Education briefs: RCCC instructor honored by Occupational Therapy Association

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 4, 2021

SALISBURY – Carolyn Sithong, an instructor in the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College occupational therapy assistant program, has been named to the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

The prestigious award recognizes AOTA members who have made significant contributions to the profession.

Sithong has been an instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus since the Occupational Therapy Assistant program began four years ago and has 20 years of experience as a practicing occupational therapist.

“Carolyn’s positive impact can be felt by all who know her. Our faculty and students benefit from her perspectives, innovation, commitment to excellence and love for the profession,” Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director Amy Mahle said.

Being named to Roster of Fellows is the AOTA’s highest honor. Those recognized as Fellows have demonstrated expertise, leadership and advocacy and contributed to the profession with a measured impact on consumers of occupational therapy services.

“I consider this my lifetime achievement award,” Sithong said. “I am pleased to know that, as a practitioner, I have contributed to the profession’s body of knowledge.”

Sithong was nominated by her peer and professional mentor, Debra Lindstrom. Lindstrom, who now works as a professor and researcher at Western Michigan University, praised Sithong’s dedication and achievement in the field.

Sithong founded Home for Life Design, a specialized home modification program aimed at measuring a home’s level of accessibility and determining what adjustments are needed to make the environment more functional for a client.

The program includes a virtual application that expands its usefulness within the industry. More than 25 colleges and universities, including Rowan-Cabarrus, use Home for Life Design concepts in teaching occupational therapy and related courses.

At Rowan-Cabarrus, Sithong teaches and serves local non-profits that facilitate aging in place, coordinating student fieldwork opportunities and providing access to her home assessment technology for students to help create healthy homes for those most vulnerable in the community.

“I have had a beautiful transition into teaching, and I love Rowan-Cabarrus,” Sithong said. “I feel my job is to help students find out who they are, what their mission is, and how to become the best therapists they can be. It is fulfilling to prepare our students to make a difference right in their own community, and 75 percent of our students accept jobs in the immediate area.”

Sithong will be honored as a Roster of Fellows member in April during the annual American Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference and Expo.

RCCC offers full scholarships for short-term training programs

SALISBURY – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College recently received $483,000 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to expand educational opportunities and workforce development programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the relief program, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded funds to governors to provide local educational institutions with emergency assistance to address challenges resulting from COVID-19. The funding allows Rowan-Cabarrus to provide scholarships to eligible students enrolling in high-demand workforce training programs within specific pathways.

“Our goal is to change lives by helping students build a better future for themselves and their families, and to serve our community by helping to build a well-trained workforce. program-funded scholarships are enabling us to expand these efforts at a time when many people are looking for new opportunities,” RCCC President Carol Spalding said.

To be eligible for a $750 scholarship, a student must be a North Carolina resident and enrolled in an approved workforce or continuing education program of at least 96 contact hours, leading to a state or industry-recognized credential. Rowan-Cabarrus offers relief-approved pathways in automotive, construction, criminal justice, emergency medical services, fire and emergency services, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing, information technology, and transportation.

Scholarship money may be used to help cover the cost of attending eligible classes through September 30, 2022, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, testing, transportation, childcare, and other education-related needs. For students not eligible for funding, Rowan-Cabarrus offers a variety of scholarship opportunities and financial assistance.

“As many North Carolinians have lost jobs during COVID-19 and look for stable, well-paying careers, this funding offers a unique opportunity to help reduce some of the barriers they are facing,” Spalding said. “This is an opportunity for them to gain skills and credentials that lead quickly to a rewarding career, at little or no cost to them. GEER funding will change the lives of many people in our community.”