A respiratory care and allied health professor in New York will be honored for her notable contributions to her profession and community.
Highline College has selected Michele Pedicone as the 2020 Distinguished Alumna, recognizing her commitment to educating future respiratory care professionals during a time when the need is at an all-time high because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But she was also recognized for returning to the front lines as a respiratory care therapist to deliver care during this pandemic.
Pedicone will be honored during the college’s first virtual Commencement ceremony on June 11.
The Manlius, New York resident has spent 13 years in respiratory care with six of those years teaching in her field, beginning her career as a respiratory care practitioner at MultiCare Health System in Tacoma.
That’s not before Pedicone attended Highline College from 2005-2007, however, earning an AAS in respiratory care and later a master’s in respiratory care leadership. (She’s currently working on her doctorate at Nova Southeastern University and hopes to graduate this summer.)
“I remember our first day of class, each of us sharing a fear of the unknown,” she recalled of her time at Highline. “Little did we know how much we would rely on each other or how close we would become over the next two years and beyond.”
Pedicone said she still keeps in contact with nearly every member of her Highline respiratory care graduating class and looks back with fondness at her “rich clinical experiences at local hospitals” she had while a student at Highline.
“I remember the long hours of study, presentations and board exam preparations,” she said. “I also remember the laughter, the bowling parties and the lunches at the local Mexican restaurant.
“The respiratory care program at Highline College was incredibly strong when I graduated in 2007 and remains a strong and highly respected respiratory care program today from which I am proud to be an alumnus.”
Not only is Pedicone among our Highline alumni, but she also taught at Highline as a respiratory care instructor from 2014-2017, essentially launching her teaching career within that field.
With an extensive resume, Pedicone would go on to become a respiratory care practitioner at University of Washington Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital. She also taught at Seattle Central College and East Tennessee State University before landing in New York, where she’s currently an assistant professor and the director of Clinical Education for the Respiratory Therapy Education department at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and an adjunct professor at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
“She has been an amazing advocate for patients in critical condition for nearly 15 years,” said Daniel Nordstrom, who nominated Pedicone for the Distinguished Alumnus Award. “Her efforts as a professor have influenced hundreds of students.”
Nordstrom said when he met Pedicone while the two were classmates at Highline, she was a “quiet middle-aged mother returning to college to learn a new skill set so she could support her family,” but she has since grown into “one of the most influential respiratory therapists in both medicine and on the national stage.”
Not only has Pedicone been featured on CBS for her willingness to return to hospitals to offer respiratory care during COVID-19, but her work has taken her overseas where she’s presented in Manchester, England and taken students to Costa Rica to deliver respiratory services on a remote island.
Ultimately, however, she says her greatest achievements within her community all start in the classroom.
“I believe that my most significant contribution is holding my students to high standards,” she said. “Producing strong, competent respiratory therapists to support the profession of respiratory care, and who become leaders and mentors who encourage and lead others to be their best, is something that I hold very dear.”
Pedicone is the 32nd recipient of the college’s annual alumni award, the most prestigious award given to alumni.
Former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, who attended Highline in 1968–69, was the first recipient of the award in 1990. Other distinguished alumni include Sandra Cravens Robinson, nurse and Army veteran; Ezra Teshome, agent with State Farm Insurance and TIME magazine global health hero; and award-winning author Linda Yoshida and entrepreneur Junki Yoshida.