ANDERSON — During a conference call early Wednesday afternoon, Beth Tharp said she was asked to briefly describe a memorable event from her year so far.

She knows what she would have talked about had the call taken place later in the day.

Tharp, the president and CEO of Community Hospital Anderson, was awarded an honorary degree from Ivy Tech Community College. The surprise presentation – delayed after Ivy Tech’s in-person commencement exercises were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic – left Tharp momentarily at a loss for words.

“It’s just really special,” she said. “It’s an honor coming from Ivy Tech because Ivy Tech is such a special organization in the state and in our community, and I just really appreciate it very much.”

Sally DeVoe, chairman of the board of trustees for Ivy Tech’s Anderson campus, said the award is well-deserved, calling Tharp “an outstanding person whose interests are in the community.”

Tharp, who began her career as a staff nurse at Community Hospital in 1980, serves on the college’s local advisory board and has been a consistent supporter of the school’s nursing program since then.

“We want you to know that you are an inspiration to our students, specifically our nursing students,” Lindsey Madinger, Ivy Tech’s director of development, told Tharp. “You have proven that you can’t dream too big, that anything’s possible, and that really resonates with our students.”

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