Recent doctoral graduates and a current master’s student in Shenandoah University’s Division of Occupational Therapy have received a host of awards for their scholarship and leadership.
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) graduate Anne Unhoch ’23, OTD, received the Dean’s Award, which recognizes an outstanding graduate who demonstrates academic excellence, professionalism and potential for future contributions to the profession. Dr. Unhoch’s focus is on pelvic floor therapy for women. “That passion grew each semester as I tried to complete class assignments around care for pregnant and postpartum women with a focus on pelvic floor therapy and maternal mental health,” she said. “I also completed Herman & Wallace pelvic floor level 1 and postpartum rehabilitation certifications to increase my knowledge in order to further contribute to the population. My capstone project was creating a six-week, workshop-style program on Diastasis Recti Abdominis (DRA) to serve postpartum women and increase overall quality of life.”
Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy graduate Jennifer Lynn Morgan ’23, OTD, also received the Dean’s Award. Dr. Morgan is a school-based therapist in Pennsylvania. (The Post-Professional OTD is an online program for occupational therapists who have already earned a master’s degree in the field.) Her capstone project, “ReboOT and Return to Doing Intervention Pathway for Post-Concussed Students,” was accepted at AOTA Inspire 2024 as a poster presentation. “My intention is to share this school-based OT post-concussion intervention manual with other school-based occupational therapists so that it may be used as a guide to developing strengths-based, holistic, and occupation-based interventions within the educational and sports contexts to hasten post-concussed students’ return to doing,” she said.
N’Zinga Townes ’23, OTD, OTR/L, who graduated from the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program and is a school-based and early intervention occupational therapist in New Jersey, received the alumni association’s Outstanding Graduate Award, which is given to a student who demonstrates leadership and academic excellence as well as genuine interest in Shenandoah’s mission and involvement in public, community and school service. Dr. Townes, who was also the university’s 2022 Black Scholar of the Year, said she received the alumni honor for her commitment to advocating for occupational therapy and her passion for increasing diversity in the field. “Through my involvement in the SU COTAD Chapter, Primary Care Progress (PCP), and the Society of Black Health Professionals (SBHP) as a student, I helped spread the presence of the SU OT department throughout campus and the community,” she said. “Lastly, through my capstone project “CONNECTED KIDS: A Healthy Living Curriculum,” I successfully collected donations of 150+ inclusive books and $2,000 worth of food and school supplies for low-income students in Paterson, New Jersey, to support their occupational needs.”
Megan Stevens ’23, OTD, OTR/L, received the alumni association’s Outstanding Graduate Award for the Post-Professional OTD program. Dr. Stevens works with geriatric individuals in senior living communities (she also makes house calls.) “Since graduating, I am now a licensed LSVT-BIG clinician, and a Certified Dementia Practitioner,” she said. “I am the lead OT at my senior living community working daily to address health and wellness in seniors and working to improve their quality of life while aging in place.”
Jason Baumgardner ’23, OTD, received the Professional Writing and Communication Award for the Post-Professional OTD program. Dr. Baumgardner, who works in the Department of Veterans Affairs as an occupational therapist/clinical specialist for home and community-based services of the Veterans Integrated Service Network 23, is slated to present the results of his capstone project for American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) accreditation during the national Occupational Therapy Grand Rounds on February 21, 2024.
Master of Science in Occupational Therapy student Joanna Rivera ’24 (on left) has received the Centennial Award from the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association (VOTA). Rivera is a student at Shenandoah’s Scholar Plaza, Loudoun, site in Leesburg, Virginia. The award is a scholarship that is given to an entry-level graduate occupational therapy student/occupational therapy assistant student enrolled at a program within Virginia, and it’s based on the student’s scholarship, leadership and qualities consistent with the promotion of the profession for the next century of practice.
VOTA also honored OTD student Mackenzie Westfall ’25 with its OT Graduate Award. The award is given to an entry-level graduate occupational therapy student enrolled in a Virginia program. This scholarship is based on scholarly, leadership, and humanitarian qualities that OT students bring to their future profession.