Melissa Keith of Columbia has been named the recipient of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) National Physical Therapist Assistant Student of the Year Award for 2012. Keith, a second-year student in the Somerset Community College (SCC) Physical Therapist Assistant Program, will receive the award at the APTA Annual Conference and Exposition in Tampa, Florida this June.
The criteria for the award include academic and clinical performance, community service and contributions to the physical therapy profession. Keiths nomination was supported by faculty members Dr. Ron Meade, PT and Dr. Steve Hammons, PT and by Brett Buras, PT of Russell Springs.
Keith has been highly visible on SCCs campus and in her community. She served as president of SCCs Physical Therapy Student Organization and was a student liaison for her class. She was the recipient of the prestigious Lake Cumberland Auxiliary Scholarship, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was selected on a competitive basis to serve as one of SCCs Student Ambassadors. In her role as an ambassador, Keith has had many opportunities to develop leadership and presentation skills and has had many opportunities to interact with incoming students. In 2011, she was selected to represent SCC as an emerging student leader at the Kentucky Collegiate Leadership Conference at Northern Kentucky University.
In addition, Keith has volunteered for a number of community service projects and fundraisers, including serving as the student co-chair for SCCs participation in the American Heart Associations Heart Walk. Other activities included volunteering to assist with free health screenings at the Kentucky Special Olympics and fundraising for cystic fibrosis research and for the Foundation for Physical Therapy.
Melissa represented SCC at the 2011 APTA National Conference where she accepted the Most Outstanding PTA Program Award from the Foundation for Physical Therapy for the programs fundraising efforts for physical therapy research. While attending this conference, she travelled to Washington, DC to meet with legislators and aides to discuss concerns related to the physical therapy profession.
She has also attended the APTAs National Student Conclave, attended the Kentucky Physical Therapy Associations (KPTA) Advocacy Day in Frankfort and spoke at the KPTAs Fall Conference in 2011. She served as Kentuckys Core Ambassador to the APTA Student Assembly and, in this role, coordinated activities for physical therapy programs across the state. She was published in the APTAs national student newsletter, the Student Assembly Pulse, and in the KPTA state newsletter.
Keith will graduate from the SCC PTA Program this May and has plans to ultimately further her education by obtaining a higher degree. She is the daughter of Weldon and Lois Keltner and is married to Clay Keith. She has three children, Anthony, Johnathon and Dylon.
This is the sixth year in a row that a SCC student has won National Physical Therapist Assistant Student of the Year award. SCC graduates who have won the award in the past include: Erin Green of Danville in 2011; Valarie Cooper of Jamestown in 2010; Rod Edwards of Somerset in 2009; Bethany Gosser of Liberty in 2008; and Heather Tuel of Somerset in 2007.