SALISBURY, N.C. – Carolyn Sithong, an instructor in the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College occupational therapy assistant program, has been named to the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This prestigious national award recognizes AOTA members who have made significant contributions to the profession of occupational therapy.

Sithong has been an instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus since the Occupational Therapy Assistant program began four years ago and has 20 years of experience as a practicing occupational therapist.

“Carolyn’s positive impact can be felt by all who know her. Our faculty and students benefit from her perspectives, innovation, commitment to excellence and love for the profession,” said Amy Mahle, director of the occupational therapy assistant program at Rowan-Cabarrus.

Being named to Roster of Fellows is the AOTA’s highest honor. Those recognized as Fellows have demonstrated expertise, leadership and advocacy and contributed to the profession with a measured impact on consumers of occupational therapy services.

“I consider this my lifetime achievement award,” Sithong said. “I am pleased to know that, as a practitioner, I have contributed to the profession’s body of knowledge.”

Sithong was nominated by her peer and professional mentor, Dr. Debra Lindstrom. Lindstrom, who now works as a professor and researcher at Western Michigan University, praised Sithong’s dedication and achievement in the field of occupational therapy, pointing to a successful career that has included innovation, mentoring, training and presentations, webinar production, and the authoring of articles and textbook manuscripts.

Sithong founded Home for Life Design, LLC, a specialized home modification program aimed at measuring a home’s level of accessibility and determining what adjustments are needed to make the environment more functional for a client. The program includes a virtual application that expands its usefulness within the industry. More than 25 college and universities, including Rowan-Cabarrus, use Home for Life Design concepts in teaching occupational therapy and related courses.

At Rowan-Cabarrus, Sithong teaches and serves local non-profits that facilitate aging in place, coordinating student fieldwork opportunities and providing access to her home assessment technology for students to help create healthy homes for those most vulnerable in the community.

“I have had a beautiful transition into teaching, and I love Rowan-Cabarrus,” Sithong said. “I feel my job is to help students find out who they are, what their mission is, and how to become the best therapists they can be. It is fulfilling to prepare our students to make a difference right in their own community, and 75 percent of our students accept jobs in the immediate area.”

Sithong will be honored as a Roster of Fellows member in April during the annual American Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference and Expo.

“I congratulate Carolyn Sithong on this significant honor in the field of occupational therapy. The award is well-deserved, and we are fortunate to have her guiding our students to excellence,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.