Meet our Pediatric Oncology Team
At Alaska Pediatric Oncology, we have a team to help your child and your family through the entire treatment process. This means that you may see one or many of us throughout your child’s treatment. That is a lot of opportunities to meet someone different! Please allow us to introduce ourselves and we look forward to meeting you along the journey.
Dr. Shannon Norman
Dr. Shannon Norman grew up in a small town in Minnesota before traveling to the Caribbean to begin her medical education. Her first two years of medical school were in the Islands of Grenada and St. Vincent before finishing up in Brooklyn, New York. She then completed her Pediatric Residency at Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York, followed by her Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, New York.
Dr. Norman cares for all oncology patients regardless of the type of cancer they have. Dr. Norman specializes in blood disorders such as anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia, and has a particular affinity for patients with Sickle Cell disease and Iron Overload, in addition to other hemolytic anemias.
When not caring for Alaska’s children, Dr. Norman enjoys traveling, spending time in museums, and taking in a musical theater or opera performance.
Q&A with Dr. Norman
- What is your favorite location in AK? I haven’t done enough exploring to have one yet.
- What is your favorite Alaskan activity? As much as I love living in Alaska, I’m not an outdoor enthusiast.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up.
- Dr. Norman began playing the flute when she was 10 years old. When she was 18, she was selected to be a part of the United States Collegiate Wind Band and toured seven countries in Europe in one month! This was an amazing experience.
- Dr. Norman was a cheerleader in high school and for a year in college was part of a competitive dance team.
Dr. Laura Schulz
Dr. Laura Schulz was Alaska’s first full time pediatric oncologist and has been practicing in the state since 2005. She helped build up the state’s only pediatric oncology program so that most families with a childhood cancer diagnosis can now receive all their treatment, including access to clinical trials, without leaving Alaska. She is the recipient of an American Academy of Pediatrics Alaska Chapter Special Achievement Award honoring her work helping more Alaskan families to receive medical care close to home. She earned her medical degree and general pediatrics degree at The Ohio State University and trained in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Away from work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children. She loves to garden and grows sunflowers and tomatoes in her greenhouse in summer. In winter, she loves to take her dog out for romps in the snow.
Q&A with Dr. Schulz
- What is your favorite location in Alaska? I have two. My greenhouse and garden in the summer and Sitka, AK during the summer music festival.
- What is your favorite Alaskan activity? Again, I have two! Growing sunflowers outside of my greenhouse and hiking.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be a doctor because I have always liked science and I knew I wanted to work with people.
- I played marching trombone in my high school marching band.
- One of my first jobs was selling popcorn and peanuts in the stands at Albuquerque Dukes baseball games.
- I was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder from “Little House on the Prairie.”
Dr. Brenda Wittman
Dr. Brenda Wittman grew up in Memphis, Tennessee before earning her undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta. She then went on to earn her medical and masters degrees from the University of Rochester in New York before completing her residency and fellowship at Strong Memorial Hospital, also in Rochester. Dr. Wittman is double-board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. She is the principal investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group clinical trials that allow children with cancer in Alaska to have access to cutting edge pediatric cancer research.
After working in Arizona for almost a decade, Dr. Wittman came to Anchorage in 2014 and began working with Providence Alaska Medical Center as a pediatric oncologist. Dr. Wittman is proud to be a founding member of Alaska Pediatric Oncology and looks forward to continuing to serve Alaska’s pediatric patients for many years to come.
Dr. Wittman spends her free time figure skating (indoors or outdoors), reading, doing puzzles, hiking, and spending time with her dog, Annie.
Q&A with Dr. Wittman
- What is your favorite location in Alaska? I don’t have a favorite location in Alaska. Everywhere is beautiful and I feel like there are so many new places to explore!
- What is your favorite Alaskan activity? Outdoor figure skating.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher or a doctor.
- Dr. Wittman studied four different languages, French, Latin, Greek, and Italian.
- Dr. Wittman graduated from college with high honors.
- Dr. Wittman competed in figure skating competitions in the US, Canada, Germany, France, and Russia.
Ronda Nakoa, PNP
Ronda Nakoa is a lifelong Alaskan and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with nearly 20 years of experience in caring for children in Alaska. Prior to becoming a nurse, Ronda served in the United States Navy. Ronda obtained her BSN from UAA and started her nursing career as a staff/charge nurse at Providence Hospital in pediatrics and PICU. While working in pediatrics, Ronda became interested and received training in pediatric oncology. Ronda decided to go back to college to obtain her MSN, in hopes of working as an NP specializing in pediatric oncology. Ronda has been a pediatric oncology NP for eight years at Providence Alaska Medical Center. She has also worked part-time with Alaska Pediatric Surgery for three years. Ronda looks forward to many more years of caring for Alaska’s kids.
Q&A with Ronda:
- What is your favorite location in Alaska? Homer/Seldovia on a sunny day.
- What is your favorite Alaskan activity? Camping with my two boys and friends.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an elementary school teacher or a nurse when I grew up.
- A raven stole Ronda’s PB&J out of her hand when she was 5. She is still freaked out by those birds.
- Ronda loves music and camping. She is a regular at Salmonfest in Ninilchik and has only missed the event twice in eight years.
- Ronda was stationed on an island called Diego Garcia while in the Navy. While there, she caught a 60 pound skipjack tuna on her birthday; one of the biggest on record for that island at the time.
Cheryl Valley grew up in Superior, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a degree in Biology and emphasis in Cytotechnology. She began her career working as a lab technician for four years.
Cheryl married her husband in 1995. At the time, he was active duty Air Force in Omaha, Nebraska. Over the years, they lived in Colorado, Iceland, Alabama, Virginia and Alaska, before finally settling back in Alaska after his retirement. During their first tour here, Cheryl went back to school and completed her BSN at UAA, and she has worked in pediatric oncology for the last 14 years. Cheryl began her career looking at cancer through a microscope, then felt the need to be with patients. She never expected in nursing school that she would end up in pediatric oncology, but it’s where she started and is very happy to stay.
Cheryl loves spending time with her husband and two grown sons hiking all summer and Nordic skiing anywhere she can find snow in the winter. She grew up near the tip of Lake Superior and thought nowhere could be more beautiful, but then she saw the mountains of Alaska and is now a true “mountain girl” (with a little Lake Superior in her heart).
Q&A with Cheryl:
- What is your favorite location in Alaska? Reed Lakes (Hatcher’s Pass).
- What is your favorite Alaskan activity? Nordic skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A lab tech. I loved looking through a microscope! I did that for a while (cytotechnologist) and then became a nurse. I got it right the second time!
- People are always surprised when they hear I lived in Iceland for 2 years
- I am a closet “birder” – I absolutely love to go birding!