NSU Distinguished Alumnus from College of Computing and Engineering wins Global Award for his Pioneering Career in Cybersecurity

Dr. John “Jack” Freund ‘12 was recently honored by (ISC)², the world’s largest nonprofit association of certified cybersecurity professionals, at their 2020 (ISC)² Global Achievement Awards. This award recognizes and celebrates the most outstanding achievements by cybersecurity professionals around the world and recognizing only one honoree per region. Freund is the honoree chosen from North America in the (ISC)² Senior Professional Award category.

Freund is recognized “for his work with the NIST Applied Cybersecurity Division on behalf of the nonprofit FAIR Institute to map together the NIST CSF Risk Assessment and the Risk Management Strategy domains to the OpenGroup’s FAIR risk taxonomy and risk analysis standards.”

The cybersecurity pioneer, and martial artist, was an engineer for a tech company when the 9/11 attacks happened. “This [9/11] made me dive into the field of cyber security and risk management,” he said.

“There were not many options at the doctoral level in an adaptive non-traditional format for students like me,” he said. “NSU was a pioneer, had its own pedigree of success, in delivering quality doctoral degrees online even before the now popular online format was used by other schools,” he continued.

Being a mostly online doctoral student at NSU, Freund confirmed that “success comes from the way that you commit to a goal and push yourself to achieve it,” reflecting on taking a non-traditional approach to his education and profession at the time.

Freund leveraged the foundational projects that he worked on at NSU to better understand what businesses need from a security program, rationalize the tradeoff between security and practicality, and eventually co-authoring a book on quantifying cyber risk so that business leaders can understand their exposure.

“I gained a discipline for writing during my Ph.D. that I did not have before. I would not have this skill if it weren’t for my experience at NSU,” said Freund referring to his time as a doctoral student in the NSU College of Computing and Engineering. “I learned to not be so emotionally attached to my work and take criticism as a tool to make it better,” he continued.

And while Freund is a true pioneer in the field of quantitative methods for cyber risk management, he is very candid in reminding current students and recent graduates that “so much of success hides so much of the failures that led up to it.”

“In ways that people may not recognize, current and potential students really look at what alumni have done after graduating from NSU. They view our trajectory as a reflection of what their paths could look like,” he said.

Freud, who earned his Ph.D. in Information Systems, was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Achievement award in 2018. He continues to be involved with his alma mater and shares his pride of being a Shark.

As for advice to current students and young professionals?

“Stay connected to make an impact,” he concludes.


NSU Psychology Double Alumnus Shares Suicide Prevention Tips in Coalition with September’s National Suicide Awareness Campaign


Mark DeSantis, M.S., Psy.D. has garnered the reputation of being known as a “double shark” through his education at NSU. He earned his master’s degree in counseling and clinical psychology and graduated in 2001 with a Psy.D. in the Clinical Psychology program. During DeSantis’ Psy.D. program, he studied neuropsychology and behavioral medicine with adults and pediatrics specialty.

DeSantis recently retired from the office of Veterans Affairs as a Suicide Prevention Coordinator after being a part of the program for 12 years. Now he works as an independent consultant for suicide prevention and assists with local law enforcement. During his time with the VA, DeSantis was awarded the Secretary of Health Award for Outstanding Community Outreach in 2017. This award is given yearly and only three applicants are chosen out of the VA for their unique impact within the community. Alongside receiving his award, DeSantis’ suicide prevention outreach program in the VA was also selected to be distributed nationally by the Secretary of Health.

“It’s important to be educated, even at the classroom level on all aspects related to suicide. Your job is to help the individuals who work with you and people in the community. Guidance overall is part of an administrator’s position,” said Dr. DeSantis.

In addition to his time with the VA,  DeSantis has presented at many conferences such as the Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Conference, the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress, and many more. Likewise, he was a faculty member at multiple universities and taught as an adjunct professor at NSU’s College of Psychology.  

