Melissa Ashley, DNP, FNP-BC, CCRN

Coordinator FNP Track/Associate Professor

DNP: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
MSN: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
MA English: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
BSN: St. John’s College
BA English: Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Professor Ashley comes to St. John's College of Nursing with prior teaching exterience at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, SIU Medicine and adjunt faculty at St. John's College. She has been in the nursing profession for over 12 years, the last five as an advanced practice provider in the ICU setting. Her professional interests include improving quality of life at end-of-life, improving patient outcomes for septic shock patients in the acute care setting and improving patient safety and outcomes through evidence-based practice in creating, reviewing and updating protocols in varying aspects of patient care. She looks forward to teaching and mentoring the next generation of nurse practitioners at St. John's College of Nursing.

Melissa Adams, PhD, MSN, RN

 Associate Professor

PhD: Capella University
MSN: Chamberlain College of Nursing
BSN: Chamberlain College of Nursing

Dr. Adams started her nursing career as a LPN. She then bridged her way to obtain the RN license and transitioned to completing her PhD in 2016. Dr. Adams graduated with her PhD in Nursing Education from Capella University. Her research was focused on student centered learning in the classroom for her dissertation. Her research interests are nursing incivility, active learning, and nursing education.

Mary Baker, DNP, MS, RN

Assistant Professor

DNP: American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Post University 
MS: University of Illinois Chicago
BSN: Sangamon State University
Diploma: St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing

Mary joined the college as full time faculty in 2015. She has over 35 years of nursing experience, with the past 20 years focused on nursing education in the college setting, as well as in the acute care setting. Mary’s specialty area is medical-surgical nursing at the intermediate care level. She also has experience in home health, transplant nursing, cardiovascular care, and neurology nursing. Her professional interests include patient education and the on-boarding process of nurses/new employees.The focus of her DNP degree was on educational leadership, with her practice-based project addressing active learning and students’ academic performances.

Mary Barnes, MS, RN

Assistant Professor

MS: University of Illinois at Chicago
BSN: Delaware State College

Specialty areas and research interests: Critical Care/ICU; Cardiac Surgery ICU; Foley Catheter Usage Reduction; Dementia; Dementia Education for Hospital Staff; Care of Hospitalized Elderly. 

Linda Blakley, DNP, RN

Associate professor

DNP:  University of St. Francis 
MSN: St. Louis University
BSN: McKendree College
Diploma: St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing

Linda began her nursing education at St. John’s School of Nursing. She obtained her RN-BSN from McKendree College and her MSN from St. Louis University as a perinatal clinical nurse specialist. In May 2021 she completed her DNP from University of St. Francis, Joliet. 

Linda has been a faculty member of nursing at St. John's College since January 2009. She has been involved in maternal/newborn nursing as a staff nurse, charge nurse and as a perinatal outreach educator.

She has taught courses in maternity and pediatrics, as well as introductory medical surgical nursing at St. John’s College. She is a member of AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses), STTI (Sigma Theta Tau International), and a member of the St John’s Alumni Board. Her research interests include maternal/ infant morbidity and mortality and use of simulations in nursing education. Her DNP project focused on increasing the number of BSN prepared nurses in bedside/direct patient care through newly licensed registered nurse residency programs. 

Cynthia Bednarchik, DNP, CNP

Adjunct Faculty

DNP, FNP: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
MSN, FNP: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
BSN: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
ADN: Lincoln Land Community College

Dr. Cynthia Bednarchik is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner and specializes in men's health and male infertility.  Dr. Bednarchik has been with the college since 2019.  She is a highly skilled NP with 18 years of nursing experience.

Dr. Bednarchik has authored a book chapter on men's health and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed abstracts, posters, and papers on men’s health. She has authored a book chapter on men's health and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed abstracts, posters, and papers on men’s health. She has chaired the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) education for Advanced Practice Providers. She is also a committee member of the Illinois Urology Society (IUS)) and holds memberships in the American Urological Association (AUA), Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA), Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nurses (ISAPN), the American Nurse Association (ANA), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF).

Gloria Brummer, DNP, RN, CEN, CNE


DNP: Rush University
MS: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
BSN: University of Illinois at Springfield
Diploma: St. John's Hospital School of Nursing

Gloria Brummer, a certified nurse educator, has taught at St. John’s College for 27 years.  Her teaching experience includes online education, clinical practice, classroom, simulation and nursing laboratory settings in courses including nursing leadership, medical-surgical nursing and critical care and transition to practice. She has served on the lead team for the graduate program and contributes to college accreditation processes. Certified in emergency nursing, Gloria instructs advanced cardiac life support and has served as a trauma nurse specialist at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Her clinical experience includes emergency, trauma and flight nursing, surgical intermediate care and ambulatory care.
Gloria’s research interests include inter-professional education and improving client-centered care through evidence-based practice and quality systems. She is currently a member of the Emergency Nurses Association, Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Midwest Nursing Research Society and Sigma Theta Tau.  For the past three years she has served as faculty for the Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Collaborative through Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, which is a national program that identifies individual barriers which cause over-utilization of the health care system. Gloria authored a chapter in the 2018 book, Simulation Scenarios for Nurse Educators: Making it Real, 4rd Edition, and co-authored an online learning module: Medication Safety for the Emergency Nurses Association GENE series.
Gloria values the opportunity to assist in the development of future professional nurses who will carry on the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis healing ministry among the complexities of today’s health care.

