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College of Nursing and Health Professions announces distinguished alumni

Oct. 8, 2007 -- The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Arkansas State University will celebrate its 25th anniversary by hosting a homecoming open house from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the college. Seven distinguished alumni from the college will be presented awards at 2:30 p.m. as part of the event. Historic materials of the college and its development will be available for viewing. Alumni are encouraged to attend.
This year's distinguished alumni award recipients are Kristi Pierce Craig, Richard Robert Hays, Mary L. Housewright, Dr. Joyce A. McConaughy, Penny Rogers, Jane Ball Willard, and Donna Williamson. Brief biographies of the alumni follow.

Kristi Pierce Craig graduated with an associate's degree in Radiologic Technology in May of 2000. She received her bachelor's degree in Radiologic Sciences with an emphasis in Radiation Therapy at ASU in 2001 and went on to receive a certificate in Medical Dosimetry from Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute in September of 2002. She holds dual certifications in Radiography and Radiation Therapy from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. She is also board certified in Medical Dosimetry by the Medical Dosimetry Certification Board. She has been employed as a Medical Dosimetrist at Mid-South Radiation Physics since 2002. Craig continues to be involved at ASU through her work as a clinical instructor for the ASU Radiation Therapy Program.

Richard Robert Hays is a 1992 graduate of ASU. He holds a bachelor's degree from ASU in Medical Technology but also holds an MBA from Union University. Currently, he is the administrative director for scientific operations at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. He has held varying positions at St Jude's since 1993. Hays also serves as an adjunct assistant professor for the Clinical Laboratory Sciences program at ASU. He is an associate member of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and holds certifications as a medical technologist, certified laboratory inspector, certified hazardous good shipper and certified laboratory specialist in molecular biology. Hays serves on a variety of committees at St. Jude's, is a frequent lecturer at ASU, and is a member of the ASU College of Nursing and Health Professions advocacy board and the Clinical Laboratory Sciences advisory committee.

Mary L. Housewright first started her education at ASU in 1986 as an undecided major. She signed up for the Army in 1987 and left ASU to serve her country in 1988. Housewright served in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. During Desert Storm, she was a platoon leader for radio communications between field and central communications.  Housewright was awarded the Bronze Star for communications assistance that removed an endangered battalion from a life-threatening situation. She returned to ASU and graduated in 1999 with her associate's degree as a physical therapist assistant. Housewright worked for seven years at NEA Pediatric Physical Therapy. She is now employed by Personal Therapy in Jonesboro. She is a clinical instructor for ASU. Housewright is the vice president for the Greene County Special Needs Children's Association and volunteers as an assistant swim coach for Special Olympics.   She is also a behind-the-scenes worker in efforts to raise money for Autism Awareness, United Cerebral Palsy, and the March of Dimes.

Dr. Joyce A. McConaughy of Rogers, Arkansas, entered the first associate's degree in Applied Science in Nursing class at ASU as a LPN and graduated in 1971.Since graduation and obtaining her RN licensure, Dr. McConaughy completed a bachelor's degree in Nursing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, a master's degree in Nursing at Texas Women's University, and a doctoral degree in Education at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Early in her career, she spent two years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as a nursing supervisor and educator for the Ministry of Defense and Aviation. Even though Dr. McConaughy vowed never to return to Saudi Arabia, she did return as a military nurse during operations Desert Shield Desert Storm. Her travels have not been limited to Saudi Arabia; she has spent time in Cyprus, Kenya, Germany, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Laos, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Most of her career has been spent as an educator, either formally or informally, for all levels of nursing education. Although officially retired from the University of Arkansas' Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, she continues to teach community health classes and to counsel students with low scores on nursing exams. Dr. McConaughy has authored three book chapters and numerous articles. She has held many offices in the Arkansas Nurses Association, most recently that of vice president.

Penny Rogers, LCSW, grew up in Forrest City, Arkansas. She graduated from ASU with a bachelor's degree in Social Work in 2001 and from the University of Tennessee-Memphis in 2003 with a master's degree in Social Work. Rogers has worked for St. Bernards Senior Health Clinic since graduation; her primary focus is on geriatrics. She completes memory testing, depression screenings, community resource education, disease education, and counseling/ therapy. Her passion is educating and supporting those caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease.In her work, she has created a three-part program for caregivers which she offers to the community on a quarterly basis through the Center on Aging-Northeast.Rogers is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), serves as a field instructor for ASU social work students, serves as a board member and northeast Arkansas branch representative for NASW and is currently co-leader for the Northeast Arkansas Mental Health First Responder Team. Rogers volunteers time for the Center on Aging-Northeast through community education and is a member of St. Bernards Home Health Advisory Board.

Jane Ball Willard completed both her undergraduate and master's degrees in speech-language pathology at Arkansas State University. She was a member of the very first class of master's degree candidates in Speech Pathology and earned her degree in 1976. She has worked for the past 29 years as a speech-language pathologist for various public school systems in Arkansas and is currently employed by the Cabot School District and resides in Cabot. Willard has been active in service to the Arkansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ArkSHA) by serving as vice president for continuing education, serving on the convention committee, and serving as chair of the public relations committee. In 1992, ArkSHA honored  Willard by awarding her the Paula J. Gober Public School Award, the highest tribute paid to speech-language pathologists employed by the public schools. At the national level, Willard represented ArkSHA as the State Education Advocacy Leader (SEAL) with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She thereby became one of 13 speech-language pathologists in public schools across the United States to serve on ASHA's  Association of Service Providers in Related Education CADRE Team. Willard has presented numerous workshops and conferences across the state and mid-south region. She has a number of professional publications, but she is most proud of "Becoming a Mother-in-Law" to be published in the new edition of "Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul."

Donna Williamson graduated from the associate's degree in Nursing program in 1995.  Williamson was a non-traditional, second-career student and a member of the first class at the ASU Mountain Home distant site campus. In addition to being selected nursing student of the year, Williamson served on the executive board of the Arkansas Student Nurses Association as the president of the ASU-MH chapter of that group. She continued her involvement in the professional organization as president of District 6 of the Arkansas Nurses Association and later as president-elect of the organization. Health issues prevented her from assuming the presidency. Although Williamson began pursuing a bachelor's degree in Nursing from ASU the year after graduation, she was not awarded that degree until 2006, due to multiple health issues and surgeries. While pursuing the bachelor's degree, Williamson became certified as a gerontological nurse and later added certifications in both hospice and palliative care nursing. Williamson began her career in a hospital-based skilled care unit at Baxter Regional Medical Center, and after several years moved to Hospice of the Ozarks, where she became the nurse leader. Williamson was instrumental in the designing, planning, and opening of Hospice House. She has been a speaker across Arkansas on pain and symptom management and was appointed to the professional advisory board for Arkansas Hospice. Williamson is a co-founder of Arkansas Partnerships for Compassionate End-of-Life Care. She also serves on the executive board of the Arkansas Hospice and Palliative Care Association.

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