ASU nurse practitioner alumna brings grad school dream to life

June 24, 2022

Opening her own medical clinic was something that Tanya Carroccio thought about for years. The type of care and services she wanted to provide really started to take shape during her time at Arizona State University.

“While in grad school, I had a dream of opening a wellness center as a nurse practitioner and knew one day I would come back to this vision,” she said. Tanya Carroccio wears a white nurse practitioner coat and stethoscope with her arms raised in the air underneath a sign that says Benehealth in cursive Tanya Carroccio says her time in the DNP program helped prepare her to open her own practice. Download Full Image

Carroccio graduated from ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation in 2018 with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP). After graduating, she immediately took a job as a chief quality officer and corporate compliance officer for a rural county health care system. At the time, the role was familiar and fulfilling, but after a couple of years, things started to shift for Carroccio. In the summer of 2020, she returned to her dream and decided it was time to make it a reality.

“It wasn’t just because of the pandemic and stress in the acute care setting, but also because I recognized that health is the most important thing we have and have control over,” she said.

In January, Carroccio officially opened Benehealth — a functional medicine, wellness and regenerative aesthetics center — with her DNP colleague Lauren Bachman and her clinical residency mentor, Dr. Michael Castro. Carroccio serves as both the CEO of the clinic and medical director of the regenerative aesthetics program at Benehealth.

“We feature a person-centered approach that identifies and balances the root cause of unwanted symptoms or conditions, using science-backed tools to enhance our client's health from the inside-out and from the outside-in,” she said.  

Carroccio credits the DNP program for preparing her to be able to pursue her dream. Below she shares more about her experience at ASU and offers advice on how to make the most of your time in graduate school.

Question: How did your degree program help you in achieving and maintaining the position you have now? 

A: Completing the comprehensive DNP program at Edson College provided me with the clinical tools and degree to be a doctorally prepared nurse practitioner. The courses and faculty were instrumental in laying the foundation for opening an independent practice. Innovation has always been something I have exhibited in my previous roles, so going through a program that exemplifies innovation, systems and evidence-based practice lifted my foundation to another level for success. 

Q: What is a favorite memory from your time in your program? 

A: I absolutely loved working with the principals at ASU Biodesign and Mayo Clinic on my dissertation. I was a research assistant at Mayo while studying the effects of wearable devices in a wellness program at ASU Biodesign Department of Sustainable Health. Not only did I meet and interact with some of the most intelligent people in these programs, but I was also able to create a meaningful, applicable and replicable project. We have included the project as part of our core programs at Benehealth through health coaching, telehealth monitoring and wearable devices.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are currently enrolled in the program? 

A: You made it this far, embrace the experience. Tap into your professors and faculty often, they are a wealth of knowledge and are there to support you through your doctorate program. Manage your time wisely. Make innovative opportunities, they don't seek you out. For instance, I asked my DNP colleagues if they wanted to do a two-week Spanish immersion in Guatemala and do medical volunteer work while we were there. Once I knew we had interest, I asked if we could get credit for the hours and it was approved. So not only did several of us have an amazing experience, we were able to apply that experience to our degree program.

Q: What were some unique challenges, if any, you had to overcome while pursuing this degree?

A: I am the primary breadwinner, so I could not stop working. When I started the program, I was flying out every week to my work, which I loved, but knew I could not continue once clinical residency started. I also had aging parents that required more of my time who lived out of state. It seemed at times impossible to juggle all of the responsibilities, but I just kept telling myself to push on. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a doctorate degree, and being the only member of my family to have a university education, I knew I needed to press on. It paid off.

To learn more about Edson College alumni activities, events and programming visit the alumni section of the college's website.

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


ABOR awards WeGrad college preparedness program $500K grant

Expanded digital options will reach thousands more learners, families statewide

June 24, 2022

For nearly two decades, Arizona State University’s WeGrad program (formerly the American Dream Academy) has supported thousands of learners and their families in navigating their way to or through college.

As of this spring, the program will be set to serve even more learners through a $500,000 grant from the Arizona Board of Regents that will support WeGrad in curriculum expansion, technology enhancements, and marketing and promotion. The grant is part of TRIF, or the Technology and Research Initiative Fund, given to the three Arizona state universities for attainment and college readiness for K–12 students. A sign shows ASU's charter Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News Download Full Image

WeGrad offers bilingual (English and Spanish) programming geared toward middle and high school students and their families, and it is designed to increase the number of first-generation Arizona students who are ready to enroll and succeed at ASU.

The additional funds will allow the program to expand both its geographical and digital reach, according to Sharon Smith, vice president of outreach partnerships for Educational Outreach and Student Services and former dean of students for the Downtown Phoenix campus. 

“With this new funding, we'll be able to impact an additional 3,000 families over this year,“ she said. “We are very grateful to the Arizona Board of Regents for recognizing the good work that we've been doing for many years.” 

Since 2006, WeGrad has served more than 65,000 families and 250 schools across the state, and it has delivered more than 1,200 programs impacting about 180,000 students from underserved and under-resourced areas. Smith said the grant will focus on offering content in more Arizona middle schools and improve access to parents statewide with a variety of modalities, including a newly available all-virtual option. 

“Going to a digital format will allow us to increase our work in communities such as Yuma and in other rural and tribal communities around the state,” she said. “This really positions our families to engage with us in a  greater way, and that's important as we consider how diverse our state is becoming.” 

Currently, WeGrad offers two modalities: an eight-week classroom-based program and a hybrid version where parents attend the first and last weeks of the program in person with the remaining weeks offering digital, on-demand content. All options have been fully bilingual since the program’s inception, a fact that Smith is especially proud of. 

“The grant allows us to build on an incredible foundation, especially in the work we’ve been doing with Spanish-speaking families,” she said. 

The program’s success is measured by several indicators, including course participation and the percentage of participants who apply to ASU, are admitted and ultimately graduate. Smith and her team are tracking these metrics very carefully. 

“We know that there's an impact,” she said. “Everything that we're doing has a broader impact for postsecondary consideration.” 

The most crucial factor for first-generation student success, Smith said, is not just in early outreach, but including the entire family in the process.

“It's really looking at the family unit because we know the family unit plays a big role in a student’s decision to attend postsecondary institutions or not to attend them,” she said. 

Sometimes parents who complete WeGrad even make the decision to go to college and continue their own academic pursuits in higher education. For Smith, this may be her biggest point of pride as the daughter of parents from the U.S. territory of Saint Thomas.

“Like so many first-gen families, my mom didn't necessarily know how to sort of get me from point A to B,” she said. “Fortunately, I had terrific teachers and mentors and community members along the way who encouraged me. So between a family and the village, I made that journey to getting my undergraduate degree, my master's degree and my doctorate.” 

Smith said she is grateful for the opportunity to reach so many students who, like her, may not have made the leap into college without the community’s support.  

“That's tremendous when you think about a program like this where we've been able to affect outcomes for students in Arizona, but also affect family outcomes,” she said. “Our goal is to reach as many parts of the state as possible.”

Krista Hinz

Copy Writer, ASU Media Relations