The Salus University Alumni Association annually recognizes the professional contributions and achievements of graduates and friends of the institution. Awardees are nominated by University alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends.
Here are the 2022 Alumni Association awardees:
Blindness and Low Vision Studies Alumna of the Year
Missy Garber, MA ‘05, PhD
, has been devoted to Salus University’s Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies for more than 15 years. After completing the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) program in 2005, she soon joined the faculty and eventually began working as the director of the TVI program.
She currently works as a vision support teacher within the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, an adjunct assistant professor in the Salus BLVS program, and as an instructor of Visual Impairment Licensure Program at Indiana State University. Dr. Garber has published peer-reviewed articles and textbook chapters, presented at regional and national conferences, and remains active in the field.
She serves on the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee for the Education of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired (PACES-BVI) where she advises the PA Bureau of Special Education (BSE) and responds to requests from BSE on information, current issues, and preferred practices pertaining to the educational needs of students who are blind or visually impaired. She is also a member of the Salus BLVS advisory board.
Dr. Garber is currently pursuing an endorsement in deaf-blindness to further enhance her practice as an educator.
Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Alumna of the Year
Michelle L. Fischer, MMS ‘09, PA-C
, was a member of the inaugural class of Physician Assistants Studies at Salus and graduated from the program with honors.
Over the course of her career she has practiced in family medicine, internal medicine, orthopedics and currently practices in urgent care. She joined the Salus faculty in 2020 and is currently the course director for Physical Diagnosis (I, II, II) and Pathophysiology (I, II, II). In this capacity she works with students, faculty and external lecturers to deliver lectures and facilitate small group activities throughout the didactic curriculum. Fischer also works with the Philadelphia Art Museum to facilitate the Art in Medicine workshops where students learn to examine conscious and unconscious bias through art and then relate it to clinical medicine.
Public Service Award
Donald Smith, OD '73
, the director of Professional Relations at National Vision, Inc., has been a champion of Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus programs and initiatives for years.
Since 2016, he has worked closely with Salus administration and has helped create more opportunities for students and alumni alike. His work helped pave the way for the recent $300,000 donation from America's Best for the Summer Enrichment Program, allowing under-represented minorities to have access to a professional education that would otherwise have been out of reach.
Additionally, Dr. Smith has championed National Vision’s sponsorship of the “Big Red Bus” mobile care unit initiative, the Looking Out for Kids annual fundraiser as well as the creation of the Centennial Scholarship, providing opportunities for local children and prospective students in need.
A proponent of advancing optometric education, Dr. Smith also recently helped launch advancements in remote medicine and the setup of an additional preceptor site for PCO/Salus as part of the company’s externship program.
Dr. Smith and National Vision provide countless opportunities for PCO/Salus graduates to begin successful and fulfilling careers after graduation.
Audiology Alumna of the Year
Kimberly M. Cavitt, AuD ‘05
, is the owner and director of Audiology Resources, Inc., an audiology consulting firm offering services to hearing healthcare clinics, providers, organizations, buying groups and manufacturing companies that want to be better equipped to compete in the managed care and healthcare arenas.
She is involved in issues related to all aspects of audiology practice operations and management — coding, billing, third-party reimbursement and managed-care issues. In addition to her work with Audiology Resources, Inc., Dr. Cavitt spent nine years as a clinical audiologist and preceptor at The Ohio State University and Northwestern University and spent two years as director of professional relations at HearPO.
She is the past president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and a current member of the State of Illinois Speech Pathology and Audiology Licensure Board and vice president of Government Affairs for the Illinois Academy of Audiology.
Albert Fitch Memorial Alumna of the Year
Sarah Appel, OD ‘79, Resident ‘81, FAAO
, is director of the Pediatric Low Vision Services at The Eye Institute, co-director of the Special Populations Assessment and Rehabilitation Center (SPARC) and is a PCO/Salus professor in the Advanced Studies program.
She has had numerous roles at the American Academy of Optometry (AOA) including lecturer, mentor, course reviewer, author and chair of several low vision diplomate committees. Dr. Appel has published and/or lectured in every year since 1980 and continues to serve on countless committees.
In 2021, she was awarded with the Salus University Presidential Medal of Honor.
Occupational Therapy Alumna of the Year
Finding personal strength after a spinal cord injury from a random act of gun violence, Amanda Lyons, OTD ‘18, OTR/L
, has focused her advocacy skills on increasing gun safety awareness and legislative measures in Pennsylvania. Dr. Lyons promotes fundraising efforts for Everytown for Gun Safety, is a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action and has appeared alongside Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf at a gun violence prevention event.
She works at Thomas Jefferson University as an assistant professor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.