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Faculty & Staff

Valerie Rakes, DNP, RN
Phone: (704) 645-4860

  • Chair of Nursing
  • D.N.P., Gardner-Webb University
  • M.S.N., East Carolina University
  • B.S.N., Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
  • A.D.N., Fayetteville Technical Community College

Dr. Rakes is an associate professor and chair of Catawba’s Department of Nursing. A registered nurse with 29 years of experience in both hospital practice and academic settings, she specializes in leadership and curriculum development through inter-professional collaboration in academic and health care settings. She has presented her research on implementation of inter-professional education in pre-licensure health science programs to improve communication and safety in the practice area. She is currently involved with an evidence-based practice project to increase clinical reasoning in undergraduate baccalaureate nursing students utilizing technology and theory-driven educational methods.


Dr. Alison Atwater, DNP, RN
Phone: (704) 637-4298 

  • Assistant Professor of Nursing
  • Simulation and Lab Coordinator
  • D.N.P., East Carolina University
  • M.S.N, Walden University
  • Nursing & Healthcare Education Graduate Certification, University of Phoenix
  • B.S.N., Gannon University

Dr. Atwater is an assistant professor and simulation and lab coordinator. She began consistently using simulation education in 2015 and has completed numerous professional development activities since. Her research interests include using modern technology, combined with theory-driven educational methods to enhance student learning.  Her particular focus is on improving the nursing student's clinical reasoning ability to help educate safe, responsible, and effective professional nurses. She is actively piloting a debriefing tool she created, the Atwater Clinical Reasoning Map for Students, with the goal of researching the effectiveness of the tool and publishing for others to use in the future.


Naieema Jackson, MSN, RN, CNE
Phone: (704) 647-4766

  • Assistant Professor of Nursing
  • MSN, University of Phoenix
  • Candidate for December 2020 Ph.D., Wilkes University

Sarah K. Sweatt, MSN, RN
Phone: (704) 637-4173

  • Assistant Professor of Nursing 
  • M.S.N., at Western Governors University

Sandra Yamane, DNP, MS, AGNP-C
Phone: (704) 637-4171

  • Assistant Professor of Nursing
  • D.N.P., Duke University
  • M.S.N., Sacred Heart University
  • M.S., Columbia Southern University, Occupational Safety and Health/Environmental Management
  • R.N., Forsyth Technical Community College
  • AGNP, Duke University (Dec. 2017)
  • B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Recreation Administration and Leisure Studies, UNC Chapel Hill

Yamane is an assistant professor of Nursing. Her educational background is diverse and includes earning her D.N.P. at Duke University, an M.S.N. at Sacred Heart University, an M.S. at Columbia Southern University in Occupational Safety and Health/Environmental Management, and her R.N. at Forsyth Technical Community College. She also earned an AGNP at Duke University and a B.A. degree in Recreation Administration and Leisure Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. 


Lauren Williams
Administrative Assistant for Nursing
Phone: (704) 645-4508