Meet Our Passionate Leaders and Healers
Attending SUNM is a formative experience. Our passionate faculty, supportive staff and tight knit community will heighten your overall understanding of the body and holistic wellness. SUNM is dedicated to providing the best Naprapathic education to our students.
Dr. Patrick Nuzzo D.N.
Dr. Patrick Nuzzo D.N. is the founder and president of Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine (SUNM). Dr. Nuzzo started his journey in Complementary Medicine (CAM) in 1974 when he began his studies to become a nutritionist. He worked as an independent contractor in the natural foods industry formulating, marketing and distributing nutritional supplements. Dr. Nuzzo developed several lines of nutritional supplements for the natural foods industry including a sports nutrition line for Walter Payton whom he partnered with in the venture, and developed products for Kraft General Foods and Anheuser Busch.
In 1979, he began Naprapathic education and graduated in 1983. Since then Dr. Nuzzo has opened, staffed and managed successful Naprapathic practices in Santa Barbara, California; Arlington Heights, Illinois; Lake Zurich, Illinois; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 2000, he helped introduce the Naprapathic Practice Act of New Mexico, and in 2004 got it signed into law making it possible for Naprapaths to practice in New Mexico. In 2006, Dr. Nuzzo was issued a license in New Mexico to open a Naprapathic college and grant the degree of Doctor of Naprapathic Medicine. In 2006, he incorporated SUNM and began the process of accreditation in 2007 after developing the curriculum for the Naprapathic degree.
Dr. Kirsten LaVista D.N.
Dr. Kirsten LaVista graduated from Arizona State University in 1993. She worked in the sales and medical fields from 1993-2000. Dr. LaVista graduated from the National College of Naprapathy in 2000. She introduced Naprapathy to several corporate accounts in the Chicagoland area from 2000-2004. Dr. LaVista moved to Santa Fe in November 2004, and opened the first licensed Naprapathic office in the state of New Mexico with Dr. Nuzzo. She is co-owner of Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine.
Dr. Kristi Bordelon Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer
For more than 20 years, Dr. Kristi Bordelon has been involved in various aspects of education. She previously served as the Chief Education Officer for an online university, taught at the elementary level, and created and conducted professional development sessions for educators. Since the late 1990’s Kristi has been involved in online education as a course developer, instructor, administrator, and student. She has presented at various educational conferences including DEAC, FAPSC, MSET, SITE, EdMedia, E-Learn, Global Learn, and FETC. In 2015 she was presented with the Outstanding Paper Award at Global Learn and in 2016 was honored as the FAPSC Associate Member of the Year.
Kristi is an active member of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the International Society for Technology in Education, and Kappa Delta Pi. As a member of DEAC, Kristi has served on various site visit committees as an Educational Standards Evaluator and as the Chair. She received her B.S. in Elementary Education and M.A. in Educational Technology from the University of Central Florida, and a post Master’s Certificate in Educational Technology Administration from John’s Hopkins. Her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration was earned at Northcentral University.
Dr. Tony Zayner DN, MSEd, MSOM, CM, CH
Dr. Tony Zayner lived and worked in China for 12 years where he studied Mandarin, Tai Chi, Tui Na, Thai massage, Chinese medicine, painting, and calligraphy. When he returned from China in 2000, he graduated from the Soma Institute for clinical massage in 2001. In 2004, he was certified as a Clinical Hypnotist by the Liedecker Institute. In 2005, he graduated from the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine with a BSN and MSOM in Chinese Medicine. He graduated from the National University of Naprapathic Medicine in 2009. Tony has taught at that school and at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine from 2006-2011. Tony practices as a Naprapath in Santa Fe.
Dr. Darren D. Hancock, DC, DACBSP®
Dr. Hancock was born and raised in Chicago. After graduating from Lane Technical High School he went on to fulfill his undergraduate prerequisites for chiropractic school at the University of Illinois-Chicago. After graduating from the National University of Health Sciences in 1995, he joined his uncle, a Naprapath, Dr. Richard Warren, DN in practice where they founded Northwest Health Center. They continued to practice together for 10 years until his retirement.
At this point, Dr. Hancock founded Chicago Sports & Chiropractic Medicine in 2005. In order to fulfill his vision of becoming a versatile physician, he took postgraduate training in acupuncture, functional medicine, physical rehabilitation, whiplash injury biomechanics and sports medicine. In addition to being a former Graston Technique instructor and a Certified Kinesiotaping Instructor, he also holds a Diplomate from the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (one of only 300 chiropractors to obtain this distinction).
