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Rowan-Cabarrus program chair receives occupational therapy association award

SALISBURY — Amy Mahle, program chair for the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College occupational therapy assistant program was recently awarded the 2019 Suzanne C. Scullin award by the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association.

According to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, it is the highest award presented by the association and recognizes an individual who has made a wide range of contributions to the practice of occupational therapy and to the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association.

“I was surprised and actually cried when I found out. I felt so honored to had receive the award,” Mahle said in a phone interview.

Mahle said receiving the award “meant a lot” to her.

“It is a very prestigious award, whom a long line of practitioners before me have received,” she said. “It was important for me to be recognized as an example for my students. I want them to know that they can do this too.”

During Mahle’s career she has won numerous awards and honors including the Terry Brittell Occupational Therapy Association/Occupational Therapy Partnership award from the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association Roster of Honor award.

Mahle has lead the program since 2015 and is the first occupational therapy assistant to receive the award.

While in her 30s, Mahle chose to work as an occupational therapy assistant as her third career when she was “looking for a change.”

Mahle said that it is important for her students to do the best they can and for them put forth their best effort in the health care profession, as well as to say yes to opportunities and to go above and beyond.

She earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration with the goal of becoming a program chair.

“To teach in this program you have to be credentialed and licensed as an occupational therapy assistant, my practice setting is now academia. I used to work clinically in outpatients and acute care and then I transitioned to teach,” she said.

Dr. Carol Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, said in a news release that Mahle “brings passion and professionalism to everything she does.”

“We are delighted that her contributions to the field of occupational therapy are recognized statewide as well,” Spalding said. “Our faculty includes accomplished leaders in many fields of study, and Amy is a shining example of this as she brings her knowledge, experience and passion to her students every day.”

Mahle said she first received the award at the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association fall conference this November.

Mahle was also recognized for the award at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s most recent board meeting.

According to the news release, the Suzanne C. Scullin award is not given annually, but is awarded when an outstanding and deserving practitioner is identified.

The occupational therapy assistant program at Rowan-Cabarrus enrolled its first cohort in the fall of 2017 and accepts 20 students each fall through a competitive admissions process. Graduates are prepared for careers assisting people of all ages in achieving independence in their daily activities by helping them overcome physical, psychosocial, and environmental barriers.

Mahle said her goals for the future include continuing the vision for the occupational therapy assistant program.

“Our goal is for our students to be well preferred and recognized as outstanding from this program. We set the bar very high,” she said.

Mahle currently teaches courses such as Occupational Therapy Media I and II, and three professional skill classes that include subjects such as ones that dive into kinesiology.

“I also teach a physical conditions course as well as a professional transitions course,” she said.

For more information about the occupational therapy assistant program go to https://www.rccc.edu/ota.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College go to www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-7222.

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