Students, instructor honored by Department of Physical Therapy Education with awards at Commencement

The following awards were presented at the Department of Physical Therapy Education commencement ceremony: Overall Outstanding Student – Alys Cook, Outstanding Research – Carleigh High, Outstanding Service - Tess Brackett, Outstanding Clinical Performance – Garrett Hoanin, Outstanding Clinical Instructor – Ben Fisher

The Overall Outstanding Student Award recognizes exceptional achievements in all areas of student life:  including academic & clinical performance, departmental and school activities, professional service and community involvement.

Alys Cook was named the "Overall Outstanding Student" and embodies the spirit of this award. Her unassuming style, leadership by example, academic and clinical excellence, compassion for her patients, and dedication to service set her apart.

One classmate said that “her positive energy is contagious and her work ethic is inspiring” and “she was the glue that held together the Class of 2017” which speaks volumes about her leadership. During three years as class leader, Cook coordinated many events and kept everyone well informed. She also supported the Anatomical Gift Program, worked as a personal aide for an individual with a spinal cord injury and volunteered in the Elon HOPE Clinic.

Cook was a very active scholar and strong collaborator. In 2016, she co-authored four poster presentations at national conferences. She also co-authored an article recently published in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy and is the first-author on another article in preparation for submission. 

Cook excelled in the clinic as well; including clinical practicums at two nationally renowned rehabilitation hospitals, Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Kentucky and Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital in Florida. One clinical instructor said she “continues to strive to achieve her best each and every day. Her work ethic is without reproach.” Cook has accepted a position at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital with a goal of completing a neurologic physical therapy residency in the future.

The Outstanding Clinical Performance Award recognizes the student who has excelled in clinical education experiences across the curriculum. This year’s recipient Garrett Hoanin has been described by clinicians as compassionate, professional, outgoing and a self-motivated learner. On his final six-month clinical experience with Indian Health Services Garrett went beyond the clinic to deliver physical therapy services to the community. 

Recognizing the high incidence of diabetes and obesity in the Native American population, he was instrumental in the development and implementation of a community walking program. To further engage the community, he wrote an article for the local newspaper and participated in a radio talk show to promote the benefits of a walking program. His clinical instructor commented, “If all of your students are like him, I am really impressed.”  Hoanin is a trailblazer and set the bar for future Elon students participating in the Indian Health Service clinical experience.

The Outstanding Research Award recognizes the student who has excelled in the area of research throughout the curriculum. As a student in Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Carleigh High had an extraordinary work ethic and unwavering enthusiasm to pursue excellence in research. She participated regularly in discussing and reviewing scholarly work, was never afraid to ask questions and continuously sought opportunities to enhance learning.

Her achievements include:  two presentations at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference, two presentations at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting and another to be presented in February 2018. High was the first author on a publication in the International Journal of Anatomic Variations and has another manuscript on her work with vibrotactile feedback for individuals with Parkinson’s disease currently under review. High has excelled in both the quality and quantity of research-based accomplishments.

The Outstanding Service Award recognizes the student who has demonstrated exceptional service to the community, profession, Elon University, the Elon DPT program and School of Health Sciences. Tess Brackett volunteered more than 340 hours at Elon’s HOPE Clinic (Health Outreach Program at Elon). The HOPE clinic, a student-run, pro bono clinic, has a mission of improving the health and well-being of the under-served population in Alamance County by providing free physical therapy services to people who have no insurance or are under-insured.

In addition to her clinic service hours, Brackett served on the HOPE Clinic Board of Directors, helped plan and manage the 3rd annual ‘Race for H.O.P.E. 5K’ that raised approximately $6,000 for clinic resources, hosted a physical therapy assistant program at the clinic and created a connection between the HOPE clinic and Elon undergraduate students interested in physical therapy. Brackett's service has been exceptional.

The Outstanding Clinical Instructor Award recognizes a physical therapist for dedication and excellence in clinical teaching. This year’s recipient is Ben Fisher, an Elon DPT alumni, is a physical therapist with Alamance Regional Medical Center – Cone Health’s outpatient clinic who teaches part time in Elon’s orthopedic physical therapy courses. 

Fisher serves as an excellent teacher and role model for our students in the clinic and classroom. He takes time to work through case scenarios that foster student clinical reasoning and helps students practice their manual therapy techniques. Students describe how Fisher challenges their clinical reasoning skills and pushes them to provide excellent patient care. Fisher's passion for students is evident and his engaging teaching style and team approach to learning is to be commended.