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Special Thanks to Andrew Learned from the House of Representatives for Visiting IIOP & Meeting the Students!

Special Thanks to Andrew Learned from the House of Representatives for taking the time to Visit IIOP to Learn about the O & P Profession, along with getting the chance to meet all of our students.

Andrew was born in Sarasota, grew up in Valrico, and graduated High School in Fort Myers before enrolling at the University of Tampa. There, he studied economics, and government and world affairs in addition to his duties in the Navy ROTC program. During his junior year, Andrew was elected as the Student Body President and served as Company Commander for his Navy ROTC unit.

While at UT, Andrew took internship opportunities with County Commissioners Mark Sharpe and Kevin Beckner, where he learned the ins-and-outs of local government.

After graduation, Andrew commissioned as an officer into the United States Navy, serving on active duty for four years. He was a Surface Warfare Officer who specialized as his ship’s Boarding Officer. In that role, Andrew led small teams on boarding operations throughout two deployments to the Middle East and North Africa. In 2014, as a Lieutenant, Andrew transitioned to the United States Navy Reserves.

When Andrew returned home, he sold his home and maxed out his credit cards to open a neighborhood learning center called GradePower Learning. His location has since become the #1 new franchise in the 140-center-strong Oxford Learning family and won the President’s Award the following year for being #1 overall. Andrew has also been personally recognized by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2014 as an Up & Comer Under 30.

In 2016, Andrew returned to active service with the Navy to be the Lead Surface Planner for Commander Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade forward deployed to Bahrain. During this deployment, Andrew led surface coordination efforts during the crisis in the Bab-Al-Mandeb, when Huthi rebels were firing missiles at US and Coalition warships in the strategic choke-point. Andrew worked to protect and defend dozens of merchant shipping transits every day, thereby ensuring freedom of navigation for all friendly and neutral forces. For his efforts and service, Andrew received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

Andrew was elected to the Florida House in November of 2020. He’s married to his college sweetheart Amanda and has twin 8-year-olds Flynn and Lola keeping him on his toes.

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White Coat Ceremony Celebrates Next Cohort of Clinicians

Today marks an exciting milestone for IIOP’s five second-semester students as they celebrate receiving their coveted white coats and took a professional oath to serve their patients and the O&P community. We were lucky to have the current President of the American Board for Certification of Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, Anthony Ward, in attendance to address the students about some of the highlights of being a professional in their chosen field and the changes he’s seen throughout his years in the industry.

Family and friends of the students didn’t feel completely left out, as they joined in via Zoom. The five IIOP students that were proudly celebrated today are: Savanna Stumpf, Ian Reyes, Rene Respicio, Peter Marx, and Jacob Sliman. They have now reached the point in their curriculum where they will start to see patient models and simulate real patient scenarios. They are on their way to look and feel prepared in their bright white coats!

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IIOP Celebrates Lightning Playoff Win with Students, Faculty, and ALPS South

The students and staff of IIOP attended Game 6 of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoff series against the Florida Panthers. The Lightning defeated the Panthers with a dramatic 4-0 shutout to advance to the next playoff round. For some, it was their first professional hockey game ever, it also allowed classmates from different cohorts to bond over the shared experience.

IIOP thanks the representatives from ALPS South for attending the game and for their continued support of the Institute and our goals.

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IIOP Celebrates April 2021 Graduates

The first graduation ceremony in 2021 was an important celebration that the students and staff certainly deserved after a very tumultuous 2020. On Thursday April 29th, the most recent group of IIOP graduates were joined by their families and friends to be awarded for their hard work and perseverance.

Our special guest at this graduation ceremony was Gary Miracle, who has a personal reason for wanting to speak to a group of aspiring prosthetists. Gary tells a story of life-saving measures and loss of everything but hope. He lost both his arms and legs after a severe case of the flu, leading to sepsis and a 12 day coma. This all happened so quickly, Gary’s wife had to make the decision to amputate his limbs to save her husband’s life. Even despite her quick decision, there was still a very slim chance that Gary would survive.

Despite these odds, Gary survived his illness and on Thursday he drove himself to the ceremony, flanked by all four of his children. He made our guests cry one second from his story, and then turn right around and laugh at his well-timed jokes. He spoke about the role that a Prosthetist can have in changing a human’s life, and some of the battles he has faced with his still-recent amputations. Rest assured there wasn’t anybody in attendance that looked at Gary as anything other than an inspiration to all.

