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2023 Alumni Award-Winners Exemplify Heart of RMU

Along with doctoral degrees earned from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMU), the 2023 Alumni Award winners share another common thread — they’re both making successful careers out of helping other people.

Dr. Leah Fullman (2023 Outstanding Alumni Award) and Dr. Tim Hughes (2023 Early Career Alumni Award) deservedly received recognition as alumni who exemplify the heart of RMU in their respective professions.

They were honored at the 2023 December Commencement ceremony, setting a high bar and acting as great examples for the onlooking graduates.

Here’s a snippet of their RMU stories:

2023 Outstanding Alumni Award

Dr. Leah Fullman


After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, Dr. Leah Fullman knew she wanted to get a doctoral degree. Because she was married and a mother of three, she couldn’t just pick up and go wherever she wanted. When a colleague told her about the online program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMU), Fullman found what turned out to be a perfect fit.

It ended up being a life-changing experience, too.

“It is a hybrid program and I only had to come onto campus a couple of times. I could do that while keeping my clinical job as a speech-language pathologist at a medical center and then also still take care of my family,” Dr. Fullman said. “That degree from Rocky Mountain just changed the trajectory of my career. My career in academia took off.”

Clinically, Dr. Fullman has worked for medical centers, private clinics, school districts, and skilled nursing facilities. She has served a diverse caseload — from NICU infants to geriatrics. And she shepherded regional and specialty accreditation processes, managed financial planning, acquired grants, and acted as a legal consultant.

Dr. Fullman’s career arc accelerated at the collegiate level after her RMU experience. During her seven years at Faulkner University, she guided the strategic planning and development of six health science programs and oversaw the construction of an 85,000-square-foot Health Science Center. 

Dr. Fullman has now taken a similar position at Pepperdine University. She’s developing a speech-language pathology school and a College of Health Sciences at the school in Malibu, California.

In addition to her other important responsibilities, Dr. Fullman also serves on RMU’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Fullman’s interest in the field of speech-language pathology as a career blossomed when her oldest son worked with specialists who assisted him with a cleft. They helped him learn to eat and speak, and recover from surgeries.

“I had originally assumed I would spend my career clinically treating patients, and I did that in the beginning,” she recalled. “I never really imagined I would get into academia the way that I have, but as opportunities arose I took those opportunities. It led my career down this new path of building new programs to train students, so that those students can then go and treat patients.”

Fortunately, Dr. Fullman is still able to devote time to help assess and treat patients as a pediatric clinician.

“I love children,” she said. “I love working with children.”

2023 Early Career Alumni Award

Dr. Tim Hughes


Dr. Tim Hughes, PT, DPT, is the Owner and CEO of Elevate Physical Therapy clinics in southern Utah. He graduated from RMU in 2019 with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

“I think the thing I like the most about physical therapy is being able to see the changes in people’s lives,” Dr. Hughes said. “We get to see a lot of the physical victories that people make, but also a lot of the mental victories.”

Dr. Hughes’ post-graduate clinical experience began as a staff physical therapist at the Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt, Utah. He later opened and grew his Cedar City, Utah, clinic to three therapists and then expanded to a second location in St. George. In his clinics, Dr. Hughes emphasizes providing high-quality one-on-one work with patients along with providing an improved quality of life for clinicians.

“I love seeing the human body change. I love seeing what the human body is capable of,” he said. “I just love the interaction between patients and helping them get back to the things that they love doing.”

Dr. Hughes earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science at Southern Utah University. He then received the Clinical Excellence Award while attending RMU. After completing outpatient clinical internships at Wright Physical Therapy in Twin Falls, Idaho, he interned at the Kessler Air Force Base medical center in Biloxi, Mississippi. For eight months on base, he independently treated 10-12 patients daily, participated in care for the Special Operations Trainees, and gave weekly presentations on differential diagnoses for various musculoskeletal conditions with evidence-based research on diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options.

“I chose RMU because I wanted to be in Utah and I also love that they put so much more emphasis on the clinical education with their 51 weeks of clinical time,” Dr. Hughes said. “Once I got to RMU, I knew I made the right decision when I looked at the lists of possible clinics that you could go to. I wanted to graduate ready to take on anything.”

In addition to improving lives through physical therapy, Dr. Hughes is a devoted family man. He and his wife, Stephanie, are proud parents of five young daughters. They live in Parowan, Utah.

“I’m passionate about those kiddos, improving their lives and building and creating something that they would be proud of,” he said. “I’m trying to do the little bit that I can to improve the world around me, so that they can have a better life.”

Congratulations to Dr. Fullman and Dr. Hughes for being bright beacons of hope in the healthcare industry and exemplary alumni and ambassadors for RMU.