JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 29, 2016) – East Tennessee State University’s College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences (CCRHS) recently handed out two Distinguished Alumni awards and inducted several individuals into the college’s Alumni Hall of Fame. A special ceremony was held earlier this month to recognize the honorees.
The two individuals who received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from the CCRHS are:
- Maj. Melissa Ogle Folsom – Folsom is a three-time graduate of ETSU, receiving both her master’s degree in physical therapy as well as her doctor of physical therapy degree from ETSU in addition to her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from ETSU. A 10-year veteran of the United States Army, Folsom was a member of the ETSU ROTC during her time at the university. In 2007-2008, Folsom was deployed to Baghdad where she served as part of the 31st Combat Support Hospital. She remains on active duty and currently works as the chief of rehabilitation services at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital in Fort Polk, Louisiana.
- Laurie Higgins – Higgins completed dual bachelor’s degrees in both speech and hearing pathology and psychology in 1980, then earned a master’s degree in audiology in 1982 from ETSU. She spent 25 years as chief clinical audiologist and managing director of Watauga Hearing Conversation, which is affiliated with Watauga Ear, Nose and Throat Associates in Johnson City. A strong supporter of the audiology program at ETSU, Higgins has funded an audiology scholarship since 2009 and served as the first president of the CCRHS Philanthropy Board that formed in 2011. She continues to serve on the board today.
Those inducted to the Alumni Hall of Fame are:
- Chad Capps – Capps received his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from ETSU in 1998. He currently serves as the director of physical therapy at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. Previously, he was the owner and director of Associated Therapy Services at Unicoi County LLC from 2002 until 2013. For the past 18 years, Capps has served as a clinical site instructor for ETSU physical therapy students and currently serves on the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences Philanthropy Board.
- Pamela Ditto – Ditto was in the first class of cardiopulmonary science graduates at ETSU in 1978. Throughout her 38-year career in the field of respiratory care, she has taken on many roles in health care, including several administrative positions. Currently, she serves as the regional clinical liaison for Signature Healthcare and vice president for apHealth Solutions. In the past, she served as the director for respiratory care and sleep for 12 years at Mountain States Health Alliance. Ditto has served on the Tennessee Society of Respiratory Care Board of Directors for the past 18 years and has held leadership roles within the organization.
- Dr. Ann Lowdermilk – Lowdermilk graduated from ETSU with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy and has two master’s degrees, one each from George Williams College and Appalachian State University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education in educational leadership and policy analysis from ETSU. For the past 10 years, Lowdermilk has been an associate professor and director of the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Walters State Community College. She has worked in health care for the past 34 years, starting as director of community health and wellness services at the Johnson City Medical Center. Lowdermilk also has served in the United States Army Reserves.
- Louise Skalko – Skalko graduated from ETSU in 1984 and worked as an educator for nearly 30 years in various states before entering the corporate world. Skalko suffered a mild hearing loss in early childhood that proved to be a lifelong challenge. By 1995, her hearing had deteriorated to the point that she reluctantly retired. After cochlear implant surgery and a six-month process of relearning how to hear and translate sounds, she moved back to Johnson City, and went on to fund the development of the Cochlear Implant Clinic in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. A tireless supporter of the audiology program at ETSU, Skalko was also named an ETSU 2016 Alumni of the Year.