Alesha Heacock and Kimberly Sorrentino Named the 2021 Regents' Award Winners for the College of ENHP
Alesha Heacock, a student in the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) program, and Kimberly Sorrentino, a recent graduate of the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD) program, are the recipients of the 2021 Regents’ Award for Graduate Students in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions (ENHP).
The annual Regents’ Honor Awards are the highest recognition of accomplishments that the University bestows on graduate students. Criteria for selection include a grade point average of at least 3.8, significant scholarship, and community service.
Heacock, from Gloversville, NY, also attended UHart as an undergraduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in health science with dual minors in Spanish and psychology. She then entered the master’s degree program in prosthetics and orthotics and will graduate in May. Her many accomplishments include serving as a graduate teaching assistant, peer tutor, graduate student researcher for a PhD dissertation, president of the Alpha Chi Honor Society, and volunteering with Women in O&P and the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists.
As a graduate student, she has continued an undergraduate research project to develop a manual that translates English and Spanish vocabulary, phrases, explanations and questions that are typical in a prosthetics/orthotics clinic to help bridge the communication barrier between patients and clinicians. Her ultimate goal is to see this resource published as open access for clinicians and patients, and to partner with a software developer to create a phone app that can be used by clinicians. After graduation, Heacock will enter a prosthetics and orthotics residency program in Salem, Oregon for the next two years.
In recommending Heacock for the award, MSPO Program Director Matt Parente wrote, "There are very few students I have encountered that possess the dual desire for academic success and selfless service towards others. I believe she will find our profession to be a pleasure of the highest degree. I expect that she will be consumed by the creation of new knowledge and enjoy the pursuit in a way that few rarely do."
Heacock said, “Having the chance to pursue a professional community-outreach research project as the primary investigator with faculty mentors as an undergraduate student, now a graduate student, and soon to be resident, has and will continue to enrich my education and career. Through essential clinical and research-based skills learned at the University of Hartford, I am eager and feel prepared to begin my clinical residency plus continue my long-term goals of publications, volunteering for adaptive sports organizations, and becoming a bilingual practitioner.”
Sorrentino, of Meriden, CT, has received numerous awards and grants for her EdD dissertation proposal. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Boston University and a master’s degree in evaluative clinical sciences from Dartmouth College. Her professional background includes credentialing as an ultrasound technologist, and her dissertation examines sonography education and the variability in the field that can potentially lead to disparities in patient care. As part of her research, she conducted a large data analysis of sonography credentialing exam performance that showed statistically significant differences between various educational pathways. Her research led to several practice, policy, and research recommendations to improve sonography education.
Her academic accomplishments led to multiple career promotions since beginning the EdD program. Sorrentino received a full-time tenure track Associate Professor position at Gateway Community College and is Interim Director of Regional and Specialized Accreditation for the Connecticut State Community College. “These major career promotions are a direct result of the application of what I learned at the University of Hartford to my workplace. All of these career advancements will allow me to continue to serve and positively impact the lives of the community college students within Connecticut,” she stated.
In recommending her for the Regents’ award, Assistant Professor Karla Loya noted that Sorrentino completed her doctorate in less than four years with a 4.0 GPA, and successfully defended her dissertation in the midst of a pandemic while working full-time. “In addition to possessing a brilliant mind and professional demeanor, Kimberly is an inquisitive lifelong learner and educator; she learns from everyone and makes contributions that help everyone think deeper and more practically-oriented than expected,” Loya wrote.