It is always a treasure to see another group of exceedingly competent graduates leaving to make differences in other’s lives. We at IIOP wish the best of luck to the Class of April 2021, Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics:

From Left: Alexander Miller, Joaquin Campa, Victor Bustamante, Richard Gotti, James Fredrick, Trevor Bryant, and Bryce Dahl

If you would like to learn more about Gary Miracle and his story you can watch the following videos:

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IIOP Partnering with Lennar Homes to Provide a Veteran with a New Home

IIOP is proudly teaming up with Lennar Homes to provide a mortgage-free home for one lucky veteran. We are excited to make a dream come true for one of our nation’s service men or women who selflessly served our country.

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White Coat Ceremony featuring special guest Steve Fletcher

The students at IIOP are ceremoniously presented with their white coat sometime in their second semester before they begin learning in the clinical setting. For our current group of seniors, their ceremony came a little later in their journey thanks to the worldwide pandemic. Joined virtually by their friends and family, the group of seven soon-to-be residents took the oath to serve their professions with honesty and integrity and had a very special guest speaker to impart a bit of wisdom.

Steve Fletcher is a familiar face at IIOP since the ABC exams are hosted in part of the building. Today he was gracious enough to address the students about some of the challenges that O&P professionals can encounter and some of the stigmas surrounding the field. Of course, you can’t speak to a group of eager future CPOs without reassuring them that their field of choice is one of the most rewarding professions they could’ve chosen. We are thankful that Mr. Fletcher took the time out of his day to address the group.

It was a lovely ceremony and a beautiful day outside. Afterward, the students were able to relax a bit, throw the football and play a few rounds of cornhole. They certainly earned it.

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Congratulations to the Class of 2021 on receiving their White Coats

It was a great honor to initiate twelve of the next greatest Orthotics and Prosthetics clinicians by awarding them their white coats. The white coat is a symbol of the care provided to patients and deserves to be respected and revered. Our first semester students will begin their training in direct patient care starting in the Spring, and when they graduate in December of 2021, they will be prepared to provide the highest level of patient care and make IIOP proud.

We had an esteemed guest join us, Rachel Friddle-Johnson, CPO and President of ABC’s Board of Directors, who happily addressed our future clinicians about their upcoming journey towards their chosen career. Motivating the students, she highlighted the recent changes to the board exams, education levels of clinicians, and the myriad of technological advancements that future clinicians will soon embrace. She spoke from a wealth of experience and history in the profession and graciously welcomed the students to South Carolina if they ever wanted to tour the Friddle’s Orthopedic Appliances facility.

The audience looked a little sparce, but not for lack of interest. COVID-19 prevented us from inviting friends and family from attending in person, but they didn’t miss out entirely. IIOP used the ever-popular Zoom to live-stream the ceremony to dozens of guests. Also present were the faculty and staff, excited to support this impressive group of students. Presenting the ceremony was Francesca Cicchetti, who had many words of wisdom while she and her classmates are preparing to graduate in a few short weeks. The “senior” class as we call them helped don the coats, and pinned their lapel, or as Francesca would say “help put on their new superhero capes.”










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Special thanks to NCOPE’s Chris Robinson for speaking with IIOP students

IIOP students were given the opportunity to hear all about Orthotic and Prosthetics residency programs, including how they will be tracking their patient encounters and what to look for in a residency. Chris Robinson took valuable time out of his day to present the ins-and-outs, and answer all the students’ burning questions. IIOP appreciates being able to connect the students with the organizations that oversee the residency programs, and are glad to have their continued support for the students. Chris speaks to the students every fall and spring when they are in their final semester, getting ready to make a decision about the next step in their O&P education. This time can be very stressful for students and they appreciate the support.


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IIOP’s blog featured in Top 30 Prosthetics Blogs list by Feedspot!

IIOP’s blog is now proudly being represented with the top 30 prosthetic blogs in Feedspot’s “Top 30 Prosthetics Blogs and Websites To Follow in 2020”. Other entities featured on the ranking include ISPO International, Amputee Coalition, and partial finger prostheses manufacturer Naked Prosthetics. IIOP is thrilled to have our news and students featured on this platform, and hope that our mission reaches curious minds from around the globe. Please check out the full list of blogs at and be sure to keep up with IIOP’s blog as our student’s are hard at work at their clinical rotations.

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Special Thanks to Gerry Stark and Carl Allen from Otto Bock!

IIOP students had the opportunity to feel what it’s like to use the C-Brace microprocessor-controlled stance control KAFO by Otto Bock this morning. Being able to understand how the device functions and patient requirements are crucial to have positive patient outcomes. A special thanks to Gerry Stark, who Zoomed in and presented the C-Brace technology to the class, while Carl brought the KAFO tester to fit each of the students and feel the real thing! The students enjoyed being able to adjust the resistances of the orthosis and will enter the field with first-hand knowledge on this very up-and-coming technology.

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