Bettianne Casper, MSN, RN

Assistant Professor

MSN: Kaplan University
BSN: Millikin University

Bettianne received her BSN from Millikin University (Decatur, IL) in 2008 and her MSN in Nursing Education from Kaplan University (Des Moines, IA) in 2013.  Her clinical experience includes floor nurse and charge nurse on an acute psychiatric unit.  She also completed mental health assessments for the Hospital to Home clinic at Prairie Heart Institute.

Bettianne's professional interests include mental health advocacy and education. 

Meagan Burton, MSN, RN, CNE

Assistant Professor

MSN: Walden University
BS: Western Illinois University
ADN: Spoon River College

Meagan received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2007, majoring in microbiology. She received her Associate's in Nursing in 2010 and Master's in Nursing Education in 2013. Meagan, a certified nurse educator, has taught at St. John's College since 2014. She currently teaches  Pathophysiology/Pharmacology and Community Health Nursing. Her clinical experience is in Emergency Medicine and TeleHealth Nursing. She maintains certification in ACLS and PALS.

Gina Canny, PhD, RN, CNE, TNS

Associate Professor 

PhD: Nova Southeastern University
MSN: Millikin University 
BSN: St. John’s College

Gina Canny has more than 27 years of nursing experience. She began her nursing career on a medical-surgical unit, transitioned to acute renal dialysis and then moved to the emergency department and trauma care. She has been a trauma nurse specialist since 2003. For the last eight years she has been teaching at the baccalaureate level. She has taught in the areas of fundamentals of nursing, medical-surgical nursing, evidence-based research and leadership. She is a certified nurse educator. In 2020, she was a recipient of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) Nurse Educator Fellowship Award. In 2021, she was a Rising Star of Research and Scholarship Poster Presenter at Sigma Virtual International Nursing Research Conference.

Gina is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and Emergency Nurses Association. Her doctoral dissertation focused on first-generation college students in nursing and their resilience for repeating a nursing course. Other research interests include patient safety, supplemental instruction to assist with student learning, active learning strategies and student outcomes.

Ife Muyiwa-Ojo, DNP, MSN-Ed, MBA, NP-C, CCRN, CNE

Associate professor

DNP: Grand Canyon University
AGNP: Maryville University
MBA: Western Govenor's University

MSN-Ed: Western Governor's University
BSN: Western Governor's University

Before going into the medical field, Ife was an information technology engineer with more than 20 years of tutoring, hardware and network engineering and database management experience. He worked with various national and international corporations, including a major internet backbone based in Atlanta Georgia.

Ife received both his Bachelor’s in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing Education from Western Governor’s University and continued to complete his Master’s in Business Administration with the same institution. He also received his Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) degree from Maryville University and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) from Grand Canyon University. Ife has a robust practice experience in various fields, including medical-surgical, psychiatry, telemetry and critical care. As a nursing educator, he has taught in medical surgical, health assessments, diverse populations/psychiatry, leadership and informatics/evidence-based practice both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He serves as a member of the DNP curriculum committee, Academic Affairs Committee, Chair of the BSN-RN Adhoc Committee and Chair of the College Assembly Committee. Ife also devotes his passion for student development to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in nursing education, especially for racial and gender minorities. He leads the college’s Men Engaged in Nursing organization (M.E.N.) that seeks to improve the inclusion of men in the nursing profession. He recently presented at the 2021 American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion summit.

Cheryl Pope, MSN, RN

Assistant Professor

MSN: Benedictine University
RN-BSN: Benedictine University
ADN RN: Heartland Community College

Cheryl joined St. John’s College of Nursing in 2019 with prior teaching at Benedictine University, Illinois Wesleyan University and as an Emergency Department Educator at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. She has vast experience in emergency and cardiac nursing, including flight nurse experience. She has more than ten years experience as a nurse educator with interest in improving nursing assessment skills, quality and safety of patients, and patient centered care with evidence-based practice and use of simulation. She specializes in assisting nurses/nursing students with learning disabilities to be successful in their careers.  Cheryl is an instructor for Trauma Nurse Specialist, Trauma Nursing Core Course (course coordinator), ABA Burns, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), School Nurse Emergency Care (SNEC) and Jumpstart/Mass Casualty Triage. She also holds a licensure as a Prehospital RN (PHRN), Trauma Nurse Specialist and Emergency Communication RN (ECRN). She is an Illinois Council Committee member for Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and on the subcommittee for Trauma Nursing Core Course. Professional memberships include Emergency Nurses Association, American Nurses Association (ANA), American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).