“NSU had wonderful professors, and they’re all very personable and some became my mentors throughout the program. It prepared you because there so much diversification,” he said. “Specializing in areas is where I thought the program really excelled. Plus, teaching at the university opened up doors at different schools.”

From being in the mental health field since his start at NSU, DeSantis created his legacy on dealing with situations pertaining to suicide. It is important to be cognizant of tell-tale signs for individuals who are suicidal. One tip that DeSantis always advises to do is to ask about suicide.

“Look for the warning signs – initially someone may deny it, but if they’re going through difficult times, those are the kind of things you want to look out for. Meanwhile with children, they won’t always show the same signs normally, instead they will appear as irritable,” expressed DeSantis.

He also recommended talking with a loved one because relationship building is key when conversing with someone who may be suicidal. Whether it’s asking someone what’s on their mind or asking how much sleep they’ve been getting, it’s key to negate away from statements that may inhibit them from being honest with you. DeSantis advocated for people to ask questions and wants them to have conversation, not an interrogation.

“CDC reports death rates annually and since the 1920s, suicides have been continually increasing. These rates matter because populations are always increasing. Suicides are the 10th leading cause of death in this country and with 18-30-year-olds, it’s the second leading cause of death,” he said.

According to DeSantis, mental health is important no matter the time, and with September being Suicide Awareness month, knowing the signs and aiding those around you can make an even bigger impact. Furthermore, DeSantis’ biggest takeaway from his time at NSU and his career in suicide prevention was understanding that everything is a learning experience.

The final words of advice he shared were, “Keep your mind and heart open, observe everything and never stop learning. You continue to learn and never stop learning to help others in your life.”

Alumni Spotlight: Yineth Aslan, J.D.

NSU Law alumna Yineth Aslan ’16 shares her passion for community and diversity.

“Being a lawyer is more than just having a job; it is becoming a member of the legal profession, to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of the profession and to the community”

Yineth Sanchez Aslan graduated from Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law  in the spring of 2016 and continues to fulfill her goals of advocating for victims. She also continues to promote the need for diversity and inclusion of underrepresented minorities in the law.

Among the many reasons that NSU Law has earned a U.S. News and World Report specialty ranking in Trial Advocacy is the Trial Advocacy Summer Institute (TASI). Yineth, along with the NSU Trial Association leadership team and faculty advisors, organized the first TASI program in August 2015.

The institute is a platform specifically designed for intensive learning of basic trial skills unconnected to any coursework. Each year, TASI continues to connect excited and eager law students with top trial attorneys and judges from Miami-Dade, West Palm Beach, and Broward counties.

TASI provides an intimate environment where the instructors can nurture and shape the raw talent of the students, transforming that talent into measurable skill. As of 2020, more than 400 students and more than 200 alumni and attorney trial instructors have participated in the program.

As a member of the board of directors of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association (BCHBA), in January 2020 Yineth and the BCHBA board founded the first Broward County Bilingual High School Conference, Our Bilingual Journey: The Challenges and Benefits of Bilingualism in the Legal Profession.

In a partnership with the Broward County Public Schools and BCHBA, 125 students and panelists gathered for a full day of large and small group discussions. Attorneys, judges, and Spanish-speaking high school students shared their bilingual experiences, the benefits and challenges of growing up in a bilingual home, the effects of bilingualism in the legal profession, and how to use bilingual skills to excel professionally. Yineth and the BCHBA team are looking forward to the 2021 conference. “

“The passion and determination to overcome the challenge of a language barrier are remarkable proof of the resilient spirit of immigrants,” said Yineth. “My hope is that other groups and organizations will recognize that and in turn create more opportunities for success for this bilingual population.”

Fischler Distinguished Alumnus Remembers a Life of Service to Americans who have been Struck by Tragedy

Lt. Colonel Robert C. Anderson, Ed.D., USAF (ret.), served thousands of individuals and organizations around the world in managing combat stress, supporting terminal individuals, and teaching physicians how to manage such situations with their patients.

