By Amanda Mlekush
The Beaver College of Health Sciences recently inducted 12 leaders into its inaugural Trillium Society, which recognizes and celebrates distinguished achievements from college alumni and supporters who exemplify the college’s values of Taking Health To New Heights. In addition, six of the 12 individuals were selected as the winners of the Emerging Leader, Outstanding Service and Distinguished Alumni awards during its first-ever collegewide awards and Trillium Induction ceremony held Oct. 28 in Leon Levine Hall.
“Our new Trillium Society and college-wide awards give the Beaver College of Health Sciences a lasting and memorable way to recognize the giant contributions of our alumni, supporters and friends who have made an impact on our college, the university and the health and wellbeing of the region and beyond,” said Beaver College of Health Sciences Dean Marie Huff, PhD. “It was inspiring to hear the stories of our award recipients and have a chance to thank six of the founding members of our health care advisory board who were instrumental in helping establish the college.”
The recipients of the collegewide awards and six of the new Trillium Society Inductees are:
Emerging Leader Award Recipients
Lieutenant Eric Eberspeaker, ‘15 (Health Care Management) – Eberspeaker, who is deployed in the Mediterranean Sea as the Medical Administrative Office on the USS George H.W. Bush, shared a video message. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Eberspeaker was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal. His parents accepted the award from Dean Marie Huff on his behalf.
Ariel Danek Smith, ‘17 (M.S, Nutrition) – Currently works as the Director of Nutrition Services with High Country Community Health and an adjunct instructor in the Nutrition program; Smith’s graduate thesis on campus food insecurity was used to help develop and implement an action plan for student food resource centers/pantries across Appalachian’s campus.
Inspiring Service Award Recipients
Paul Hammes – Chief Executive Officer of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, Hammes is a leader in serving underserved, rural communities in North Carolina, a board member of the BCHS Health Care Management Advisory Board and mentor to many health sciences students.
Elizabeth Young, ‘07 – Executive Director of the Hunger and Health Coalition in the High Country, Young was recognized for her advocacy and ongoing collaboration with App State’s graduate students in nutrition to battle food insecurity and help provide life-saving medications and other support to individuals living in the region. Young was unable to attend the event; Dr. Melissa Gutschall from Nutrition accepted the award on her behalf.
Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Shana Bonner Pitts ‘09 (Health Care Management) – Nationally recognized financial executive serving in acute care and senior living organizations who developed a practicum experience program in support of App State’s Health Care Management degree program.
Dr. Richard Sparks ‘76, (Health Care Management) ‘78, ‘16 – Retired president of present-day Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Sparks has a legacy of accomplishments including facilitating the donation of the land where Levine Hall now stands, establishing endowed scholarship and awards, and mentoring students, alumni and faculty in health sciences and business.
The additional inductees into the Trillium Society are former board members from the inaugural Beaver College of Health Sciences Advisory board and are:
- Laura Aiken, '98, '00
- David Meiburg, '82
- Beth Murray, '86
- Pat Phillips
- Dan Williams, '68
- Katie Woodle, '05
About the Collegewide Awards
The college has created three award categories to recognize outstanding contributions from alumni and supporters who embrace the college’s mission of Taking Health to New Heights. Beginning in 2022, these awards will be presented each fall during the Trillium Society celebration. Award recipients are also inducted into the Trillium Society.
Emerging Leader -- recent graduate of the Beaver College of Health Sciences who has a record of achievements in their work or service to the college
Inspiring Service -- community member or alumnus/alumna of the Beaver College of Health Sciences who mentors others, has a record of exceptional service and is "taking health to new heights"
Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna -- Beaver College of Health Sciences alumnus/alumna who has extraordinary career accomplishments and has continued their support for the college
About The Trillium Society
The Trillium Society was created based on a recommendation of the Beaver College of Health Sciences’ Advisory Board task force.
Indigenous to North Carolina, the trillium flower was selected because of its history of being used to heal a variety of conditions. Hikers may find fields of trillium growing wild when hiking around the Boone area in the spring. The Trillium flower has three petals which represent the society’s values of leadership, innovation, and caring.