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Kasiska Division of Health Sciences Class of 2023 Add More than 850 Professionals to the Health Care Workforce

May 4, 2023

The Idaho State University Kasiska Division of Health Sciences is pleased to announce the graduating class of 2023, who have completed their degrees from over 35 health professions programs. This year’s class includes 867 degrees earned by graduates who will soon be entering many of the job fields that have recently experienced the highest percentage of workforce shortages such as nursing, occupational therapy and speech language pathology. 

A select group of these graduates will be recognized at the annual KDHS Achievement Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 5, 2023, from 1 - 3 p.m. at the L.E. and Thelma Stephens Performing Arts Center Barbara Marshall Rotunda. 

“We are proud to introduce this year’s class of highly skilled and capable health care workers, who will make a positive impact towards balancing  the shortages in so many health professions fields,” says Rex Force, vice president for health sciences and senior vice provost. “Every graduate is outstanding in their own way, and we are pleased to have received so many nominations of fantastic and hard-working students, faculty, staff and alumni within our health sciences. It is always a difficult choice to determine who will receive these significant annual awards.”

Force says that since the late 1980s, the Kasiska Family Foundation has donated $20 million to ISU and pledged additional support, bringing the current total gift to over $20 million. The money has funded scholarships, health science degree programs, equipment, special events and conferences. The awards ceremony will include recognition of 13 graduating students who were awarded a Kasiska Scholarship during the 2022-2023 academic year: 

  • Megan Alstadt, Dental Hygiene
  • Alyxis M. Cederstrom and Noe K. Coughenour, Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Clare Estrada, Sign Language Interpreting
  • Chloe Garner, Marissa J. Pieper, Morgan A. Schultz and Megan M. Tanner, Nursing
  • Sadie N. Gee and Haven M. Jones, Radiographic Science
  • Harper A. Piatt and Hannah, S. Ruby, Health Science
  • Whitney Vereecken, Dietetics

Awarded by the ISU Office of Alumni and Advancement, the Outstanding Student Achievement Awards recognize graduating students who have demonstrated outstanding service to their respective college, to ISU and to the community, and who also have exceptional scholastic achievement.

This year’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award recipients are Liv Swonger from the College of Pharmacy and Alexis Mingo (undergraduate) and Olivia Filicetti (graduate) from the College of Health. 

Liv Swonger, the first OSA recipient from the combined University of Alaska Anchorage and Idaho State University Doctor of Pharmacy program will receive the doctor of pharmacy degree, with a cumulative 3.53 GPA. Liv was also awarded multiple scholarships and is the Class 2023 Anchorage class president, Academy of Student Pharmacists chapter president-elect and president. She was involved in a number of volunteer efforts, including serving as director of an Emergency Pharmacy Preparedness Project, along with co-director and director of the Alaska Assisted Living Home (ALH) Immunization Program. Liv plans to pursue residency to specialize as an emergency medicine pharmacist.

Alexis Mingo will receive a bachelor of science in nursing this spring and has earned a cumulative 3.9 GPA. Along with receiving multiple scholarships, such as the four-year Laura Moore Cunningham award, Alexis is involved in the University Honors Program, LDS Institute Council and Student Nurse Association. 

Olivia Filicetti has earned a doctoral degree in physical therapy, specializing in pelvic health, while maintaining a 3.86 GPA. She is the recipient of the ISU PT & Ballard/Kimberly Clark Rehabilitation Science Endowment Award and is the Student Physical Therapy Association treasurer. She is also involved in the newly created Physical Therapy Pro-Bono Clinic. Olivia received multiple awards related to her research as well, including the top poster for the St. Luke's Clinical Neuroscience Conference and essay award winner for the Mountain Land Physical Therapy Running Summit. 

Other graduating student honorees include:

College of Pharmacy Student Awards

  • Dean's Excellence Recipient: Zachary Larson, Pocatello
  • Dean's Excellence Recipient: Makayla Manfull, Meridian

College of Health Student Awards

  • Exceptional Person-Centered Care Award: Kylie Ortiz, Occupational Therapy
  • Most Impactful Community Service Award: Jackson Bindner, Physical Therapy
  • Innovative Creative / Scholarly Work Award: Ruth Tretter, Nursing

ISU’s Professional Achievement Award will be presented to Anna Ratka in the College of Pharmacy, and Lisa Moravec in the College of Health. 

Dr. Anna Ratka earned her doctor of pharmacy degree from Idaho State University in 2000 where she was also an assistant and associate professor from 1992 to 2003. She is currently a professor at the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College, and was selected as a 2022 Fellow of the American Pharmacists Association.

Lisa Moravec earned a master of science in dental hygiene from ISU in 2011. Among many accomplishments, her most noteworthy contribution to the discipline was serving as the president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) during the 2020-2021 year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the first alumna of ISU to achieve this high honor in this national professional organization.

Three faculty in the KDHS also earned special honors as part of the Outstanding Faculty Honorees. 

2023 Outstanding Service honorees 

  • Ryan Lindsay, associate professor and chair of the Department of Community and Public Health
  • Dani Moffit, program director of the Master of Science in Athletic Training program 

2023 Outstanding Teacher honorees

  • Jeff Brockett, associate professor, audiology, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

2023 Outstanding Research honorees 

  • Ryan Lindsay, associate professor and chair of the Department of Community and Public Health

A total of 15 faculty across ISU were selected as Outstanding Faculty honorees, and from those, one was named the Distinguished Faculty from each of these three categories. Dani Moffit received the Distinguished Faculty award for Outstanding Service. 

Finally, the recipient of the Vice President for Health Sciences award is going to Roger Schei, chief of the Pocatello Police Department. 

"Each year we honor individuals who have made significant contributions to ISU’s KDHS and the health of our community. We are grateful for Chief Schei’s commitment and leadership in protecting the citizens of Pocatello, and for service on the Governor’s task force, “Operation Esto Perpetua,” to fight the growing threat of fentanyl and other drugs in our community," Force says. 


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