Nancy Semenza, PhD, RN

Associate professor

PhD: St. Louis University
MS: University of Illinois at Chicago
BSN: Sangamon State University
ADN: Lincoln Land Community College

A professional nurse educator since 1994, Nancy has been affiliated with St. John's College, MacMurray College, Lincoln Land Community College, and Millikin University as nursing faculty. She received her MS Degree from University of Illinois at Chicago in the Clinical Nurse Specialist Track where she also worked as a research assistant for an NIH study of 'Self Efficacy and Symptom Distress,' and her Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Saint Louis University where she completed her dissertation on 'Stress, Mood, and Bone Mass Density in Post menopausal Women,' in conjunction with an NIH funded research project at the SLU School of Medicine. Nancy has practiced in medical-surgical, psychiatric, preoperative, pharmacology, ethics, and community/public health nursing. Nancy was the founding director of the Master's program of Millikin University and currently teaches at all four programmatic levels of nursing education at St. John's College. She currently chairs the Pathway 2 Success student learning enhancement program at the College. National nursing presentations that Nancy has provided include the 125th National League of Nursing Conference in 2018 and the 2019 Annual Conference for the Higher Learning Commission. 

Judy Skelton, MSN, RNC-OB, CLC

Assistant Professor

MSN: Benedictine University
BSN: Mennonite College of Nursing

Judy has certifications in inpatient obstetrics, lactation counseling, and serves as a neonatal resuscitation instructor. She has 28 years’ experience in all areas of OB in varying roles from floor nursing to education and management. She received her BSN from Mennonite College of Nursing and her MSN in nursing education from Benedictine in 2014. Judy began at the college as adjunct faculty in 2015 in psych/geriatrics. In 2017 she began full-time and continues to do psych/geriatrics, med/surg 1 on rotation as well as OB. 

Julie Varns, PhD, RN

Associate Professor, Simulation Center Administrator

PhD: University of Missouri
MSN: University of Missouri
BSN: Sangamon State University
Diploma: St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing

Julie Varns has been an educator for over 24 years. She presently serves as Assistant Professor of Nursing and Administrator of the Simulation Center. Ms. Varns’ commitment to nursing education first began in 1994 when she worked as faculty at a local vocational school. It was there that she taught in both practical nursing and surgical technology programs. Before joining the college in 2011, Julie mentored medical students at SIU School of Medicine.  

Ms. Varns’ is a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar. She has extensive clinical practice including medical as well as surgical nursing, working as a staff nurse in neurology, orthopedics, and cardiology, before joining surgery as an EENT scrub nurse. She worked for twelve years in the role of first assistant/office nurse for a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Ms. Varns utilized her perioperative nursing expertise to initiate and develop skills laboratory sessions for students to gain competency in the perioperative scrub role, providing a unique experience for students at the college. Ms. Varns has taught Perioperative nursing, Pathopharmacology, Nursing Research, Ethics, Adult Health Assessment and various clinical rotations at the college. She has served as faculty advisor to the Student Government Association, Chair on the college’s Research and Evaluation Committee, and College Assembly Chair.  She is a former Sunset subcommittee member for revisions to the Illinois Nurse Practice Act, and has worked with the Illinois Health Action Coalition Seamless Education Workgroup. Professional memberships include: Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, National League of Nursing, Society for Simulation in Healthcare, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the Obesity Society, and the Obesity Action Coalition. Ms. Varns’ areas of research interest include body image in persons with severe obesity, with a special focus on bariatric surgery patients and the psychosocial adjustments they face following rapid and massive weight loss. 

Carrie West, DNP, FNP-C, RN

Associate professor

DNP: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
MSN: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
BSN: St. John’s College


Carrie’s teaching experience includes online education, clinical practice, classroom, simulation and nursing laboratory settings in courses including pediatrics practicum in our nurse practitioner program, as well as diverse populations 2 and health assessment in the pre-licensure program.  Carrie is a certified nurse practitioner. Her clinical experience as an RN includes medical-surgical nursing, nursing administration and leadership, travel nursing and outpatient clinic nursing.  As a nurse practitioner, Carrie has practiced in pediatric urology and pediatric neurology. She currently continues her practice in pediatric neurology.  She is currently a member of the Sigma Theta Tau society and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 

Malissa Talbert, MSN, RN, CMSRN

Adjunct Faculty

MSN: Benedictine University
BSN: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville 
ADN: Lewis & Clark Community College

Malissa is Med/Surg certified. She has 27 years experience in Med/Surg Nursing. Malissa started at St. John's College in 2012 in Med/Surg and continues as adjunct faculty. Professional interests include Med/Surg and Geriatric Nursing.