First student graduates from new master’s in respiratory care program

Kelly Colwell

Kelly Colwell

Kelly L. Colwell of Boardman, BSAS, RRT, NPS, CPFT, AE-C, who has worked more than 29 years as a respiratory therapist, became the first graduate of Youngstown State University’s new online master’s degree in respiratory care at Fall Commencement on Dec. 15.

“YSU provided the exceptional leadership, guidance and support I needed to advance my career and achieve my academic goals,” Colwell said. “As a busy health care professional, this program allowed me the flexibility and affordability I needed to achieve academic success.”

The master’s program in respiratory care at YSU started in fall 2012 and moved into a fully online offering this fall. Mary Yacovone MEd, RRT, director of respiratory care programs at YSU, said the degree is designed specifically for respiratory therapists who want to enhance their career options in clinical and/or leadership roles within the respiratory care profession.

It is one of seven fully online degrees offered by YSU. The others are Bachelor of Science in Applied Science, Allied Heath, Bachelor of Science in Applied Science, Public Health, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Management and Program Planning, Master of Science in Education, Early Childhood Education and Master of Science in Engineering, Management option. Earlier this fall, YSU was included on a national list of Online Colleges That Win on Affordability.

Colwell grew up in New Bethlehem, Pa., attended Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., and earned a bachelor’s degree in applied science with a major in respiratory care from YSU. He worked 23 years at Tod Children’s Hospital in Youngstown as a staff neonatal/pediatric respiratory therapist, working with respiratory care students from YSU and other respiratory programs. At Tod, he received a distinguished teaching award and adjunct of the year award for his work with respiratory students and the pediatric medical residency program. Colwell currently works for Akron Children’s Hospital, Boardman Campus, where he coordinates the pulmonary diagnostic and stress-testing lab, along with the outpatient asthma and education clinic for a group of pediatric pulmonologists and allergists.

Colwell, recently inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honorary society for academic excellence, said he chose to pursue a master’s degree to enhance his knowledge base of his profession and as a personal goal to master his profession. “I chose YSU due to the specialized curriculum the program had to offer, the exceptional leadership and focus of the respiratory care faculty, the flexibility of on-line classes, and the affordability of YSU,” he said.

Yacovone said YSU’s Master of Respiratory Care program builds on skills related to clinical research, grant writing, leadership development, and technology applications related to educational/administrative settings. Specialty tracks include Education, Management, and Advanced Therapeutic and Monitoring Applications.

For more information about the program, visit

For more information on all of YSU’s online degrees, visit or call 330-941-4000.