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Meet the Women of BCOM – Part 2

In honor of International Women’s Day in March, we’re highlighted just a few of the outstanding women that make up the BCOM faculty, staff, and student body. Visit our Facebook page ( to read about these women and other exemplary females who make BCOM proud!


Second-year medical student Nancy Phu is the first female in her family to apply and be accepted to medical school. Her biggest accomplishment will one day be becoming the family’s first female physician. Nancy obtained a bachelor of science in biological sciences with a minor in chemistry from San Jose State University. At BCOM, she is vice president of the Student Osteopathic Surgical Association and community service director in the Sigma Sigma Phi honors fraternity. Acceptance into the honors fraternity is extremely competitive, with less than a quarter of each class invited to be members. When she isn’t studying for school, Nancy is heavily involved in community service. She said, “I greatly enjoy my involvement with Sigma Sigma Phi because of the close relationships we build among the brothers to give back to the community. Nancy is also an expert table tennis player, once playing at the collegiate level and making it all the way to regionals twice.


Jennifer Taylor is BCOM’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Vice President of Administration. That means she personally oversees much of the college, including finance, accounting, human resources, information technology and more. For Jennifer, though, this monumental job isn’t a headache. She says, “I have the honor and privilege of working with a group of talented and dedicated people in each of these areas, which makes my job much easier.” When Jennifer isn’t working, she enjoys going to the opera and visiting Santa Fe, a city well-known for its dynamic performing arts scene. Jennifer’s greatest achievement to date has been helping start BCOM, transitioning it from a simple idea and start-up to the mature, higher education institution it is today. Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Jennifer!


Meet Miriam Donohue, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. Before moving across the country to earn a doctoral degree in anatomy and cell biology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in New York, Dr. Donohue earned a bachelor’s degree here in her hometown, Las Cruces. At SUNY, she studied intraoperative neuromonitoring and became part of the first study ever to receive an NIH R01 grant to better understand the tool. “In a nutshell, it’s a field where someone monitors your nervous system during a complex surgical procedure. They help give real-time information to the surgeon to make the overall procedure safer for you as a patient,” she said. Today, Dr. Donohue teaches medical students about the nervous system and medical imaging, such as MRIs, CTs, X-rays and ultrasounds. Dr. Donohue is nationally certified as a Level 1 USA Triathlon Coach and a U.S. Masters Swim Coach. When the city’s Olympic-size swimming pool is completed, she looks forward to supporting adults who want to learn to swim as well as individuals interested in competing in swim meets or triathlons.


Third-year medical student Jessica Jacob is a certified scuba diver who’s gone on over 200 dives, including at night, in caves and with sharks. Originally from Phoenix, Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from the University of Arizona. She also has a master’s degree in medical science from Drexel University. Jessica has actively participated in the BCOM’s Student Government Association (SGA), first as Vice President, then on the Executive Board and finally as President. She’s also a member of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association and the Sigma Sigma Phi Honorary Service Fraternity. Her biggest achievement has been launching BCOM’s Student Led Reviews, which is a way for students who are proficient in certain areas to tutor fellow medical students. Since launching the program during her first year of med school, it has grown far past what she ever dreamed.


Meet Executive Assistant Linda Kutinac. Linda directly supports BCOM’s president, dean and board of trustees. She also strives to be a resource to all administrative faculty and staff. Linda is always on the go, but she still finds time to volunteer at major BCOM events like the Friends of Military Veterans Fundraiser and BCOM’s Community Open House. She is also a member of BCOM’s Sunshine Committee, which helps organize events that build camaraderie at the school. This includes organizing the Chili Cook Off, the BCOM Holiday Angel Tree and Employee Appreciation Day to help employees feel welcomed and appreciated. She says her biggest achievement has been “my marriage of over 50 years, our three adult children, their family and my ‘magnificent seven’ grandchildren.” Some of her best memories in life have been attending a final four, NHL and NBA games and a World Series.


Vanessa Richardson, BCOM’s Compliance and Title IX Officer, acts as an independent reviewer to ensure that any issues or concerns with BCOM are appropriately evaluated, investigated and resolved. Vanessa is originally from El Paso, Texas. The Texan became a lifelong Aggie in 1996 when she moved to Las Cruces to study biology and education. Since then, Vanessa’s education and career have taken her around the world. She lived in Oahu, Hawaii for three years as a teacher at an all-girls homeless shelter. Later, she joined the Peace Corps to volunteer in Armenia as a rural health advisor. There she taught women’s reproductive health classes in extremely rural villages and assisted village midwives with labor and post-partum care. Despite her travels and many adventures, Vanessa says her biggest life achievement is her three kids. “I think they are amazing,” she says. Thanks for returning to Las Cruces and serving here at BCOM, Vanessa!


First-year medical student Megan Miranda is originally from El Paso, Texas, and she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University. Since joining BCOM, Megan has gotten involved in a number of student organizations, including the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) and the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). Both clubs are heavily involved in the Las Cruces community and provide education about osteopathic medicine. Through SOMA, Megan helps runs the ‘DO for a Day’ program, which mentors and encourages pre-med students and allows them to glimpse what it’s like to be in medical school. Megan says her biggest achievement thus far has been getting into BCOM and following her dream of becoming a doctor. She one day hopes to work as a pediatric intensive care physician. She says, “The best fun fact is what I am learning at BCOM … to be an actual dragon slayer: to see the nature of healing the whole person and treating patients using multifaceted approaches rather than just with traditional medicine.”


In her position as director of financial aid here at BCOM, Marlene Melendez focuses on continuous financial learning, employee responsiveness and open and transparent communication in order to provide quality, personalized service. Marlene says she is “committed to helping students achieve their success by guiding them through the process of financing their education.” Marlene holds a doctoral degree in education leadership and administration from New Mexico State University. She loves working with and guiding students at BCOM and promoting a student-centered culture, but her career trajectory has not always been clear. Marlene’s past jobs include TV station camera operator, telemarketer and wide-load semi-truck escort driver. She says, “Thank goodness for post-secondary education; it gave me focus.” Today her hobbies include all things baseball. She also fondly recalls being a kickboxer as a young adult, a sport that left her feeling strong and confident. Her doctoral degree and son are the things she’s most proud of in life.


Meet Janet Woosley, administrative assistant for enrollment services. Many of you probably recognize Janet from the front desk, but she manages more than reception duties. Janet organizes all interview days with candidates and ensures that faculty and staff are well assisted so they can do their jobs without interruption or delay. Janet is heavily involved in BCOM’s White Coat Ceremony and the processes leading up to the big day. She says, “At our White Coat Ceremonies, parents come up to say ‘thank you’ to me; they already know my name! [That makes me] feel like I have been an integral part of a successful admissions team that really cares about our students.” Janet holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University. She served in the New Mexico Army National Guard prior to joining BCOM.