Dr. Anderson, who earned his doctorate in health care education from NSU in 2000, responded to countless terrorist attacks and natural disasters around the world as a U.S. Air Force behavioral scientist for more than 20 years.

Dr. Anderson was one of the original behavioral scientists chosen to establish the behavioral medicine and bioethics components of Air Force Family Medicine Residency Programs. He assisted in the establishment and creation of numerous medical residency programs around the country, including NSU’s.

“As a child, I heard of the death of a girl who was my classmate at the time, who had died on a plane crash – and it hurt me so much. That is when I decided that I wanted to dedicate my time to helping people, dying folks, and training physicians on how to deal with them,” he said.

Lt. Col. Anderson has worked disasters and terrorist attacks during numerous deployments, including to Homestead Air Force Base in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, to Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and to Egypt, Somalia, and Kenya as a part of Operation Restore Hope. He responded to the terrorist bombing of the Marine compound in Beirut, the bombing of the Frankfurt Airport, and the fatal crash of a med-evac helicopter from the University of Utah Medical Center. He provided training in hostage recovery for personnel at the USAF Medical Center in Germany, who were tasked to bring hostages from Middle East captivity.

Dr. Anderson accomplished all of this and more, while working to earn one bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and two doctorate degrees throughout his life.

“I decided to attend NSU after years of service in the Air Force because I knew the doctorate program was very practical,” he mentioned. “Most dissertations are like moving old bones from one graveyard to another, but Nova was far from that. I wanted to meet some interesting people, and I sure did. I’m still in touch with my classmates,” he continued.

In his biography, Dr. Anderson remembers when President George H.W. Bush, recognized his work with victims of international terrorism, referring to him as a “quiet hero” and noted: “You’ve done wonderful work with terrorist victims, and your positive attitude is truly encouraging. I’m deeply grateful for your efforts to help Americans who have been struck by tragedy.”

“When in a high-stress situation, I try to stay in touch with my inner voice, my inner teacher. I try to relax and trust that I am not alone, and I’ll get help,” Dr. Anderson expressed.

He shared a rather valuable thought, or prayer, that helps him, and that he hopes helps others in challenging situations: “I’m here only to be truly helpful, to represent you who sent me. I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because you who sent me will direct me. I will go anywhere you wish knowing that you go there with me. I will be healed as I let you teach me to heal.”

He has shared his expertise and experiences in several media venues including Armed Forces Radio and Television, the NBC Today Show, in interviews in Stars and Stripes, and the Air Force Times.

“What my students have done with their lives is my proudest accomplishment. One of them is a U.S. Space Command surgeon and another an Air Force Surgeon General – really fine physicians,” he said.

Despite a lifetime of impacting numerous lives and organizations, Dr. Anderson shares that his greatest accomplishment is wife and family.

“Above all, I’m very proud of my kids and I’m proud to be introduced as Bonnie Anderson’s husband,” he concluded.


NSU College of Business Alumnus and Entrepreneur Makes Generous Impact During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Thomas DeSernia (B.S. ’12) is the CEO and Owner of SA Company, a sports apparel and outerwear business based in Boca Raton, FL. The company has donated over 100,000 FACE SHIELDS® in South Florida since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic started affecting the U.S., Thomas was determined to “put FACE SHIELDS® on every person in Boca Raton.”

This initiative resulted in a drive-through handout of 100,000 FACE SHIELDS® at the company’s facilities, which was then moved to other drop-points throughout the city.

“These are challenging times but we, at SA Company, have a product that is helping people. There’s a sense of urgency, that’s what keeps us going,” Thomas said.

DeSernia has worked tirelessly to develop SA Company and to be able to assist the community and make an impact. He has also founded other SA, Co. branches, companies, and business partnerships along the way.

Thomas remembers his time at NSU as deeply motivating and nourishing.

“NSU played 70% of the role for me to be successful in what I do,” Thomas said. “They teach as if you are the employer, not the employee.”

