshotels at (318) 613-4990 or or Dr. Anna Morris, program coordinator, at (318) 677-3098 or

“We are willing to work with any student to meet their goals and make the program as flexible as possible to accommodate students who work full time,” Morris said. 

For more information on NSU’s College of Nursing, visit

Bossier Students Make Impressive Gains on 2019 LEAP

Bossier Schools is raising the bar on student achievement and making impressive gains across the district, as seen today
by the 2019 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) student progress measure released by the state
Department of Education.
This measure is a component of Louisiana’s accountability system designed to provide students, parents, educators and
the public with information on the growth students make from one year to the next.
An admirable 70-percent of Bossier schools increased the percentage of students earning mastery or advanced in grades
3-8 math, Algebra I and geometry, the largest gains being made at Benton, Curtis and Legacy Elementary Schools.
Stockwell Place Elementary, Benton Middle and Benton High are the district pacesetters in the percent of students earning
mastery or above on the math portion of the LEAP.
Significant strides were also made in the percent of students earning mastery or advanced on the English Language Arts
(ELA) portion of the assessment, with the largest growth gains at Benton, Elm Grove and Sun City Elementary Schools;
Greenacres and Haughton Middle Schools; and Haughton and Parkway High Schools. The schools with the highest
percentage of students earning mastery or above on the ELA and science sections are Kingston Elementary, Benton
Middle and Benton High.
Another area to spotlight is the district’s Top Growth status, which shows over half of Bossier schools scoring in the top
two levels of the progress index, representing the 60th to 99th percentile relative to similar peers across the state. Raising
the bar by at least six-percent growth in math and/or ELA are Apollo Elementary, Central Park Elementary, Elm Grove
Elementary, Legacy Elementary, W.T. Lewis Elementary, Greenacres Middle and Haughton High.
Additionally impressive is, when ELA and math scores are combined, a third of the Top Growth schools in northwest
Louisiana are in Bossier Parish. They are: Kingston Elementary; Stockwell Place Elementary; Apollo Elementary; Central
Park Elementary; and Parkway High School.
Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey said, “Taking the leap to invest in and implement Tier 1 curriculum that
aligns with state standards has not been easy by any stretch for our teachers or students, but seeing these significant gains
in student growth and achievement proves their efforts have been more than worthwhile.”

CHRISTUS Velocity Urgent Care Hosts Community and Family Grand Opening

WHO:CHRISTUS Velocity Urgent Care invites members of the community and members of the local media! 
WHAT:The CHRISTUS Velocity Urgent Care team welcomes the community of Bossier City to a Grand Opening Celebration at their brand-new facility! The event will feature food, fun and giveaways for the whole family 
WHERE:CHRISTUS Velocity Urgent Care, 2703 Beene Boulevard, Bossier City. 
WHEN:Thursday, September 5, 2019, 4:30p.m. – 6:00p.m. 
WHY:As members of the community serving patients when their need for treatment is urgent, we want to get to know you – so stop by and get to know us! There will be food, games and giveaways for all ages. Last-minute school physicals will be offered, and we will be giving away an AED unit to a local school.