Carisa developed her love for the medical field early in life. As a daughter of two nurses, Carisa joined her parents on several mission trips growing up. Through those experiences, she determined that she wanted to help people with medicine and the law. "Both health and law have to do with decreasing suffering and increasing justice in some way. I am drawn to helping people navigate social determinants of health and ultimately help with public health, health policy and administration thus the blending of the three. NSU embraced that desire and helped me create a new program that combined my interests and allowed me to pursue them all at once," says Carisa who aims to advocate for necessary legislation and administrative policies in the medical field to incite change. To promote that goal while in school, Carisa initiated a task force to create a student-run clinic for the local homeless population.
Carissa also serves as the Medical Relations Coordinator for PULSE! NSU Law's Health Law Students' Society, which aims to educate law students, attorneys, members of the health care community and members of the general public about health law issues. She is a historian for the Student Animal and Legal Defense Fund, which aims to recognize and protect the lives and interests of animals in research labs, on farms, in the wild, and in our own communities. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health, whose mission it is to advance the science and practice of health care for individuals and populations within the criminal justice system. As part of the President's 64, an elite body of hand-selected undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, who represent different constituencies of NSU's diverse student population, Carisa worked with President Hanbury to strengthen the relationship between Nova Southeastern University and its community by providing targeted feedback to the President, and serving as a student ambassador and representative at University events. "Juggling multiple, diverse degrees, extracurricular activities and research efforts in addition to finding time to balance with family and friends can be very challenging," she admits, "but I wouldn't change a thing."
In March of 2014, Carisa and two other students competed and placed first overall at the L. Edward Bryant, Jr., National Health Law Transactional Competition at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago. The team was required to advise physician owners of a specialty hospital about their options for the future, taking into account the complex legal and business considerations. "Professor Cerminara has mentored me through the health law concentration offered at the law center. It was with her guidance and mentorship, that our team was able to win the National Health Law Transactional Competition."
"I am so grateful to the professors and the administrators at both the Law Center and the Medical School for their undying support in this process," says Carisa, who won the NSU Student of the Year award in 2014. "The exceptional student community here helps me make it out alive," she jests.