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College of Nursing and Health Professions to Recognize Distinguished Alumni


JONESBORO – Six distinguished alumni of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Arkansas State University will be honored for their professional achievements during the annual recognition and reception Saturday, Oct. 14, as part of A-State’s Homecoming festivities.

The event begins at 2 p.m. in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Health Sciences, Room 222. It is open to the public.

Each of the honored alumni represents a school or department within the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Scheduled to be recognized are Becky Brewer from radiologic sciences; Sarah Sumpter from social work; Ladon Jones from physical therapy; Bobby Abbott from clinical laboratory science; Katharine Pardew from nursing; and Allonda Meriwether from communication disorders.

Becky Brewer — Radiologic Sciences

Brewer graduated from Arkansas State with an associate’s degree in radiologic sciences in 1997 and continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences with an emphasis in sonography in 2013. She is currently the radiology manager at NEA Baptist Hospital in Jonesboro and serves on the clinical advisory board for the A-State radiologic sciences program. She is also the student liaison for NEA Baptist Hospital’s radiology department.

After graduation, Brewer went to work for NEA Baptist in 1997. She began her career as a registered radiologic technologist, moved into sonography in 2000, and became a registered diagnostic medical sonographer in 2003.

By 2006, she was promoted to lead sonographer, followed by a promotion in 2014 to the role of radiology educator for the hospital.   During her 20 years of service with NEA Baptist Hospital, she has been recognized as a service-first champion in 2009 and radiology employee of the year in 2010.

Sarah Sumpter — Social Work

Sumpter earned her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2008 at A-State and her master’s degree in 2011 as a member of the inaugural master’s degree in social work class.  She was an honor graduate in both degrees.  Sumpter began her work in the mental health field at St. Bernards Behavioral Health Unit in 2011 as a therapist.  In 2014, she was promoted to the position of director of clinical services. 

She has been an adjunct instructor in the social work department for five semesters, and has provided task instruction for bachelor of social work students since 2009.   She has provided supervision to over 50 students from A-State. Sumpter also teaches classes for the health studies degree program.

She has served on the social work community advisory council for four years.  In this capacity, she has provided the social work department with valuable feedback that has informed change on student progression and transfer of learning from the classroom to practice in a clinical setting.

Ladon Jones — Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Ladon Jones graduated from the physical therapist assistant program in 1998 with an associate of applied science degree.  She began working in Memphis, at Spears-Popa Prosthetics and Orthotics, Prosthetic Orthotic and Pedorthic Associates, in 1999 as a board-certified orthotic assistant and certified fitter of mastectomy. 

Jones is also an Arkansas licensed orthotist, American board-certified orthotic assistant and maintains her Arkansas physical therapist assistant credentials.   She is certified in several therapeutic systems.

Jones is a clinician for Jonesboro Prosthetic and Orthotic Labs, and provides pediatric orthotic intervention.  She has delivered a series of lectures and presentations to students at Arkansas State, as well as providing in-services for physicians and therapists.  She provides pediatric care throughout northeast Arkansas in specialty clinics and treatment facilities. She also provides services in out-reach clinics located in Missouri. 

Bobby Abbott — Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Bobby Abbott is a 1986 graduate of Arkansas State University with a bachelor of science in medical technology (now called clinical laboratory sciences). During a 26-year span, he served as a medical technologist generalist before moving into section lead roles, consultant work for rural health care clinics and lab information system (LIS) manager.  In the final four years, he served as director of laboratory services with additional responsibilities at the former Surgical Hospital of Jonesboro.  He also oversaw designing the laboratory and selecting equipment for the new campus location.

After completing his master of health administration degree in 2011, Abbott accepted the role of market director of laboratory services for CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock in June 2012. He has operational oversight for the laboratory services at multiple CHI St. Vincent locations. Abbott has held a number of leadership roles, including vice chair of the patient care leadership committee, is the current co-chair of the accountability and measurement team committee, and serves on a number of steering committees. Recent projects have included a national assignment to complete an operational assessment of a new CHI facility in Ohio.

He was selected as CHI St. Vincent's recipient of the 2017 Sister Margaret Vincent Blandford Leadership Award.

Katharine (Lee) Pardew — Nursing

Katharine (Lee) Pardew graduated from the bachelor of science in nursing program in 2014 and was commissioned as an officer in the Navy.

After completing training, she was stationed at the Navy Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., where she worked inpatient pediatrics for two years. She helped develop standard operating procedures to improve the hospitalization process and education of diabetic pediatric patients.  

In October of 2016, she was selected by leadership to transfer to Admiral Joel T. Boone Branch Health Clinic as division officer over primary care.   During the summer, she was selected as interim department head for Northwest Annex Branch health clinic. While there, she had the opportunity to participate in an exercise aboard the U.S.N.S Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship.

She serves as a command sexual assault prevention and response victims advocate (SAPR-VA). She also assisted in a trauma/combat training skills day for local corpsmen.   The commander of the Navy Nurse Corps, Rear Admiral R. McCormick-Boyle, recognized her for her participation in the revision of the professional practice model.

She is currently enrolled in St. Joseph’s College of Maine pursuing a master of science in nursing and a master of healthcare administration.

Allonda Meriwether — Communication Disorders

Allonda Meriwether graduated in December 2007 from A-State with a master in communication disorders. After graduation, she completed her clinical fellowship year at Memphis City Schools and Intelligent Therapy Staffing, a travel company.

For the past seven years, she has been employed by Signature Healthcare at St. Peter’s Villa in the Memphis area. She has expertise in cognitive, neurological and voice disorders in the geriatric population. Meriwether eagerly accepts clinical students to practice under her supervision and has been responsible for facilitating over 1,000 hours of clinical hours for master’s students in communication disorders.

Her service to A-State is unique in that she has particular interest in helping students develop their soft skills. She is passionate about the development of clinical practice skills.