“NSU moved me to always look to fix problems, 360-degree sustainable solutions, […] it always ran at a high velocity and because it kept me going at that speed, I was able to adapt fast and accelerate my business to where it had to go,” he continued.

SA Company has also been impacted by new health and safety measures for their employees because of the pandemic.

“We do temperature checks and sanitize constantly, while also doing a good job providing supplies, timely fulfilling orders, and keeping our team safe,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ company has been recognized by the Office of the Mayor of Boca Raton with the Business Award for creating significant employment opportunities in this city. He was also honored with a profile in the “30 Under 30 Edition” of Forbes Magazine.

“If you want to be successful in life, you have to make sure you’re happy and making an impact. Everything else is a byproduct,” he concluded.






NSU Law Alumnus Leads Florida’s Emergency Operations

From hurricanes to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jared Moskowitz, Esq., (J.D. ’07) works to keep Florida safe.

Jared Moskowitz, Esq., (J.D. ’07) is the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the agency responsible for Florida’s preparedness and response to state-wide disasters and emergencies.

With the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, Moskowitz is instrumental in leading Florida’s emergency response plans including providing personal protective equipment to Florida front-line workers, coordinating testing sites, issuing lockdown guidelines, and providing guidance to families in emergency situations.

“The COVID-19 emergency has set us at a full-scale activation, or Level 1 as we call it, all-hands-on deck, seven days a week […] three times as large as a category 5 hurricane,” said Moskowitz.

He believes that the biggest challenge for authorities during the pandemic is that “this is the first natural disaster in which not everyone accepts what is happening in the same way.”

“In an emergency, it is difficult to spread guidelines when different segments of the population believe different things over the same thing,” Moskowitz mentioned.

He highlighted this fact as a significant difference between a pandemic and a hurricane, “this [the pandemic] has become so political, and everyone’s perspective changes based on where you get your information,” he continued.

Moskowitz was driven to public service from a very young age. He was elected to the Parkland City Commission at the age of 25, when he was a second-year law student at NSU.

Moskowitz was appointed to his current role by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in January of 2019 after serving as State Representative for District 97, which encompasses several areas in Broward County including Coral Springs, Parkland, Plantation, Tamarac, and Sunrise.

During his tenure as State Representative (2012-2019), Moskowitz was one of the first legislators to respond to the tragic shooting in his high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, in 2018.

“I went to the school [MSD], saw the bullet holes, the backpacks in the parking lot. I heard parents screaming. Words don’t do justice to what the community and those families went through and continue to go through,” said Moskowitz.

Soon after the tragedy, Moskowitz led the Florida legislature to pass comprehensive gun control and mental health packages for the state.

“I am tired. I am human. Though, after going through what we went through in Parkland, that’s what gives me the strength and keeps me focused, and it is one of the reasons I took this job. There’s a lot we can do,” he said.

From his time at NSU, Moskowitz remembers the support and encouragement from his classmates and our faculty and staff.

“Professor Anderson, who taught Election Law, was always great to have a conversation with having had experience in running a presidential election,” said Moskowitz. “NSU was very supportive when I got elected at the age of 25. My peers and my professors nurtured my desire to serve,” he concluded.



Why I Give: Messages From NSU Alumni


As we continue to live the “new normal” together, we remain true to what matters most – the safety and well-being of the Nova Southeastern University community.

Being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricane season is stressful, but as Sharks, we help each other swim forward.

In the past few months, NSU alumni have shown their generosity and Shark Pride by supporting the NSU Cares Fund and COVID-19 Student Support Fund.

These philanthropic Sharks share why they choose to give back to their alma mater in the above video.


Grateful Sharks: NSU Students Share Their Gratitude For Support During Pandemic

Thanks to the generosity of NSU alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and community partners, the COVID-19 Student Support Fund provided emergency aid to students during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

Recipients of this student fund share their gratitude to donors who helped them swim forward through difficult times.