He is a certified FirstLine Therapy® Healthcare provider through Metagenics, Inc. and a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor (Titleist). In his career, he has had the privilege of teaching at all of the US Olympic Training Centers, Mayo Clinic, Green Bay Packers, universities, hospitals and in multiple European countries. He has worked with athletes of all ages and levels and has seen first-hand the essential role manual medicine can and should play. He served as one of the team physicians for the Chicago Force football team of the WFA for ten years. He has the privilege of serving on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the Illinois High School Association. He also currently serves as the chairperson of the President’s Alumni Advisory Council at National University. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association, Illinois Chiropractic Society, American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association and National Pitching Association. Outside of his professional life, Dr. Hancock enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf, skiing, catching curve balls and becoming a better guitar player.
Janice Zoller, Student Success Coordinator
Janice Zoller is the Student Success Coordinator for SUNM. Janice graduated from the College of Santa Fe with a B.A. in Applied Psychology. She worked at the College of Santa Fe for eleven years as the Director of Student Employment and Service Learning. She was also the Coordinator of the First Year Seminar which was a course to assist incoming students to be successful as college students. Janice also taught upper division Psychology and Sociology courses. Janice believes her role at SUNM is to put the students at the center of what we do! She is passionate about learning and believes in helping each student reach their potential.
Dr. Beau Hightower DN,DC, DAAPM, MS, CSCS, CES FMS-C, MMACS, FDM
Dr. Beau B Hightower earned the first of three Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology from the University of New Mexico. Subsequent Bachelor of Science degrees in Anatomy, followed by Health and Wellness were earned. Dr. Hightower graduated with honors from Parker University where he earned his DC degree. His Sports Medicine Residency was completed in Bogota, Colombia where he treated the country’s Olympic athletes at the Coldeportes training facility. He has practiced and held licenses in Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Dr. Hightower graduated with the highest honors from California University with a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Sciences. He possesses over 400 hours of post-doctoral education in physical rehabilitation and functional neurology and is pursuing his PhD in Brain and Rehabilitation Sciences as well. Dr Hightower has achieved the prestigious credential of Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management. He enjoys teaching and is currently a clinical instructor at Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine where he teaches doctoral students in manual medicine.
Dr. Joshua Peiper DN
Dr. Joshua Peiper is a Naprapathic Physician who works with acute and chronic painful conditions of the muscles, ligaments, fascia, and/or joints due to daily activities, athletic activities, motor vehicle accidents, or workplace accidents. Dr. Peiper uses myofascial release, neuromuscular techniques, and muscle energy techniques to inhibit and lengthen shortened, overactive soft tissues. Misaligned joints are realigned with graded joint manipulations.
Corrective exercise is used to strengthen weak or inhibited muscles correcting the length tension relationship of the bodies soft and connective tissues. This allows for proper bio mechanics and movement, decreasing pain, and increasing range of motion. Dr. Peiper is a ranger qualified infantry staff sergeant with 12 years of service in the United States Army. Dr. Peiper has served with the 1st Infantry Division, 1st Calvary Division, 25th Infantry Division, and the New Mexico Army National Guard deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom once.
During his time in service, Dr. Peiper developed an appreciation for tactical emergency medicine and used that passion to pursue a degree in the medical field. After leaving the Army, Dr. Peiper studied pre-health sciences at Central New Mexico Community College, Sports Medicine at the University of New Mexico, and earned his clinical doctorate in Naprapathic medicine at the Southwest University of Naprapathic Medicine in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Doctor Travis Mason DC, MS
Dr. Travis Mason graduated from the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon with a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Masters in Exercise and Sports Science. Specializing in chiropractic adjustments to the spine and extremities, he is also well versed in numerous myofascial soft tissue release techniques which can improve range of motion and function and provides and teaches therapeutic exercises.
Start your Complementary Medicine Journey Today…
As a catalyst for the Naprapathic movement, SUNM aims to advance the Complementary and Allied Health industry with the superior quality and professionalism of its graduates. If you’re ready for a rewarding career as a Naprapathic doctor, Contact Us and we’ll help you get started! Or give us a call at 1-505-467-8777 to speak to a friendly admissions counselor today.