Our Faculty

Bringing dedication to the profession and a passion for teaching to our programs

Our Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) program with online coursework and clinical training in your community is driven by the passion of our faculty members. Samuel Merritt University chooses nursing educators who have demonstrated clinical leadership skills and research capabilities to help us develop the next generation of advanced practice nurses. Under their guidance, you can equip yourself to flourish professionally and do more for patients.

To give you an idea of who teaches MSN FNP programs at SMU, we’ve invited key faculty members to introduce themselves below.

Angelina Chau, DNP, FNP-C
Assistant Professor

I am passionate about teaching. I believe it is a privilege to have the opportunity to teach and interact with students and I believe in teaching them according to their learning style. I am an innovative educator and motivational leader with strong organizational, problem solving, and communication skills.  I am also a compassionate and culturally sensitive clinician that utilizes evidence-based practice to provide quality healthcare to patients and to educate future nurse practitioner leaders.  I am committed to the highest levels of ethical, professional, and personal excellence.

Catherine Tanner, MSN, FNP-C
Assistant Professor

I have been a practicing APRN in Family Practice since 2006. I like emphasizing prevention with my patients and I see all age groups in my practice, including women’s health. I have been teaching with SMU since 2007 part–time and currently full-time faculty since 2015. I am completing my Doctoral studies this Fall and am a board member of the local California Association of Nurse Practitioners.  In my spare time, I like to hike and paddle board. I head to the Sierras twice a year to sleep late, hike and take in nature. I enjoy quiet time with friends, family, and my cat. I was a studio art minor back in the day so I enjoy being crafty; I make jewelry, I paint, and make stained glass. I love seeing live music and community theater. I still love learning and attend CME conferences as able, including local talks like City Arts & Lectures.

Christa Smith, MSN, FNP-C

I grew up in the Bay Area and proceeded to Southern California following a Division I volleyball scholarship offer at UC Irvine where I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.  I then decided to follow my passion to become a nurse and attended Samuel Merritt University, Sacramento, graduating as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Since entering the workforce, I have practiced in family practice, urgent care, and now pulmonary medicine. I take pride in being a full-time Samuel Merritt Faculty member and am currently enrolled in the school’s Doctor in Nursing Practice program. I now reside in El Dorado Hills, California, and spend my free time being active and outdoors with my daughter Victoria, husband Eric, and two dogs, frequenting Lake Tahoe, the Bay Area, and Southern California.

Michelle Harris, DNP, FNP
Adjunct Instructor

My name is Michelle Harris and I have been a registered nurse for 20 years, a nurse practitioner for 15 years, and a certified Wound, Ostomy, and Continence provider for 10 years. I received my Bachelor’s degree in nursing from CSU Chico, my Masters in Nursing from Western University of Health Sciences, and my doctorate from CSU Fresno. I currently work as a full time nurse practitioner for Sutter Health and as an instructor of nursing Samuel Merritt University, Chamberlain, and CSU Sacramento. I am married to a wonderful man named Michael, together we have five children and three grand children. We love to travel and watch low budget scary movies.

Nikki Love, MSN, FNP-BC

I’m a Nurse Practitioner at Capital Nephrology Medical Group. I teach both online and in person! I started at SMU as an adjunct instructor in 2015 and have been working full time for SMU for almost 4 years now. I graduated from SMU with my RN in 2009. I worked as a dialysis RN while finishing up my FNP. Once I graduated from SMU in 2011, I started working at a FQHC. I lasted about 6 months before deciding that 40 patients in one day was NOT the job for me. I then started working at Capital Internal Medicine. While there, I also learned the art of Botox and sub acute care. I worked full-time there for over a year but then started working full-time for Capital Nephrology. I did continue working at Capital Internal Medicine on Fridays for over 4 years.

Nisha Thapa, MSN, FNP
Adjunct Instructor

I started Himalayan Health Care Project to provide free primary healthcare to uninsured and immigrant communities from the Himalayan region as a FNP student at Samuel Merritt University. I have spent extensive time providing primary care to immigrant and refugee population in East Oakland. I am passionate about integrating mind body spirit medicine in my clinical practice. I am a regular practitioner of yoga, meditation, and silence. I have completed two years of study in Ayurvedic Medicine. I integrate teachings of Ayurvedic medicine in my daily routine. I spend lots of time in the kitchen cooking fresh food that is centered around seasons.

Noelene Moonsamy, MSN, FNP-C
Assistant Professor

Originally from South Africa, I emigrated to the United States in 1985.  After graduating from UC Berkeley, I completed my MSN at Samuel Merritt College in 2003.  I have worked in an variety of clinical settings handling a diverse variety of patient health issues including, medical weight management, risk management, preventive health, and women’s health. I have a passion for teaching and have worked at several colleges and universities since 2006. My hobbies include singing at church with my siblings, salsa dancing, and spending time with my great big happy family.

Rigoberto Picazo, MSN, FNP

I am truly honored to be a Nurse Practitioner, and especially privileged to be in the teaching profession as an Instructor for the Family Nurse Practitioner program. Prior to being in healthcare, I spent nearly a decade working for a Fortune 500 company in consulting and educating roles across the 12 western states. I was offered a teaching assistant position while completing my last semester in the FNP program, where I became passionate about instructing. I have been a Nurse Practitioner in a Heart and Vascular clinic, providing care to patients with various cardiovascular conditions. I thoroughly enjoy providing care and patient education, to empower a person to participate and invest in their healthcare, for a better quality of life.

Shelitha Campbell, DNP, FNP-BC
Assistant Professor

An Oakland native, I was born, raised, and currently live in Oakland with my family. The importance of living, raising a family, and working in a diverse community like Oakland, reflects my commitment to advancing the rich legacy that has been cultivated by social justice, empowerment, and fortitude. Guided by the philosophy of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better,” my personal educational journey as a life long learner has catapulted me into the realm of academia as an educator. Educating patients and students to empower themselves in achieving better health and more knowledge, checks the box of doing the best I can with the tools I have.

Tal Sraboyants, MSN, NP-C
Assistant Professor

Samuel Merritt University has been my home for quite some time. Starting out as a ELMSN student to teaching assistant to adjunct faculty to full-time faculty, I have run through the the gambit of roles within the University. Doing so has allowed me to experience different levels of responsibility and gain a much needed student perspective. My goal is not only to pass on the knowledge necessary for students to become successful NPs, but to encourage students to find their passion within the NP field and to promote self exploration of medical knowledge.