The Marshall University Foundation has announced a grant of $50,000 from the American Electric Power Foundation to benefit the Department of Communication Disorders, Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center and the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation.
The grant supports two objectives, which are technology training and community outreach, and the growth of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in STEM.
“AEP and the AEP Foundation have a long-standing history of supporting Marshall University and its students,” said Steven G. Stewart, director of government affairs for AEP. “We are again proud to support the Department of Communication Disorders. This is an outstanding program that allows these graduates to make an immediate positive impact to patients in need of their services.”
On Nov. 28, Stewart posed for a photo with Pam Holland, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders; Michael Prewitt, dean of the College of Health Professions, which houses the Department of Communication Disorders; Jenny Vance, program director, grant management for the Marshall Foundation; Lance West, vice president for development for the Marshall Foundation; and Sarah Clemins, associate professor and director of clinical education within the department.
In 2020, the AEP Foundation gave funds to develop a speech-language pathology simulation STEM laboratory with specific focus on the science and technology of speech-language pathology, as well as improving awareness and advocacy for communicating and chewing/swallowing, which are two primary basic functions that are often taken for granted.
“We are so honored to be considered worthy of the funding provided by the AEP Foundation,” Holland said. “In 2020, we established a SLP STEM laboratory for the purpose of educating high school youth on the many science and technology aspects of the field of speech-language pathology. We offered several camps utilizing the innovative equipment we were able to purchase and increased our enrollment of high school students in the introductory courses.”
In addition, the Department of Communication Disorders has been able to implement the speech-pathology laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as offer telehealth services to children in rural areas that do not have access to broadband internet services and lack transportation.
The new grant will advance the success of the previous objectives. The first objective is to offer technology training and community outreach to allow speech-language pathologists to use the new equipment and improve accessibility to clients in the Tri-State region with communication disorders.
The second objective focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and highlights the need for growth. According to the U.S Census Bureau (2019), Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx comprise 14.8% and 17.1% of the population, respectively. This translates to only 3.5% and 5.8% for the field of speech-language pathology.
“With the 2023 funding, technology, training and community outreach is a top priority,” Holland said. “The overall objective is to house the state’s most innovative speech-language pathology technology library and ensure access to all. Our second goal is to focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. It is the mission of the Department of Communication Disorders at Marshall University to increase minority student enrollment. This will be accomplished through collaborating with Marshall University’s Trio Programs, a federally funded initiative to support low income and first-generation college students in addition to reaching out to inner-city high school classrooms, host virtual events and specific STEM camps for minority youth.”