Thank you so much for all of the kind and selfless individuals who donated to this fund. The COVID-19 Student Support Fund allowed me peace of mind because I was able to pay my bills that I would have otherwise been unable to pay. I can’t thank each person individually, but if you are reading this, I hope you know that you seriously helped me during a very scary and uncertain time. I hope you know that you did good and provided support for a student that already has a mountain of student debt. Thank you a million times over.” – Megan DeRiso

Sashana Dixon

“I am humbled and grateful for the assistance I received through the NSU COVID- 19 Student Support Fund. I want to express my sincere gratitude to all the donors that have contributed to this cause. Your generous contributions have afforded me the opportunity to fill the gap in my strict budget. This help was able to allow me to purchase the essential items needed which was an additional expense brought on by the pandemic of COVID- 19. Your donation has afforded me great sense relief from the overwhelming feeling derived from a financial challenges and worries caused by this pandemic. It is my sincere appreciation and wish that you all receive greater than you have given.” – Sashana Dixon


Vania Arboleda

“My dad resides in Peru, and due to this pandemic, he cannot fly to visit me, nor I can fly back home. [My sister and I] had trouble coming up with the amount required to stay in our rental apartment for more than what we had planned. We used this money to pay for our deposit. Thankfully, after that one month, we were able to adjust our expenses and invest all our savings in paying for summer rent. Thanks to the student fund, we were able to stay in our home and not get kicked out.” – Vania Arboleda


Skylyr VanDerveer

“After losing my job due to the pandemic, I was so worried about how I was going to afford my summer classes. I decided to try to apply for the Student Support Fund out of desperation. I was thrilled to receive my acceptance email, allowing me to pay for my summer textbooks and groceries. Thank you so much to all who donated. I cannot thank you all enough.” – Skylyr VanDerveer

Ashley Jackson

“I would like to say that I am so very grateful and appreciative of being able to receive assistance during this pandemic from my school! Words cannot express my gratitude! Thank you so much to everyone who donated in helping us students!” – Ashley Jackson

Kwadwo Mfoafo

“This fund helped relieve some of the burden off my neck and helped me focus on my academic work. I am very grateful to anyone who contributed to the fund and made it possible.” – Kwadwo Mfoafo

Click here to make a gift to the COVID-19 Student Support.

Alumni Spotlight: Brad Vamplew, PA-C (MMS, ‘19)

Brad Vamplew is a 2019 graduate of Nova Southeastern University’s Physician Assistants who traveled to New York City to help fight COVID-19.

Before going to work on the frontlines in NYC, Brad Vamplew was working in Urology Oncology in Royal Oak, Michigan.

As the coronavirus pandemic continued to become prevalent, particularly in high-case areas, Vamplew knew he needed to help. He quickly opted to relocate to the pandemic’s epicenter in New York City.

“As soon as I got the call to action, I deployed and jumped on a flight immediately to help those in need,” he said.

With the support of his wife and family, Vamplew became a part of the healthcare team at Gotham East New York in Brooklyn.

In regards to being in an environment with higher health risk, he explains that medical and healthcare workers are no strangers to the pressure and tension that arises in dire situations.

“Through every patient I test and evaluate, I feel that we as a country get closer to getting back to normal, together,” he said.

Vamplew shares his pride to be a frontline worker alongside talented health professionals and emphasizes the impact of NSU on his career and ability to help those in need.

“My experiences at Nova Southeastern University’s PA Program has been paramount in my growth and development as a healthcare provider,” said Vamplew.

He shares that the clinical skills and curriculum he learned as a student laid the foundation for practicing in the healthcare setting after graduation.

He also attributes his leadership abilities and interpersonal skills to the NSU faculty members, noting the impact of PA Clinical Director, Dr. Lucia Lopez.

“She has played a profound influence on me because she was my PA student Advisor,” said Vamplew.  “The relationships that I have built with Dr. Lopez and the entire NSU family is the reason I am becoming, not just a Shark Leader in my community, but at a national level.”



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