2020 Outstanding Alumni Award honorees

by Michele Berhorst  •  March 9, 2020

We are pleased to announce the 2020 honorees of the Program in Occupational Therapy's Outstanding Alumni Award. The awards recognize alumni for their individual achievements in or contributions to the field of occupational therapy in research, education, leadership, professional development or community participation.

Ashlea Cardin, OTD, MSOT ’99, OTR/L, BCP, CNT, Class of 1999, is an associate professor in occupational therapy at Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield, Mo. She is recognized for her role as an educator, her clinical expertise in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her passion for advocating and serving individuals experiencing occupational deprivation.

Cardin is a founding faculty member of the occupational therapy program at MSU, where she took a lead role in developing the program’s mission and vision. She developed multiple courses and program processes including recruiting, admitting and advising students.

In addition to her academic career, Cardin maintains a clinical practice in the NICU. She actively publishes her research in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters to enrich the literature surrounding this vulnerable population. Cardin holds a Board Certification in Pediatrics from the American Occupational Therapy Association and a specialty certification from the Neonatal Therapy National Certification Board.

Cardin regularly spends time providing pro bono pediatric services to the Old Order Amish community in Seymour, Mo. By developing trusted relationships within this community, Cardin provides countless families and children with resources to help them achieve their full potential in their occupational roles. She also led a community effort in the last two years to provide more than 200 hand-woven sleeping mats to individuals experiencing homelessness.

For her commitment to education, clinical practice and community outreach, we are pleased to present the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award to Ashlea Cardin.

Kristin Will, OTD ’14, OTR/L, Class of 2014, is an independent health-care consultant based in Uganda who specializes in disability programming and inclusion development. She was the director of medical professional and student rotations and the director of strategic partnership at the Musana Community Development Organization and the head of the rehabilitation department and disability programming at the Musana Community Health Center. She is being recognized for her passion, dedication and work to build sustainable programs and improve services for individuals in Iganga, Uganda.

In 2014, Will completed her doctoral experience in Iganga, where she worked alongside social workers to identify and develop programs for vulnerable individuals with disabilities in the community and to build the capacity of the department to provide for people with disabilities. After seeing the great need for improved services in the region, Will made it her mission to bring occupational therapy to the Iganga community.

Will envisioned and established a rehabilitation department at the Musana Community Health Center. To accomplish this, she led fundraising efforts for the initial capital and operation costs, created assessment tools and documentation, recruited employees, and networked to establish a presence in the area. Today, the department has two full-time employees and sees an average of 90 patients per month. Will also created disability outreach programs that serve 140 children free of charge and works with local community groups to value and prioritize education and inclusion. Through her work, Will has directly impacted hundreds of lives through her dedication to the people of Iganga and the occupational therapy profession.

For her ability to develop and execute successful and sustainable programs and empower the Iganga community to create change, we are pleased to present the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award to Kristin Will.

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