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UW School of Health Sciences Honors Distinguished Alumni | News

November 11, 2022

The UW College of Health Sciences honored its 2022 Distinguished Alumni during the recent UW Homecoming. From left to right are Joan Anderson, School of Pharmacy; Mary Gitau, Division of Social Work; Holly Miller, Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing; Paul Johnson, Wyoming WWAMI Medical Education Program; Marisa Yagi, Division of Communication Disorders; and Carl Maresh, Division of Kinesiology and Health. (UW photo)

The University of Wyoming School of Health Sciences honored six of its alumni during the recent UW Homecoming.

Joan Anderson, Mary Gitau, Paul Johnson, Carl Maresh, Holly Miller and Marisa Yagi were honored for their successful careers in the fields of communication disorders, kinesiology and health, medical education, nursing, pharmacy and social work.

Distinguished alumni of the College of Health Sciences are recognized for their outstanding professional achievements and contributions to excellence in education related to their professions. They also demonstrate continued support for their social and professional communities.

This year’s honorees are:

Joan Anderson – University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Anderson, from Cheyenne, earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, with honors, from the UW School of Pharmacy (now the College of Pharmacy) in 1959. As the only woman to graduate from the school of pharmacy that year, she became a Fulbright scholar An academic, he studied at the Institute of Pharmacology at the University of Oslo in Norway from 1959-1960. She also completed one of the first pharmacy practice residencies accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists at Jefferson Medical College Hospital from 1963 to 1964.

He went on to earn his master’s degree in pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1964, and received a master’s degree in education from Temple University’s College of Education in 1978.

He has practiced acute care pharmacy and administrative positions at Laramie County Memorial Hospital (now Cheyenne Regional Medical Center) in Cheyenne; West Nebraska General Hospital (now Regional West Medical Center) in Scottsbluff, Nebraska; and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. She served on the faculty of the first school of pharmacy in the US, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, from 1981 to 2004, holding leadership positions as vice president, interim president, and assistant dean for student affairs. After retiring, she joined the faculty of the UW School of Pharmacy as coordinator of continuing education.

Anderson has been active in state, regional, national, and international organizations, including the American Association for Higher Education, the American Association of Pharmacists, the American Association of Schools of Pharmacy, the International Pharmaceutical Federation, and the Fulbright Alumni Association. She has given numerous presentations and served as a faculty advisor to pharmacy student organizations.

Mary Gitau — Division of Social Work

Gitau, an associate professor of social work at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, received three UW degrees. He obtained his master’s degree in communication in 2007; a Master of Social Work in 2012; and a doctorate in adult learning and postsecondary education in 2011. He received his bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Ithaca College in 2004.

Gitau integrates social work, communication, and nursing in her teaching, scholarship, and research. As an international scholar, she conducts research in both the US and Kenya on immigration, women, social justice, and human rights. In 2018, Gitau received the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship organized at Kisii University in Kenya. While she was there, she initiated the establishment of the Center for Peace, Social Justice, Equality and Security.

Her community service includes founding the Iowa nonprofit Gazelle Impact on Women & Youth in Kenya Inc., whose mission is to empower women and youth in rural Kenya. Working to foster intercultural competency, she has conducted numerous trainings in Iowa for both community agencies and the university.

Paul Johnson – Wyoming WWAMI Medical Education Program

Johnson grew up in Laramie and graduated from Laramie High School in 1995. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Baylor University before entering the third class of the UW Wyoming WWAMI Medical Education Program (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) in association with the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM). After graduating from UWSOM in 2003, he completed his otolaryngology residency at Columbia University.

Johnson returned to Cowboy State after completing his medical training. He lives in Cheyenne and practices there and in Laramie. An active member of the Wyoming Medical Society, he was the first Wyoming WWAMI graduate to serve as president. He regularly contributes to clinical and classroom teaching at the Wyoming WWAMI Medical Education Program, and serves as a member of the program’s advisory board. Additionally, Johnson has served on the UW College of Health Sciences Advisory Board.

Carl Maresh — Division of Kinesiology and Health

Maresh earned his Ph.D. in zoology and physiology from UW in 1981. She received her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education in 1971 and her master’s degree in health and exercise sciences in 1973, both from California State University-Fullerton.

He is a professor of kinesiology in the Department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, where he also serves as director of the exercise science program and director of the exercise science research laboratories.

His first professional appointment was as director of the Health Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. He was then recruited to the Midwest Research Institute (now MRIGlobal) in Kansas City, where he served as principal research scientist on the departments of Bio-Organic Chemistry and Biobehavioral Sciences. Prior to beginning his position at OSU in 2014, Maresh was the University of Connecticut (UConn) Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology, where he held joint appointments in the departments of Physiology and Neurobiology, Nutritional Sciences, Physical Therapy, and medical School.

As director of the UConn Human Performance Laboratory from 1984 to 2014 and head of the kinesiology department from 1998 to 2012, he is credited with bringing together a group of renowned scientists. As a result of focused teamwork, his department was ranked over a 10-year period (2005-2015) as the #1 kinesiology doctoral program and the most research-productive kinesiology department in the US.

Holly Miller – Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

Miller grew up on a ranch in central South Dakota. She earned her AA degree in nursing from the University of South Dakota (USD) in 1974. She earned two degrees from UW: a BSN in 1980 and a master’s degree in nursing education in 1996.

Miller’s first nursing position was as a staff nurse at Sioux Valley Hospital (now Sanford USD Medical Center) in Sioux Falls, SD, from 1974 to 1978. She married her husband and moved to Laramie in 1978 so that he could finish his graduate studies. From 1978 to 1988, she worked in the Ivinson Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit.

In 1988, she started at the UW Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing as coordinator of the Learning Resource Center. When the school moved into the current remodeled building in 2005, the Learning Resource Center was renamed the Clinical Simulation Center (CSC). Miller was in charge of designing the CSC and equipping the different areas with hi-fi equipment and simulators. In 2012, she became director of the BSN Basic Program, followed by director of the BRAND Program in 2017.

In addition, she has served as a clinical instructor in the hospital setting and has been an American Heart Association CPR instructor for 33 years.

After practicing nursing for 44 years, including 30 years in Nursing School, she retired in 2018. She still lives in Laramie.

Marisa Yagi — Division of Communication Disorders

Yagi is a Japanese-American “third culture child”. He grew up in Egypt, Kenya, and Japan, and didn’t speak English until he was in high school. His first experience of living in the US was at the UW, where he earned three degrees. He received his bachelor’s degree in visual arts in 2015; her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders in 2015; and her master’s degree in speech-language pathology in 2017.

After becoming a Board Certified Speech-Language Pathologist, she founded Yagi Speech LLC to provide accessible and affordable online and in-person services focused on the international, multicultural, and multilingual communities. At age 27, Yagi established a business unit in Okinawa, Japan, called ShisaCare, which, for the first time, enabled US military service members and their families in Japan to receive TRICARE-covered speech-related services.

About the Faculty of Health Sciences

The UW College of Health Sciences trains health and wellness researchers and practitioners in a wide variety of disciplines, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, communication disorders, social work, kinesiology, community and public health and disability studies.

The university also oversees residency and fellowship programs in Casper and Cheyenne, in addition to operating primary care and speech/hearing clinics in Laramie, Casper and Cheyenne. With more than 1,600 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, the university is dedicated to training Wyoming’s health and wellness workforce and conducting high-quality research and community engagement, with a particular focus on rural and border populations.

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