PRCC’s PTA program establishes new scholarship at 30-year celebration

May 22, 2024

Future students in Pearl River Community College’s Physical Therapist Assistant program will soon have a new scholarship opportunity thanks to the generosity of former PTA students and supporters.

The PRCC PTA program recently hosted the 30th Anniversary Alumni Reunion event at the Dr. Cecil Burt Special Events Room on the Forrest County Campus.

Six women and one man sit around table.
Graduates of the PTA program attended the 30th Anniversary reunion.

It was a night of celebration, food and fellowship, according to Tracie Thornton, PTA Program Director.

More than $2,000 was raised for the scholarship account.

Woman wearing black top speaks from behind podium.
PTA Program Director Tracie Thornton welcomes reunion attendees.

“We launched the Excellence in Physical Therapy PTA Scholarship as a PRCC Development Foundation Scholarship in October, 2023,” said Thornton. “The current faculty and I have watched many of the students struggle to get by when trying to get through the PTA Program, and it was one of our biggest goals to provide annual scholarships to help our PTA students. The program is hard enough without having to also worry about struggling to pay rent or buy books or even pay for food.” 

All past PRCC PTA graduates were invited to the reunion. 

Man leans over a table to read descriptions of silent auction with people in line behind him.
Silent Auction helped to fund the new PTA Scholarship.

Said Thornton, “We had several current and past students speak, including the first PTA class president, Susan Baughman Phillips. We held a Silent Auction to raise funds. Additionally, William Carey University’s new PTA to DPT Bridge Program sponsored the event meal and their director, Dr. Judy Prehn, spoke about their new program.”  

According to Thornton, who has been program director for three years now, clinical instructors and Physical Therapists who have worked alongside PTA alumni took part in the celebration.

Two women smile and hug while several other people walk into the room.
Former instructors reconnect at the PTA Reunion.

Thornton has been working full time in the PTA program for the past eight years and started as an adjunct instructor 27 years ago. 

“Our program at PRCC is the oldest in the state and graduated the first PTAs in the state 30 years ago,” she said. 

PTA instructors are Audrey Jackson and La’Brista Sylvester. Program administrative assistant is Cheryl Breland.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program is a two-year program of study that prepares students to work within the practice of physical therapy under the supervision of a physical therapist, according to the PRCC website.

PTAs are employed in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, extended care facilities, home health agencies and other health care settings. Admission to the program is selective and competitive. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, students earn the Associate in Applied Science degree and. are eligible for state licensing.

Woman wearing red blazer speaks into microphone to people sitting at tables.
Delana Harris explains the scholarship funding process.

-Monetary donations for the scholarship fund can be made selecting General Scholarships and placing “Excellence in Physical Therapy Scholarship” in the comment box.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), Facebook (@PRCCMKTG), and TikTok (@prcc_wildcats).

Article by Chuck Abadie. Photography by Kaitlyn Jones.

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